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"Open" can be a transitive or intransitive verb:
The door opens inward.
The customer opens the door.
>The Options dialog appears. (appears out of thin air?)
You could also ask: "Is displayed"? Poof? Out of nowhere?
I generally use "appears", and no one has said anything about magic yet.
(The audience is primarily office and construction personnel.) In some
cases, I do make the program the actor, as when a confirmation dialog
[ProductName] asks you to confirm your decision
before it deletes the file.
Again, no one has yet accused me of over-humanizing the software.
In further response to Karen Gwynn, I am reluctant to leave it unclear
whether or not the user is supposed to take action, and that is just what
the passive voice frequently does. If I can't make a room assignment
myself, but rather have to wait for the residence life office to do it
before I can progress, shouldn't the docs tell me so?
Before you fire up your flame throwers, I do agree that the passive voice
has a legitimate place. I'm just not sure this is one of them.
kwatkins -at- quickpen -dot- com
speaking for myself, not my employers