#1 new user help suggestion

Dorico has a steep learning curve. I’m still mostly a new user (become less so by the minute) and before I become completely corrupted by knowledge, I’d like to offer my #1 suggestion for making Dorico easier to learn.

The videos I’ve seen seem to emphasize using key shortcuts over the GUI. Some key combination is given and then the corresponding GUI control is indicated somewhat as an afterthought. No, I am not going to start by memorizing countless key combinations, most of which I will forget if I only use the software occasionally.

My instinct is to hover over obscure icons to find out what they are for. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that many of the icons whose purpose was unclear to me had no tooltip.

My #1 suggestion: Add tool tips to all icons and GUI controls—without exception. If there are shortcut keys for these, list them as well—that’s the real way I’d like to learn the shortcuts. You do this in a few places already, but not all.

It’s hard to look up an icon in the manual or in a Google search. It’s hard to talk about an icon if you don’t know it’s name. For instance, in Write mode, I see a little icon just to the right of what looks like a part selection. This icon looks like a window with a “+” in the upper-left. It looks like it might turn on/off a tab bar. There is probably a short cut for this, but I don’t know what it is. Since I don’t know what the official name of this icon is, I don’t have an easy way to looking it up. I can hunt for somewhere where it might show up.

I just did the hunt. It’s under Workspace Options under Toolbar under Project Window. I’d rather hover over the control and have it tell me Show/Hide Tabs—that would have been way faster. It looks like there may be no shortcut for it by default, but I could define one. If I define one, I’d like hovering over the icon to show it to me—I might have forgotten.

Here’s an even better approach. I use OnShape, a complicated CAD tool that can be run from a web browser (accounts are free). If I hover over an icon, I get a 1 or 2 word description and the shortcut. If I continue to hover, I get more extensive help. Here’s an example of the latter:


CAD programs like OnShape are very complex tools, certainly as complicated as Dorico. But I found it easy to learn because it teaches me as I go. If I need more details, I know the right terminology to use when searching.

I understand that experienced users might find the tooltips irritating, so add some options for enabling and disabling them. If you follow the OnShape model, then also allow separately disabling the more detailed tooltips.


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The issue with ToolTips has been acknowledged: they’re currently missing ‘for technical reasons’ but will be restored in the future.

No app is 100% ‘discoverable’ just by looking round the interface. You can get pretty far in Write mode with the left and right-hand panels, plus the Edit and Write menus. But spending some time with the Quick Start tutorials, online videos and the Introduction section of the Help documentation will ultimately save you time.


Yes, unfortunately we cannot currently show tool tips in a practical way for some of the user interface elements (the main toolbar, the lower zone toolbar, the toolbox on the right in Write mode, etc.) because we are in the middle of a transition from one user interface framework to another, and while we are in the awkward transitional stage, we cannot show tool tips outside the client area of the component where the tool tip should appear. This means tool tips can basically only display directly on top of the button to which they belong, and for vertically-orientated components, they will wrap within words in a pretty horrible way.

We know that the lack of tool tips is a serious impediment to learning the software, but we haven’t yet determined whether we’re going to try and implement our own method of doing tool tips above and beyond those that are provided by the UI framework, or whether we are going to wait until the transition to the new framework is complete.


Thanks very much for that info, Daniel. I really appreciate knowing some of the hows and whys.


Daniel, As always, thank you for a clear explanation of a problem. You are a breath of fresh air in the tech world, willing to take the time to explain why something can or can’t be done, and letting us know the deeper reasons. Thank you!

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Thanks, Dan. I’m glad it’s mainly a technical issue. I did want to sneak in the mention of OnShape’s two-phase tool tips, which I found amazingly helpful. Since OnShape accounts are free, your team could try them out and see how you feel about them.

Are there any updates on if and when tool tips will get added, since it’s been a few months?

No, there’s been no change in this area over the past couple of months.