I'm in the process of designing, or should I say redesigning, the Help toolbar for Whidbey.  In previous versions of Visual Studio, the Web toolbar was the Help toolbar.  In Whidbey, we have a redesigned Help system with lots of new functionality.  I think it's time the Help system had a toolbar that was optimized for getting and using Help, not just generic web browsing.  Before I go too far and tell you what I think, I'd like to hear what you think about the Help toolbar.

Here are a few questions to keep in mind.

  • What do you like/dislike about the Web/Help toolbar in Visual Studio .NET 2002 and 2003?
  • Which features of Help do you use most often?
  • Do you use the toolbar to access Help features?

I've put numbers under each button so in case you aren't sure what that button is, you can tell me, “I have no idea what button 5 would do...”  Don't worry if you haven't had a chance to use Whidbey yet.  Tell me what you think anyway.

Unlike Office and Internet Explorer, Visual Studio has never used labels on our toolbars before.  Do the labels help or hurt?

How does this picture compare to what you would like to see on the Help toolbar?

Here is a screen shot of the new Visual Studio Whidbey Help system. The screenshot is about 400k. So, to save those of you with limited bandwidth, I've linked to the image rather than displaying it on the page.  This image puts the Help toolbar in context with the Whidbey Help experience.

Are the right Help commands there?  If not, what would you put on the Help toolbar?