Browse Prior Art Database

Shortcut Menu for Graphical User Interfaces

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000015387D
Original Publication Date: 2002-Apr-26
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2003-Jun-20
Document File: 3 page(s) / 149K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Abstract

Disclosed is a user-interface control that will facilitate the learning of and use of a product's shortcut keys. It will display, at the user's demand, all the shortcut keys for a product, reducing the need for users to search menu by menu for shortcut keys, and increasing the efficiency of the user's work.

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Shortcut Menu for Graphical User Interfaces

  Disclosed is a user-interface control that will facilitate the learning of and use of a product's shortcut keys. It will display, at the user's demand, all the shortcut keys for a product, reducing the need for users to search menu by menu for shortcut keys, and increasing the efficiency of the user's work.

Most software programs are moving from a text-based interface to a graphical user interface
(e.g., with menus, toolbars, etc.) which often rely heavily on point-and-click operations with the mouse. There are still many users however (especially data-entry users) for whom strictly using the keyboard is more efficient than using the keyboard and mouse. Because many text-based interfaces did not have graphical drop-down menus, they often included a list of commands and the corresponding function keys to help the user (see Fig. 1).

Figure 1. Shortcut keys in a text-based interface.

Once users became experienced with these programs and functions, they were able to move quickly from screen to screen and field to field, partly because they didn't have to move their hand to the mouse and point and click on a graphical menu. While there are many advantages to a graphical user interface, having to move one's hand from the keyboard to the mouse to access the appropriate menu command or toolbar button could potentially slow down a data-entry user. There are ways to access all the commands without having to move your hands from the keyboard (e.g., mnemonics and shortcut keys), but they currently have some shortcomings. Mnemonics allow the user to press the Alt key + a specific mnemonic letter to open the menu
(e.g., Alt + F for the File menu). You can then press a specific mnemonic letter to activate a command within that menu (e.g., P for Print). However, this requires at least 2 sets of keystrokes for each command: one to open the menu, and one to activate the command. If the command is one you haven't used in a while or you can't remember exactly which menu it is under, you may have to browse several menus to find the correct command, increasing the number of necessary keystrokes. The quickest way to activate a menu command without having to move your hands from the keyboard would be through a shortcut key (e.g., Ctl + P to Print). However, these have an initial learning curve, especially for commands that are unique to a given program. Until the user learns what the shortcut key is for each command, they have to open the menu to see the shortcut key associated with the menu command. Even when they learn the shortcut key, they may forget it if they haven't used it in a while. In the old text-based interfaces, they would just look at the bottom to see what the appropriate function key was.

This invention proposes a control for graphical user interfaces (esp...