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Cracking The Code Of Amazon’s Instant Pulldown Menu

Written by Evan Schuman
March 8th, 2013

Say what you will about Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN), but it’s an impressive operation when it comes to sweating the details. One such design innovation from Amazon—it’s ultra-smooth, almost instantaneous-responding pulldown menus—was driving one developer crazy, until he (possibly) figured out how Amazon’s people did it. The developer is Ben Kamens, who is lead developer at Khan Academy, and this is his theory on the pulldown magic, along with his suggested code for replicating it. The trick appears to be not that different from Amazon’s gravity-based link assist Patent, where the system anticipates where the cursor is headed and opens the pulldown a split-second before the cursor gets there, making it feel like an immediate response.

Pulldowns have always been an efficient programmer tool

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(lots of content, minimal space), but never a shopper favorite. They are typically infuriating to use, with the submenus disappearing as the cursor tries to get there to click. Amazon’s approach fixes this issue, too, because the submenus politely stay there, assuming the shopper’s click will eventually arrive. Hats off to Mashable for first spotting this.


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