A secondary window that guides the user through an operation by breaking it into sequential steps.


wizard, configuration, settings, first run


Experimental: if you use this pattern, you may have to remove or replace it in a future release of your software to remain consistent with other GNOME applications.


Assistant screenshot
  • Because assistants provide a relatively small number of controls on the screen at any given time, they have sufficient space for inline documentation. Therefore, do not include a Help button in an assistant window. If you cannot make an operation sufficiently clear in an assistant without resorting to a Help button, you need to simplify it further.
  • Assistants do have major downsides. After using an assistant it is often hard to figure out where the individual settings aggregated into the assistant are stored. Often people will resort to re-running the assistant, re-entering many settings that they don't want to change.
  • Assistants are often used in situations where a better solution would be to simplify, or even better automate, the process. Before using an assistant to step people through a complex operation, consider if the operation can be fundamentally simplified so an assistant is unnecessary.
  • Contain Forward, Backward and Forward buttons.

When to Use

Assistants are useful for making complex operations less intimidating, as they restrict the information visible to the user at any given moment.

Current Usage


User Guide

Keyboard Navigation


Window Commands: Close, Minimize/Unminimize, Roll-up/Unroll

Introductory Page

Introductory Page Screenshot

The first page provides the user with the "big picture". Place the title of the assistant in the window's title bar and the assistant's title area, along with an optional picture. Beneath this, state the goal of the assistant, and, if it is not obvious, where the user can find the information the assistant will be asking for. Title Format:

  • Back should be insensitive.

Content Pages

Content Page Screenshot

Content pages contain the actual settings of the assistant. Summarize the type of setting present on each content page in its title area. For example, Mail Server. Title Format:

Last Page

Last Page Screenshot

The last page should summarize the settings that will be changed by the assistant, and how the user can modify them later.

  • The label of the Forward button should be changed to Finish on the last page.

Source Code


See Also



Competitive Approaches


Usability Results and Feedback


Change Log


Design/HIG/Planning/Assistants (last edited 2014-06-19 16:36:03 by AllanDay)