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“The Windows Interface Guidelines for Software Design” front cover
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The Windows Interface Guidelines for Software Design
An Application Design Guide

Microsoft Press, 1995
576 pages
ISBN: 1-5561-5679-0

This official set of guidelines for creating Windows-compliant user interfaces was published in 1995, and explains in depth then just released Windows 95. Profusely illustrated and nicely printed on a good quality paper, it seems to cover all the necessary bases on its 550+ pages. It might not be the best lecture ever – the text is rather dry and gets boring after a while – but for a reference book that it is, it’s hard to point out any serious problems. Even when Windows 95-like interface will be long but obsolete, the book might be a joy to riffle through. International word lists, presenting Windows terms translated to 25 languages, are a nice addition.

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Microsoft Windows User Experience Link points to external site

Back cover blurb

The following paragraphs are quoted verbatim from the back cover:

Here are the Microsoft® guidelines for creating well-designed, visually and functionally consistent user interfaces for applications that run on the Microsoft Windows operating system. The Windows Interface Guidelines for Software Design is an essential handbook for all programmers and designers working with the latest release of Windows, regardless of experience level or development tools used.

This book covers the basic principles of user interface design and design methodologies and specifies how data-centered concepts such as objects and properties can be applied to interface design. It includes detailed information on mouse, keyboard, and pen interaction and on how to use the common interface elements supplied by the system. This book also includes information about special considerations such as network computing, international users, and users with disabilities.

Topics include:
General input techniques – navigation, selection, viewing, editing, and creation, including both command and direct manipulation methods such as drag and drop.
Windows – primary and secondary types and their components, including property sheets, dialog boxes, message boxes, palette windows, and pop-up windows.
Menus, controls, and toolbars – types and their components and when to use them.
Microsoft OLE – how to support design interfaces for OLE embedded and linked objects, visual editing, and other forms of activation.
User assistance – how to use contextual forms of help, including tooltips and wizards.
Integration with the system – designing your software so that its interface functions and operates consistently with Windows.
Visual design – effective use of color, layout, fonts, and graphics.

If you are developing or are considering developing applications for Microsoft Windows, The Windows Interface Guidelines for Software Design is a key resource.


What’s Newxvii
How to Use This Guidexviii
How to Apply the Guidelinesxix
Conventions Used in This Guidexx
Part I: Fundamentals of designing user interaction
Chapter 1: Design Principles and Methodology
User-Centered Design Principles3
User in Control3
Design Methodology9
A Balanced Design Team9
The Design Cycle9
Usability Assessment in the Design Process12
Understanding Users15
Design Tradeoffs16
Chapter 2: Basic Concepts
Data-Centered Design17
Objects as Metaphor18
Object Characteristics 18
Putting Theory into Practice20
Chapter 3: The Windows Environment
The Desktop23
The Taskbar24
The Start Button25
Window Buttons26
The Status Area26
Chapter 4: Input Basics
Mouse Input29
Mouse Pointers29
Mouse Actions31
Keyboard Input32
Text Keys33
Access Keys33
Mode Keys34
Shortcut Keys35
Pen Input37
Pen Pointers39
Pen Gestures40
Pen Recognition41
Ink Input41
Chapter 5: General Interaction Techniques
Mouse and Pen Navigation44
Keyboard Navigation44
Selection Feedback46
Scope of Selection47
Hierarchical Selection47
Mouse Selection48
Pen Selection55
Keyboard Selection56
Selection Shortcuts57
Common Conventions for Supporting Operations58
Operations for a Multiple Selection58
Default Operations and Shortcut Techniques59
View Operations 59
Editing Operations62
Editing Text62
Pen-Specific Editing Techniques66
Transfer Operations72
Command Method74
Direct Manipulation Method77
Transfer Feedback83
Specialized Transfer Commands86
Shortcut Keys for Transfer Operations87
Creation Operations87
Copy Command87
New Command88
Insert Command88
Using Controls88
Using Templates88
Operations on Linked Objects89
Part II: Windows interface components
Chapter 6: Windows
Common Types of Windows95
Primary Window Components95
Window Frames96
Title Bars96
Title Bar Icons97
Title Text98
Title Bar Buttons101
Basic Window Operations103
Activating and Deactivating Windows103
Opening and Closing Windows104
Moving Windows106
Resizing Windows106
Scrolling Windows109
Splitting Windows116
Chapter 7: Menus, Controls, and Toolbars
The Menu Bar and Drop-down Menus121
Common Drop-down Menus 124
Pop-up Menus126
Pop-up Menu Interaction128
Common Pop-up Menus129
Cascading Menus133
Menu Titles134
Menu Items135
List Boxes149
Text Fields157
Other General Controls163
Pen-Specific Controls169
Toolbars and Status Bars172
Interaction with Controls in Toolbars and Status Bars173
Support for User Options174
Toolbar and Status Bar Controls175
Common Toolbar Buttons176
Chapter 8: Secondary Windows
Characteristics of Secondary Windows179
Appearance and Behavior179
Window Placement183
Modeless vs. Modal183
Default Buttons184
Navigation in Secondary Windows185
Validation of Input187
Property Sheets and Inspectors187
Property Sheet Interface188
Property Sheet Commands190
Closing a Property Sheet191
Property Inspectors191
Properties of a Multiple Selection192
Properties of a Heterogeneous Selection193
Properties of Grouped Items193
Dialog Boxes193
Dialog Box Commands194
Common Dialog Box Interfaces195
Palette Windows207
Message Boxes209
Title Bar Text209
Message Box Types209
Command Buttons in Message Boxes212
Message Box Text213
Pop-up Windows215
Part III: Design specifications and guidelines
Chapter 9: Window management
Single Document Window Interface219
Multiple Document Interface220
Opening and Closing MDI Windows222
Moving and Sizing MDI Windows223
Switching Between MDI Child Windows225
MDI Alternatives225
Selecting a Window Model233
Presentation of Object or Task233
Display Layout234
Data-Centered Design235
Combination of Alternatives235
Chapter 10: Integrating with the System
The Registry237
Registering Application State Information238
Registering Application Path Information241
Registering File Extensions242
Supporting Creation249
Registering Icons250
Registering Commands251
Enabling Printing253
Registering OLE253
Registering Shell Extensions254
Supporting the Quick View Command256
Registering Sound Events257
Copying Files257
Providing Access to Your Application260
Designing Your Installation Program260
Installing Fonts262
Installing Your Application on a Network262
Uninstalling Your Application263
Supporting AutoPlay264
System Naming Conventions266
Taskbar Integration268
Taskbar Window Buttons268
Status Notification269
Message Notification270
Application Desktop Toolbars271
Full-Screen Display272
Recycle Bin Integration273
Control Panel Integration273
Adding Control Panel Objects273
Adding to the Passwords Object273
Plug and Play Support275
System Settings and Notification275
Modeless Interaction276
Chapter 11: Working with OLE Embedded and OLE Linked Objects
The Interaction Model277
Creating OLE Embedded and OLE Linked Objects279
Transferring Objects279
Inserting New Objects285
Displaying Objects290
Selecting Objects293
Accessing Commands for Selected Objects295
Activating Objects297
Outside-in Activation297
Inside-out Activation297
Container Control of Activation298
OLE Visual Editing of OLE Embedded Objects300
The Active Hatched Border304
Menu Integration305
Keyboard Interface Integration308
Toolbars, Frame Adornments, and Palette Windows310
Opening OLE Embedded Objects313
Editing an OLE Linked Object316
Automatic and Manual Updating318
Operations and Links319
Types and Links320
Link Management320
Accessing Properties of OLE Objects321
The Properties Command321
The Links Command324
Converting Types326
Using Handles329
Undo Operations for Active and Open Objects330
Displaying Messages332
Object Application Messages332
OLE Linked Object Messages334
Status Line Messages336
Chapter 12: User Assistance
Contextual User Assistance339
Context-Sensitive Help339
Guidelines for Writing Context-Sensitive Help342
Status Bar Messages344
Guidelines for Writing Status Bar Messages345
The Help Command Button346
Task-Oriented Help347
Task Topic Windows347
Guidelines for Writing Task Help Topics348
Shortcut Buttons349
Reference Help350
The Reference Help Window351
Guidelines for Writing Reference Help352
The Help Topics Browser354
The Help Topics Tabs354
Guidelines for Designing Wizards359
Guidelines for Writing Text for Wizard Pages363
Chapter 13: Visual Design
Visual Communication365
Composition and Organization366
Design of Visual Elements372
Basic Border Styles372
Window Border Style373
Button Border Styles374
Field Border Style375
Status Field Border Style376
Grouping Border Style376
Visual States for Controls377
Font and Size384
Grouping and Spacing388
Design of Graphic Images390
Icon Design391
Pointer Design394
Selection Appearance395
Transfer Appearance398
Open Appearance399
Chapter 14: Special Design Considerations
Types of Disabilities404
Types of Accessibility Aids406
Compatibility with Screen Review Utilities408
The User’s Point of Focus411
Timing and Navigational Interfaces411
Keyboard and Mouse Interface413
Documentation, Packaging, and Support414
Usability Testing414
Keyboards 418
Character Sets419
References to Unsupported Features420
Network Computing421
Leverage System Support421
Client-Server Applications421
Shared Data Files422
Record Processing422
Microsoft Exchange424
Coexisting with Other Information Services424
Adding Menu Items and Toolbar Buttons424
Supporting Connections425
Installing Information Services425
Part IV: Appendixes
Appendix A: Mouse Interface Summary
Interaction Guidelines for Common Unmodified Mouse Actions429
Interaction Guidelines for Using the SHIFT Key to Modify Mouse Actions431
Interaction Guidelines for Using the CTRL Key to Modify Mouse Actions435
Appendix B: Keyboard Interface Summary
Common Navigation Keys437
Common Shortcut Keys438
Windows Keys439
Accessibility Keys440
Access Key Assignments441
Appendix C: Guidelines Summary
General Design443
Design Process444
Input and Interaction444
Control Usage446
User Assistance448
Visual Design448
International Users450
Network Users450
Appendix D: Supporting Specific Versions of Microsoft Windows
Microsoft Windows 3.1451
Microsoft Windows NT 3.51 453
Appendix E: International Word Lists
International Word Lists455
Glossary 511

Page added on 6th June 2004.

Copyright © 2002-2006 Marcin Wichary, unless stated otherwise.