When and why do we use ellipses?

When and why do we use ellipses?

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I just got asked this question:

Is there any reason why; in the Action menu on the Virtual Machine Connection window -  most of the actions are written as “Turn Off…” or “Shut Down…” whereas “Save” and “Pause” have no trailing “…”?

And then you compare it to Hyper-V Manager and there’s inconsistency between the two? For example it’s “Snapshot” in Hyper-V Manager but “Snapshot…” on the Virtual Machine Connection window.

What they are asking about are these menus in our user interface:

image

And there actually is a logical answer here.  If clicking on an option will cause us to open a new window or dialog – we put an ellipses (…) on the end of the command.  The reason for the difference in the Snapshot menu item is that when you select the option from the Virtual Machine Connection window; you will be prompted for a snapshot name.  Whereas if you select to snapshot from the Hyper-V Manager we will just give it an automatic name.

But… Uh… As I have been writing this post I have noticed that the Hyper-V Manager does not have an ellipses after the Reset command – and it does prompt you for confirmation.  That would be a bug.

Cheers,
Ben

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  • Actually, ellipses means the user will be required to give more information to execute the described action.  This means a new dialog... BUT it also means commands without ellipses can also open a new dialog, if the dialog is the described action itself!

    See blogs.msdn.com/.../133181.aspx

  • Not quite!  This is where things get really confusing.  Microsoft has different style guidelines for server and desktop.  They are 90% the same - but ellipses is one area where they differ.  Windows Server tends to use more ellipses than Windows as a result.

    Cheers,

    Ben

  • ... and deleting a VM from the context menu does not prompt me for confirmation (if it is powered off) but uses ellipses too...

  • mhahnen -

    You will have chosen the option to not be prompted on delete.  On a default installation there is a prompt there (and it is there on my systems).

    Cheers,

    Ben

  • This has long been the case!

    Way back when IBM brought out a UI guide, and Microsoft and IBM were co-developing OS/2.

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