Taxa, Trees, Characters ˇ


Mesquite's menus

Mesquite's menus differ from window to window and vary depending on the calculations being performed. In operating systems such as Windows and Linux, each window has its own set of menus embedded at the top, thus making it easy for the user to understand the context — a particular window — in which the menu item exists. Users of the Macintosh OS will see the screen menu bar change depending on what window is at the forefront. On the other hand, there is considerable duplication of menu items from window to window, which reflects the fact that windows share context to varying degrees, but which may be confusing to users of operating systems with window-specific menus. We will not here take sides about which menu paradigm is better, but note that Mesquite's menu are firmly organized so as to reflect the heirarchical structure of the calculations performed.

Learning about menus

Mesquite menus include a few constant ones (File, Edit, View) and various other menus that change as different modules are used. This situation could be confusing to the user. For instance, menu items for particular modules may appear in different places depending on the context.

Mesquite can automatically generate documentation for the current menu configuration and present it to the user as a web page. This can be done by selecting the Menu & Control Explanations menu item from the View menu of Mesquite. Also, if you hold down the Shift key while selecting a menu item, an explanation of the menu item will appear in the explanation are of the foremost window.

Standard menu items

Here are some of the standard menus available in Mesquite. Additional menus will appear depending upon the nature of the window. For example, with the Character Matrix Editor, there will also be Matrix, Select, Display, and Analyze menus.









Where to find menu items

Other menus come and go depending on which window is in front and what calculations are in use. Thus, the standard Tree Window has a Tree menu.
As the user requests calculations and output of results, the menus change. The reason for this is that different menus are appropriate in different circumstances. Thus, if the user requests the Balls and Sticks method to draw trees, a menu item "Spot size" appears in the Display menu. Spot size controls the size of the balls drawn at the nodes of the tree.

Exactly where a menu item appears may at first be confusing to the user, but there is a certain logic to it that hopefully won't be too obscure (technical details are available in the developer's documentation). The "Spot size" menu item belongs to the module that draws trees in the Balls and Sticks fashion, since that module wants the user to be able to control the size of the balls. That menu item appears within the menu of the modules that employ it to draw trees. Since the Display menu belongs to the module that coordinates tree drawing, and it is this module that (indirectly) is employing Balls and Sticks to draw the tree, the menu items belonging to Balls and Sticks appear in the Display menu.

A module can also have its own menu, as does the tree drawing coordinator. Thus, the menu items of a module (usually) appear in the menu belonging to its closest employer module that has its own menu. We say "closest" because sometimes a module will have a menu item, but its immediate employer won't have a menu to put it in. The menu item drifts upward in the employment hierarchy until it finds an employer that has a menu that can house it.
This system means that menu items appear in an appropriate context, but that that context is not fixed because it depends on what employer has a menu in which the item can be housed.