Re: Toolbar key navigation

Owen Taylor wrote:

> Open questions include:
>  - How do you get to the toolbar. (It seems like F10 and <tab>
>    to switch between menu bar and toolbars probably is a good
>    option here.)

Sounds good to me.

>  - What is the behavior for "normal widgets" in toolbars, such as
>    Nautilus's URL entry? This should, I think be in the normal
>    tab order, not something that you should access with F10, <tab>.

Good question.  Ideally, when a "normal widget" that happens to be on a
toolbar gets focus, it would be nice if subsequent navigation behaved
exactly the same regardless of how it got focus.  That is, you should be
able to use Tab to move to the next control in the "normal" Tab
sequence, or arrow keys to move focus to other controls on the toolbar.

The problem, of course, is that if we're specifying Tab to cycle between
available toolbars/menubar after F10 has been pressed, then "the next
control in the Tab sequence" is undefined (or rather, doubly-defined)
when a "normal widget" on the toolbar has focus.  

Our usual ploy for this situation is to use Tab for the most likely
common behaviour, and Ctrl+Tab for the other.  So given that we're only
allowing focus to be moved within a toolbar using the arrow keys and not
with Tab, having Tab cycle to the next "normal widget" and Ctrl+Tab to
the next toolbar/menubar (if and only if a "normal widget on a toolbar"
has focus), would probably work in the majority of cases.

It does fail if the "normal widget on a toolbar" also happens to be the
first widget on the toolbar, though, because then as you're cycling
through toolbars with Tab, you'll suddenly end up back in the main
window's Tab sequence.  (Assuming that the first control on each toolbar
is focused as you cycle through the toolbars with Tab-- is this the
case?)  Anyone have any bright ideas about how to avoid this?

I guess an alternative would be to switch it around so that, after
you've pressed F10, Ctrl+Tab (rather than Tab) switches you between
available toolbars/menubars, and Tab does nothing unless focus happens
to be on a "normal widget in a toolbar", in which case it takes you to
the next widget in the "normal" Tab sequence.  This avoids the need for
the special case above, but is somewhat less intuitive.

>  - What is the behavior for tearoff toolbars?

Again, I think I'd probably expect the behaviour to be the same whether
the toolbar is torn-off or not-- it might be a little hard to visually
follow the focus jumping around the screen between torn-off toolbars,
but that's (partly) why torn-off toolbars should probably have their own
titlebars :o)

> I'm wondering if then we should just say from an accessibility point
> of view:
>  "All actions accessible through the toolbar should be also available
>   through the menus, unless the widgets are in the normal focus chain."

I'm not sure there's any "unless" about it-- standard usability practice
dictates that everything on the toolbar should normally be available via
the menus anyway (including non-button controls like zooming, URL entry,
font selections etc.), unless there's a particularly good reason not to.


CALUM BENSON, Usability Engineer       Sun Microsystems Ireland
mailto:calum benson ireland sun com    Desktop Engineering Group                      +353 1 819 9771

Any opinions are personal and not necessarily those of Sun Microsystems

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