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Motif and CDE 2.1 Style Guide

CDE Application Design Guidelines

Your application should present its components to the user in a logical and task-oriented manner. Menus should follow a common organization and naming convention to enable users to use the same rules and practices across the desktop. The following sections outline CDE application design and menu structure requirements.

General Guidelines

Consider the following guidelines when designing a CDE application:

  1. There should always be exactly one control within any window of your application that has the input focus if the window in which it resides has the input focus.

    If any window within your application has focus, some control within that window must have focus. The user should not have to explicitly set focus to a control within the window.

  2. When a text field within your application does not have input focus, do not display the text cursor within that field.

    Although use of inactive text cursors is allowed within Motif, it is better to hide the text cursor when removing focus rather than display the inactive text cursor. This makes it easier for the user to quickly scan the screen or window to determine which text field currently has focus.

  3. Your application should provide keyboard mnemonics for all buttons, menus, and menu items displayed within the application.

    Once the user becomes adept at using your application, keyboard mnemonics are a quick way to access functionality. Mnemonics also facilitate access to functionality from within keyboard-centric applications or windows. The user need not frequently switch between using the mouse and keyboard. Mnemonics should be provided pervasively throughout the user interface.

  4. Your application should provide shortcut keys (accelerators) for those functions that you expect the user to use frequently.

    Shortcut keys provide the user who has become expert at using your application a quick way to access application functionality without going through menus and dialog boxes.

  5. If your application does not use the values of global environment settings, such as multiclick timeout intervals, drag thresholds, window color settings, mouse left- or right-handedness, and so on, but instead uses its own values for these settings, then your application should provide one or more Options dialog boxes that allow the user to change the values for these settings.

    In general, you should not override the value of settings treated as global environment settings. The user controls these settings through the CDE Style Manager. If you choose to ignore these settings and specify your own settings, then your application will be inconsistent with other applications in CDE. If you nevertheless choose to provide your own values, then you must provide the user with a way to make your settings consistent with the rest of the desktop.

Tool Bars

Tool bars provide quick access to already user-accessible functions. Some common usages of tool bars include navigation, changing data views, accessing frequently used tools or editors, simplifying the number of steps to complete a common operation, and providing a fast path to frequently used menu items. Figure 57 is an example of a tool bar on the CDE Calendar.

Figure 57. Tool Bar on the CDE Calendar.

View figure.

Tool Bar Design Issues

When designing your application and an associated tool bar, consider the following guidelines:

  1. Use tool bars only when they improve or enhance user access to common operations, such as in an application with several large menus.

  2. Present a natural organization of actions on the tool bar. Grouping items that are dissimilar can confuse the user if the item they are looking for is not in the proper context.

  3. Do not place too many items in the tool bar. The user should be able to find and use an item quickly. Keep the number of buttons to a minimum so that you do not increase the difficulty of using a tool bar.

  4. Do not use cryptic icons as they can confuse the user. Keep the pixmaps as simple as possible. Remember that all graphics must be international in scope. When designing a graphic to represent a command, such as Save, remember that the icon has to represent a verb, as opposed to a noun, like most other icons.

Tool Bar Components

You typically use the following Motif components when constructing a tool bar:

Tool bar container
The tool bar uses a container component to provide a layout mechanism for the drawn buttons that make up a tool bar. You may choose most any container for the tool bar, as long as it allows for the specified behavior. The tool bar container is placed directly under the menu bar and should be the same width as the window, as well as similar height to the menu bar.

Tool bar button
The Motif widget DrawnButton provides an appropriate medium for the graphic buttons in tool bars.

The pixmap for the drawn button is the graphic that conveys the functionality to be expected by pushing a particular button.

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