Help reinvented: good news for everyone

Here’s Jensen Harris’s Office UI Blog, which describes the evolution of the user interface in the next version of Microsoft Office: Have you ever tried to use a command that was disabled and couldn’t figure out why it was grayed out? Another feature we’ve added to tooltips is the ability to communicate to you why it’s disabled and what steps you might need to take to enable it.

Cardbox 3.0 has had this feature ever since we launched it. Here it is:

Illustration of help for disabled command

I suppose I should be irritated that Microsoft have independently invented the same feature, but I’m not. The reason is that people don’t always stumble on this feature for themselves, and a certain proportion of our support emails are a tedious repetition of “move the mouse onto the disabled command and see what Cardbox tells you”. If Microsoft Office does it too, and people get used to moving the mouse onto a disabled command to see why it’s disabled, it means less frustration for the users and fewer support requests to us.

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