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Subject:Re: Icons vs Buttons ..more From:"Wing, Michael J" <mjwing -at- INGR -dot- COM> Date:Mon, 22 Jul 1996 13:23:54 -0500
>> I have a matrix of Icons on my desktop. They are not buttons yet they
>> can be double-clicked to invoke an application. Furthermore, the
>> desktop Properties dialog box refers to their classification as Icons,
>> not buttons. I am coming to the conclusion that the classification
>> (Icon or button) is a product of the item's appearance rather than
>> functionality (Albeit, a button that has no associated action is
>If they're not buttons, then I agree that you would actually
>double-click, click or select the icon. I think the original question
>asked whether to refer to a button control with an icon label as an
>or a button. As far as I know, the Windows and MacOS standards are to
>refer to these as buttons.
I lost the original question some 20-odd posts ago. I can't give an
air-tight distinction. For example, in my UNIX days I used the Aster-X
word processor. This package allowed you to display buttons as text or
as icons. (Netscape is similar except that they call the icons
pictures.) Furthermore, Aster-X allowed the buttons to be 3-D or 2-D.
As a result, a button displayed as an icon and in 2-d did not look at
all like a button.
Because buttons do not always look like buttons, physical attributes are
not the distinction. Because clicking icons (such as on desktops or as
imbedded objects) initiate actions, functionality is not an air-tight
distinction. Buttons can also be inserted into a document (such as
user-authorable buttons in winhelp 4.0). This seems to preclude
location as a distinction (such as buttons appear on toolbars or dialog
boxes whereas icons appear on the desktop and window workspaces).
Barron's "Dictionary of Computer Terms" doesn't seem to be distinct
either. Here are some excerpts:
Button - A button is a small circle within a window that represents a
choice to be made. The user makes the choice by moving the mouse
pointer to the button and clicking.
Icon - An icon on a computer screen is a picture that represents a
particular object or command. For example, on a Macintosh computer, the
picture of a trash can stands for "delete". Use the mouse to move a
file to the trash can, and it will be deleted.
I give up.
>_/ Michael Wing
>_/ Principal Technical Writer
>_/ Jupiter Customization and Educational Services
>_/ Intergraph Corporation
>_/ mjwing -at- ingr -dot- com
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