Provide contextual hints for valid values and the impact of conditions and operators in Search and filtering dialog UI
Issue #821 (closed) is symptomatic of a problem I've had for years with Evolution's mail filter/search rule editing dialog: it's confusing and users are left "guessing" what might or might not have a good performance impact on search/filtering.
The UI would really benefit from some in-UI clarification, particularly for:
- operators like "contains", "does not contain", "sounds like" and "does not sound like". As a pretty geeky user, I can't figure out what those are supposed to mean in practice; does it take all or some of my words in the GtkEntry? Do I need to put them in a particular order? Separate them by commas? Put them in quotes or not?
- if there are fields that are particularly not recommended to search into (ex: message body? specific headers?); then that would benefit from having some sort of indication (a warning icon in front of their name in the combobox, maybe)?
To make help contextual to specific operators, I thought of GtkTooltips but I don't know for sure where they could be placed. I also thought of GtkEntry placeholder text, but the problem is that it wouldn't show if you're changing the condition operator after having set the search string for that condition...
So, ideally I'd like to have super-contextualized hints/tips. In practice, I suspect that the "Edit Rule" (or "Edit Search") dialogs are so clearly meant to be "as compact as possible" to fit a ton of rules (instead of being meant to "look nice")... that I'm not sure how to approach the problem from a contextual design standpoint. Failing that, maybe there could be either:
- a simple standard "Help" button (in the "Cancel / OK" button box row) pointing to a particular section of the user manual, or...
- an informational GtkLabel (near the top, or near the bottom of the dialog) with some Yelp hyperlinks in it, something like this (in the case of the filter editing dialog):
(I would prefer this more specific approach vs the "generic Help button" approach)
The caveat with both "help button" and "link to specific pages" approaches is that they rely on the manual being complete, and when I looked at it, I could only find these pages: available filter conditions, available filter actions, available search folder conditions... there's nothing documenting the search/filtering operators (such as contains", "does not contain", "sounds like" and "does not sound like"). That would need to be documented.