Re: [HIG] Button alignment question

Brief Summary:

  Left-aligned button text is easier to read in button columns when text
  length varies widely, but that is a pathological case. The common case
  has text lengths less than about 7 characters. Center alignment is
  used consistently in button rows and should be used for button columns.

On Wed, May 28, 2003 at 12:13:39PM -0400, Jonathan Blandford wrote:
> I have a number of dialogs with a vertical row of buttons on the side.
> Some of them have stock items next to them.  Should I left-align the
> buttons in them at all, or keep them all centered.  I put up a set of
> somewhat contrived screenshots at
> Just to give some context, the "Theme Details" button at:
> Gives the dialog that posed it.

I would exclude 5 and 6 immediately on account of the images. Bug #73269
is an open bug where I've suggested removing images from dialog buttons.
This has been discussed in passing elsewhere, but there has been no action.
(Sorry, I can't remember where.)

Images 3 and 4 show pathological cases. Most commands are and should be
simple imperatives. Translations should follow the same implicit rule
for verb selection that English does: use verbs of less than about 7 letters.
The only place I've regularly seen longer buttons is for confirmation
and print dialogs - "Close without Saving" and "Print Preview".

While long button labels may be necessary somewhere, they should still be
center aligned. Rows of buttons always have center aligned text.
Columns of buttons - where they exist on GNOME, KDE, Windows, MacOS -
usually (if not always) have center aligned text.

Generally, long labels should not be necessary. At least one idiom exists
where they are necessary, but there all the labels are long. See
"Java LFDG: Advanced Topics" for common cases.

If there is a case where labels of widely varying length are necessary,
I'll bet it's better to have a menubar.

Images 1 and 2 contain an biasing error: "Delete It" should be "Delete".
Remove the error and the labels are almost the same length.

Looking at the bug report attachment, I can't help but to make criticism.

The word "theme" throughout these windows is redundant with it in the title.

Theme Preferences:
  Change "Install Theme..." to "Install..."
  Change "Theme Details"    to "Details"
  Change "Save Theme..."    to "Save As..."

  "Install... is quite differnt from the other two buttons in that it adds
  to the list rather than affecting the selected member. If not for the
  row of buttons at the bottom, which I've campaigned against so often,
  I'd suggest possibly moving the "Install..." button to the bottom left
  corner of list. Perhaps it would be better placed some distance away
  from the other two buttons greater than the distance between those.

  The string "This theme does not suggest any particular font or background"
  below the list should be included in the theme description. I'm not
  surprised that no blind user has been heard to complain about this, but
  for any using a screen reader, placing the information in the description
  should be nicer. I wonder why the absence of a suggested font or background
  should be specially noted at all.

Save Theme:
  How are "File->Save As..." dialogs being titled? This should be the same
  to match the change in the main panel.

  Absolutely NO! Do not include an image here. This is not an alert.
  (And the Question image shouldn't be used anywhere.)

  The large bold text is redundant with the dialog title. The reference
  to a disk in an unnecessary implementation detail.

  Change "Theme Name:" to "Name:" or "Title:"
  Change "Short Description:" to "Exegesis:"
  (Just kidding.)
  Change "Short Description:" to "Description:"

  It may be better here to leave "Theme Name:" so the label is almost
  the same width as the one below it. (Translators should drop "Theme"
  if the words for "Name"/"Title" and "Description" are nearly the same

  Unless I'm mistaken, saving a theme is only an option when the user's
  existing theme is not a metatheme. I once lost my theme to the behavior
  of this capplet. If I'm right, then this is not serving its purpose.

Theme Installation:
  Again . . .
  Absolutely NO! Do not include an image here. This is not an alert.
  (And the Question image shouldn't be used anywhere.)

  Also, the title may need adjustment.

  It is surely better to just present a file selector than this
  indirection through a narrow entry for a URL.

Theme Details:
  Why not "Details of the <ThemeName/> Theme" for a title? Surely I may
  look at the details of many themes simultaneously to choose the
  parts I like from them. But how does that work with instant-apply?

  Change "Install Theme..." to "Install..."
    This is particularly confusing because what's in the
    "Theme Preferences" window is the same.

  Remove "Go To Theme Folder"
    It seems GOTO is harmful in more than one way. But, seriously, what
    is the purpose of this? Is not the list of control themes including
    those in the theme folder?

  Move "Icons" tab before "Window Border" tab.
    I'm not sure about this, but I suspect:
    1) icon theming is more familiar and so more often desired
    2) it'll look better to have the two tabs of almost the same size
       next to each other than to have the largest one in the middle.

  "New themes can also be installed by dragging them into the window."
  Which window? s/the/this/

  Can I create a new theme? It seems the coarse controls for that are here.
  Is "installation" the right action? Maybe "Install..." should be "Add...".
    That's what the (unnessary) icon indicates.


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