Re: Toolbars

Subject: Re: Toolbars
From: "Susan W. Gallagher" <sgallagher -at- EXPERSOFT -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 28 Aug 1996 11:01:07 -0700

At 11:08 AM 8/28/96 EDT, Cheryl Kidder wrote:

>When you create toolbars are they typically used, as in Microsoft, for such
>actions as SAVE, CLOSE, DELETE, OPEN?

>Our initial design has a toolbar that is used for navigational purposes
>between applications. The "editing" buttons mentioned above appear on the
>screen itself as buttons.

>Curious as to the rules governing design of toolbars and what you have
>experienced.

MicroSoft says...
"Generally, toolbars are used to provide quick access to specific
commands or options. These commands or options are usually also
provided in menus or secondary windows."

and later...
"The behavior of controls in a toolbar usually have an immediate
effect on the data they affect. For example, if a command button
in a toolbar changes the property of a text to bold, choosing that
button immediately changes the text to bold; no further action is
required."

These quotes are taken from the MS Windows User Interface Design
Guide 4.0.

What that *means* is that, when you provide a toolbar, you should
provide quick access to those actions that users are expected to
perform frequently. So, if the Save button on the interface accesses
the "Save As" dialog, the Save toolbar button should just save, without
accessing the dialog. Likewise, the Print menu option usually accesses
the Print dialog, but the toolbar button just sends the whole doc to
the default printer.

So, if you expect your users to switch between applications frequently,
application switching is a good thing to put on a toolbar. However,
application switching should also appear elsewhere on the interface --
maybe in a menu.

Although it's possible to attach keyboard shortcuts to toolbar buttons,
it isn't usually done because the shortcuts are not easily communicated.
Alternate access, therefore, should be provided so that keyboard users
can access those funcitons, too.

Sue Gallagher
sgallagher -at- expersoft -dot- com
-- The _Guide_ is definitive.
Reality is frequently inaccurate.

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