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suggestions on toolbar icons

From: Drew Adams
Subject: suggestions on toolbar icons
Date: Wed, 16 Mar 2005 17:27:46 -0800

Some minor suggestions on toolbar icons (in Windows version, at
least). No need for a lot of discussion. If any of this makes
sense, good; if not, forget it.


 - Magnifying glass for search: This symbol is often used for
   Zoom, and it should be reserved for Zoom.

   Suggestion: Use binoculars instead. (People don't search with
   magnifying glasses, anyway.)

 - Manuscript "X" for quit/exit: This symbol is often used for
   Delete. It's not too bad for quitting (killing) a buffer, but
   extending this to stand for "quit" generally (e.g. Info) is
   not good.

   Suggestion (my preference): Use the "exit" international
   symbol, which is an arrow leaving a box by its open end:

   <----  |

   Reserve the manuscript X for a real delete operation that
   cannot be assimilated with quitting. Whenever "delete" can be
   considered to mean quit, use the exit symbol.

   Alternative suggestion (but I prefer the one above): Use a
   non-manuscript X for quit (perhaps like the one Windows uses
   to close a frame, in the upper-right corner). It is only the
   _manuscript_ X that means delete and so can be confusing.

 - Tooltip for quit/exit:

   Suggestion: Use "Quit buffer", or "Delete buffer" instead of
   "Discard current buffer". I prefer "Quit buffer".


 - Right arrow targeting yellow disk (go to named node):

   Suggestion: Arrow should point to the word "Node" or "Xxxx",
   not to a nameless yellow disk.

 - Index:

   Suggestion: Add the letter "i" at the top of the icon
   (lowercase i, as in the information symbol, but without any
   enclosing circle). Split the "text" of each line, to show that
   these are entries in a list (index):

   _ _________                ___________
   _ _________ is better than ___________
   _ _________                ___________

 - Arrows Previous, Next, Up, History Back, and History Forward:
   The structural-move icons (Previous, Next, Up) look too much
   like the chronological-move icons of Web browsers. I don't
   have a slam-dunk suggestion here, but we should come up with
   something better: browser users are used to these fat arrows
   for chronological moves. (It's best to avoid them altogether.)

   Suggestion (my preference): U-turn arrows for chronological
   moves (right-then-left for back, left-then-right for forward);
   small arrows with ellipsis (indicating continuation) for
   structural moves: ...<-- and -->...

   By "U-turn" arrows, I don't mean the current curly arrows, but
   arrows that make a full sideways turn, like a U on its side.

   Alternative suggestion (but I prefer the one above): U-turn
   arrows for chronological moves; thin arrows for structural
   moves. (The current curly arrows would not be good for
   structural moves, because their shape suggests moving up and

   Second alternative: If people don't like U-turn arrows, then
   use the fat arrows for chronological moves, a la web browsers.

 - Tooltip for Up arrow: Should say "Go to parent node", not "Go
   up in the Info tree".

 - Home (Info-top-node): Icon is good. However...

   It takes you to the top node of the current file. Once there,
   the icon remains active, although it then does nothing. Either
   it should then be deactivated, or (better, IMO) `Info-top-node'
   should take you to (dir) if you are already at the top of a
   manual. We already have the notion of "Home" being relative
   (different manuals have different homes), so letting it have
   two levels this way would not be disruptive - in a sense there
   _are_ two levels of "home" (or "top").


 - Folder (for "file): This is _not_ good. A folder icon is used
   ubiquitously for, well, a folder - that is, a directory.

   Suggestion: The new-file and existing-file icons should be
   very similar. Use the current new-file icon for both, but, in
   the case of new-file, make it slightly smaller and have tiny
   "sparkle" lines emanating from it ("[ ]" here represents a
   slightly smaller version of the current new-file icon):

   `  |  '
   - [ ] -

   '  |  `

   Such sparkle lines (I don't know the real term) are often used
   to indicate action, change of state, newness, or creation.

   Alternative suggestion (perhaps better): Put just a tiny
   sparkle star in one corner of the new-file icon. Example:


 - Directory (Dired):

   Suggestion: Use a regular folder icon. Duh?

 - Tooltip for Directory:

   Suggestion: Mention "Dired" - "Operate on files in directory

 - Help:

   Suggestion (my preference): Use a large, lowercase "i" in a
   circle, the international symbol for information.

   Alternative suggestion (but I prefer the one above): Use a
   question mark (?) in a circle. A question mark is closer to
   the meaning of Help, but Emacs Help is more than help; it's
   really an Information center.

   BTW - Why is the Help icon not available in an Info buffer (in
   all buffers)?

 - Preferences: This wrench+screwdriver icon is commonly used for
   Preferences, so it will be recognized by users. However,
   although common, it is not a good choice for preferences, and
   it can be confused with the kind of thing that is in the Tools

   Suggestion: Use an icon with a pair of checkboxes, one
   checked, one unchecked. Examples:


In GNU Emacs (i386-mingw-nt5.1.2600) of 2005-01-30 on
 NONIQPC Distributor `Microsoft Corp.', version 5.1.2600
 configured using `configure --with-gcc (3.3) --cflags
 -I../../jpeg-6b-3/include -I../../libpng-1.2.8/include
 -I../../tiff-3.6.1-2/include -I../../xpm-nox-4.2.0/include

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