Original Publication Date: 2003-Apr-04
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2003-Apr-04
Modern-day applications often have so much functionality that if a user wanted to have toolbars showing for all the tasks that could be performed, those toolbars would steal a large portion of usable space away from the application. Described herein is a method to provide quick and easy access to all available toolbars without having them on the screen at all times. In addition, this mechanism provides the user with the ability to easily browse all available toolbar mechanisms should they not be familiar with the selections available.
Most applications tend to have one toolbar that can be considered a "main" toolbar. This toolbar gets a large percentage of total toolbar usage since it usually contains critical and common functionality (e.g. the bold and underline buttons for a Word Processing program). Since most operations can be handled by this "main" toolbar, the mechanism described herein causes this toolbar to persist on-screen, while all others are hidden. As such, only one toolbar may be visible at any given time. All of the other toolbars would be stored in a menu and would be available when needed, yet they would not perpetually occupy screen real estate.
Using this method, the user would have to bring up a menu in order to access "secondary" toolbars. This could be accomplished either by right clicking on the current toolbar or by clicking a button on the toolbar reserved specifically for this purpose. This would result in a pull-down menu as follows:
When a button is selected on any of the toolbars, the list retracts. It can be configured such that upon contraction of this list, the currently visible toolbar will always be replaced by the most recently used toolbar. Alternatively, the user can configure this such that the default "main" toolbar will always be shown. In this way, a user is able to retain only one permanent toolbar and have quick and easy access to all other toolbars. Further, users are empowered with the ability to browse all available toolbar mechanism...