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ometimes users need a helping hand. With Qt you can give them the instruction they re looking for in a variety of ways: wizards, tooltips, status bar messages, and pointers to product documentation, to name a few. When considering how to add help-related features to your application, keep in mind that there s much more to it than simply responding to the F1 key (the de facto mechanism for displaying the application s help window). Assistance is most effective when it s an integral yet nonintrusive part of your entire application. By using a good design that clearly reflects both what users are currently doing and where in the process they are, you can dramatically reduce the need for help. Some of the tools and principles include providing wizards for complex settings, avoiding or clearly indicating different working modes such as insert and overwrite, and alerting users when they re about to do something that can destroy a lot of information. Providing lots and lots of help does not make it easy to use an application; too much help can just make it hard to find the information that the user is looking for. What you need to achieve is an easy-to-use whole: a combination of relevant help and a clear design. This is what makes using your application a joy.
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One of the most common ways to add some additional guidance to the user is to provide tooltips, which are little signs containing information (see Figure 9-1). They appear when you hover the mouse pointer over a control for a short period of time.
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Figure 9-1. The dialog and the tooltip for the group box
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All widgets can be assigned a tooltip using the setTooltip(const QString&) method, which accepts a string that can either be plain text or formatted using HTML. To demonstrate tooltips, I have put together a QDialog class with a number of widgets. Listing 9-1 presents the constructor used to set up the widgets and layouts (refer to Figure 9-1 to see the result). Listing 9-1. The dialog constructor ToolTipDialog::ToolTipDialog() : QDialog() { QGroupBox *groupBox = new QGroupBox( tr("Group") ); QGridLayout *gbLayout = new QGridLayout( groupBox ); QCheckBox *checkBox = new QCheckBox( tr("Check!") ); QLabel *label = new QLabel( tr("label") ); QPushButton *pushButton = new QPushButton( tr("Push me!") ); gbLayout->addWidget( checkBox, 0, 0 ); gbLayout->addWidget( label, 0, 1 ); gbLayout->addWidget( pushButton, 1, 0, 1, 2 ); QGridLayout *dlgLayout = new QGridLayout( this ); dlgLayout->addWidget( groupBox, 0, 0 ); ... } In Listing 9-2 the tooltips for the checkbox and group box are set. The checkbox gets a single line, while the group box text is divided into three lines using the standard line break \n. The group box tooltip shows when you hover the mouse pointer around and between the widgets contained in the group box. If you hover over the label, checkbox, or push button, their respective tooltips are shown. Listing 9-2. Setting simple tooltip texts checkBox->setToolTip( tr("This is a simple tool tip for the check box.") ); groupBox->setToolTip( tr("This is a group box tool tip.\n" "Notice that it appears between " "and around the contained widgets.\n" "It is also spanning several lines.") );
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Breaking a string over multiple lines does not affect the result. From the C++ compiler s viewpoint, Tip the string "foo" line break "bar" is identical to the string "foobar". Sometimes it is handy to be able to break down a line because it can be used to increase the readability or simply to fit the code onto the paper when printing it.
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Creating HTML-Formatted Tooltips
Although it is possible to represent new-lines with the <br /> HTML tag, Qt actually supports many HTML tags that can make formatting tooltips much easier. Listing 9-3 shows some of the formatting that is possible. The resulting tooltip is shown in Figure 9-2. Listing 9-3. An HTML-formatted tooltip label->setToolTip( tr("<p>It is possible to do lists.</p>" "<ul>" "<li>You can <i>format</i> text.</li>" "<li><b>Bold</b> is possible too.</li>" "<li>And the <font color='#22aaff'>color</font> and " "<font size='+2'>size</font>.</li>" "</ul>" "<p>You can do ordered lists as well.</p>" "<ol>" "<li>First.</li>" "<li>Second.</li>" "<li>Third.</li>" "</ol>") );
Figure 9-2. A tooltip with lists and formatting The following list explains the most common tags that can be used to format your tooltips: <p> ... </p>: This tag is used to enclose a paragraph. Paragraphs have some spacing above and below, separating them from other parts of the text. <br />: This tag represents a line break. If you have decided to use HTML tags, <br /> works, but \n does not. The \n system works only in texts without tags. <i> ... </i>: The enclosed text is shown as italic. <b> ... </b>: The enclosed text is shown as bold. <font color='nnn'> ... </font>: The enclosed text is shown in the specified color nnn. The color can be expressed as a color name (such as red, green, black, or white) or as a hexadecimal value prefixed with #. The format is #rrggbb, where rr is the red value, gg is the green value, and bb is the blue value.
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