Button Bar Prototype






Reaction to AppleWorks 6’s new button bar (compared to that of version 5) has been mixed. While we do like it’s appearance, we agree that it needs improvement. This page discusses some needed improvements and includes a prototype alternative.

AppleWorks 6


Check our AppleWorks 6 news page for links to various forums discussing (among other things) opinion of the new button bar in AppleWorks 6.

Discussion Forums


Post your comments about AppleWorks 6’s new button bar or our prototype on one of the AppleWorks discussion forums.


AppleWorks 5
AppleWorks/ClarisWorks 5 introduced a “Button Bar” palette, replacing ClarisWorks 4’s Shortcut Palette. It seemed to be a concession to the user interface of Microsoft software, with many dull grey tiny buttons, in various button bars. It was functional, but wasn’t pretty:

AppleWorks 6
AppleWorks 6 has a completely redesigned user interface, very much in line with “Aqua” - the visual theme for the upcoming Mac OS X. The button bar has larger buttons and is fundamentally different. It is pretty, but has lost some functionality. Below is the button bar with buttons set to the smallest size. Note that the size of the icons is ok, but the space between them is probably too large, especially on a smaller screen.

Here’s a summary of some of the misgivings that AppleWorks users have voiced about the new button bar:

AppleWorks 5

AppleWorks 6.0.3

Multiple rows allowed?



Font and size pop up menus show current status?


Moved to text ruler.

Pop up user style menu?


Moved to text ruler.

Buttons show status (eg bold, italic, links, show hidden characters).



Multiple bars?



Screen area per button (pixels)



So, what are we (BareFeetWare) going to do about it? We have added a range of features to AppleWorks (version 5 and 6), such as our Enhancement Pack, using AppleScript. Would we design a new button bar along similar lines? Maybe. It depends on:
    1. What Apple is doing. AppleWorks 6.0 was a flop in the eyes of may due to some major bugs in stability and performance. To their credit, Apple quickly released the AppleWorks 6.0.3 update to fix most of the bug problems, but did not let the public know that they were working on it. Similarly, they may be working on other user concerns such as the reduced flexibility of the button bar, in which case our efforts might be wasted.
    2. User feedback. If enough users wanted an alternative button bar, it would increase our priority.
    3. Technical issues. There are a few technical hurdles for us to overcome, such as speed of response, providing buttons similar to the existing bar for actions that aren’t scriptable (such as spelling, adding HTML links).

Even if not ultimately designed as a replacement for AppleWorks’ built in button bar, it shows what’s possible for specialized AppleWorks tools.

But for those who can’t wait, we have developed a proof of concept. It simply looks like this:

This prototype button bar:
    1. Uses the same icons as the built in small AppleWorks button bar, but reduces the space between the icons.
    2. Allows resizing, automatically adjusting width, height and windoid title position.
    3. Allows multiple rows and columns (by resizing).
    4. Can be collapsed.
    5. Updates the Bold and Italic buttons to reflect the status of the user selection (in the AppleWorks document).
    6. Has some token Balloon Help.

However, it does not yet:
    1. Have more than the new document, bold and italic buttons shown above. Some more would be easy to add, but beyond the objective of this first sample.
    2. Scroll (which may not be necessary, since the buttons take less space and can appear on more rows).
    3. Hide buttons not applicable to the current environment (they just dim).
    4. Allow adding or resequencing of buttons.
    5. Include pop up menus.
    6. Function effectively in some modules, such as tables (which aren’t scriptable).
    7. Work with AppleWorks versions prior to 6.0.

The prototype should be fairly stable and safe to try, but we make no guarantees.

Since it only includes new document, bold and italic buttons, it is probably of almost no practical use at this stage. But, if you’re interested in commenting, you are welcome to try it out.

The button bar itself is a small application (less than 100k).

To try the prototype Button Bar for AppleWorks 6, you need to:
    1. Download the FaceSpan Extension (v3.0.1 or later, if you don’t already have it).
    2. Download the Button Bar.
    3. Unstuff/unzip them (this will probably be automatic).
    4. Move the FaceSpan Extension to your extensions folder.
    5. Run the Button Bar application (eg by double clicking). If it asks you to locate the FaceSpan Extension, do so.
    6. Switch to AppleWorks. The new button bar should appear floating above your AppleWorks windows. If not, relaunch AppleWorks.
    7. Try resizing the bar and using the buttons.
    8. When you’ve finished, just switch to the Button Bar application and quit it.

The applet requires the FaceSpan Extension to run. The FaceSpan Extension is fairly safe since it does not load at startup like normal extensions (so it doesn’t interrupt other applications or require extra memory when not in use). In fact you don’t even have to restart or place it in the Extensions folder (though it is recommended). The applet might ask you to locate the extension when first run. By separating the applet from the extension, we are able to provide updated or other applications as small downloads that just use the existing FaceSpan Extension.

Please email us any queries about this page, but please understand if we are too swamped to reply. For discussion, you comments are probably better placed on one of the AppleWorks forums.

© 2000 BareFeetWare