Originally posted by Kickaha
JD, I really suggest you do some investigation into UI research before relaying an opinion like that publicly. It might save you some embarrassment.
Just because you don't understand it, doesn't make it false. cf: evolution and fundamentalists.
'Hiding' is in reference to that fact that prior to clicking the right mouse button, there is *NO* visual indication that there is any functionality present. With left-clicking, you have menus, buttons, and other *visible* items giving immediate feedback to the user of "these are the things you can do". This is called discoverability and is one of the basic principles of good UI design. Contextual menus don't do that. They are hidden, ie, non-visible, ie non-direct, ie, harder to find. If a developer places some functionality *only* in a contextual menu, they have created a poor UI for that functionality. If they choose to place a *secondary* accessor to that functionality in a contextual menu (or keystroke), then they have scaled their UI for efficiency, but retained the discoverability principle. That's good UI. That's what shipping a single button mouse as default enforces at the developer end.
However, I get the feeling that I utterly wasted my time typing the above explanation.
Kickaha, I have to come in here to share Junkyard Dawgs embarrassment, because honestly, his posting was just spot-on. The more I read in this thread about this argument of discoverability, the more convinced I am that JD understands it, and you and all the other menu bar fans are labouring under a delusion. Youre all stating that actions on a menu bar are discoverable and actions on a context menu are hidden, as though that was an obvious truth. I dont think it is. Heres why...
You have an object on screen that you want to perform an action on. Two ways to do it; a) the context menu, or b) the menu bar. Method a): right-click the object. The program knows what the object is, and displays a context menu with actions appropriate to the object. Method b): left-click the object, move the cursor up to the menu bar, and click again on the menu item (out of probably half-a-dozen or so items) that you think has the action you need. If you get it wrong, as I do frequently, shuttle the mouse from side to side until you get it right. Now to my mind, method a is a lot more discoverable than method b.
OK, you do need to know that you can right-click to pull up a context menu, but on the Windows platform, that is becoming more and more an accepted convention. And thats happening because its very convenient. A string of menu bar items and a plethora of toolbars can be really bewildering - very often its not obvious what you need to click on. Much easier to just right-click on something, and let the program throw up a list of appropriate actions. The concept is easily understood, even by beginners.
Ive taught people to use MS Word. This is the sort of thing that happens very often: theyve got some text selected that they want to copy. I say ok, copy, its on the menu bar under edit. They look at the screen. Along the top are the words File Edit View etc. Under that are a couple of rows of buttons. Theyve no idea where to click; they dont know what a menu bar is. More importantly, they dont realise that if they click on the words at the top, a list of other words will appear underneath. And why should they? Its not intuitively obvious; you just learn it by experience. The same way that Windows users learn about right-clicking.
I actually hate menu bars. Ive seen so many programs trying to fit their various options around this straight-jacket format of File, Edit, View, whatever when it just doesnt apply, and it makes it really difficult to find things. I bet a lot of applications could do without a menu bar altogether. Mine does.
Yes Kickaha, I am one of your despised developers! Ive just brought out a little font management program for Windows. Youd probably hate it, as it breaks the guidelines all over the place. Not only is there no menu bar, but lots of areas on the screen dont look at first glance as if theyre clickable, although they are. And what will put it completely beyond the pale is that there are things you can only do with a right-click. But I challenge anyone (even you, Kickaha, if you know anyone with a PC) to play with it for half an hour and then tell me it isnt a quicker, easier way to do things. If Id stuck to the guidelines, Id never have developed it. If anyone is interested, theres a free trial version on my website www.fontrainbow.com.
This thread has given me a good deal of food for thought, as I intend to bring out an Apple version for my sins. Ill need to make adjustments of course, but what I certainly wont be doing is putting in a menu bar just to fit in with some clunky convention.