Figure 67 Anatomy of a Wizard Page in Java

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Figure 67 Anatomy of a Wizard Page
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Each page consists of a title bar and three panes--right, left, and bottom--as shown in the Figure 67
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Title bar--Displays the wizard's title Right pane--Typically contains user instructions and input fields for the current step Alternatively, the right pane can contain explanations about the wizard, for example, an overview, operational feedback, or a summary of results Left pane--Contains one of the following items: o A list of the wizard's steps
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Help text about the object that has keyboard focus in the right pane A graphic (a list of steps or help text is preferable)
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Bottom pane--Contains command buttons for navigating through the wizard
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A wizard can have several types of pages--for example, pages for collecting user input and a page that summarizes results Figure 68 lists these page types and shows their order in a typical wizard
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Figure 68 Typical Order of Page Types in a Wizard
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Only user-input pages are required in every wizard Other page types are optional or are required only under certain conditions, explained in Types of Wizard Pages
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Standalone Wizards and Embedded Wizards
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Wizards can be classified into two types--standalone and embedded--based on how users start them A wizard that users can start directly--for example, from a desktop icon, a command line, or a file viewer--is called standalone wizard A wizard that users can start only from within an application is called an embedded wizard, because it is embedded in that application Typically, users start embedded wizards by choosing a menu item Except where noted, guidelines in this chapter apply to standalone wizards and embedded wizards alike
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Typical Uses of Wizards
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Although wizards vary widely in their purpose, most wizards are intended for one of the following purposes:
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Installing software Entering large amounts of related data Creating complex objects Performing complex procedures
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Installing Software
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The most common use of wizards is to install software Such wizards--called installation wizards--collect data from a user and then install software accordingly A typical installation wizard might set values in the operating
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system of a user's computer, move data from a CD-ROM to a hard disk, and configure the software being installed Installation wizards are used by both computer novices and experienced users (For more information about installation wizards, see Designing Installation Wizards)
Entering Large Amounts of Related Data
An example of this type of task is setting up a new user account Even if an application includes a dialog box for setting up user accounts, users who rarely perform this task might prefer to use a wizard, which divides a task into steps and explains each step In contrast, system managers who set up new user accounts often probably would not use a wizard for that task
Creating Complex Objects
In many applications, users can create and customize complex objects, such as charts, by choosing a series of menu items to create the object and then choosing more menu items to set the object's properties New users, however, do not know which properties to set or in which order to set them Wizards help new users by:
Presenting all the properties that a user needs to set Leading the user through setting each one
Typically, experienced users do not need such help
Performing Complex Procedures
Many wizards perform complex procedures for users For example, using options and parameter values that a user supplies, a wizard could create source code for an application that the user is writing Typically, such wizards save users time and effort over other ways of performing the same task For this reason, wizards that perform complex procedures are used by both computer novices and experienced users
Deciding Whether You Need a Wizard
Although wizards can simplify and expedite many kinds of tasks, creating a wizard is not always the best solution for such tasks To decide whether
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creating a wizard is appropriate for a particular task, answer the following questions:
How complex is the task Simple tasks seldom require wizards Users can perform such tasks just as easily, if not more easily, with other kinds of user interfaces For example, users might perform a simple task more quickly with a dialog box than with a three-page wizard Consider providing a wizard for a task if the task is at least moderately complex
Is the task performed by new users Is the task performed rarely If you answered "yes" to either question, then providing a wizard might be appropriate Even technically sophisticated users should be considered new users if they are unfamiliar with your application or with its subject area--for example, accounting
Is the task usually performed in a fixed order If so, consider implementing a wizard If not--for example, if users need to organize data in different ways--consider another kind of user interface for the task
Is the application automating a significant part of the task Wizards are most useful when they automate most of a user's task For example, after asking a software developer just a few questions, a wizard might create more than 1,000 lines of customized source code for the developer's current project