Self Documenting Interfaces

Dan Kaminsky writes:
 > ...
 > [SUBNOTE:  Wow, I just realized a spiffy thing for GnomeTerm might be to be
 > able to highlight a word and immediately send it to apropos, man, HOW-TO, or
 > a specific search engine.]

Great idea. I think the help browser should be aware of highlighted text.
And it should search through all availible documentation resources
(man, info, html, faqs, pdf, ...) by itself and present a list of all found
places with short description a la whatis. Could possibly be realized
with a WWW search engine (?)

 > ...

 > While tooltips shouldn't disappear, I'd like a helpme checkbox up next to
 > the rest of the buttons.  This button would signal all tooltips to appear in
 > their normal boxes, blue and underlined.  They should be links to the
 > help/man/whatever file that describes their usage.  Click once, and the
 > tooltip unfolds in front of you with an indepth description of the function.
 > This would of course posess a pushpin so if you wanted to have the docs
 > available while attempting to utilize a function, they'd be there for you.
 > That's A Good Thing!

Sounds good. But I would prefer, if the indepth description would show 
up in the help-browser window because then I can read further, follow
some hyperlinks, if I need more explanation, etc. My idea is, that it
should be possible to click on the tooltip or press the Help-Key while 
a tooltip is showing, and then the appropiate help-page will be
presented in the help-browser. By placing the application and
help-browser windows side by side one could learn very fast - you
navigate in the application window and at the same time you get the 
help texts in the other.

 > There's more.  Us "experts" know that keyboard operations are orders of
 > magnitude more efficient than using a mouse.  The Xerox PARC designers knew
 > this too.  So lets shift up a gear documenting what keypresses do what.  Why
 > not have a text entry box on the title that continually lists the key
 > combination that would have executed the last command.  For example, click
 > the bold button in LyX, and a Control-B command is listed.  What if there
 > *is* no command for a specified action?  There'd be a blank box, and the
 > user could move his or her mouse up to that blank box, click once, and enter
 > their desired key combo.  It would show up in a different color, so if a
 > desired command was overridden by user preferences, its showup color would
 > make clear what happened.  (Of course, there's need to be a dead-obvious way
 > to list, add, or subtract commands.)

This is a really great idea. But after having learned the Shortkeys
this text entry box would waste space and therefore it must be
possible to hide it.
Well, you asked for some comments.
Regards, Joachim

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