[Usability] Shortcuts Usability Improvement : Idea for GSoC 2007

Hi folks,

I'm exposing here a GSoC project idea not listed in the 2007 Ideas
Pool and I would appreciate any comments/suggestion from you,
GTK+/GNOME Usability team, especially concerning the idea relevance to
GNOME project.

Here is the idea draft I sent to gtk+dev list.
Thank you in advance for taking the time to read it.

The idea was motivated by my experience as user/developer and by the
following GNOME HIG quote:
"A well-designed keyboard user interface plays a key role when you are
designing applications."

Here we go..

       Improve the visual indication of keyboard shortcuts in UI.

  The shortcuts support in GTK+ is powerful and very well designed,
although visual indications of available shortcuts are provided just
by Labels and AccelLables. It allows software developers to design a
very nice keyboard support to their applications and most of the users
I know understand well access keys indicated on those Labels and

  GTK+ might allow developers to expose available mnemonics near
to it's widgets even when there is no (Accel)Label related to it, e.g.
a Canvas area. When user holds the first key of an accelerator key
combination, e.g. CONTROL or ALT, then the available shortcuts with
that key might pops-up near to it's widgets.
  It will allow users to easily identify and jump fast across
application UI areas without having to press several TABs or
SHIFT+TABs to get there (Have you ever wondered "where is the focus
  This approach should work very well even on 'keyboard centric'
applications like Text Editors. On this applications, users can't
navigate properly using TABs.
  We might go even further allowing a second level of shortcuts to
widget's children. Just to make it clear, the user could press ALT+T
to activate the 'Toolbar' and then all active ToolItems might show
it's mnemonic so user could press one and get it activated.

  There are some mock-ups to illustrate this idea applied to Nautilus
[1], Gedit [2] and GtkFileChooser [3].

 * "Novice and advanced users alike will be able accomplish tasks
quickly and easily" [GNOME HIG]
* Helping users to identify available mnemonics in order to navigate
easily across the user interface.
* Improving the applications accessibility.
* Software developers could improve it's applications keyboard
support to fits even better into GNOME HIG.

I'm looking forward to receiving your feedback.
Best regards,

[1] Nautilus: http://picasaweb.google.com/lmveloso/GnomeSoC2007Idea/photo#5040744879812560818
[2] Gedit: http://picasaweb.google.com/lmveloso/GnomeSoC2007Idea/photo#5040744879812560834
[3] GtkFileChooser:

2007/3/11, Steve Frécinaux <nudrema gmail com>:
      Improve the visual indication of keyboard shortcuts in UI.

The idea looks pretty cool indeed, and reminds me what konqueror does
for webpages (it adds "random" shortcuts to the fist hyperlinks of a

What's harder is to play nice with the shorcuts that are already
defined, like mnemonics and regular shortcuts (Shouldn't ctrl+n appear
directly near the "new" icon from the toolbar ?).

Really nice you have pointed it out.

Yes, it should. In fact, already defined shortcuts should work without
any (or with minimal) code modifications. So, when users holds
Control key, all those already defined shortcuts have to pops-up. This
must be the project primary goal.

The second goal is about allowing a complementary keyboard approach:
software developers might be able to design a menu-like shortcuts to
some desired UI components (as shown by those mock-ups). By
'menu-like' here I mean keyboard sequences as ALT+F Q, ALT+F P, ALT+E
X. Toolbars could be accessed in both ways if the software developer
add this complementary shortcut approach.

Good luck in completing the spec :-)

Thank you!

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