Re: Question on mouse terminology: left/right? or?

Subject: Re: Question on mouse terminology: left/right? or?
From: Laura Lemay <lemay -at- DEATH -dot- KALEIDA -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 13 Jun 1994 12:13:23 +0800

>With the advent of left-handed mice, and the ability to switch the
>primary button from left to right, the question of how we should describe
>the buttons has arisen.

>How best to describe the primary and secondary (and even tertiary and more)
>mouse buttons?

I used to work for Sun Microsystems, who use three-button mice on all
thier systems. The Sun Style Guide says the following:
Naming Mouse Buttons

Because you cannot know how users have configured thier mouse buttons,
always refer to a mouse button by the function it activates, rather than
by its location on the mouse. The default mapping of mouse buttons on
a three-button mouse is:

o SELECT is left -- Selects unselected objects and activates controls
o ADJUST is middle -- Adjusts a selected group of objects, adding to or
delecting part of the group
o MENU is right -- displays and chooses from menus.


At the time, I really didn't like Sun's method of handling this, mostly
because the docs people always made the assumption that everyone always
understood what these names meant (it seemed to be few people who put
an explanation of these terms in thier preface, or noted which button
applied to which). What I felt Sun really needed to do was ship sticky
labels with thier systems that said SELECT, ADJUST and MENU so you could
put them in the appropriate spots on the mouse and at least have
some sort of logical connection between the mouse and the documentation.

I ended up being beligerent in my books and made the assumption that
if you were technologically sophisticated enough to rearrange the buttons
on your mouse (no small feat in the Sun envrironment) that you could
bloody well figure out that the default docs did not apply to you. I
flaunted Sun convention and used "right mouse button," and so on.

I've also heard people refer to the "inner" and "outer" mouse buttons,
which gets away from both hard-coding the name of the button (as in
"the right mouse button") or using overly vague and arbitrary mouse
button names ("Press the Fred button to activate the menu.")


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