Re: [Usability]Notification Area guidelines

On Wed, Mar 12, 2003 at 01:20:00PM +1100, Jeff Waugh wrote:
> <quote who="Rodney Dawes">
> > the Notification Area is an applet, as the alignment on the panel doesn't
> > affect the resizing when icons are added/removed. The notification area is
> > also something that should really just *always* be on the panel.
> I agree. I have a proposal to post later on about how to implement the
> notification area in a different way, which would hopefully solve some of
> its problems due to being an applet.
> I don't believe that applets are 'evil' and should be crushed at all costs,
> however. They certainly have their place. We just need to define it better.

I think we have a Problem with mixing applets and notify-icons. I think 
the main difference of these two is the life cycle and the associated 
technical details. (applet if it is running all the time, notify-icon if 
it appears while running an application either always or to notify of 
events in or detected by that application). These are technical details so 
we shouldn't bother the users to much with them.

So what I propose is: Remove to UI differences between these two (execpt 
creation) and use the technically right thing. Of course a nice UI 
guideline how the different types of "things in the panel" should behave 
(and typical look that shows the user what type a "thing" is) should be 

That way we get good positioning with changing situation for applets and 
notify-icons. This would IMHO mean move the features of the Notification 
Area into the panel and make notify-icon panel citizens like panels 
(without restore on next panel start, that's task of the application they 
are associated with).

Then we can debate the question of notify-icon vs applet on technical 
merits, and the question of behviour and look on usability merits.

I think much of the work on panel applets is needed anyway so we might as 
well try to unify these two.

> > > 	+ Only icons or labels or a combination of both should be in the
> > > 	Notification Area. No buttons, toggles etc.
> > 
> > I'd suggest that labels shouldn't go here either. The Notification Area
> > should be for a *minimal* amount of necessary notification, with as much
> > affect as you can get out of it. If your status icon needs text beside it
> > to display anything useful, and the tooltip isn't enough, it probably
> > should not be an icon in the status tray.
> Imagine a battery icon that has to display percentage or time remaining
> within its very small icon space. I strongly approve of labels in nicons.

A simple percentage might be ok, but nothing more esp. not labels labeling 
other information. But i think most stuff should be as simple and small as 

> > > 	+ Right click or Shift-F10 should display a context
> > > 	  containing:
> > > 	    o A "Remove Icon" option - see below.
> > > 	    o A "Preferences" option if the icon behaviour may be
> > > 	      customized.
> > 
> > These seem to assume that the status icon is a separate process from
> > the main application process, which is typically not true.
> My interpretation of this section is that in some cases, the icon is
> completely unrelated to any other process (or really, user application). A
> network connection applet might be a useful example here. It doesn't
> actually relate to any other program, it just gives you status/notification
> info about your network connection.
> Say I stop using PPP and am connected directly to my network, and feel that
> the status icon is less useful to me, do I:
>   a) Go to the network control panel and turn off the "Show status icon"
>   checkbox, or
>   b) Right click on the status icon and click "Remove Icon"
> I think b is exceptionally useful in this use case - certainly, it is a
> different issue when it comes to things like GnomeICU/Gaim icons, which are
> directly related to another window/application (ie. they are the same
> thing).

I don't think user should have to worry about such things with PPP. They 
either use something that is alway on the panel and can be used to connect 
to the internet, or they use something that is on the panel as long as a 
connection is up. I don't think users adding and removing a thing on the 
panel in such cases is a good goal.

This is a good boundery case: a PPP "thing" on the panel that should 
visible if and only if there is a PPP connection. This could be an ui non 
applet process running all the time (respawned by gnome-session) or an 
applet that hides itself in some way (not possible at the moment).

I think every thing in the panel should have a "Remove <thing>" or "A 
Close <think>" or "Hide <thing>" in the context menu. The user should have 
a consistent way to get rid of stuff on the panel. Maybe it would be 
useful to have it read "close" if it came to the panel by starting an 
application, "hide" if it is notification of something(e.g. an new email 
icon, but not an mailbox monitor) and "Remove" if the user added it 
explicitly using add to panel. This would IMHO give the users an intuitiv 
understanding of the lifetime/cycle of the thing in question.

Preferences should be shown if useful. For applets it shows the 
Preferences of the applet in other cases it should show the application 
Preferences Dialog. If the application has a complex config dialog with 
tabs or a treeview the notification applet page should be shown.

> [...]
> - Jeff

Martin H.
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Usability gnome org

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