Window "pane" comments

Subject: Window "pane" comments
From: Beth Kane <bkane -at- ARTISOFT -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 3 Oct 1996 15:53:21 MTN

Here is the feedback from other writers on using the term "pane" to
refer to a part of a window:
-------------------

I have also encountered the dilemma of what to call parts of a window.
I ended up calling them sections, and I always refer to it by using
the name that appears on the title bar of that section.
I think you may have to concede this one. First, by your own
admission, you've not been consistent with what to call them. Second,
your engineers are already calling them panes. And third, perhaps most
important, panes is an accepted term industry-wide.

Panes have a clear semantic link with "windows" and most people can
visualize window panes fairly easily. Frames on the internet usually
exhibit slightly different behavior than panes.

I do know how you feel about a word, though. My "hate-word" is box,
which the Microsoft Style Guide wants to use in place of field. For
example, "In the Name box, type....." Ugh. I hate it. But generally
when Microsoft starts using it for their own products, enough people
follow to make it a trend....good or bad.
-----------------------------------

I think that if you accept the concept of a window (which we mostly
do) you ought to use the analogy consistently.
This means that the area of a window you look 'through' is a pane, and
the border is a frame. I can't see any advantage in messing up a nice,
clear analogy.
---------------------------------

I prefer your original solution -- give them names and then use the
names with a quick description of where they are. (The User
Information fields (or section) in the upper left corner."
When I document applications that take advantage of the Multiple
Document Interchange (MDI) capability, I use the terms ACTIVE and
DISABLED window. Most applications I document cannot truly multi-task.
------------------------------------

I've been calling the "two distinct parts" of our application window
panes for years (as in "The window contains two panes; the upper pane
displays the highlighted reference and the lower pane displays the
references in your database in a one-line format. The panes can be
resized..."). I've never had a problem with users understanding
what I meant.
-----------------------------------

The term "frames" in browsers has a specific connotation, related to
some HTML gadgetry that allows a viewing port ("pane") to be split
into multiple views. I'd avoid using frames as a generic term for
parts of a window.

"Panel" is used on occasion, but can conflict with some application
software.
-----------------------------------

I'm afraid that "pane" is becoming increasingly commonplace and, thus,
a term that users expect.
--------------------------

How about "panels"?
---------------------------

The VisualWorks/Smalltalk development tool uses the terms "canvas" and
"subcanvas" for divisions of a graphical user interface. However,
these terms haven't made their way into user docs (we haven't done
any yet). We may use these terms, or something better that comes up.
I usually just say, "in the box on the right" or something like that.
-----------------------------

"Windettes"--probably too gender-specific/diminutive.
Better: "sashes", "casements", or "panels".
------------------------------
;'D

MY CONCLUSION:
When we absolutely have to use a term, we should use the term pane
(though unattractive, it's understandable and industry standard).
But most of the time we should avoid using it and refer to the
parts by name. In other words, we might have to say "pane" when
first telling a user to go there, but as we discuss how to use the
feature, we can just call it by name.

bkane -at- artisoft -dot- com


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