Re: Killer -Reply

Subject: Re: Killer -Reply
From: Jerry Kindall <kindall -at- MANUAL -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 18 Nov 1996 01:38:16 -0500

Kris Olberg <kjolberg -at- IX -dot- NETCOM -dot- COM> wrote:

>This thread has generated alot of discussion about the differences between
>"abort" and "stop." The definitions presented generally say that "abort"
>implies an abnormal end to a process where stop does not.

I've always liked the way Apple did it:

Cancel = Everything is back to the way it was before the process was
(e.g. if I cancel the installation of some software, anything
was installed before I clicked "Cancel" was removed)
Stop = Process was left partially completed (e.g. if I am copying files,
the files which were successfully copied before I clicked "Stop"
remain in place)

In the Mac world, of course, these guidelines have amassed the force of
law. However, I see no reason why they couldn't be adopted elsewhere.
The software would have to be designed with buttons labeled
appropriately, naturally. Mac users also "close" documents, "quit"
applications, and sometimes "force quit" one that's locked up. All of
which strike me as perfectly reasonable terms for such things. (Of
course, if the OS uses a different term, as in the Unix "kill," it would
be silly to use "force quit.")

In my opinion, the user should never be offered the choice to "abort" or
"terminate" something. That has always sounded to me like something the
operating system did to a program, or a program did to itself through an
error condition. The Mac doesn't handle these kinds of errors
particularly gracefully most of the time, but when it does, it says the
application "unexpectedly quit." This seems a bit clunky to me. I would
favor "failed" in this context, unless of course you are writing for the
Mac, where you should probably use the Apple-approved term.

>Before I argue against the irrelevant nature of these definitions within the
>context of this thread, let me say first that I do not condone the use of
>negative connotation terminology in professional documentation. Why not?
>Because I don't think it's necessary. I use "stop" for "abort." I use "end"
>for "terminate." I use "run" for "execute." And on and on.

Simplicity is good, and I like these choices. I favor "open" for
documents and either "open" or "launch" for applications, rather than


Gotta get my two cents in on the correct verb for typing things on the
keyboard, too. I like "press" for single keystrokes (or combinations, as
in "Press Alt-X"), and "type" for longer strings (e.g. "Type
'abracadabra'"). Hit is the wrong verb to use with a keyboard. Hit
means to strike with great force. You should not strike your keyboard
with great force. You might break it!

Jerry Kindall <kindall -at- manual -dot- com>
Manual Labor <>

Technical Writing; Internet & WWW Consulting

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