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Customize Tabbing Behavior in a GUIDE UI

The tab order is the order in which components acquire focus when a user presses the Tab key on the keyboard. Focus is generally denoted by a border or a dotted border.

You can set, independently, the tab order of components that have the same parent. The figure window, each panel, and each button group has its own tab order. For example, you can set the tab order of components that have the figure as a parent. You can also set the tab order of components that have a panel or button group as a parent.

If, in tabbing through the components at the figure level, a user tabs to a panel or button group, then subsequent tabs sequence through the components of the panel or button group before returning to the level from which the panel or button group was reached.


Axes cannot be tabbed. From GUIDE, you cannot include ActiveX® components in the tab order.

When you create a UI, GUIDE sets the tab order at each level to be the order in which you add components to that level in the Layout Editor. This may not be the best order for the user.


Tab order also affects the stacking order of components. If components overlap, those that appear lower in the tabbing order, are drawn on top of those that appear higher in the order.

The following UI contains an axes component, a slider, a panel, static text, and a pop-up menu. Of these, only the slider, the panel, and the pop-up menu at the figure level can be tabbed. The panel contains three push buttons, which can all be tabbed.

To examine and change the tab order of the panel components, click the panel background to select it, then select Tools > Tab Order Editor in the Layout Editor.

The Tab Order Editor displays the panel's components in their current tab order. To change the tab order, select a component and press the up or down arrow to move the component up or down in the list. If you set the tab order for the first three components in the example to be

  1. Surf push button

  2. Contour push button

  3. Mesh push button

the user first tabs to the Surf push button, then to the Contour push button, and then to the Mesh push button. Subsequent tabs sequence through the remaining components at the figure level.