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I need to refer to the attribute of a button that describes whether it is enabled or disabled. "Enablement state" sounds awkward and clunky.

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If you put your question into sentence format, then it'll be easier to answer, e.g., "# 5 is the Enable/Disable button" or "Button 5 enables/disables the XYZ function". – user21497 Nov 29 '12 at 21:58
What is wrong with just state? The state of the button is "enabled". The state of the button is "disabled". Perfectly fine. Only not an option if you reserve or already use state for some other attribute of the button, but I struggle to think which attribute that could be. – RegDwigнt Nov 29 '12 at 22:19
I started to type up an answer, then I read these comments and discovered they contain the entirety of my intended answer, but far more succinctly. +1s for everyone. Except you, Cody. Enablement? Clunky only scratches the surface. – Chris Nov 29 '12 at 22:36
Is on/off to simplistic? – Kristina Lopez Nov 29 '12 at 22:40
@Cody: again, the word for the "state" of color is Color. The word for the "state" of text is Text, or Label. And so on. "The state of the button is blue"? Nah. The color of the button is blue. "The state of the button is 'On/off'"? Come on. That makes you sound like a non-native speaker. And the word for the superset of all these attributes is not state, either, but attributes, which is why you keep using that word yourself in the first place. I'm afraid you're overthinking this, trying to take problems into account that do not really exist. – RegDwigнt Nov 30 '12 at 9:49
up vote 4 down vote accepted

I take it you mean a word for whether or not a button is "grayed out", not for whether it has turned something "on" or "off". If "state" or "mode" are too general or in use, then I suggest availability, which could have values "enabled" and "disabled".

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It's not whether the button is enabled vs disabled, only that it is disabled or not. Hence the parameter that controls this behavior, in various software and html/css, is simply "disabled", which has a value true or false. It's also more handy in programming logic to treat a bi-state parameter in this way. Instead of all such parameters having all sorts of values you have to keep track of and compare as strings in conditionals. When you name and use a parameter as representing the truth or falsehood of only one of the states, then you can always test more quickly for true or false. Less typos and most programming languages provide shortcut conditionals, e.g. If(button.disabled) instead of if(button.state==disabled).

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That's valid, but my issue with this is that it's ambiguous whether the status is enabled:true or disabled:false. I generally prefer to pick the positive term, but I was wondering if there were a way to avoid making that choice altogether. – Cody Nov 30 '12 at 0:44
@Cody, then use If(button.isDisabled) – Jim Nov 30 '12 at 4:34
@Cody Yes. Technically the "is" prefix is syntatic sugar. Same idea is there that we were taught many moons ago as good software engineering practise. – Chris Nov 30 '12 at 6:01
As an additional example from life, one would ask if the light switch is on, instead of asking about the state of the switch in relation to artificial lighting level in the room. Speaking and coding this way makes things simpler, without having an artificial level of semantics on top. In coding, you can easily loop through a collection of say buttons and check which are enabled with a isEnabled flag true. Otherwise you'd potentially have to check each funkily named enablement state property value individually. Come to think of it, the latter confusion is how most microsoft stuff is set up. – Chris Nov 30 '12 at 6:13

I think the answer lies in what are you disabling and enabling. The graphic of a toggle button is a verb in and of itself. If it has a label such as "water", you press the button in and as long as the button is in its inward state (or locked down), it's understood that water will continue to flow. As soon as you press the button again to return it to its outward state (or up), it's understood that the water will stop flowing. We already know the button is enabling or disabling something. What is it enabling and disabling?

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Oh, you're not talking about the label of the button, but the enabled state. My typical approach here is to have the state be a boolean value, and name the attribute the positive form of the state. I.e., if Button.enabled=true, then we know the button is enabled. If Button.enabled=false, then we know the button is disabled. Don't use disabled=true, though since double negatives can be confusing to others. – froggythefrog Nov 29 '12 at 23:07

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