The majority of the user interface consists of standard Windows (95/98/NT/2000) components. All forms within the system are made up of varying numbers of menus, toolbars, buttons, lists, check boxes, radio buttons, command buttons, picture boxes, and text boxes. All mouse interaction is through the left mouse button. More detailed information on the objects that make up the forms may be found in the Windows on-line help. A few extensions to the Windows interface are used in WinHSPF, but these operate in a similar manner to Windows components.
Graphical User Interface Conventions
WinHSPF was developed for user interaction to take place through a graphical user interface (GUI). Screens are organized in a logical manner to minimize both user learning time and user mouse/keystroke effort. Information within WinHSPF is often organized in layers, with the most basic, important information being readily available and more detailed, less frequently used information being accessed through additional menus or buttons. Another way that information may be layered is through the use of overlaid tabs, with the most frequently used tabs on top of the stack.
WinHSPF was also designed to assist the user in keeping track of where they are in the system. This was done by labeling all of the sub forms with titles that indicate the task being performed. This labeling also confirms to the user that they got to the right place in the system after selecting a menu option or button. The label on the main form is updated to include the name of the project being run every time a project is opened.
To allow users the flexibility of not using a mouse, keyboard shortcuts have been provided to perform all of the functions throughout WinHSPF. Some controls, such as menus and buttons, may be activated by holding down the Alt key and then pressing the letter underlined in the control. Other controls may only be manipulated using keyboard shortcuts if the control has the “focus.” Focus means that the control can receive keyboard or mouse input. Focus is indicated by a dashed line surrounding the control. When using the keyboard, the focus is changed from one control to the next by using the Tab key (a mouse sets the focus to the control on which it has clicked).
Menu titles may be activated by holding down the Alt key and then pressing the letter underlined in the desired menu title. Once a menu title has been activated (that is, pulled down), the desired menu item may be selected by pressing the underlined letter or by highlighting the item using the arrow keys and then pressing the Enter key. For example, to select the File:Open menu item, one would type ALT-FO.
Buttons may be activated in one of two ways. If a button caption has an underlined letter, holding down the Alt key and pressing the underlined letter will activate the button. A button may also be activated by setting the focus to the button and then pressing the Enter key.