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Glossary » Widgets

“You are Here” indicator

a way of indicating the current location (or view area) when looking at an overview map, site map, navigation bar, etc. The indicator can be as simple as a dot, a bounding rectangle, an arrow, or a hilited item.


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about box

A dialog box that describes the software product as a whole and the company that created it. The about box typically includes such things as author credits, copyright and trademark information, licensing and shareware information, contact information, version numbers, system…

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accumulating attribute group

a set of items or properties that are related and whose effect is cumulative, as with a group of checkboxes. Multiple items can be simultaneously selected, as in a font style menu, where a given letter can be made both…

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adaptive menu

a menu where the most recently-selected item(s) are shown at the top so as to help the user repeat common commands quickly without searching for them in long menus. This technique does not work well with short menus, where it…

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adaptive palette

a tool palette or toolbar that allows tools to be selected from a pop-up menu, and then shows the chosen tool as the default tool for that menu (can be selected again just by clicking, without the menu appearing). This…

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an addition to a standard window, such as a ruler or toolbar, that moves with the window or is otherwise associated with it.

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alert box

a dialog box, generally modal, that appears to alert the user to important information.

3 categories of alert boxes are common:

“errors” are typically actions which can’t be continued “warnings” suggest that a problem might occur “notes” provide information

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assistant / wizard

a special type of dialog box that takes a user through a step-by-step procedure. Intended to simplify what might otherwise be a more complex procedure if performed, for instance, through direct manipulation.

“Assistant” is the term used in the Mac…

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attention panel

the term used for modal dialog boxes in the NeXT operating system.

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(or auto-fill) a feature of text-entry fields that automatically completes typed entries with the best guess of what the user may intend to enter, such as pathnames, urls, or long words, thus reducing the amount of typing necessary to enter…

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or auto-skip; in form fields with a fixed character size, the movement to the next field automatically on completion of the field, used to reduce keystrokes (by avoiding the necessity of tabbing to the next field).

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automatic scrolling

scrolling that occurs when a user drags outside the visible region, such as when a user is selecting text across multiple pages. Automatic scrolling is any scrolling that occurs without a user having to explicitly scroll using a scrollbar.

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balloon help

a help facility in Mac OS that displays a speech balloon over widgets and screen regions when the users pause over them. The speech balloon typically contains a title and a short description.

Similar in some ways to tooltips, except…

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holding down the button on a pen (barrel button) while tapping — used as an input technique in pen-based systems.

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sending information by infrared from one device to another, as with remote control devices or when transferring electronic business cards between handheld computers.

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beveled appearance

the bevel is the bright or dark edge used on raised or lowered objects in a user interface to give them a 3-dimensional appearance. This pseudo-3d style is quite popular: by giving buttons a raised appearance, they appear to be…

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busy pattern

a special way of displaying an icon, button, or other widget to indicate that it is temporarily unavailable because it is being used. Typically the busy pattern is indicated by showing an icon in a light gray dotted pattern. An…

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busy pointer

also called a wait pointer. An icon used for the pointer indicating that a process is being carried out and the software is not currently accepting input. Commonly represented by a watch, an hourglass, or a spinning beachball.

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an input device both on the screen and in the physical world, typically used to select among on/off states or to activate a command.

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a small triangle used as an insertion-point indicator in text entry.

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cascading menu

a hierarchical menu or submenu; a menu with items that open up further submenus.

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case sensitivity

whether an application distinguishes between phrases based on whether the letters are upper case or lower case. If the distinction is relevant, then the system is case-sensitive. Otherwise, it is case-insensitive.

In search engines and in search-and-replace systems, case insensitivity…

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change bars

lines along the edge of text that indicate where changes have been made since the previous version of the text. These are useful when multiple people have been editing a document together and need to track each other’s work. Change…

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a small box used in forms or dialog boxes that users can check on or check off. Unlike radio buttons, checkboxes are mutually exclusive – the value of one checkbox is usually entirely independent of the value of any other.…

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a visual style for user interfaces that presents widgets as beveled 3-dimensional objects, usually with a gray, metallic appearance. In this style, buttons are presented as raised rectangles, text-entry fields and other content areas usually appear in beveled insets, and…

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