Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Options

Something else that I find confusing in Windows is where to edit the preferences for an application. Under Linux, this was always located in the same place: the "Edit" menu. So to edit the preferences for a program, I clicked "Edit - Preferences".

In fact, the "Edit - Preferences" menu item is dictated in the GNOME Human Interface Guidelines (Standard Menus.) So it's the same in every Linux application I used under Fedora.

Not so under Windows. It's under the "Tools" menu. It just doesn't make sense to put them there; the preferences and settings are not tools.

To add to the confusion, every Windows program calls the preferences and settings by a different name. Under Internet Explorer, it's "Tools - Internet Options", although you might think that menu item controls only your proxy settings (which it does) and not your home page and browser history. For Windows Explorer, preferences are in "Tools - Folder Options". Firefox calls it simply "Tools - Options".

Don't get me started on Office 2007 - it's a completely new paradigm! There are no "menus" in Office 2007, at least not as you normally think of menus. Instead, you access the settings for, say, Word 2007 by clicking on the program icon in the upper-left corner, then the "Word Options" button. It's a freaking button here instead of a menu item, like every other Windows program, but at least it's labeled to indicate what it does.

3 comments:

  1. "So it's the same in every Linux application I used under Fedora."

    There are still exceptions though. Pidgin doesn't have an "edit" menu, so puts it under "tools". KDE apps put them elsewhere. OO Writer puts it under "tools" (and I *know* you use OO Writer in Linux, because you've said so).

    I would argue that they don't quite fit into the 'edit' menu either though. Sure, you want to edit the preferences, but that's not quite what that menu is about. After all, in most programs the *other* entries in that are operations on the current document. Furthermore, it obviously can't actually be the catch-all for anything you want to edit, or else most options would be in the edit menu. (After all, I want to edit the formatting, so why is there a separate formatting menu?)

    Basically, the preferences command seems at least a little out of place wherever it goes. I don't think the 'edit' menu makes much more innate sense than the 'tools' menu. The more important thing is consistency within a platform, and Windows programs tend to be reasonably consistent in this regard.

    ReplyDelete
  2. "Not so under Windows. It's under the "Tools" menu. It just doesn't make sense to put them there; the preferences and settings are not tools."

    It makes even less sense to put them under "Edit", which (in Windows) is a menu for commands pertaining to editing or manipulating the text and/or other content within the window.

    I note the GNOME guidelines say much the same thing, with an "and user preferences" clearly tacked on as an afterthought. What resemblence does manipulating window content have with changing user preferences, that they deserve to share the same menu ?

    ReplyDelete
  3. However, you probably want to "change", "modify", "edit" your preferences. To edit your preferences click Edit, then Preferences.

    ReplyDelete

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Followers