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Links and Buttons

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Establish guidelines for use of hyperlinks.

Offer guidance on when to use links and when to use command buttons.


Primary & secondary commands (within same page)

[ Command Buttons ]

Use command buttons for:

  • Primary actions, such as Save in the form-based editors. A more general example Print in a print dialog
  • Commands with significant consequences, such as final actions that are not reversible, such as "Delete" or "Run"
  • Secondary commands where it make sense to use a button instead of a link, such as in a group of buttons where the primary actions are shown first, and the secondary commands follow

Do not use command buttons for:

  • Long text strings, consisting of 5 or more words. These look less awkward as links than as command buttons, regardless of whether they are actions or navigation.


[ Links ]

Use links for:

  • Navigation to another page, window, or Help topic. This includes contexts such as form editors, dialogs, and wizards
  • Secondary actions, such as in dialogs or wizards. This is a visual affordance that de-emphasizes secondary commands. (See "Factors that influence the choice of a command button or link" below.)
  • Long text strings, consisting of 5 or more words. These look less awkward as links than as command buttons, regardless of whether they are actions or navigation.
  • Commands embedded in a body of text, as in forms
  • Commands that are part of a menu or group of related links

Do not use links for:

  • Primary actions
  • Commands with significant consequences, that are irreversible


Additional considerations that influence the choice of a command button or link:

Visual affordance of primary vs. secondary actions -- Links are less prominent than command buttons so are suitable for secondary actions. Either a command button or a link could be used for secondary actions. In addition to visual affordance, consider these factors as well:

  • Length of text string
  • Relationship -- Whether it accompanies a set of command buttons or is solo
  • Context -- If in a form body or a form header.
  • Real estate -- Links can take up a lot of space. In some cases the choice is not between links and command buttons but between these an some other UI mechanism. For

example, the header better accommodates tool items than links.


Any use cases for Command Links in Eclipse?