Toolbar button menus (was Re: Self Documenting Interfaces)

Joachim Schlesener wrote:
> Dan Kaminsky writes:
>  > ...
>  > 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.

This is good, although I still don't like the idea of having to
click on a tooltip.  Tooltips don't always pop up in the same
place, even for the same button.  Trying to click on one is like
tracking a moving target with a pellet gun.  (Well, sorta (c:) 
IMHO, the cleanest solution would be a right-click on a toolbar
button pulling up the related help item in the GNOME
help-browser.  No extra fields.  No weird tooltip clicking. 
Left-click is execute.  Right-click is query.  That sorta follows
the pop-up menu philosophy, too.

The disadvantage to this is that it would compromise the
consistency of context-sensitive help in other areas of the app. 
A right-click elsewhere will get you a menu, if anything.  You'd
almost expect a little one-item menu to pop up out of the toolbar
button, but that's a little funny.  

Come to think of it, though, what's wrong with tool button menus,
as long as we have more than one menu item?  We could have
something like this:

|  Execute             |
|  Change Icon...      |
|  Hide/Show Text      |
|  Hide/Show Tooltips  |
|  Large/Small Icons   |
|  Color/B & W         |
|  Help                |

...Plus any other toolbutton properties that might apply.  As a
user, you could create a pretty funky-looking toolbar with text
on some icons, and larger icons mixed in with smaller icons... 
Actually, I think that sounds pretty cool.  As long as we provide
a global menu for the toolbar as a whole, and start with sensible
defaults, it shouldn't get in the way.

Anyone have strong opinions for/against toolbutton menus?  It'd
avoid having YAPD (Yet Another Properties Dialog).


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