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There are a lot of resources on the web about web applications design patterns, but only a few about desktop applications.

And this is quite strange as most of the business targeted software is (still?) desktop based.

At the same time, Apple's or Microsoft's UI guidelines are manuals of hundreds of pages, dealing with buttons width as well as air theme or icon style.

So, can you suggest me some good resource about desktop software UI patterns, informative and concrete just as Yahoo!Design Pattern Library (to name one among the many) is for webapps?

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Thanks for this question. I've crawled the web for this kind of resources with no results... –  jpsstavares Mar 14 '11 at 12:03
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5 Answers 5

up vote 9 down vote accepted

You already named the definitive sources for desktop applications for the two major operating systems. Those guidelines from Apple and Microsoft are what you should be following.

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The About Face books by Alan Cooper are also good references for user interface/interaction design, especially for desktop applications.

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I agree with Charles Boyuing, however I will add that I personally follow the Microsoft Windows 7 UX Guide quite closely in order to bring consistency to my applications and have them fit in well with the rest of the Windows 7 platform. I know that in Gnome development there is the HIG and KDE has some documented guidelines but as for Apple I don't have anything better to offer you than what you already know.

Some of these guidelines are specific to a given platform or environment but a great deal of them overlap and it's in those areas I think it is good to make sure any well written app tries to follow these common conventions.

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The current GNOME guidelines you mention are getting very old and aren't very pattern-based, but FWIW we're actually in the process of producing a GNOME desktop pattern library to coincide with the GNOME 3.0 release. (We don't really have anything worth sharing as yet, but watch this space...) –  scottishwildcat Mar 1 '11 at 13:30
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this can be useful

Use this page to download the Windows User Experience Interaction Guidelines (or UX Guide) for Windows 7 and Windows Vista. These guidelines contain information on design principles, and guidelines for controls, commands, text, interaction, windows, messages, aesthetics, and the Windows environment. They help designers and developers create high-quality Windows applications with a consistent "look and feel."

http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/en/details.aspx?displaylang=en&FamilyID=e49820cb-954d-45ae-9cb3-1b9e8ea7fe8c

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I don't think's these answers are franz976 is looking for. All these OS UX Guides are about consistency and rules every professional UX Designer knows already and doesn't provide such broad range of examples as web UX design pattern resources does. Of course we can elaborate web application's patterns as well, but applicable for desktop applications features are still missing. I guess the cause is a smaller amount of desktop application UX designers and policies of their employers who doesn't want to share such valuable information.

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