Re: Dialog boxes, writing about

Subject: Re: Dialog boxes, writing about
From: Janice Gelb <janiceg -at- marvin -dot- eng -dot- sun -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 7 Nov 2000 14:16:32 -0800 (PST)

In article ORG -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com, kelli -dot- lewis -at- onyxgfx -dot- com writes:
>When documenting dialog boxes, windows, forms, etc., I list the "elements" of
>the UI, and then I define functionality.
>For example,
>Name field - enter your username.
>Quantity drop-down list box - select the quantity of whoosits from the drop-down
>Format radio buttons - select the .rtf, .doc, or .pgt format radio button.
>Okay, here's where your opinion comes in. I've got someone here who wants me to
>remove the terms "field," "drop-down list box," "radio button," etc. from these
>sections of the document. For some reason, this makes my hair stand on end. I
>looked through manuals and online help that I have hanging around my desk, and
>all of them specify the elements of UI.
>The individual who wants these terms removed says that they are "engineering
>terms and they will scare the average user." He says that the terms do not
>benefit the user in any way and are useless. Do you all always include the
>abovementioned terms in your documentation, or are they expendable? Do they
>scare you? haha

I'm with your co-worker. I don't think that calling
something a "drop-down list box" adds to user comprehension.
Also, most readers are used to GUI conventions by now.

If you think your readers are unfamiliar with the GUI
conventions used by your documentation, you might want
to include a section on the widgets and how to use them
(For example, showing a graphic of a drop-down list box
and describing that you display the list by clicking the
down arrow. Or, if you feel it necessary, showing that
radio buttons are mutually exclusive.)

We've moved away from describing the GUI to describing the
tasks the user needs to do.

1. Type your user name in the Name field.

2. Select the quantity of whoozits from the Quantity list.

3. Select your desired Format: .rtf, .doc, or .pgt.

[or 3. Select the button for your desired Format: .rtf, .doc, or .pgt.]

Janice Gelb | The only connection Sun has with
janice -dot- gelb -at- marvin -dot- eng -dot- sun -dot- com | this message is the return address.

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