Common Desktop Environment: Style Guide and Certification Checklist

Dialog Box Interaction

All of the navigation and selection guidelines that apply to applications in general should apply to your dialogs. In addition, as you design your application-specific dialog boxes, you should follow these guidelines to ensure maximum usability and accessibility.



When your application displays a dialog box, it places the input focus at the first text field into which the user is allowed to type an entry, or at the first control within the dialog box with which the user should interact. 

Input focus should always be placed at a predictable and intuitive location. The user should not be forced to set focus at the control most likely to be used when the window is displayed. 



As the user presses the Tab key within dialog boxes of your application, the input focus moves to different controls within the window in a left-right, top-down order. 

This assumes that your application is being designed for a left-to-right language environment. Alternate design approaches may be necessary for other locales. 



Dialog boxes displayed by your application never block input to other applications within the desktop (that is, they are not system modal) unless it is absolutely essential that the user perform no other action in the desktop until the user responds to the dialog box. 

Applications must allow the user the freedom to access information and tools within the user's desktop environment. Only in the most dire circumstances should an application ever block access to other applications and services within the environment. 



Dialog boxes displayed by your application never block access to other functionality within the application (application modal) unless it is essential that the state of the application remains unchanged until the user responds to the dialog box. 



A warning dialog box allows the user to cancel the destructive action about which the dialog box is providing a warning.