I had a thought yesterday, while frantically trying to figure out how to recall an e-mail.  The current menu'ing system for most Windows apps, and Mac apps for that matter, don't scale worth a poop.  Microsoft Office is trying something interesting with the "disappearing menu items" work, and for me anyway, it seems they remove the wrong things.  Toolbars in apps are also interesting, and in most apps, you have to do unnatural contortions to add or remove icons from the toolbars.  Help usually tells you what needs to be accomplished, but it rarely tells you exactly *how* to accomplish it.

So I have an idea...

No more menus or prepopulated toolbars.  Just a title bar, and a new bar, called the "What To Do:" bar underneath.  If I'm typing something, and I want to make the text bold, I'd enter "Bold" in the What To Do: box, and a popup window, or slideout window, or some other treatment would come up and explain the steps necessary to do something.  Why should I have to conform my thinking and learning habits to an ontological design created by someone else?

With all the talk lately about search becoming the scalable methaphor for the Internet, and finding "your stuff", why not do the same with a programs built-in functionality?  In effect, the docs that UE teams work so hard to produce become an intergral part of a product's success, rather than the nice-to-have desert that they are right now.  Of course, most would need to be refocused onto tasks, rather than on the definition style most use now.

For those of us old enough to remember "slash" commands in Lotus 1-2-3, you could do a LOT of menu customization with macros.  You could add your own menus, remove items you didn't want users using, etc.  It rocked.  Wordstar 3.x had the same idea - you could edit the menus (since they were stored in a text file).

Maybe you could share your History setup with other folks if the History exposed an RSS feed - Make my History look just like Joe's, or just like Microsoft suggests, or whatever....

Tech support would potentially be a horrible nightmare:
Q: How did you get to where you are?
A: Hellifino.  I just typed "Screw something up" in the What to do box....
...and I'm sure we could figure that one out...

I'm going to keep chewing on this one.  Maybe I've gone completely nuts this time...