GoogleIt Mail IT Print IT PermaLinkHas Anyone Else Noticed A Usability Issue With Page Up/Down Scrolling In Firefox
12:37:44 PM

I upgraded Firefox to a couple of days ago, which fixed the problem with DWA, but I've been noticing something I don't like. The Page Up and Page Down keys, which I routinely use for scrolling long pages, are behaving very inconsistently. It seems to be a focus issue. On some pages accessed in some ways, some of the time, it seems as if nothing has the focus for Page Up/Page Down keys they're being ignored completely. I've seen this when I open an article in Volker's blog from an external application (my RSS reader, for example). Clicking on the page to try to give it the focus is no help: the PageUp/Down keys still do nothing. If from there I go up to the address bar and truncate the URL to just "" and press Enter, the address bar is retaining focus so Page Down exposes the drop-down of recent URLs, which isn't what I expect to happen after the page transition has occurred. This does not happen with 100% consistency. I've tried this sequence at least 20 times now, and sometimes the Page Up/Down keys do work as expected. I haven't pinned down exactly what, whether timing or sequence of gestures and keys strokes, etc, makes the difference in result. In the cases where the address bar does capture the focus for Page Up/Page Down though, if I then use Alt-Tab to go to another window and then do it again to go back to Firefox, the situation has returned to what it was before: nothing has the focus so Page Up/Page Down are being ignored. And if I then place the cursor back in the address bar and -- without typing anything -- press return, focus goes to the page and Page Up/Page Down scroll as one would expect.

Just to be clear, this doesn't happen every time I try to open that particular page on Volker's blog. In fact, the last five or so times I've tried while writing this article it didn't happen, making me wonder whether or not to even publish this.

I've seen it enough, however, to really believe that something really is happening, and not just with Volker's blog, either. The same thing happened once when I opened this story on Ed Brill's blog, and the focuse remained in never-never-land after I clicked through to the comments, but when I tried to reproduce it by opening that page again, the Page Up/Down keys worked fine. I've also seen it on plenty of other non-blog pages the past few days, for example my Google custom home page. It is set as my home page in Firefox, and I've got enough widgets configured on it that scrolls a little bit beyond the bottom of my laptop screen. In this case the behavior seems to be consistent: focus goes to the Google search field so Page Up/Down events are dropping down the list of my recent search strings instead of scrolling the page. Clicking on the page body does give it focus for scrolling, unlike what I've obsreved on some other pages though, so it's not as aggravating in this case. Still, I don't ever recall this happening before, so I strongly suspect that there's some intended change in functionality in, but that it is having some unintended consequences. (Update: I just tried the Google page in IE, and it behaves the same way as in Firefox. Hmmm...

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