Default (long-winded reply)

Subject: Default (long-winded reply)
From: Gretchen Toth <glt -at- ICONOVEX -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 29 Nov 1995 13:42:24 -0600

I'll be thrilled when we can draw doodles right in an email message. Some
of the suggestions were difficult to imagine...

Anyhow, those of you who work with software engineers will be amused that we
decided to remove the Defaults option all together, since the default
settings don't make sense with EVERY entry the user is working with.

If I was to add a Default button to the toolbar, I would have used something
like a Redo button, but instead of the dot I would use a 'D,' showing the
user is not returning to the previous edit or save, but to the Defaults.
Had this not been clear enuf, the status bar would have diplayed the
function of the button.

My original question:
>>Anybody got an idea for a picture to use as a DEFAULT
>>button on toolbar? Anybody using a 'default' like
>>button on a toolbar?

Scott Herron wrote:
>Why is this called a "default?" Near as I've been able to determine, the
>computer software business is the only context where "default" means "what
>you get if you don't select anything else." Usually it means "You didnt do
>what you're supposed to <snip>

It's 'default' because those are settings attached to every entry/word/
item, unless the user changes those settings. Unfortuantely, those settings
will not always make sense with every entry/word/item. But those settings
are the most COMMON that the user would choose. Kinda like working with
wordprocessing templates. If you click New, you will get a template that
works best for writing papers, essays, manuals, whatever. Won't work very
well with FAX documents or business letters, but it's the most common so
it's the default template.

So, Richard M., typical could replace default, but Standard and Suggested
probably wouldn't. But I think that Typical implies that it's somehow the
most popular setting or something and doesn't get across that the user will
HAVE TO alter the default settings for some entries in order to get the best

Some other suggestions I received:

Use the Program's icon (Rose Wilcox)
>how about a simplified or scaled-down version of the program
>icon? It would have to be similar enough to the program icon to carry the
>meaning "program" as in "program defaults", but different enough to not
>confuse the users into thinking that they were launching the program again.

Radio button with checkmark or exclamation (Stacey Kahn)
>Hmmm... How about something in a radio button, or showing a "selected"
>radio button? Some combination of color and punctuation, such as a bright
>blue (or "positive" color of your choice) checkmark or exclamation point?
>Maybe a "forward" (pointing to the right) arrow?

'D,' or Variation of 'Home' button (Christine Dobos)
>What about an uppercase D...I think this could be mistaken for Delete...

>I also thought of a variation of a house. The house usually means
>"home." Default also means "home" in a certain sense.

This is an intriguing idea. Return to home, return to the default

Reset- or 'Reload'-like button (Yvonne DeGraw and Mike Champlin)
>If the default values show when the application comes up, then the user
>changes these values, and may reset them to the default values by pressing
>this toolbar button, maybe you should call this a "Reset" button. Then you
>can use an icon like the "reload" icon in most Web browsers.

>One symbol I have seen used in a similar application is a
>circle with an arrow at the top. A variation is an open circle with an
>arrow....How 'bout an open circle with arrowhead and a small "D" inside
>the elipse to indicate it is a default and not a redo button? To be
>honest, most redo/undo buttons I've seen are pulldown menus, so I would not
>confuse the two.

Thanks for all the suggestions :-),


Gretchen L. Toth
Technical Writer
The Iconovex Corporation
gretchen -dot- toth -at- iconovex -dot- com

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