RFC: Standardising the Help menus

Francois Gouget fgouget at free.fr
Fri Apr 1 10:02:43 CDT 2011

I am in the process of reviewing Wine's resource files and more 
specifically the menus of its applications, and even more specifically 
the Help menu for now.

Currently they are a bit inconsistent and I propose to standardise them 
by following the GNOME interface guidelines. That is use the following 

          Contents      F1

So here is the data I gathered on this eminently critical issue ;-)

Windows User Experience Interaction Guidelines

 * The section about standard menus say we should use:
          <program name> help  F1
          About <program name> 

 * All applications seem to conform to the specification for the 
   'About' menu (except Sound Recorder which uses 'About' and Disk 
   Management which incorrectly adds an ellipsis).

 * But for the 'Help' menu there is a lot of inconsistency. In Windows 7 
   I got:
   'View Help': Notepad, Solitaire, Mine Sweeper, Calculator, FreeCell, 
       Internet Backgammon, Spider Solitaire
   '<program name> Help': Internet Explorer 8
   '<program name> Help Topics': Task Manager
   'Help Topics': Regedit, Task Scheduler, Disk Management
   'Help': Sound Recorder
   'Contents': msinfo32
   'None' (replaced by a toolbar icon): Explorer, Paint, XPS Viewer, 
       Windows Media Player, Backup and Restore, Sync Center

 * From the point above I conclude that following the Microsoft 
   Guidelines will not particularly help consistency with other Windows 
   applications, nor help meet the users expectations.

 * Putting the program name in the menu name means we will have as many 
   strings to translate as there are programs. This is more work for 
   translators and can yield inconsistencies from one program to the 

 * Putting the program name in the menu name also feels redundant to me. 
   Does one really expect Regedit to give you the help for Notepad? 
   Similarly one would expect an 'About' menu to be about the current 
   program, although in Wine's case it's more a generic About dialog.

Unix Interface Guidelines

 * The GNOME Human Interface Guidelines specify:
          Contents      F1

 * This allows sharing of the translations across programs.

 * It would make Wine's applications consistent with the system ones... 
   as long as one uses Gnome.

 * Because unfortunately this is a case where the KDE User Interface 
   Guidelines differ:
          <program name> Handbook...        F1
          What's This?                Shift+F1
          About <program name>...
          About KDE...

 * Using ellipses as specified for these menus makes absolutely no sense 
   and is inconsistent with their own guidelines regarding them. 
   Fortunately this seems to be a bug in the specification and the 
   applications don't uses ellipses (feel free to report this bug).

 * Both GNOME and KDE applications follow their guidelines pretty well.
   (except Gnome's Network Tools app which uses 'Help Ctrl+H' instead of 
   'Contents F1', maybe another bug to report)

 * However other applications, specifically FireFox and OpenOffice seem 
   to follow the Windows guidelines. VMware Workstation follows them 
   for the About menu, but follows GNOME's guidelines for the 'Contents' 
   help menu.

 * So given that we cannot be consistent with all Unix applications I 
   propose to pick the scheme that requires the less work for us, which 
   is GNOME's scheme.

Francois Gouget <fgouget at free.fr>              http://fgouget.free.fr/
                         Stolen from an Internet user:
              "f u cn rd ths, u cn gt a gd jb n cmptr prgrmmng !"

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