Sound Naming Specification

Marc-Andre Lureau

Lennart Poettering


    
  

Rodney Dawes


    
  

Jon Bold


    
  

Post-0.3 Snapshot


Table of Contents

Overview
Context
Sound Naming Guidelines
Standard Sounds Names
Alerts
Notifications
Actions
Input Feedback
Game
Background
A. Change History

Overview

This specification gives direction on how to name the sounds that are available for use by applications, when creating a sound theme. It does so by laying out a standard naming scheme for sound creation, as well as providing a minimal list of must have sounds, and a larger list with many more examples to help with the creation of extended sounds for third party applications, with different event types and usage.

Context

The list of default contexts for the sound theme are:

Table 1. Standard Contexts

NameDescriptionDirectory
Alerts Sounds to alert the user of an action or event which may have a major impact on the system or their current use, such as dialog-error. alert
Notifications Sounds to notify the user that the system, or their current use case has changed state in some way, e.g. new email arriving, new non-critical update available... notification
Actions Sounds that give the user feedback on their actions. action
Input Feedback Sounds that give direct response to input events from the user, such as mouse clicks or key presses. action
Game Sound used in games. game

Sound Naming Guidelines

Here we define some guidelines for when creating new sounds that extend the standardized list of sound names defined here, in order to provide sounds for more specific events and usages.

  • Sound names are in the en_US.US_ASCII locale. This means that the characters allowed in the sound names must fall within the US-ASCII character set. As a further restriction, all sound names may only contain lowercase letters, numbers, underscore, dash, or period characters. Spaces, colons, slashes, and backslashes are not allowed. Also, sound names must be spelled as they are in the en_US dictionary.

  • The dash - character is used to separate levels of specificity in sound names. For instance, we use search-results as the generic item for all search results, and we use search-results-empty for an empty search result. However, if the more specific item does not exist in the current theme, and does exist in a parent theme, the generic sound from the current theme is preferred, in order to keep consistent style. From left to right the words in a sound name become more specific. In some cases what word in a name is more specific is ambiguous. (i.e. "dialog-error" and "error-dialog" both make sense, the former would ease defining the same sound for all dialogs popping up, regardless of its context, the latter would ease defining the same sound for all errors, regardless of how it is presented to the user). In such cases it is generally preferred to put the UI element noun left -- if there is one --, however exceptions of this rule are acceptable.

  • Sounds for branded applications should be named the same as the binary executable for the application, prefixed by the string x-, to avoid name space clashes with future standardized names. Example: x-openoffice-foobar.

  • Please send suggestions for new standardized names to the XDG mailing list:

Standard Sounds Names

This section describes the standard sounds names that should be used by artists when creating themes, and by developers when writing applications which will use the Sound Theme Specification.

Alerts

This is to notify the user of an action or event which may have a major impact on the system or their current use case.

Table 2. Standard Alert Sounds

NameDescription
network-connectivity-lost The sound used when network connectivity is lost.
network-connectivity-error The sound used when an error occurs when it is tried to initialize the network connection of the computing device.
dialog-error The sound used when a dialog is opened to explain an error condition to the user.
battery-low The sound used when the battery is low (below 20%, for example).
suspend-error The machine failed to suspend.
software-update-urgent The sound used when an urgent update is available through the system software update program.
power-unplug-battery-low The power cable has been unplugged and the battery level is low.

Notifications

This is to alert the user that the system, or their current use case has changed state in some way - mew email arriving, new non-critical update to an application available.

Table 3. Standard Notifications Sounds

NameDescription
message-new-instant The sound used when a new IM is recieved.
message-new-email The sound used when a new email is recieved.
complete-media-burn The sound used when an optical medium completed burning.
complete-media-burn-test The sound used when an optical medium completed a dummy burn run.
complete-media-rip The sound used when an (optical) medium completed ripping.
complete-media-format The sound used when a disk/medium completed formatting/blanking.
complete-download The sound used when a file completed downloading.
complete-copy The sound used when a file completed copying.
complete-scan The sound used when a scanner completed image acquisition and software completed image processing.
phone-incoming-call The sound used when an phone/voip call is coming in. Usually some kind of ring sound.
phone-outgoing-busy The sound used when a phone/voip call is dialed out and the responder is not available.
phone-hangup The sound used when a phone/voip call is ended due to hangup.
phone-failure The sound used when a phone/voip call is canceled due to some error.
network-connectivity-established The sound used when network connectivity is established.
system-bootup The sound used when the computer is being booted up, played as as early in bootup as possible.
system-ready The sound used when the computer is booted up and shows the login screen.
system-shutdown The sound used when the computer is being shut down.
search-results The sound used when one or more search results are returned.
search-results-empty The sound used when no search results are returned.
desktop-login The sound used when a user logs into the system, played as a welcome sound immediately after the login screen disappeared.
desktop-logout The sound used when a user logs out of the system.
desktop-screen-lock The sound used when the user locks their current session.
service-login The sound used when a user logs into a service (i.e. Gaim login)
service-logout The sound used when a user logs out of a service (i.e. Gaim logout)
battery-caution The sound used when the battery is nearing exhaustion (below 40%, for example)
battery-full The sound used when the battery is fully loaded up.
dialog-warning The sound used when a dialog is opened to give information to the user that may be pertinent to the requested action.
dialog-information The sound used when a dialog is opened to give information to the user that may be pertinent to the requested action.
dialog-question The sound used when a dialog is opened to ask the user a question.
software-update-available The sound used when an update is available for software installed on the computing device, through the system software update program.
device-added The sound used when a device has become available to the desktop, i.e. due to USB plugging.
device-added-audio The sound used when an audio device has become available to the desktop, i.e. due to USB plugging.
device-added-media The sound used when a disk/medium has become available to the desktop, i.e. due to USB plugging.
device-removed The sound used when a device has become unavailable to the desktop, i.e. due to USB unplug.
device-removed-media The sound used when a disk/medium has become unavailable to the desktop, i.e. due to USB unplug.
device-removed-audio The sound used when an audio device has become unavailable to the desktop, i.e. due to USB unplug.
window-new The sound used when a new window or dialog is opened.
power-plug The power cable has been plugged in.
power-unplug The power cable has been unplugged.
suspend-start The machine is about to suspend.
suspend-resume The machine has returned from suspended state.
lid-open The lid has been opened (for laptops, mobile devices)
lid-close The lid has been closed (for laptops, mobile devices)
alarm-clock-elapsed A user configured alarm elapsed.
window-attention-active An active/visible window demands attention.
window-attention-inactive An inactive/invisible window demands attention.

Actions

Action sounds are used as feedback for user operations.

Table 4. Standard Action Sounds

NameDescription
phone-outgoing-calling The sound used when a phone/voip call is dialed out.
message-sent-instant The sound used when a new IM is sent.
message-sent-email The sound used when a new email is sent.
bell-terminal The sound to use as a terminal bell.
bell-window-system The sound to use as a generic bell for X11 or other window systems.
trash-empty The sound used when the user empties the trash.
item-deleted The sound used when a item is deleted.
file-trash The sound used when a file or folder is sent to the trash.
camera-shutter A photo has been shot.
camera-focus A camera has the focus.
screen-capture A screenshot was made.
count-down A countdown (e.g. for a photo shooting) sound that is repeated each second.
completion-sucess A text completion was attempted and was successful.
completion-fail A text completion was attempted and was not successful.
completion-partial A text completion was attempted and was partially successful.
completion-rotation A text completion was attempted and the list of available options reached the end and completion started from the beginning.
audio-volume-change The test sound that is used to make volume changes noticeable by the user when he uses a volume slider.
audio-channel-left The test sound for identifying the left speaker. A mono file with a voice saying "left".
audio-channel-right The test sound for identifying the right speaker. A mono file with a voice saying "right".
audio-channel-front-left The test sound for identifying the front-left speaker. A mono file with a voice saying "front left".
audio-channel-front-right The test sound for identifying the front-right speaker. A mono file with a voice saying "front right".
audio-channel-front-center The test sound for identifying the front-center speaker. A mono file with a voice saying "front center".
audio-channel-rear-left The test sound for identifying the front-left speaker. A mono file with a voice saying "rear left".
audio-channel-rear-right The test sound for identifying the front-right speaker. A mono file with a voice saying "rear right".
audio-channel-rear-center The test sound for identifying the front-center speaker. A mono file with a voice saying "rear center".
audio-channel-lfe The test sound for identifying the lfe/subwoofer speaker. A mono file with a voice saying "subwoofer", alternatively a low frequency noise.
audio-channel-side-left The test sound for identifying the side-left speaker. A mono file with a voice saying "side left".
audio-channel-side-right The test sound for identifying the side-right speaker. A mono file with a voice saying "side right".
audio-test-signal The test sound for testing audio.
theme-demo A sound that should be played for demoing this theme. Usually this should just be an alias for a very representative sound (such as desktop-login) of a theme that would work nicely as a demo sound for a theme in the theme selector dialog.

Input Feedback

Actions sounds are used as feedback for user input events, such as mouse clicks, or key presses. In contrast to the sounds listed as "Actions" these sounds contain much less context information are are solely used to give the user audible feedback to input events the user himself directly caused.

Table 5. Standard Input Feedback Sounds

NameDescription
window-close The sound used when an existing window is closed.
window-slide-in The sound used when a window is slided in by some means. Example: panel.
window-slide-out The sound used when a window is slided out by some means. Example: panel.
window-minimized The sound used when an existing window is minimized.
window-unminimized The sound used when an existing window is unminimized.
window-maximized The sound used when an existing window is maximized.
window-unmaximized The sound used when an existing window is unmaximized.
window-inactive-click The sound used when the user clicks on an inactive window.
window-move-start A window move started.
window-move-end A window move ended.
window-resize-start A window resize started.
window-resize-end A window resize ended.
desktop-switch-left The sound used when the window manager switches to another desktop which is located to the left of the current screen.
desktop-switch-right The sound used when the window manager switches to another desktop which is located to the right of the current screen.
window-switch The sound used when the window manager switches to another window.
notebook-tab-changed The sound used when a notebook tab is changed.
scroll-up Some window was scrolled up.
scroll-down Some window was scrolled down.
scroll-left Some window was scrolled left.
scroll-right Some window was scrolled right.
scroll-up-end Some window was scrolled up and reached the end of the scrollbar.
scroll-down-end Some window was scrolled down and reached the end of the scrollbar.
scroll-left-end Some window was scrolled left and reached the end of the scrollbar.
scroll-right-end Some window was scrolled right and reached the end of the scrollbar.
dialog-ok The sound used when a windows is closed by clicking on the OK button for a window.
dialog-cancel The sound used when a windows is closed by clicking on the Cancel button for a window.
drag-start The sound used when drag of a file/item is started.
drag-accept The sound used when a file/item drag is accepted by a window, such as a folder or IM conversation.
drag-fail The sound used when a file/item drag is not accepted by a window, such as a folder or IM conversation.
link-pressed The sound used when a link in a web or help browser is pressed.
link-released The sound used when a link in a web or help browser is releaed.
button-pressed The sound used when a button is pressed.
button-released The sound used when a button is released.
menu-click The sound used when a menu item is clicked.
button-toggle-on The sound used when a toggle/check/radio button is activated.
button-toggle-off The sound used when a toggle/check/radio button is deactivated.
expander-toggle-on The sound used when an expander is activated.
expander-toggle-off The sound used when an expander is deactivated.
menu-popup The sound used when a menu is popped up.
menu-popdown The sound used when a menu is popped down.
menu-replace The sound used when replacing an active menu with another menu.
tooltip-popup The sound used when a tooltip is popped up.
tooltip-popdown The sound used when a tooltip is popped down.
item-selected The sound used when an item is selected.

Game

Sounds for usage in games.

Table 6. Standard Games Sounds

NameDescription
game-over-winner Guess what...!
game-over-loser Guess what...!
game-card-shuffle In card games, when the cards are shuffled.
game-human-move When the user makes a move.
game-computer-move When the a computer makes a move.

Background

The sound naming specification is heavily based on the "Icon Naming Specification" by Rodney Dawes and the "Bango Project" started by Jon Bolt.

A. Change History

Version 0.3, 25 July 2008, Lennart Poettering. 

  • Split out section about "Input Feedback" sounds.

  • Document the logic behind choosing "dialog-error" instead of "error-dialog".

Version 0.2, 4 June 2008, Marc-Andre Lureau and Lennart Poettering. 

  • Naming changes.

Version 0.1, February 12 2008, Marc-Andre Lureau. 

  • Created initial draft.