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Summary Pushbuttons Optimize Dialog Content and Size

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000121210D
Original Publication Date: 1991-Aug-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Apr-03
Document File: 4 page(s) / 144K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Related People

Palmer, DR: AUTHOR

Abstract

Many times a dialog window in a graphical user interface is not large enough to hold all the information that would logically belong there. The traditional solution adds pulldown menus to the primary dialog window. The user selects an option from one of these menus to invoke one of several sub-dialogs that together hold all the information that logically belongs to the primary dialog window. This approach can confuse and frustrate the user because the primary dialog window does not contain sufficient information for the user to choose the correct pulldown option.

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Summary Pushbuttons Optimize Dialog Content and Size

      Many times a dialog window in a graphical user interface
is not large enough to hold all the information that would logically
belong there.  The traditional solution adds pulldown menus to the
primary dialog window.  The user selects an option from one of these
menus to invoke one of several sub-dialogs that together hold all the
information that logically belongs to the primary dialog window.
This approach can confuse and frustrate the user because the primary
dialog window does not contain sufficient information for the user to
choose the correct pulldown option.

      The approach disclosed herein associates each sub-dialog with a
summary of the parameters it controls. Each summary is displayed in
the primary window and includes a pushbutton that will invoke the
appropriate sub-dialog. Through careful choice of the summary
contents, the dialog designer can optimize the trade-off between the
amount of information displayed in the primary dialog window and the
window's size.

      A "dialog window" in a graphical user interface gathers
information about a logically related set of parameters.  If only a
small amount of information is needed, a well-designed dialog will
generally allow the user to directly change the parameters by
updating fields in the dialog window itself.  Fig. 1 shows an example
of such a dialog. A problem arises when the amount of information is
too large to fit in the dialog window itself.  Because all of the
parameters are logically related to each other, the user will expect
them to be changeable from a single dialog yet there is not
sufficient screen space in the dialog window to contain all fields.

      This problem has been solved in the past by dividing the
information that is too large to fit in the primary dialog among
several sub-dialogs.  The primary dialog window contains a menu bar
listing possible menu choices.  The user pulls down a menu and
selects an option.  The a sub-dialog appears and the user can update
a subset of the primary dialog window's parameters.  By selecting
each pulldown option of each menu, the user can display all the
sub-dialogs and specify values for all of the primary window's
parameters.  Fig. 2 shows a sample dialog with one of the menus
pulled down.  There are two menus in the sample, "Spacing" and
"Text"; the displayed menu shows two pulldown options, "Start-Tag
Text" and "End-Tag Text."

      The pulldown solution allows the information to be divided into
several sub-dialogs yet they remain logically related to each other
because the user invokes them from the same primary dialog window.
The pulldown solution is incomplete, however, because:
      *    the user cannot see the current parameter values without
invoking one of the sub-dialogs,
      *    the pulldown options are limited to a few words (which may
not be a sufficient description) and so the user may not know...