Re: What do we call this button?

Subject: Re: What do we call this button?
From: "Chuck Martin" <writer -at- best -dot- com>
To: techwr-l
Date: Wed, 18 Oct 2000 14:26:02 -0700

"Newman, Sarah" <snewman -at- bechtel -dot- com> wrote in message
news:73068 -at- techwr-l -dot- -dot- -dot-
> The program we're documenting has numerous fields where you can directly
> enter a value or you can select one from a list. To get to the list, you
> click a button to the right of the field with an ellipsis (...) on it.
> brings up a separate dialog box with the list and an OK button.
> We have been referring to this as the ellipsis (...) button (e.g. "Click
> ellipsis button and select the item from the list"). However, the
> want to call it the list button. We have a colorful former colleague who
> referred to this button as the "three dot button". I suppose we could
> around a name (e.g., "click the button to the right of the field"), but
> adds to the bulkiness of an already very long book.
> Any suggestions/votes as to what we should call this button?

Well, how about re-defining the underlying issue: that the program design is
clunky and non-standard (I am assuming we're talking about a Windows program
here) and mkes users do too much work. If we're talking about an exclusive
selection, that is, when a user would select one and only one value, then to
click a button (typically called the Browse button), select an item (which
may include scrolling), then click an OK button, is too many steps.

Windows has interface widgets designed specifically for this purpose. For
doing what you describe, you should be using either a combo box or a
drop-down combo box. (For descriptions of these, see pp. 183-4 of "Microsoft
Windows User Experience," ISBN 0735605661.)

Combo boxes have labels. So your instruction would be along the lines of:

1. In the <label> box, type a value or select one from the [drop-down] list.

Make the software simpler, more understandable, and easier to use based on
existing widgets designed specifically for the task, and your documentation
work will not only be easier, but you won't have these naming issues.

Chuck Martin
Technical Writer, Online Help Author, GUI & Interaction Designer
twriter "at" mindspring "dot" com

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