Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board




Menu Display of Boolean

What is the prevailing wisdom regarding the Menu caption for a boolean value.

Let's say I have a graph with a legend that can be toggled on/off.

Should the menu item denote the current value of the setting:

Graph
    Legend - On <--> Legend Off

or should it be:

Graph
    Show - Legend <--> Hide Legend

My own preference is "Legend - On" but this may be some sort of code monkey infirmity.

Thanks

...
Friday, August 01, 2003

Graph:
v Show Legend

(Check mark)

I find that more intuitive than changing the text.

Philo

Philo
Friday, August 01, 2003

I prefer 'Show Legend' - 'Hide Legend', simply because those verbs are much more descriptive in this case than on/off. ("Legend On" - on what?)

Philo's checkmark suggestion is also good to consider, although it's not what I'd use in this case. I'd use the checkmark if there wasn't a good pair of verbs to use, or if the application had to be translated into other languages (because with the checkmark, you only have to translate one descriptive term, rather than two verbs which must have opposite meanings).

Martha
Friday, August 01, 2003

Menus typically represent actions -- so, IMHO, the best approach is "Show Legend" / "Hide Legend". You can also use the checkmark with a noun (e.g. v Legend)  - in this case the verb is implied.

Do not use the check mark with a verb though, it's extremely confusing to the user.

igor
Friday, August 01, 2003

I prefer the checkmark approach, too, because it allows me to tell at a glance what the current state is.  If you use the alternate verbs, you have to mentally translate "If Hide Legend is on the menu, then the state of the legend is 'shown'"  Obviously, this is fairly minor, but it is a consideration.

anon
Friday, August 01, 2003

That's what I was getting at with the On/Off caption.

I agree that check marks are preferred but they are not an option (don't ask)

...
Friday, August 01, 2003

"I agree that check marks are preferred but they are not an option (don't ask)"

Oh, that just BEGS me to ask -- is that restriction there for political or technological reasons?

Because if you HAVE an on/off menu item, that's what God created menu checkboxes for.  If I want to change the state of the legend, the word "Legend" is going to be in my mind as I scan the menu entries.  When I'm scanning, I'm looking at the first word only.  So if that word is "show" or "hide", I'm not going to see it, and it's going to frustrate me.

If you absolutely can't use checkboxes, do Legend - On/Off.

Alyosha`
Friday, August 01, 2003

Yeah, that's sort of what created this scenario and why I use the Noun-verb structure.

Mostly political, by the way.

...
Friday, August 01, 2003

Post an email address. Maybe a few dozen comments about letting designers design in accordance with accepted UI principles will change their minds? [grin]

Philo

Philo
Friday, August 01, 2003

Personally, I hate, hate, hate seeing this done with anything but check marks.  The trouble with setting options via menu is that as soon as you make a change, it disappears -- so if you weren't 100% sure what you just did, you then have to go back through the same mouse navigation sequence to check what it says now.  (At best, this requires one extra mouse movement and two clicks, if the option is under the main menu.  If it's on a submenu, I start looking for competing products.)

Check boxes at least make it easy to see that something is on or off.  Barring that, I think "Legend: On/Legend: Off" is probably your best bet (since it's also the same thing), although this is somewhat awkward because there's no verb.

I realize that if politics prevent you from using something as simple as check marks, you've got no chance of moving these options to a dialog (which needn't be modal) or control pane... but maybe it's worth raising the idea?  This seems like a small issue, but IMO it makes a HUGE difference to usability.

Sam Livingston-Gray
Friday, August 01, 2003

Philo

I'd consider it if I thought for a minute that I wouldn't get them all forwarded to ME! <g>

...
Friday, August 01, 2003

I agree with Philo. I think that in this case that is a setting, and not a command. If it is a setting, it should have a checkmark.

If there were seperate processes handled through dialogs asking for more info or showing status that were called then I'd say that both "Turn x on"  and  "Turn x off" should be shown, with the unavailable action disabled.

If the checkmark isn't politically acceptable, then the method of having both commands and disbling the unavailable one might be better than changing the text.

--Josh

JWA
Friday, August 01, 2003

"If the checkmark isn't politically acceptable, then the method of having both commands and disbling the unavailable one might be better than changing the text."

I concur.

bpd
Friday, August 01, 2003

I still believe bitchslapping the moron who says "check items in menus are BAD" is an adequate technical solution to this problem.

"The most egregious example was the CEO and president of the company, who would regularly demand printouts of every screen, take them home, and edit them using a red pen. His edits were sometimes helpful (spelling and grammar corrections), but usually, they demonstrated a complete lack of understanding as to what went into the screens and why they said what they said. For months later, we would have meetings where people would say things like "Charles [the CEO] doesn't like dropdown list boxes," because of something he had edited without any thought, and that was supposed to *end the discussion*. You couldn't argue against this fictional Charles because he wasn't there; he didn't participate in the design except for hit and run purposes. Ouch."

Alyosha`
Friday, August 01, 2003

If you do "Legend: On", I would always wonder if it means "The legend is now on, so if I click it will be off" or if it means "Click to turn legend on".

dat
Saturday, August 02, 2003

I understand what you're saying but couple the setting with the fact that you can watch the legend being displayed/hidden and the mystery disappears.

...
Saturday, August 02, 2003

I'm implementing a software controlled case security solution. I've decided on
using "Current through case - On" to denote the hazardous case state. Certainly
my users will remember to turn the current off (by simply selecting "... - On"
in the menu of course, nothing could be more logical) before fiddling with the
case?

Never mind, if they don't, the mystery disappears when they do touch the case.

cdr
Saturday, August 02, 2003

Im another vote for using a check mark in the menu.
Changing the text of a menu item is a usability issue, sometimes its unavoidable but wherever possible it needs to be avoided.

FullNameRequired
Sunday, August 03, 2003

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home