Re: To Dialog or Not To Dialog -Reply

Subject: Re: To Dialog or Not To Dialog -Reply
From: Bill Sullivan <bsullivan -at- SMTPLINK -dot- DELTECPOWER -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 1 Apr 1996 17:04:58 -0800

1. Dialog box is a standard computer software term defined in good
computer software dictionaries and glossaries. Just plain dialog is
programmer jargon and should be avoided in any text.

2. Whether it's ok to use the term dialog box should depend on the
computer experience of the audience. The conversational path could
wander off in many directions from here. One thought is: How often
do you need to mention dialog boxes in your Help program? I am
thinking it is probably sufficient to tell them to choose Open from
the File menu to access a file; you don't have to say the Open File
d.b. opens. OK, so they open the Open File d.b. and hit F1; My
helpscreen would be headed Open File and in the text I would call it
the Open File dialog box but at that point I think your client would
agree it is obvious, unless you know or assume your users are more
elementary than elementary.

3. I am not sure I agree with John Hedtke that there is a certain
minimum vocabulary of concepts that users must have. All that users
or their employers need are the money to buy our software and an
interest in using it. It is up to us to complete the marriage as
best we can. However, it should not be our problem as documenters
of software to document the operating environment.

4. Why don't you just do a Glossary entry and/or hot key for dialog
box so those who need a definition can pop to it? Now for the next
question: How do you define the term dialog box?

Bill Sullivan
bsullivan -at- deltecpower -dot- com
San Diego, California

>>> John Hedtke <jhedtke -at- OZ -dot- NET> - 4/1/96 11:34 AM >>>
cpmiller -at- cdesigns -dot- com (Charles Miller) wrote:

>I'm currently writing a help system for a client and we seem to
>have reached a semi-impasse on the use of a term. Throughout the
>help file, I use the word "dialog," as in: 'The XYZ dialog allows
>you to...' or 'To do dis 'n dat, you must use the XYZ dialog.'

>The client is strenuously objecting to the use of the word "dialog"
>because he says the users don't understand it. Although I pride
>myself on a career of writing for the 'technically challenged,' I
>there *has to be *some minimal level of shared "technical"
>if we're to explain the operation of a hardware or software


I agree with you, Charles. There is a certain minimum vocabulary of
concepts that users must have. A dialog (or better, IMO, "dialog
box") is a standard concept these days.

Yours Truly,

John Hedtke
Distinguished Member, STC

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