Tooltip for groups

Scott Rossi scott at
Sat Nov 15 13:31:10 EST 2003

>>> IMHO if the engine is sophisticated enough to detect if users point to
>>> empty space within a group, then it can also decide if the group tooltip
>>> should be shown (or not).
>>> Besides, if a group contains a large number of objects, and if the
>>> content
>>> of the tooltip must be changed on the fly (according to the most recent
>>> user action for instance), then changing the tooltip of all objects
>>> within
>>> the group takes more time than changing the tooltip of the group only...

>> For me this is pretty much a non-issue. I routinely solve this problem
>> by placing a transparent button or empty image object behind everything
>> else. Make it layer 1 in the group. That way, objects on top of it which
>> have tooltips will respond with their own tip. Spaces between objects
>> respond with the layer-1 object tooltip. It's a very easy fix and
>> doesn't require any engine changes or even any scripting.

> Yep, except that it doesn't solve the problem : with your solution,
> you'll never display a unique tooltip when user points at the group
> (except if you set all tooltips of all the objects of that group to the
> same content - and if that content needs to be changed on-the-fly,
> then some scripting is required).
> Besides, placing a transparent object behind everything will show
> a tooltip when pointing at empty spaces between objects, which is
> not really usefull...

I haven't been following this discussion in detail, but will the individual
objects in the group have tooltips separate from the group?  If so, how will
the user know when a tooltip applies only to an object versus the group?  I
would say, from a usability standpoint, it would be effective to use
Jacqueline's technique since mousing *near* the group could provide a
tooltip separate from the individual objects.

If you really wanted to get "regional" you could create a transparent image
as your group tooltip object that contained opaque regions corresponding to
the locations of all objects in the real group.  If you then enlarged those
opaque regions all around (similar to applying a 20 pixel stroke to draw
graphic) and placed this image behind your group, the group tooltip would
respond only when the mouse came within 10 pixels of any object, not just
when entering the overall rect of the group.


Scott Rossi
Creative Director
Tactile Media, Multimedia & Design
E: scott at

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