Word-a-Day: progress bar, progress indicator

progress bar
A control that shows the progress of a task being carried
out by an application.  Only use the word "progress bar"
for vertical or horizontal bars that fill linearly.  Do
not use "progress bar" for any control that does not show
the progress of a task, even if the control looks like a
progress bar; use "progress indicator" instead.
progress indicator
A control that shows that a task is being carried out by
an application, but does not show the actual progress of
that task.  A progress indicator may look like a progress
bar with a bouncing, spinning, or otherwise animated bar.

The animated control found in the toolbar of web browsers
and some other applications is a progress indicator.  Do
not use "throbber", "spinner", or any other term for this

Interestingly, both Apple and Microsoft recommend using
only "progress indicator".  But I don't think "progress
bar" is likely to confuse users, and changing our current
usage would be difficult.  Honestly, before looking at
their recommendations, I wouldn't have ever thought to
avoid the word "progress bar".  Thoughts?

Note that I've explicitly allowed vertical progress bars,
whereas Apple explicitly mentions filling left to right.
I was mostly thinking of the thing used as the window
icon on Nautilus progress windows.  If I were writing
about it, I think I would write something like:

  The progress window uses a progress bar as its window
  icon, so you can easily see the progress by glancing
  at your task bar.

Maybe I'd throw in the word "vertical" for good measure.

I'd like to solicit ideas on two related types of controls.

First, what about pie-filling progress indicators?  They
clearly show actual progress, but they aren't bars.  Do
we have a word for these things?

Second, what about countdown controls?  They basically
look like progress bars (or sometimes "progress pies"),
but the control moves backward.  They aren't showing
progress.  Usually, they're showing a timeout.


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