Re: Toolbars

Subject: Re: Toolbars
From: Stuart Burnfield <slb -at- FS -dot- COM -dot- AU>
Date: Mon, 2 Sep 1996 12:57:47 +0800

Mike Wing <mjwing -at- INGR -dot- COM> said:
> I don't see the problem with toolbars.

Nor do I, and I didn't mean to say they were bad. Mike, I think you're
talking about using toolbars to help experienced users be more efficient.
I agree with this. In fact, I was quite a toolbar-happy Word user back
when I was obliged to use the thing.

However, I took Sue Gallagher's comments to mean that toolbars can or
should be the primary means of interaction for new users. I just think
there's a danger of overprotecting users and not encouraging them to
continue learning by exploring the product. It's good to lower the first
rung on the ladder, but not if it makes it that much further to get to
the second rung.

Menus, 'undo', Tool tips and so on all encourage learning and exploration
of the product.

There's an old, false dichotomy between helping beginners at the expense
of experts and helping experts at the expense of beginners. Good software
should be optimised for what most users need to do most of the time, and
it should provide a learning path to take users as far as they want and
need to go.

> On a side note, I've seen some nifty uses of toolbars in some
> object-oriented applications. These applications use a "step sequence"
> toolbar to guide the user through a series of operational steps. . .

Like a Wizard?

Stuart Burnfield (slb -at- fs -dot- com -dot- au) Voice: +61 9 328 8288
Functional Software Pty Ltd Fax: +61 9 328 8616

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