Re: [Usability] Help tip area (Was: Better look Re: (no subject))

On Thu, 15 Dec 2005, Joachim Noreiko wrote:

> Date: Thu, 15 Dec 2005 11:05:17 +0000 (GMT)
> From: Joachim Noreiko <jnoreiko yahoo com>
> To: Josue Farde <josuefrade sapo pt>, usability gnome org
> Subject: [Usability] Help tip area (Was: Better look Re: (no subject))
> --- Josue Farde <josuefrade sapo pt> wrote:
> > and the explanation box insted of being on top of
> > the icon appears from
> > the top right side with the icon and the explanation
> > margined right...
> I didn't this idea at first... but the more I think
> about it, the more I like it.

This reminds me of something I have been thinking about for other reasons.
Adobe Elements 2 (and possible other versions) includes a context
sensitive Help/Hints Pallette.  It provides far more detailed information
than a status bar could possible provide, including pictures and
hyperlinks to more documentation.

If there were a standard Pallette/Dock widget in GTK I'd be suggesting a
Hint Pallette to Inkscape right now, instead of using all kinds of markup
in the status bar like they are currently doing (I couldn't find any
particular reason against them doing it but it seems inelegant and very

> Consider tooltips:
> - they often cover up the object they related to
> - they disppear before you've read them
> These are bad for users whose reading speed is slow,
> or whose speed at taking in interface elements is
> slow. In fact, they can sometimes confuse a user, who
> is reading one thing only to have it covered up. I
> sometimes find myself apologizing for tooltips when
> showing beginner users something, because they get in
> the way.
> There is a limit on how much you can fit into a
> tooltip.

Yes and no.  Multiline tooltips aren't the greatest idea but in some cases
they are workable, I've seen a few graphics applications which include
thumbnail image previews in tooltips.  KDE has done some interesting work
with huge tooltips which include all kinds of information and document
previews and while I'd hope we might take a different approach it has
worked out quite well for them.

(I'm not really disagreeing with you but I thought it might be interesting
to mention how far some people have taken the idea of tooltips.)

> This isn't a problem with the menu tooltips,

(in any good app menu tooltips are accompanied by status bar messages)

> You also can't get further help from a tooltip: you
> can't put a link to open the help documentation in
> yelp.

If more applications had good context help Shift+F1 would bring up the
Help Browser with something hopefully useful.  (The GIMP used to have
context help, not sure if it still does.)

> So, imagine a help box that comes down from the top panel, just like the
> calendar applet.  You could keep it open and check new messages that
> appear there. It would always be in the same place: you'd know where to
> look. It wouldn't interfere with the mouse or cover up the object you're
> looking at. It could provide more than a brief sentence to explain. It
> could provide a link to more extensive documentation.

> We would need to include a clause that the help box
> can NEVER be drawn as a speech bubble with a cartoon
> character based on office stationery ;)

This really could work, just so long as wasn't called Bob and didn't
have an animated character to go with it ;)

Context Hint applet possibly including help search.  (Although that would
require searchable help which amazingly we still dont have.)  Or you could
horribly abuse the notificatoin area.

> I think a mockup of this would be interesting -- but based on the
> current GNOME look. This is a separate idea from changing the theming of

The idea is great, similar to things others have done but it could take a
while to get something which was informative enough to be useful, easily
discoverable but without being too obtrusive or annoying for those who do
not want to use it.

- Alan

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