[Qgis-developer] Better Menus for QGIS 1.0

Tom Elwertowski telwertowski at comcast.net
Mon Jun 30 02:09:28 EDT 2008


As we approach QGIS 1.0, I would like to see a menu overhaul both to make QGIS more accessible to new users and to bring QGIS into compliance with Apple standards. I will prepare a revised menu design and implement it if the general concept is acceptable. If any Mac standard conflicts with other platform standards, I will conditionalize these differences just for a Mac.  

1. The menu system should be somewhat like a table of contents. When I first use an unfamiliar application, I check the capabilities by scanning through all the menus. If I don't find a menu item with a phrase related to the task I hope to accomplish, I conclude that the application doesn't do it. At present, some QGIS functionality is accessible only though toolbars and context menus. A new user shouldn't have to guess the meaning of icons or where to click to get a context menu even though these make great shortcuts for initiated users.

The Mac also has a Hide/Show Toolbar window control. An application should be fully functional when toolbars are hidden. Apple's Human Interface Guidelines says "Make sure that every toolbar item you create has an associated menu command."

2. Every QGIS window should have an associated menu bar, either the main menu bar or its own menu bar. The application menu bar is displayed across the top of the screen on a Mac; this space becomes blank when there isn't an associated menu. At present, Print Composer and Attribute Table windows have no menu bar.

3. There is no Window menu and windows get lost below other windows. Although it's a bug, some already open QGIS windows don't move forward when the command to open them is invoked again; a Window menu would let you know what's open. There is also no Edit menu; the highlight state of the Copy/Paste menu items should provide a clue for where these functions are or aren't available.

Apple's HIG says: The menu bar ... is always visible and available ... Always contains ... a Window menu ... contain the following menus, if they make sense in your application ... an Edit menu"

Moving beyond these Mac usability issues, I would also like to see consistency between menus and toolbars. For example, the File menu uses the order New, Open, Save while the File toolbar uses New, Save, Open. I find this confusing. A similar oddity is that New Layer is in the Layer toolbar but Add Layer is in the File toolbar. Combining two menus into one toolbar might make sense but having two almost corresponding menus and toolbars where a few items are in one menu but the other toolbar is also confusing.

Now that the feature set for QGIS 1.0 is fixed, I think we should take the opportunity to review and organize all existing commands. What do others think?


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