Consistency with starting applications.

Jeff Schering jeffschering at
Tue Mar 14 16:15:47 UTC 2006

On 3/13/06, Dean Sas <dean at> wrote:
> When telling the user to run a program we use three different ways:
> to run &application;, choose
> to start &application;, choose
> to open &application;, choose
> I have two questions:
> Is there any one way preferred above the others?

It's an issue that we need to look at more closely for Ubuntu docs,
but for now the short answer is: start an application, open a menu,
run a server, display a dialog, and launch nothing (but you use a
launcher to start, open, run, or display).

Here's the long answer: Our style guide is currently silent on this
issue. (It's one of the todo things). However, in the applicablitly
and precedence section, it says that we can refer to other places for
the answer.

<quote source="">
If you encounter a topic or situation that is not covered by this
style guide, then refer to the GNOME Documentation Style Guide. If
your document deals exclusively with KDE, then refer to the KDE Style

If you have still not found a solution after referring to one of the
guides above, then you will have to make your own decision. See the
Reference Materials section for links to other style guides and
documentation handbooks.

The KDE style guide says nothing about this issue, but the GNOME guide does.

This is what GNOME style guide says:

To open any user interface component.
Examples of items that you can open include: Main menu, Applications
menu, etc etc

To open an application.
Example:  To start Calculator, choose Applications->Accessories->Calculator.

To change the status of an application, program, or script from
continuously inactive to continuously active.
Example: To run the Terminal application, execute the following
command: gnome-terminal

Use this verb when an item is not already open somewhere in the GNOME
Desktop. The item needs to be opened, added, or launched.
Example:  To display the Background Preferences dialog, right-click on
the desktop, then choose Change Desktop Background.

Nothing in GNOME guide, although it does cover the noun "launcher"

So it looks like (according to GNOME style guide) you open a menu,
start an application, run a server, and display a dialog. I suggest
that we can go with this for now, but it's something that needs to be
looked at in more detail. The GNOME guide seems to make distinctions
that only developers care about, but the distinctions should also take
end users into account. For example, do users understand "open your
browser and navigate to..." better than "start your browser and
navigate to...", or do they even care?

> Are entries not using any one true way bugs?
I would say no, not bugs until after the docs have been released and
we have a firm policy. In the meantime, I would say change those that
you come across but let the proofreaders catch the rest. If you were
to file a bug, it should probably be something along the lines of 
"there's no onsistency and we need a policy."


Jeff Schering
GPG: F23C67E8

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