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Ready for implementation


Magnolia allows me select a single item or multiple items easily by using the mouse, the keyboard or touch gestures. All input methods are interchangeable.

Magnolia also highlights an item, if the mouse or the keyboard focus is currently above a selectable item - it is not highlighting items, which may not be selected at all.

Description of desired behavior

Remarks on different characteristics of input methods

Note that each of the three supported input methods - mouse, keyboard and touch - has its own characteristics and that therefore not all visual feedback and interaction possibilities are supported for each.

In particular, _you may put the focus on an item with the keyboard - you can do that without actually selecting it. By touching an item or clicking on it, however, you already interact with it and thus you always move both focus and selection at the same time. Consequently, Magnolia only supports item selection for these input methods.

Selecting multiple items is also easy and intuitive as long as you provide checkboxes next to the items. For mouse and touch, you have two ways to select items: you either touch or click the item or you mark its checkbox. Selecting multiple items using the keyboard is more difficult and requires to hold down a modifier key while selecting an item.

Please refer to the more detailed explanations and the matrix in the paragraphs below.

Focus and selection

Focus an item

An item is focused by moving the keyboard focus on the item using one of the arrow keys (UP, RIGHT, DOWN, LEFT) while holding down the Ctrl/Cmd modifier key. Focusing an item mainly visually emphasizes it indicating that the item could actually be selected as well. No details on an item are shown in any enabled and visible item details view and no actions for it are presented, if that item has the focus only and is not selected as well.

When using the mouse or a touch device, you may only move the focus by also simultaneously selecting an item.

Select a single item

A single item may be selected by clicking on it, touching it or by hitting the SPACE bar when it has the focus (object selection). If an interface supports selecting multiple items, it shows a checkbox next to an item. Thus, alternatively, this checkbox may be checked to select the item (toggle selection). In both cases, a strong visual marker around the item signals its selection. In addition, any visible and enabled view for item details will refresh immediately and show additional information on the just selected item.

For the keyboard, you may also move the selection to a different item by simply hitting an arrow key. This deselects the currently selected item and selects the one the focus has moved to. Care must be taken that this doesn't cause a flood of events, if a key is hit repeatedly or pressed for a longer period of time. Instead, any implementation should filter events sent to the backend and only eventually deliver the last of the selection events.

Select multiple items

To select multiple items, you repeatedly select single items using their checkboxes until all your items are selected (toggle selection). If you use the checkboxes, all already selected items remain selected and the newly selected items are merely added to the set of selected items.

Alternatively, use a rubber band rectangle when using a mouse to select the items (object selection). Note that in the latter case, the checkboxes of all selected items are also checked as soon as you release the mouse button. A previously selected group of items is first deselected before the newly defined group becomes selected by a rubber band.

Any visible and enabled view for item details will refresh immediately and show additional details on the set of selected items (e.g. summary of all sizes, number of selected items, etc.).

When using the keyboard, selecting multiple items is less easy as it involves pressing a modifier key during selection. You may select a range of items by selecting the first item of that range, then selecting the last item while holding the SHIFT modifier key. You may add or remove an additional item to the set of currently selected items, by pointing at or moving the focus to it, then selecting it while holding down the Ctrl/Cmd modifier key.

The same modifier keys may also work when using the mouse or touch devices, but the preferred as less error-prone way for selecting multiple items using these input methods is by toggling the checkbox.

Select and deselect all items

Views supporting the selection of multiple items shall also always offer an additional checkbox to toggle the selection of all items (visible or invisible) in the view. Checking it first selects all items, checking it again de-selects the items.

Indicate number of selected items

Any view supporting the selection of multiple items shall indicate the total number of currently selected items.

Deselect a single item

You may deselect a single item by unchecking its checkbox or clicking on it while holding down the Ctrl/Command modifier key. When using the keyboard, move the keyboard focus on the item, then hit SPACE - hitting SPACE thus toggles a selection. On a touch device, you may only uncheck an item's checkbox to deselect it.

If an item is deselected, all other remaining selected items remain selected.

Deselect all selected items

If you click on a grid or tree view offering item selection and you do not click on a selectable item, all previously selected items remain selected. You may only deselect all currently selected items if you toggle the "select all items" checkbox to first select all, then deselect all items (see #Select and deselect all items).

Hybrid selection solves conflicts

Allowing both object selection and toggle selection of items could result in a confusing interface. Magnolia solves this by actually implementing hybrid selection:

Hybrid selection in Magnolia works like this:

  • when only selecting a single item, ticking its checkbox or simply selecting it using a click, a tap or hitting SPACE on the keyboard doesn't make a difference
  • if one or multiple items are currently selected, you may add an item to this set by checking its checkbox or by selecting it while holding down the Ctrl/Cmd modifier key
  • if one or multiple items are currently selected, you may remove an item from this set by unticking its checkbox or by selecting it again while holding down the Ctrl/Cmd modifier key
  • when multiple items are selected, starting a drag or executing an action on them first ticks the checkboxes of all currently selected items (no matter how they were selected), then starts the drag or executes the actions on them. This is to visually clarify, which items are affected by the action.
  • a preview is always shown on all selected items, whether they have been selected by ticking their checkbox or not.


Open an item for editing or further inspection

By double-clicking or double-tapping an item or hitting ENTER on a selected item (see #Select a single item), a separate window opens showing an edit or inspection view of the item depending on the permissions of the logged in user.

Executing an operation on selected items

Selecting one or multiple items enables only those operations, which are defined on the set of currently selected items. For any view showing operations, it should be visually very obvious, which operations are currently available and which are not.

Please note that it is not acceptable to simply attempt to execute an operation and to return an error if it is detected that the operation has been undefined for one of the selected items. Errors should only be returned if executing an operation actually fails.

It is highly desirable that an operation is executed atomically on multiple items as this is expected semantically and allows properly supporting the undo functionality we plan to introduce with 5.0.

Drag and drop

Drag and drop an item

Clicking on an item and starting a drag automatically selects the item and ticks its checkbox, in case it exists - the item is both object selected and toggle selected. During drag, the item being dragged is replaced by a place holder image. The interface provides constant feedback where the dragged item can be dropped by rendering an insertion bar and highlighting other items which may act as drop targets.

Drag and drop multiple items

If multiple items are selected, dragging one of the selected items initiates a drag of all selected items. Again, the items are replaced by a place holder image and object highlighting and insertion bars are rendered during the drag (see #Drag and drop an item).

Note that if multiple items are toggle selected and you start a drag on a single item with its checkbox unchecked, that object is added to the other selected items for the drag and its checkbox is immediately ticked as soon as the drag starts to clarify this behaviour.






Support focussing item without selecting it
-> shows item details?


yes, when shifting kbd focus


Supports selecting single item without marking its checkbox
->show item details?

yes, on click
->yes, immediately

yes, on hitting SPACE or using ARROW keys
->yes, immediately

yes, on touch
->yes, immediately

Supports selecting single item by marking its checkbox
->show item details?

->yes, immediately


->yes, immediately

Supports selecting multiple items by marking their checkbox
->show item details?

->yes, immediately


->yes, immediately





Supports executing an operation when selected by checkbox




Supports executing an operation when selected, but not by checkbox




For the list of defined commands, see Usage summary#Focusing, selecting and opening items.


Tree view supporting selection of a single item only

Tree view supporting selection of multiple items

Grid view supporting selection of a single item only

Grid view supporting selection of multiple items

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