Browse Prior Art Database

Secondary Help Available from Text of Common Tooltip

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000014931D
Original Publication Date: 2001-Jul-04
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2003-Jun-20
Document File: 2 page(s) / 169K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Abstract

Graphical user interfaces are pervasive in the computing industry today. Typical applications and operating system interfaces feature a myriad of controls and 'widgets' that users must understand semantically and interact with physically to navigate and otherwise complete tasks.

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Secondary Help Available from Text of Common Tooltip

Graphical user interfaces are pervasive in the computing industry today. Typical applications and operating system interfaces feature a myriad of controls and 'widgets' that users must understand semantically and interact with physically to navigate and otherwise complete tasks.

To aid users in understanding visual items as they are encountered, in a "just-in-time" manner, the common industry practice of providing "tooltips" (pop-up contextual help) has evolved. Originally these took the look of 'balloons' like those used for dialogue in cartoons, with text describing an object that the balloon pointed to as seen in Figure 1.1:

Figure 1.1. Balloon style tooltip .

Today, other forms are used, such as rectangular boxes filled with text that might appear adjacent to the object in question after the user has 'hovered' the mouse pointer over the object past some threshold amount of time as seen in figure 1.2.

Figure 1.2. Standard Windows style tooltip.

Because these boxes of text obscure the interface beneath them, they are by design supposed to be as small as possible, with the absolute minimum amount of text needed to help the user better understand the subject in question. But because of this design trade-off, sometimes users are still uncertain, and would like more extensive information.

This invention takes advantage of the concept of 'hyperlinks' to provide users a way to obtain more detailed information by clicking on appropriately marked text within the tooltip. When the user follows such a link, the tooltip itself could change, showing new information related to the link text. Or, the application's general help engine could be started, with the topic in question loaded initially. For example, fi...