Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Formatting Sub Actions?

Last Thursday, I talked about using Action buttons to create a cascading vertical menu for navigation. I received some comments and e-mails inquiring as to how I got the color of the drop down for the sub-actions to be white. While I would love to be able to let you in on some cool unknown hack, I must admit that I don't think it's possible to style this menu at all (at least in version 6). As some visitors mentioned, the color is derived from Windows system properties, specifically the "Menu" option, that can be found in the "Advanced Appearance" tab of "Display Properties".

In my case, I am working with Windows XP Tablet Edition and using the Energy Blue color theme. The drop-down menu color for this theme just happens to be white, hence what was shown in my screen shot. If you change this property, it is applicable for the sub-action drop down, but also ALL other drop down menus in Windows (example below).

Sorry I don't have better news for you. It would certainly allow us to create more consistent and compelling interfaces in our Notes apps if we were able to style the drop down. Anybody at Lotus listening? :-)


Wayne said...

This area is where the notes client falls short. The inability to change the look of common UI objects prevents us from building applications with a contemporary look.
No icons in menu dropdowns and table tabs is one area which immediatly "dates" an application.
Thanks for looking though. Under Win 2000 this also changes the colour of the menu bar also. So its not going to fly in my environment.


Esther said...

I thought that might be the case, but hoped I was missing something obvious.

Here's another question, since you're obviously up on interface and user design and I'm really not. We currently use embedded outlines for a lot of navigation because it allows us to set colors to indicate the selected item. This allows users to always know which view they're in. Using navigation like you have set up (an action bar with dropdown links to views), how do you indicate the current view to a user?

Chris Blatnick said...

Hi Esther...Good catch! I'm actually working on an update to this application which will include breadcrumb navigation to address this. The idea is to use the "cascasding action bar" page to house the breadcrumbs, which are made up of computed text that get their values from an environment variable. In the code that switches the views, I set the environment variable to the new view title, then reload the page, thus updating the computed text. Here is a shot of the current prototype. It may end up looking different, but that's the concept I'm going for.