Tooltips...usability please?

by Eric M. Burke

I'm trying to evaluate Macromedia Flash MX just for fun. I never used the product, and the GUI is proving to be quite difficult to learn.

I can generally figure stuff out, but lack of tooltips is driving me nuts. What the #$%^ do these buttons do:


A simple tooltip would likely make these buttons obvious, but half of the buttons in the Flash MX GUI don't have any tips. No status bar line help, either. Nor do they have the typical "Context Help" toolbar button that would let me click on the button to figure out what it is. To top it off, I cannot even right click on these buttons to figure out what they do. No context menu, nada, zero.

Another gripe - keyboard shortcuts are not consistently displayed. You can right-click on the timeline and select "Insert Keyframe". The menu does not display the fact that you can also hit F6 to insert the keyframe. How are us hapless users supposed to figure out keyboard shortcuts for all of the other menu items? It sure would be nice to display the shortcuts right there by the menu text, just like a sane person would expect a GUI to do.

My Flash MX evaluation is not getting off to a good start. I've spent about an hour tinkering, another 15 minutes writing this blog blowing off steam, and I've barely scratched the surface of what this tool is supposed to do.

The most frustrating part? Things like tooltips, context help, and displaying keyboard shortcuts are insanely easy things to add to the GUI. Adding these features to the GUI is trivial, making the tool infinitely easier for newbies. Seems like a no-brainer to me.


2004-07-26 16:00:12
They do have tooltips
Um...they do have tooltips. At least they do for me (in both Flash MX and Flash MX 2004 Professional). From left to right:
Insert Layer, Add Motion Guide, Insert Layer Folder.

I hadn't noticed that the shortcut aren't mentioned in the the menus though, that is a drag. I think the only good way to learn stuff like that is to work in an office with several people who use Flash and notify each other when they find something new. That's how I did it :)

2004-07-26 17:23:42
Re: They do have tooltips
Curious...what platform are you running this on? I'm using Windows XP. Some icons have tips, others (like the ones I included in the blog) don't.