HIG Text Alignment [was Re: [Usability] Better look Re: (no subject)]

On Tue, 13 Dec 2005, Matthew Paul Thomas wrote:


> > to look better). It also covers nice ways to put text in dialogs and
> > so on. That does not mean it could not be changed to make it better.
> > The unbalance to the left side and the expansion of things to edges
> > always looked strange to me in dialogs, sometimes even disturbing.
> > ...

> Yes, currently the HIG says: "Left-align components and labels, unless
> all the labels in a group have very different lengths. If they do,
> right-align the labels instead, to ensure that no controls end up too
> far away from their corresponding labels."
> <http://developer.gnome.org/projects/gup/hig/2.0/design-text-
> labels.html#layout-label-position>
> <http://developer.gnome.org/projects/gup/hig/2.0/design-
> window.html#improved-layout-figure>
> This encourages internal inconsistency, leftward imbalance, and columns
> of colons that almost line up but not quite. It's also an impractical
> guideline to follow, since you can't reasonably know how different the
> label lengths are going to be in every language your software is
> translated into, and translators can't specify the alignment
> themselves.

Surely internationalisation would mean the point about variable string
lengths could always be applicable if you wanted it to be.  There is
always variation when things are translated to different languages.
There is also the difficulty of picking terse snappy descriptions,
effectively this exception allows the developer to what they like at their
own discretion.

I guess it is hard for the guidelines to explain the expectoins are really
exceptional and should not be used 99% of the time.  The penalty of
inconsitency means you should follow the guidelines by default unless
there is a really good reason to justify doing things differently.

The important issue is making sure the association of labels and the
control is clear.  For accessibility this also needs to done
programmatically anyway so perhaps there is some better way than
alignment to better show this association to all users?  (Some kind of
visual cue, prelighting, clickign on the text label would do something to
the associated control I dont know maybe something like that.)


Alan Horkan

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