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A website client whose site is built with a CMS was confused about the fact that a particular panel changes, based on what part of the dashboard she is working in. I wanted to explain that it is common for various systems to have "contextual menus", but when I looked up that term it seems to apply to right click menus. It's not precisely a menu. It's more like a panel with choices that are different, based on the context. It's like a ribbon, but instead of showing until you hide it, it is hidden until you show it.

Is there a standard term for this type of tool in a CMS dashboard/control panel?

  • I'm not sure that this website is completely relevant to ProWebmasters but you may be looking for a "Ribbon". – Double Clicked Aug 13 '18 at 18:33
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    @Double I've only ever known ‘ribbon’ to refer to the tabbed horizontal menus at the top of a Microsoft Office program, never beyond this suite and never such contextual configuration options as described here (I wouldn't say an Office ribbon is contextual, it just greys out invalid options and occasionally shows an additional tab). Also please don't leave answers in the comments as it avoids the community being able to vote appropriately on your contribution. – grg Aug 13 '18 at 19:28
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    @grg I answered in the comments section as I do not feel that this question is relevant to ProWebmasters (as I stated). Regarding your assessment of the word 'Ribbon' - 'Ribbon' existed before Microsoft's suite and is used in innumerable computer programs. Check out the very first paragraph for the 'Ribbon' Wikipedia entry en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ribbon_(computing). Now, this may not be the exact word that OP was after, but it certainly does fit the criteria of the question. – Double Clicked Aug 13 '18 at 19:42
  • I will rephrase my question. – Nora McDougall-Collins Aug 14 '18 at 21:30
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term for panels based on tools or pages


I thought it would be called a contextual menu

Why not simply a "contextual panel"?

A "panel" is certainly a recognised/common term in UI terminology, and a "contextual panel" is simply a "panel" that depends on "context", so it would seem to accurately describe the element in question. I can't think of any other "catch all" term that would have the same meaning.

In my opinion, a "ribbon" is a specific type of panel. "panel" is a more general term.

...but when I enter "meaning of contextual panel" in Google, the definition for contextual menu comes up.

Well, a "contextual menu" could perhaps be conceived as a type of "contextual panel". Or maybe Google is/was just wrong in considering it a synonym, since a "panel" might not have any (menu) options?

FWIW, I no longer seem to get the "context menu" definition in the results. (I assume you were referring to the "Context menu" Wikipedia article - which actually does not mention the word "panel" anywhere in the article.) The SERPs don't seem particularly consistent on this matter. I have seen Microsoft's definition of "Ribbon" returned, but I'm currently seeing many "contextual panels" returned. Also try searching for:

  • definition of contextual panel
  • define:contextual panel (define: used to be(?) a Google search operator)
  • It is used on various web sites, but when I enter "meaning of contextual panel" in Google, the definition for contextual menu comes up. – Nora McDougall-Collins Aug 14 '18 at 22:19
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    Well, a "contextual menu" could perhaps be conceived as a type of "contextual panel". Or maybe Google is just wrong in considering it a synonym, since a "panel" might not have any (menu) options? A "panel" is certainly a recognised/common term, and a "contextual panel" is simply a "panel" that depends on "context", so it would seem to accurately describe the element in question. I can't think of any other "catch all" term that would have the same meaning. IMO a "ribbon" is a specific type of panel. – MrWhite Aug 15 '18 at 16:45
  • That is about as logical as it can get! If you would add it as an answer, I would be happy to check it. – Nora McDougall-Collins Aug 16 '18 at 18:50

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