People associate their physical motions with actual space,
dispite the flexibility of the digital interface where "space" is
represented to a user. There is a percieved effort for right
handed people to operate on the left side of the screen that is
greater than the ease of operating on the right hand side of the
screen. Also, there is a perceived effort to travel up that is
greater than the ease of going down.
Some editor/viewer widgets allow the scroll bar to auto-hide when there is
insufficient text to fill the window.
You can see the effect with Mozilla. Create a page which has both left and
right justified elements. Reduce the vertical size of the window until the
vertical scroll bar appears. All the right justified elements jump a few
pixels to the left. The left justified elements remain still.
Most English text is left justified so placing the scroll bar on the right
prevents the text jumping to the right which would otherwise be distracting.
Languages that are read from right to left are usually written right
justified. In this case is would make sense to put the scroll bar on the
left. Perhaps someone who knows Hebrew or Arabic could provide further
It's a legacy from touch screen days. Imagine operating a scrollbar
with your finger... it it was on the left hand side your hand (for
right handed folks anyway) would obscure the content.
Alan Dix describes this in detail (in a much under-appreciated page!)
While the right hand side is now convention and matches users
expectations/is consistent with other UIs, there is work showing that
user's prefer and are more efficient with scrollbars on the left in
left-aligned multi-row select boxes. Sorry, the citation is eluding
> I have only seen scrollbars either on the right-hand side and on the
> bottom of the document.
a few counter examples:
xterm (my config of it) puts its vertical scroll bar on the left.
in emacs you can set scroll-bar-mode's value to be 'left' or 'right'
which affects the placement of all (vertical) scroll bars.
xfig puts its (odd) horizontal scroll bar at the top.
these took me a while to come up with. not because they are few and
far between, just that i'm used to using them, and don't really think
about where the scroll bar is.
brief point: on pen based machines, right handed people using left
sided scroll bars (and vice-versa) is not a great combination, as the
pen/hand can easily occlude what you're trying to select/view.
BTW. other stuff eg. netscape under linux and Windows is lame
compared to oberon S3 - the 'bestest'.
It uses a 3 button mouse, where the various cording combinations
become sub-concious operations. eg.: (L=left, M=mid,R=right)
L : move line opposite 'caret' (mouse position) to top.
R : move line opposite 'caret' to bottom.
M/R: scroll to extreme top.
M/L : scroll to extreme bottom.
M : scroll to relative to 'caret' . Ie. with caret at 40% of 'scroll bar',
scroll to 40% of file.
-- Chris Glur
> "Before we bring democracy to Iraq, or even to Afghanistan, maybe we
> should bring it to Florida."
> -Jon Stewart on "Daily Show":
Yes, the republicans made a boo-boo.
Any clown could see the US economy going over the cliff, towards the
end of Clinton's circus. For "sports man like reasons" the republicans
couldn't have said: "thanks but we'll just sit this one out".
The Florida situation was a perfect opportunity for them to make sure
the democrats kept the then defecateing baby.