Under construction.png
Under Construction
This is a new page, currently under construction!


A tool box is a graphical presentation of tools optimized for fast access. Tools are the different ways an user can manipulate a document. Only one tool can be enabled at any given time.



Is this the right control

  • Provide a toolbox if there are different modes for manipulating documents directly using the cursor (such as e.g. in most graphics applications).
  • Provide a toolbox in addition to the menu bar, but do not replace the menu bar.


  • A tool box should contain all available tools. If the number of operations is above 5 they have to be grouped with separators.
  • Do not put any buttons that directly modify the document in the toolbox. Selecting a tool in the toolbox only changes the mode of operations. The document is only modified when the selected tool is applied to the canvas.
  • Do not extend the toolbox by other controls than tool- or toggle buttons. It contradicts the quick access purpose.
  • Provide a keyboard shortcut to allow fast switch between tools.
  • Do not use menu buttons in tool boxes. They do not fit well the concept of fast access.
  • Do not hide tool boxes by default. If configurable, users should easily be able to make the tool box viewable again.
  • Disable buttons that do not apply to the current context.
  • Consider to provide customization for tool boxes in respect to position and content.


  • Use icon-only flat toggle buttons.
  • Use a tooltip. As the user has no mean of knowing what it is, describe it to the tooltip.
  • Toolboxes should be placed on the left side of the document by default.
  • Toolboxes should look good in both vertical and horizontal mode.
  • Use and design toolbox icons with special care. Users remember location of an object but rely as well on icon properties.
  • A distinct association between the underlying function and its visual depiction is crucial. Follow the advice for icon design.
  • Do not simulate Microsoft's ribbon controls. KDE stays plain and simple.


  • If there are less than 11 tools, use a QToolBar.
  • If there are more than 10 tools, use a QToolBox.
  • Use QKeySequence::toString() to add the keyboard shortcut to the tooltip, don't hard-code it.
  • The keyboards shortcuts may change if they can be edited by the user. Don't forget to update the tooltip when needed.

This page was last edited on 30 March 2016, at 12:21. Content is available under Creative Commons License SA 4.0 unless otherwise noted.