Friday, June 27, 2008

Extending cut-and-paste: batch-copying as another motivation for multi-item clipboard

If you want to transfer a batch of items from one context to another, a mult-item clipboard means you don't have to switch back and forth between the two contexts to copy each item.

A computer-network admin might be looking at a network-diagnostics report and want to pull out the names of some of the servers mentioned to put into an email to a colleague about having a look at them.

The report contains various details and statistics about the company's servers. The information is layed out in a table, and the server names are in a particular column. The admin wants to mention three of those servers in an email, so they copy these to the clipboard, then they open an email and paste them into that.

With a single-item clipboard and 3 items to copy, there'd be 5 switches between windows: for the first item, switch to the email and paste it, then for the next two, switching back to the report then back to the email. Whereas with a mult-item clipboard, there'd just be a single switch between windows -- 4 less.

The alternative means to copy the information with a single-item clipboard, would be to select an area of the table that contained the three server names, paste that, then remove all of the extraneous pasted information. It'd depend on the specifics of the situation as to whether this would be quicker or not.

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