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Dialog boxes

Use dialog boxes to perform the following actions:

  • Prompt users for information that is required to complete a user-initiated task.
  • Inform users of urgent information or the status of important actions.
  • Warn users of unexpected or potentially destructive conditions or situations.

Dialog boxes are modal; they interrupt the normal operation of the BlackBerry device. A dialog box includes a message, buttons that allow users to perform an action, and an indicator that indicates the type of dialog box. The size of the dialog box depends on the size of the BlackBerry device screen. The theme that users select on their BlackBerry device determines the visual style of the dialog box.


This illustration shows the elements of a dialog box.

Best practice: Implementing dialog boxes

  • Be concise and try to avoid making users scroll in a dialog box. Include scroll arrows if your dialog box message or buttons cannot be displayed fully in the dialog box. If you use standard components, scroll arrows appear automatically if necessary.
  • Always allow users to use the Escape key to close a dialog box.
  • If users press the End/Power key when a dialog box appears on an application screen, display the Home screen or application list. If users return to the application, display the dialog box again.

Guidelines for layout

  • Use standard BlackBerry dialog boxes where possible so that you do not have to adjust the layout of each dialog box for each supported screen size.
  • Create dialog boxes that are up to, but not greater than, 90% of the width and height of the screen. If you use standard BlackBerry dialog boxes, the BlackBerry device automatically calculates the appropriate size for dialog boxes.
  • Center the dialog box on the screen. Make sure that the width of the dialog box is at least half the width of the screen. If you use standard BlackBerry dialog boxes, the BlackBerry device centers the dialog box and adjusts the width of the dialog box automatically.
  • Center the dialog box indicator vertically with the dialog box message.
  • Use a standard indicator that is appropriate for the type of dialog box (for example, use an exclamation point (!) indicator in an alert dialog box). Avoid using multiple indicators in a dialog box.
  • Display messages to the right of the indicator and above any buttons. In right-to-left languages, display messages to the left of the indicator.
  • If you give users the option to not show a dialog box again, include a check box in the dialog box and match the alignment of the check box with the alignment of the dialog box message. Use the label "Don't show again". Place the check box above the buttons. The check box should be checked by default, unless the dialog box displays a message with critical information for users.

Guidelines for messages

  • Be specific. If possible, use one short sentence to clearly state the reason for displaying the dialog box and, if necessary, the actions that can dismiss it.
  • Consider the user's context. You might not need to provide as much detail in your message. For example, if a user cannot save a picture, use "The media card is full." instead of "The file could not be saved because the media card is full."
  • Use vocabulary that users understand. For example, use "The media card is full" instead of "Error writing file to disk."
  • Use positive language where possible and avoid blaming the user. Never write messages that blame users for errors or unexpected conditions. Instead, focus on the actions that users can take to resolve the issue. For example, use " Please close some applications to free up resources, then try again." instead of "Low memory error. Please try again."
  • Use complete sentences for messages where possible.
  • Use the second person (you, your) to refer to users.
  • Use sentence case capitalization.

Guidelines for laying out buttons

  • For the default button, use the button that users are most likely to click. Avoid using a button that is associated with a destructive action as the default button. Exceptions to this rule are those cases where users initiate a minor destructive action (such as deleting a single item) and the most common user action is to continue with the action.
  • Avoid using more than three buttons in a dialog box. If there are more than three, consider using an application screen instead with radio buttons.
  • Use buttons to confirm or cancel actions in dialog boxes. Place buttons for confirmation actions first. For example, place "Save" before "Discard" or "Cancel."
  • In most cases, place buttons vertically in the dialog box. The vertical layout allows buttons to expand to accommodate localized button labels. You can place OK and Cancel buttons horizontally in a dialog box if you need to reduce the amount of vertical space. If you place OK and Cancel buttons horizontally, make sure that OK appears before Cancel, except in right-to-left languages.
  • On BlackBerry devices with a touch screen, add 1.5 mm of space between buttons. Since buttons have padding, the actual space between buttons is approximately 2 mm. If you use standard BlackBerry dialog boxes, the BlackBerry device automatically adds the additional space between buttons.
  • Center-align buttons in dialog boxes. Make the width of each button identical. For BlackBerry devices with a screen width that is greater than the height, at a minimum, make sure that the width of the buttons is 60% of the width of the dialog box. For BlackBerry devices with a screen width that is less than the height, at a minimum, make sure that the width of the buttons is 70% of the width of the dialog box. If you use standard BlackBerry dialog boxes, the BlackBerry device automatically adjusts the width of the buttons.
  • On BlackBerry devices with a physical keyboard, provide shortcut keys for buttons. Typically, the shortcut key is the first letter of the button label.

Guidelines for button labels

  • Use clear, concise labels.
  • Use one-word labels where possible.
  • Avoid using the labels "Yes" and "No." Use verbs that describe the associated action (for example, "Cancel," "Delete," "Discard," or "Save"). This approach helps users quickly and easily understand what happens when they click the button. If necessary, include more descriptive text elsewhere on the screen (for example, in an application message).
  • Use "Cancel" to give users the option not to proceed with the associated action, or to stop an action in progress. Use "Close" if there is no associated action other than to dismiss the dialog box.
  • Avoid using symbols or graphics in labels.
  • Avoid using punctuation in labels.

Alert dialog boxes

Use alert dialog boxes to notify users of a critical action such as turning off the BlackBerry device or an error such as typing information that is not valid. An exclamation point (!) indicator appears in an alert dialog box. To close an alert dialog box, users can click OK or press the Escape key.


This screen shows an example alert dialog box.

Best practice: Implementing alert dialog boxes

  • Include only an OK button. This button should be highlighted by default. When users click the button, the dialog box should close. To provide users with multiple buttons, such as an OK button and a Cancel button, use an inquiry dialog box instead.
  • Allow users to press the Escape key to close the dialog box.
  • Use a concise, descriptive message to explain the situation that prompted the alert.
  • Avoid phrasing messages as questions. Use statements instead.

Information dialog boxes

Use information dialog boxes to provide feedback about a user action. Information dialog boxes close automatically after a predefined period of time, or users can close the dialog box by pressing the Escape key. An information indicator appears in an information dialog box.


This screen shows an example information dialog box.

Best practice: Implementing information dialog boxes

  • Do not include buttons in information dialog boxes. To provide buttons, use another type of dialog box.
  • Allow users to press the Escape key to close the dialog box.
  • Set an appropriate timeout period for the dialog box based on the amount of time that is required for users to read the message. If users require more than 10 seconds to read the message, consider using another type of dialog box.
  • If you do not want to allow users to perform any other actions while the dialog box appears on the screen, use a status dialog box instead.
  • Avoid phrasing messages as questions. Use statements instead.

Input dialog boxes

Use an input dialog box when users must specify information such as a date or file name. After users type the required information, they can press the Enter key to close the dialog box and save their changes. To close the dialog box without saving changes, users can press the Escape key. You can include buttons on this type of dialog box.


This screen shows an example input dialog box.

Best practice: Implementing input dialog boxes

  • Allow users to press the Escape key to close the dialog box.
  • Use a concise, descriptive phrase for field labels.
  • Avoid stating in the message that users must provide information. Use the labels to imply that action is required.
  • If necessary, include hint text to provide guidance to users.
  • Punctuate field labels with a colon (:).

Inquiry dialog boxes

Use inquiry dialog boxes when users must confirm an action before continuing. A question mark (?) indicator appears in an inquiry dialog box.


This screen shows an example inquiry dialog box.

Best practice: Implementing inquiry dialog boxes

  • Use a concise, descriptive question for the message.
  • Always prompt users with an inquiry dialog box to save their changes when they attempt to close a screen with unsaved changes.
  • Include a Cancel button so that users can close the dialog box without making changes.
  • Use verbs for labels that describe the associated action (for example, "Cancel," "Delete," "Discard," or "Save"). If necessary, include more descriptive text elsewhere on the screen (for example, in an application message).
  • Avoid using the labels "Yes" and "No."

Reminder dialog boxes

Use reminder dialog boxes to remind users of time-sensitive activities such as appointments or tasks.

Include a Snooze button that users can click to receive another reminder at a later time and a Dismiss button to dismiss the reminder. To dismiss the reminder, users press the Escape key. To close a reminder dialog box, users click a button or press the Escape key. Reminder dialog boxes include an indicator that represents the application that generated the reminder.


This screen shows an example reminder dialog box.

Status dialog boxes

Use status dialog boxes to indicate to users that a process is occurring. When a status dialog box appears, users cannot perform other actions. Status dialog boxes include a clock indicator.


This screen shows an example status dialog box.

Best practice: Implementing status dialog boxes

  • Use a status dialog box when you cannot determine the duration of an operation. If you can determine the duration of the operation, use a progress bar instead.
  • Always indicate progress when the operation takes more than 1 second to complete.
  • Do not include buttons in a status dialog box. If users can perform other actions when the status dialog box appears, consider using another type of dialog box.


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