The Myth of the Orange Dot

One thing you
might have noticed in
Office 12 demos
and screenshots
is that certain commands in the Ribbon have an orange dot as
their icon.  People have speculated on what the orange dot represents;
guesses have ranged from highlighting features you've used recently to
indicating "hot" features in the new version.

The real answer is simpler: the orange dot icon is used to represent places in
which we don't have the final artwork.  Long ago it was discovered that if
you put in too much "temporary" artwork, sometimes people didn't notice until it
was too late and it never got replaced with final art.  With literally
thousands of pieces of artwork being managed, it's a humongous task to make sure
nothing falls through the cracks.  So, the orange dot is used as the
universally understood symbol within our team that an icon is missing.

When the final version of Office 12 comes out, it won't have any orange dots. 
(Knock on wood.)

The reason you've never seen the orange dot before (even if you've participated
in past Office betas) is that this is the first release in which we've used it. 
In the last few releases, we used the "Magic 8 Ball" icon included in
the Office command bar icon editor to have this same meaning.  (I think the joke was
"look in the 8 ball, who knows what icon will appear?")

Unfortunately, we spent a lot of time during the Office 2003 beta cycle
responding to internal bug reports from people saying "I don't know, it doesn't seem
like Magic 8 Ball is that good of an icon for Insert Table Row".

Hence, the orange dot.  And now you know the rest of the story.

Comments (9)

  1. Joe Ho Ho says:

    Fingers crossed that you won’t now start getting the following bug reports instead…

    "I don’t know, it doesn’t seem that an orange is that good of an icon for Insert Table Row. A banana would be more appropriate."

  2. SHoTTa35 says:

    LOL, people actually thought that was the icon for it? 😀 That’s funny.. cray what some people think sometimes.

  3. pre97 we used to use the "piggy bank" icon instead of the magic 8 ball (at least in Word). It was a little surreal to see all these pink piggies all over the UI….

  4. Dave says:

    Just looking at Word 12 now…there are some orange dots, but also there are plenty of icons that are resized versions of existing small icons – are these to be given new icons, or just replaced with correctly sized ones?

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