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I'm developing a desktop application that requires an application number to be viewable in some way for our users. I am trying to determine what would be a good place for it that is meaningful to users. In our main window, I am tempted to include the version number with the window title. Any other place in our main content area feels very out of place when the version number is "floating" alone by itself.

The context of the window title (which contains the name of the desktop application) gives the number more context and meaning. I've noticed that Adobe Photoshop Lightroom includes its version number in the executable file name and its window title. If I include the version number as part of the application name, does that have any effect on how users will interpret that name?

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4 Answers

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What is the context in which the version number is important?

I have only looked for the version number when I'm troubleshooting or updating the software. Under that circumstance, the version number should be incredibly easy to find or it'll compound my effort in trying to complete an inherently frustrating task.

Having said that, the version number in the title bar isn't incredibly intuitive (people expect to find it in About/Help, etc), but it's also not the worst place given you have no menu. If I don't need it, it's a minor inconvenience to process that extra information, and when I do need it, the payoff might be worth it.

Alternatively, what about the "footer"? Bottom-right where you would resize the window?

If you do put in the title bar, be sure to style it differently (light colour, smaller font, delimiter, etc) than the title of the application to minimize cognitive processing.

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+1 for understanding your user. Why do they need this number? Do they only use it when deciding to upgrade? Then put it on the upgrade path. Do they also need it for reporting bugs? Put it there also. –  Alex Feinman Nov 8 '12 at 17:08
    
The case you pointed is pretty much all I think it is for (to be honest, I need to get that defined more clearly). I'm not sure if I understand styling the version number differently to minimize cognitive processing. Footer will probably work out for me. –  Matt Chan Nov 8 '12 at 21:38
    
About the styling: "Awesome Application Version 1.0.1" would be harder to process than "Awesome Application, Version 1.0.1", for example. You can easily tell what the important information is versus meta information. –  VevWong Nov 9 '12 at 0:46
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The conventional placement of a software version number is in the About message box. You reach it through the menu Help > About and have a window that can look very different between applications, but here is one example:

enter image description here

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I had considered that, but what am I working does not have menus (it is something we are avoiding) which is the basis of my question. I should've mentioned that, but I had forgotten. –  Matt Chan Nov 8 '12 at 15:15
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Typically applications do not have the version number anywhere in the active window. Most software have the version details hidden under the "About" or "Help" menu item. I mean, look at any of the application windows you have open right now. How many of them have the version number displayed on the main window?

But if you absolutely need the version to be displayed somewhere obvious to the user so that they don't have to dig into the menu to get that information, then perhaps a better place to put that would be next to the "mininmize, maximize, close" commands since that's one of the heavily used actions in any software (you'd be surprised how many people minimize the windows quite a bit instead of just doing Alt + tab or Cmd + tab).

You can even make the version number a button or a link or something which when clicked can show all the details about the software, for example, company name, copyright, etc. that could be a modal popup with an "OK" button.

But be careful not to place it too close to the window resize buttons since it can get annoying if the user accidentally clicks on the version name everytime he/she tries to minimize or maximize or close the window.

Here's a quick visual of what I propose.

Hope that helps.

enter image description here

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Since you don't have a menubar, put the version information on whatever window comes up when the user hits F1. Don't have an F1 screen? Add one. This is sufficient for you to tell users on your site: "When reporting bugs, hit F1 for version information."

Also include the version number in all crash dialogs.

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