J.D. Meier's Blog

Software Engineering, Project Management, and Effectiveness

Security Toolbar for VS.NET 2005

Security Toolbar for VS.NET 2005

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I missed blogging this at time of release.  The Security Toolbar for VS.NET 2005 was a short R&D project to connect developers to security guidance on MSDN from within VS.NET.  The toolbar has direct links to our indexes for Security Engineering, threat modeling, how tos, and checklists.

While this first version is simply a set of links, it's a stepping stone to adding additional functionality.  We wanted a way to deliver incremental functionality with a simple interface.  The toolbar can be notified when there's new content or an new version of the toolbar itself.  

The most interesting learning for me was the trade-offs in user experience in terms of a designing a toolbar:

  • Who wants yet another toolbar in VS.NET?
  • Menus are great for dealing with multiple options, but there's something to be said for clicking a button.
  • Button can be more visible over a menu option, but who wants more buttons?
  • Icons or text?

In the end, we went with a hybrid model to take the best of the best:

  • button + drop-down menu to avoid taking up room and maximize real estate usage
  • icon + text so the button is discoverable and the intent is clear


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