Inspired by the outreach panel at PAX, I came up with the following design idea.
There would be a very sparse color-border container for the main window. We would eliminate the status line and possible move that information to the right side or somewhere else. Commands would be entered on the right. Help text, command lists, and other items could be retrieved by clicking one of the friendly color buttons. When clicked, the UI would transition smoothly to one of the new views (help, map, about, or ?).
The entered commands would still be embedded in the transcript, but I haven’t nailed down if I would highlight them or add them in with the standard “> open mailbox” reference.
I moved things around for a second pass. Buttons on the right or in between the input bar and main window. Help screens would slide in and out like the iPod Touch/iPhone.