Java TM Look and Feel Design Guidelines: Advanced Topics > Part II: Special Topics > 7: Wizards > Fundamentals of Wizards   Previous Next Contents/Index/Search


Fundamentals of Wizards

A wizard consists of a series of pages in a window. Each page represents a step, or a portion of a step, in a user's task. Figure 67 shows a typical page.

Figure 67   Anatomy of a Wizard Page


Each page consists of a title bar and three panes--right, left, and bottom--as shown in the Figure 67.

  • 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:
    • A list of the wizard's steps
      • Help text about the object that has keyboard focus in the right pane
    • A graphic (a list of steps or help text is preferable)
  • Bottom pane--Contains command buttons for navigating through the wizard.

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.

Figure 68   Typical Order of Page Types in a Wizard


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.

Standalone Wizards and Embedded Wizards

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.

Typical Uses of Wizards

Although wizards vary widely in their purpose, most wizards are intended for one of the following purposes:

  • Installing software
  • Entering large amounts of related data
  • Creating complex objects
  • Performing complex procedures

Installing Software

The most common use of wizards is to install software. Such wizards--called installation wizard s--collect data from a user and then install software accordingly. A typical installation wizard might set values in the operating 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.

Java Look and Feel Design Guidelines: Advanced Topics.
Copyright 2001. Sun Microsystems, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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