[Ubuntu-manual] top bar, menu bar, panel or top panel

jimandmarcy at gmail.com jimandmarcy at gmail.com
Wed Jul 11 15:25:10 UTC 2012

I believe our path to a resolution lies not in what >we< think is right, or  
what a majority of a group thinks is right, but what the end user thinks is  

Let me explain.

There are several shades of blue (electric blue, navy blue, indigo  
blue...to name a few). But generally, these variations of blue are accepted  
as "blue" for (and because of) a variety of reasons. But then we have CYAN.  
Is it blue? Well, to a generalist, yes. To ME, yes. But to a lithographer,  
or a printer manufacturer, or a photographer, or a user replacing a printer  
cartridge, CYAN is a very specific color mix, so to them, and for their  
purposes, and in their opinion, CYAN is NOT blue. Printer manufacturers  
have labeled this color as CYAN, all the printer cartridge manufacturers  
call the color CYAN, therefore, the user searches for a replacement CYAN  
(not BLUE) printer cartridge.

My point.

We may say the "top bar" represents one thing while the "menu bar"  
represents another, and we can debate about the denotation and connotation  
of the identifiers, but we've not asked the (arguably) more question  
yet "what is generally accepted?" And by answering that question, we will  
know what the user will expect, and by knowing what the user expects, we'll  
all be speaking the same language. While the "Ubuntu Manual Project" is an  
excellent resource filling a specific niche market, it is not a "definitive  
guide to using Ubuntu". The UMP is a generalist publication for those  
wanting to get into Ubuntu but don't want to wade through a  
500-page "official manual". We're more of a 150-page "quick start guide".  
This being the case, we should be in the mindset not to determine and  
define screen element names, but to support that which has already been  
defined for us.

A discussion amongst ourselves is good, and healthy, but if we determine  
that a "top bar" is "X" while other manuals, websites, tutorials, etc.  
identify it as "Y", are we best serving the overall community by presenting  
these contradictions in print?

My recommendation is that we define screen elements the same as the  
Official Ubuntu Manual defines them...right or wrong. We may even need to  
coordinate with them...or even contact Canonical directly for input in  
answering some of these questions. In the interest of serving the user  
base, it's best that all we are all 100% right or 100% wrong. Anything less  
adds confusion to the user, and, in the end, detracts from the overall  
impressiveness of the user supported documentation and--I would argue--the  
Ubuntu OS in general.


On , Hannie Dumoleyn <lafeber-dumoleyn2 at zonnet.nl> wrote:
> With more reactions coming in, I think "menu bar" is the favorite now.

> The explanation that this bar holds mainly menu's is a valid one. With  
> the term "top bar" one refers to the location of the bar (at the top of  
> the screen), while the term "menu bar" says more about the contents of  
> the bar.

> @manual team: if we agree on "menu bar", we can start using this term in  
> Quantal.

> Regards,

> Hannie

> Op 11-07-12 04:46, Jeremy Bicha schreef:

> On 10 July 2012 04:49, Hannie Dumoleyn lafeber-dumoleyn2 at zonnet.nl> wrote:

> As a member of the ubuntu manual team I started a discussion on how we

> should call this "thing" at the top of our screen.

> As a translator of the official Ubuntu documentation (yelp) I noticed that

> the word "panel" had been changed to "menu bar" in the Precise version.

> I would like to discuss this with people from ubuntu-translators and

> ubuntu-docs as well.

> Let me know what you think.

> The official Ubuntu term is "menu bar". Besides the official Ubuntu

> documentation, this can be found in multiple places in System Settings

> such as "Show battery status in the menu bar".

> The GNOME documentation calls the similar space in GNOME Shell "top bar".

> Personally, I like the "menu bar" name as the top of the screen

> includes application menus, application status menus, and system

> status menus. The only part that isn'ta menu is the window management

> buttons (close, minimize, maximize) and the app title.

> Thanks for asking as clear and consistent word choices are important!

> Jeremy

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