Re: Alt+Tab window

Subject: Re: Alt+Tab window
From: "Brierley, Sean" <Brierley -at- QUODATA -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 13 Jul 1999 16:19:27 -0400


>>>-----Original Message-----
>>>From: Merrick, Tim [mailto:tim -dot- merrick -at- LSIL -dot- COM]
>>>I don't mean to sound like a jerk here, but is "Task Menu" a
>>>documented name
>>>for this "window," or just your preference? In Windows 3.1
>>>there was a Task
>>>List. In Windows 9x there is the Taskbar. I don't see anything in the
>>>Windows 95 Help about a Task Menu.

You're all set . . . your posts are well thought out and I take no offense
at your assertions.

However, consider my thoughts:

1. As a writer, you can really use whatever term you define for your
audience provided you do not cause confusion (or offend them <g>). Is Task
menu already taken?

2. Just because some other writer hasn't defined it doesn't mean you can't.
For example, let's all use "Task menu" and when someone calls you to cite a
source, say "Sean Brierley," he's authored many books on using software and
hardware in the Windows environment and has been writing about Windows
products since Windows became available.

3. Microsoft's Manual of Style for Technical Publication communicates a
clear preference for *not* naming such elements as the "Task menu." (Avoid
the words cascading, pull-down, drop-down, or pop-up to describe menus,"
page 174, and "avoid differentiating between property sheets and dialog
boxes in end user documentation" and "avoid using the term dialog box or
property sheet if you can," page 73, and so forth. Microsoft's style gurus
obviously want to talk about action and avoid dwelling on the name of a GUI
component. Of course, this is only my take but I doubt the MS manual of
style would want you to refer to the "Task menu" as anything.

4. It's neither a dialog box nor a window. Indeed, as was just mentioned it
"pops up." Page 211 of the MSMoSfTP refers to "Pop Up" as being a menu (with
the specific exception for online help). Indeed, I do argue that the Task
menu is a menu and not a window or dialog or anything else.

5. Look at the Task bar and Task Manager. What do they containing. Compare
that to the contents of the "Task menu." Am I close?

6. Is it a box? No offence to Bill, who obviously has his act together more
than I, but look in the MMoSfTP and The Windows Interface Guidelines for
Software Design. You would be hard pressed (I argue unable) to find anything
called a "box" that resembles the "Task menu" . . . indeed, it's a menu.

>>>I reiterate my point. If it doesn't have a name, don't make
>>>one up for it.
>>>If necessary, describe it in words or--better yet--a picture.
>>>Again, Sean, nothing personal. But it's not documentation if
>>>we start making
>>>things up.

I respectfully disagree. At some point, someone made up "Task Manager" and
"shortcut menu" and the term "Windows." I argue we can "make things up." I
do caution that we must be intelligent about it and consider our readers. I
consider that we must be consistent in our application of terms. And, we
must define our terms, especially if they not be common or easily
understood. (And I'm only going to insert a picture of something like the
"Task menu" once, as a reference or part of a definition. Ask the artist
formerly known as prince what the cons are to not assigning a word to
something <vbg>.

So, with a tip of the hat to Mr. Gates and Tim both, I still say "Task

Yes. It's a bad MS Word day. Please forgive me if I got off topic here, I
was providing MS Word training over the phone while composing this email
(and running a FrameMaker process in the background).

All the best, no offence,

sean -at- quodata -dot- com

From ??? -at- ??? Sun Jan 00 00:00:00 0000=

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