Getting rid of the annoying popups in khtml

Since some months the accessibility feature of khtml is a lot more aggressive; in 3.4 only sites that specify shortcuts hijack the control key, so you probably never saw the feature this blog is about.
In 3.5 pressing ctrl, and releasing it again will show a lot of little windows all over your page on the spots a href is located. The little window has the same yellow background color as a tooltip and shows 1 character. Pressing that character will activate the link.
Sounds great for people that don't want (or can't) to use the mouse, and as a workaround for the entirely unintuitive ordering of using tab to access the links.

The usability people have long ago learned that single key shortcuts are a definite no-no. Anyone remember when many years ago KMail had 'k' for select all? And 'd' for delete? Was great when you typed "kde" and you lost all your email :)
We fixed that by using 'ctrl-a' for select all. We now have the usability-guidelines that any default shortcut is with one or more of the Control, Alt, Shift or Meta modifier keys.
The Accessibility people probably have good reasons to ignore this lesson, so don't go staring all angry at them now, but the lesson is still a wise one that I get annoyed by whenever its being ignored. We have a 'Sticky keys' setting for people that need it, after all.
I see the little popups in khtml way to often, I almost never use them but the little yellow buggers are a huge warning to keep hands of the keyboard or some weird link might be followed (loosing all work, or worse).

If you see this happening in your KDE, I suggest you do the following;
locate your konquerorrc file. Its in something like $HOME/.kde/share/config/konquerorrc
Add this at the bottom of the file:

  [Access Keys]

And all is good :)
Have fun!


Does this mean we have to change the defaults of basically all shortcuts in KMail?

By Ingo Klöcker at Thu, 10/27/2005 - 12:59

I agree with Ingo's comment here. Only particular commands which deletes or does (heavy) modifications on things should definitely have an modification key in the shortcut. Innocent actions like "Next mail" or "Mark as..." can safely have a single key assigned. If this would be changed you're just teasing users instead of helping them.

Bram Schoenmakers (oh gosh, I got trapped in an usability discussion)
KDE Netherlands (www.kde.nl)

By Bram Schoenmakers at Thu, 10/27/2005 - 21:11

> oh gosh, I got trapped in an usability discussion

Got you! :)

By Thomas Zander at Thu, 10/27/2005 - 23:11

My statement that we should not use single keys, but keys together with modifiers should naturally be extended with "if those keys could possibly be used normally". So its still very OK to use arrow-right without any modifiers :)

Using the 's' key to open the search dialog is already a bit weird, but since its not really harmfull, I'll ignore it.
Having delete mapped to a char that you could type without knowing it after (for example) a focus change, now if KMail would do that, that would be a really bad thing.

ps. for KMail (which also used khtml) you can also disable the feature by not adding the above quoted text to the konquerorr, but to the khtmlrc in the same dir.

By Thomas Zander at Thu, 10/27/2005 - 23:10

Wouldn't it be better if by default you would simply need to keep the Ctrl key pressed down? That way the feature can be kept enabled since Ctrl-<someKey> would be a useful way to access shortcuts without being harmful.

And only if the StickyKeys accessibility aid is enabled behaviour would be as it is now. Sounds better than outright disabling the thing to me.


By Martijn Klingens at Thu, 10/27/2005 - 14:45

And what about Konqueror's shortcuts Ctrl+O, Ctrl+U, etc... ? For example, if Ctrl+P is taken by KHTML the user cannot print the document anymore with this shortcut.

Kind regards,

Bram Schoenmakers
KDE Netherlands (www.kde.nl)

By Bram Schoenmakers at Thu, 10/27/2005 - 21:15


What I write here is out of concern for the community as a whole, not simply the majority of users. I and many of my friends use accessable workstations. It is but a _SINGLE_ point to ponder amongst a multitude when making behavioral changes to applications and or Desktop environments.

On to the assumption. When a workstation is approached, unless intentionally re-configured by the owner/user (read: stereotypical user, like my mom or dad), certain assumptions are usually made about its potential behavior. It may be a mistaken assumption, but I and many user often presume the CTRL to be "safe." We have been conditioned to assume the desktop will require a second key simultaneously pressed along with CTRL to initiate ANY action. (Games and niche apps aside, as they typically do not permit the screensaver to activate or the display to go dormant)

The control key has been used by many users like myself, and even some applications (i.e. Xine), thus many a developer, to safely prevent screensavers from activating or laptops from sleeping in persuit of work or leasure. Personally, when I walk up to a workstation running ANY OS/Desktop I press the CTRL key to activate the dormant display.

With a potential shift in KDE towards making the CTRL key behave more like the ALT key where tapping it once (i.e in KMail once and the menu is focused, Konqueror does not exhibit this behavior) now provides a menu of choices as a _default behavior_ concerns me as an admin and a user.

(KMail, to it's detriment does not proceed to activate the desired menu if the underlined hotkey is subsequently pressed _after_ releasing ALT. However the arrow keys function as a work around. However this is a usability enhancement for another discussion)

Is this a mistaken assumption? Possibly. A universally assumed mode of behavior? Well, I have yet to meet someone other than an accessability expert, accessability aware individual, or accessability user who assumes anything other than a "safe" CTRL key.

Yes, the first keystroke is intercepted by the screensaver/os _IF_ it is active/dormant. However, visually impared individuals cannot always see if a screensaver is active or a display is dormant. Action is still necessary as _common_ Desktops and/or operating systems universally activate some form of display powersave state and must be "awakened."

With mouse gestures becoming common, and more single keys performing or providing access to actions, how is one to safely prod their workstation on to continual wakefullness or revive it from slumber?


Christopher Gahlon

By chipper02 at Wed, 11/02/2005 - 19:24