Re: Two-words and one-words GUI elements

On Thu, 2008-04-24 at 12:49 -0400, Curtis Hovey wrote:
> On Thu, 2008-04-24 at 10:36 -0500, Shaun McCance wrote:
> > On Thu, 2008-04-24 at 16:08 +0100, Calum Benson wrote:
> > > On 23 Apr 2008, at 21:21, Matteo Settenvini wrote:
> > > >
> > > > I'd like to see "radio button" really go away, far away, never to turn
> > > > back. It's way better using the term "option" and that's all; if you
> > > > need to refer to some of these options, you just call them a "group of
> > > > options", and you ask the user to "choose one of the following  
> > > > options".
> > > 
> > > Or call them "option buttons", as some toolkits have done in the past.
> > 
> > That's Microsoft's recommendation, by the way.  Radio
> > button is a very unfortunate word that, I think, most
> > people don't intuitively understand.  On the other
> > hand, it's a fairly entrenched word at this point.
> > I'm not entirely sure which recommendation to make
> > at this point.
> I'm not convinced that it is entrenched. I'm certain anyone who has
> built or document GUIs knows the term. I would not say the same for
> users, or even engineers who never work with a GUI.

Well, I meant it's entrenched in the industry, not
necessarily with users.  My concern is that we'd
get the term removed from our interfaces and our
documentation, but it would still get used in all
the forums and on IRC.

This is kind of the situation we have with applets.
We're not supposed to talk about applets, but the
moment a user gets on a forum and says "programs
on the panel", they're likely to get a reply like
"they're called applets n00b!"

> The metaphor is not successful. I recall while working at National
> Geographic that the documentation team used the term 'radio dial'. I
> pointed out that the correct term was "'radio button', like in you
> car'". All three writers boggled at my suggestion. It did not look like
> a button, let alone look like anything in their cars. I had to explain
> the behavioural aspect to them.

Heh, not to mention the fact that I haven't seen a car
with mechanical radio buttons that keep their state in
I don't know how long.  A not-well-understood metaphor
for a device that fewer and fewer people will ever see.

> I think all users will understand the intent of an option button better
> than a radio button. Alas GNOME themes do not do a good job displaying
> the option as a button. Most representations of the widget look like the
> scantron forms that students fill in using a soft pencil.

Remember the old Motif-style diamond-shaped buttons?
God, those were ugly.  I don't have a point, except
that Motif is ugly. :)


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