Re: Icons vs Buttons

Subject: Re: Icons vs Buttons
From: "Wing, Michael J" <mjwing -at- INGR -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 23 Jul 1996 10:43:06 -0500

>Buttons are things you push; icons are things you look at.

Then what is a button with a picture on it?

>If you push it to make something happen, it's a button. In
>computerese, "pushing"
>means single-clicking with the primary mouse button. If you
>double-click or use a different mouse button, you're doing something
>else -- "launching," perhaps -- but not pushing.

The double-click is not a distinguishing characteristic because a
right-click on an icon (in some op-systems) invokes a menu from which
opening, deleting, renaming, or some other action can be initiated. (I
know it still takes two clicks but two serial clicks do not constitute a
double click)

>Icons are things you look at.

I'm confused. Can't you look at a button?

>While pushability is inherent in the concept of buttons, there is no
>implication of verbability in an icon.
>An icon may just sit there and do nothing at all; an informative,
>decorative, or random piece of graphics on the screen.

It can also represent a collapsed or embedded application. In these
cases they will do something once when selected.

>Buttons are to be pushed; icons are to be viewed.

Then what are radio buttons (also called option buttons)? Dialog boxes
refer to single-select options as buttons (some even refer to checkboxes
as buttons). You don't push them, you select them and the are filled (or
checked). Action does not occur until the Cancel, OK, Rest or another
button is depressed.

If icons are to be viewed then what are icons that uncollapse or launch
an application?

>The functions are implied by the common, non-computer uses of the
>terms. The whole concept
>of intuitive computer use rests on unsubtle borrowing from the
>non-computer world, so it would be pretty silly to allow the
>definitions to drift.

> -- Robert

Mike Wing
>_/ Michael Wing
>_/ Principal Technical Writer
>_/ Jupiter Customization and Educational Services
>_/ Intergraph Corporation
>_/ 730-7250
>_/ mjwing -at- ingr -dot- com

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