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FBNS: Need to provide menu- and toolbar items for all actions ?

Klaas van Gelder
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 08, 2004
Posts: 100
Hi all,
In my FBN gui, I use both a toolbar and a dropdown-menu to access the different actions. For each action, I have implemented an Action class, which defines the action code, tooltip text and icon for the action.

For some actions, I think they will never be called from the toolbar or deopdown-menu. When a user searches for flights, he selects the From and To comboboxes and presses the Search button, which is logically positioned right next to the comboboxes.
When the user books a flight, he selects a flight, enters the seats and presses the Book button, which is located at the bottom right of the screen.

So, do we still need to include the Search and Book actions in the toolbar and the dropdownmenu ? I think this is a bit redundant, because nobody will select them there.

One other question, the dropdownmenu shows automaticcaly the icons belonging to the actions. In most examples I see, icons are used for the toolbar, but not for the dropdown menu (though in JBuilder, they ARE shown !). So what is best practice ? And how can we selectively disable the icons in the dropdownmenu, while using the same Actions as for the toolbar with icons ?

Regards, Klaas
[ September 16, 2004: Message edited by: Klaas van Gelder ]

"What you don't know, can't help you"
SCJP (81%), SCWCD (81%), SCJD (354/400), SCBCD (85%)
Paul Bourdeaux
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Joined: May 24, 2004
Posts: 783
So, do we still need to include the Search and Book actions in the toolbar and the dropdown menu? I think this is a bit redundant, because nobody will select them there.
While most people will probably use the logically placed buttons, we cannot assume that nobody will use the menus. I teach some application basics courses to the end users supported by my department, and there are always one or two people that prefer to use menu commands instead of toolbars, mnemonics, or shortcut keys. There is also a standard user expectation that every command be available somewhere in the menu system. Leaving your Search and Book action out of the menu would violate this expectation, which could cause frustration for your users (and probably the tester!)

One other question, the dropdown menu shows automatically the icons belonging to the actions. In most examples I see, icons are used for the toolbar, but not for the dropdown menu. So what is best practice?
I have seen it done both ways, but IMHO I prefer having the icons in the drop down menu as well. This serves two purposes:

1) It makes commonly used actions easier to find. It takes less time for a person to register an icon that it does to read words. This was one of the driving forces behind creating icons in the first place...

2) It allows newer users to quickly associate the buttons with their appropriate command. If someone uses the menu to Search for a record, and sees the Search icon next to the command in the menu, they will associate this icon with the Search command elsewhere in the application - like on the toolbar or on the button that is placed logically to the right of your combo boxes.
[ September 16, 2004: Message edited by: Paul Bourdeaux ]

“Programming today is a race between software engineers striving to build bigger and better idiot-proof programs, and the Universe trying to produce bigger and better idiots. So far, the Universe is winning.” - Rich Cook
Klaas van Gelder
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 08, 2004
Posts: 100
Thanx Paul, I agree with your comments and will create a menu item for all user actions. And also will leave the images in the dropdown menu. In fact, JBuilder is the first big and professional application which also follow this approach.
That does mean that i have to find an icon for the bookFlight action... and the Look&Feel site of Sun does not have an appropriate one...
Regards, Klaas
[ September 16, 2004: Message edited by: Klaas van Gelder ]
 
It is sorta covered in the JavaRanch Style Guide.
 
subject: FBNS: Need to provide menu- and toolbar items for all actions ?