Drag and Drop

The user needs a way to perform operations on one or more objects by being able to move objects from one place to another directly with the mouse.

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Patterns in this Category

Drag and Drop Modules

The user needs needs to re-arrange the layout of modules on a web page directly with the mouse.

Drop Invitation

Designer needs to indicate valid candidate drop sites during a drag and drop operation.


Why Use This Pattern?

Drag and Drop is a shortcut mechanism that allows users to perform more complex tasks through direct manipulation. It follows good design principles such as What-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG), keeping information in context and using direct manipulation.

The following interesting moments can be important during a drag and drop interaction. A good solution will consider each of these moments below (a specific drag and drop pattern may choose to ignore some of them.)

  • Page Load
  • Mouse Hover Over Drag Object
  • Mouse Down On Drag Region of Drag Object
  • Drag Initiated
  • Drag Over Original Location
    • Drag Leaves Original Location
    • Drag Re-enters Original Location
  • Drag Over Valid Target
    • Drag Enters Valid Target
    • Drag Hovers Over Valid Target
    • Drag Exits Valid Target
  • Drag Over Invalid Target
    • Drag Enters Invalid Target
    • Drag Hovers Over Invalid Target
    • Drag Exits Invalid Target
  • Drag Over No Specific Target
  • Drop Accepted
    • Drop Accepted Begins
    • Drop Accepted Ends
  • Drop Rejected
  • Drop On Original Location

In addition, the following interface elements play a role in some or all of the states above:

  • Page (static text, images provided)
  • Cursor
  • Tool Tip
  • Drag Object
  • Drag Object Proxy (can be same as drag object)
  • Drag Object's Parent Container
  • Drop Target