Types of windows?

Subject: Types of windows?
From: "Geoff Hart" <geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca>
To: TECHWR-L -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Date: Thu, 9 Dec 1999 09:59:16 -0500

Nana Kato wonders about the various types of windows in

<<In our application, we have several types of windows. In many
cases, I call them xxx dialog box, since they actually serve to
convey the user's input to the system. But there are different types
of windows like these: 1. Displays the system's status for the user
to view but does not have setting fields to convey user's input. 2. It
may be a dialog box but may rather be called "editor" or "window"
since it is where the user edit a program to run the system.>>

There's a fairly simple distinction: if the user can interact with the
program through the window (e.g., click an OK or Cancel button, or
fill in the blank fields in a form), then it's a "dialog box"; if the
window doesn't let you interact with the program (e.g., a printing
dialog box that says "page 1 of X sent to the printer" or one of
those "progress indicator" bars for operations such as file copies,
with no "Cancel" button), then it's a status window. It's rare to see
such things in Windows; status information that doesn't let you do
anything about the condition usually appears at the bottom of the
screen, rather than in a new window.

<<Do you think it is ok to call them xxx dialog box? In the MS
manual, where a very specific element name is defined, they often
note, "In general, do not use the terms xxx in end-user material;
use xxx instead.">>

Without having read that manual, I'd guess that what Microsoft is
saying is "don't try to teach your audience the technical difference
between all the different types of window: pick an appropriate term
(or at most two terms) and use it (or them) consistently". So you'd
say something like "In the File Save dialog box, click..." or "In the
status window, Word displays which page is currently being
printed; you can't do anything about this, so go get a coffee while
you're waiting." And that's it: no more types of windows to explain.

--Geoff Hart @8^{)} geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca (Pointe-Claire, Quebec)
"If you can't explain it to an 8-year-old, you don't understand it"--Albert Einstein

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