Some changes to user interface design come with a fanfare but some seek to creep in unannounced. Perhaps I just wasn’t paying attention but I have recently spotted a trend for scroll bars to become a bit more information rich.
A few weeks ago, I realised that, when I did an in-page search in the Opera browser, the scroll bar now indicates where in the page the results are found. At first, I thought it was a visual glitch but, once I figured it out, I realised how useful that is. Sometimes you want to work through every result but, at other times, a cluster of hits indicates a particular section of interest. If nothing else, it helps maintain the sense of where you are on the overall page and how many more screens you are going to have to glance at before you are done.
I was going to blog about it but other things came up. Lo and behold, I was working in Visual Studio Code today (it is, for my taste, a better environment on Windows for Vim like editing than the standalone Vim program) and I spotted a similar effect. In fact, in this case, you don’t even have to search. Simply being in or next to a word indicates everywhere else it appears in the document in the scroll bar. That was a boon for today’s task (preparing my talk for church tomorrow morning) because I could see if I was overusing certain words.
It is a minor feature, to be sure, and unobtrusive if you don’t want it but I shall be very happy if this turns out to be a trend or even that it has been going on for ages and I just haven’t noticed.