A message box demands attention

Most of the time, GUI programs put the user in charge. If the user chooses to click a button or edit a field, the computer lets them do just that in whatever order and at whatever time the user chooses. But sometimes, GUI programs need to stop the user and ask her a question, getting her to confirm or acknowledge something. That's where message boxes come in.

A message box is something that requires a response, which is why it's sometimes called a dialog box.

The simplest message box displays a message with a single OK button:

This icon shows it's a warning.

This icon shows it's a warning.

This is the message.

The user must click the "OK" button to continue, indicating that she acknowledges the mess^.

This is the message.

The user must click the "OK" button to continue, indicating that she acknowledges the mess^.

A message box always displays the message in a separate window, typically in front of your main GUI window. And it won't go away until you click it, dismissing it. That's why message boxes are the most commonly used way of displaying errors. The user has to read and respond to the error before continuing.

You should be sparing in how often you display message boxes, because if users see too many of them, they are likely to click them without reading the message. But, when used carefully, they keep your user informed and alert.

declarative and interrogative messages

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