Re: Notification Area guidelines

On Fri, Mar 14, 2003 at 01:19:09AM -0500, Havoc Pennington wrote:
> However, Microsoft seems to have decided (probably after user testing)
> that if you just slide in an icon, no one will see it. So they slide
> in an icon and then pop up a balloon. However, I'm unconvinced that
> the balloon is less obtrusive than a dialog. So what's the point...
> How can you have notification that users notice, yet isn't obtrusive?
> Maybe a subtle blinking effect? It seems like sort of an oxymoronic
> goal.

Yeah, making the notification obvious without being annoying will
be a challenge.  But, there's a lot of flexibility in what can be
done, from a little throbber, blinker, or bell, all the way up to
making all of your title bars glow red, your speakers scream
"ACHTUNG!" and your bluetooth phone ring. :)  Determining a good
choice of the alert will probably require some testing.  Once the
system is in place, though, changing the alert based on the results
of the testing should be easy.  And, no matter what is chosen, it
will probably annoy me less than a pop-up dialog from an unfocused

> I guess balloons are slightly different from dialogs in that they
> don't take keyboard focus and can't get "buried" underneath other
> windows. So perhaps they are useful.
> On X11, my impression is that we're using the notification icons
> because applets can't come and go sanely (they push around your other
> applets, etc., and perhaps can't be in the same process as a main
> application without "issues"). So notification icons almost become
> "applets that are self-managing instead of manually added and
> positioned."
> I'm not sure that's right at all, seems like a workaround for a
> suboptimal applet system, or something.

Yeah, the applet system does seem to have some problems.  Some people
want the notification area so they can make transient full applets.
Some standard maybe should define where applets should insert
themselves if they are created by a script or a program, rather than
corralling them all in the "notification" area.

> I like that we could actually explain how the notification area is
> different from applets if it's basically an event notification
> service.

I also like that it seems much easier to make accessible than
little transient balloons.

> This whole conversation seems slightly broken to me - we have this
> wacky implementation detail, which is an applet that can contain
> arbitrary icons, and we're trying to figure out some way to use it
> that doesn't suck. But we aren't even sure what the problem is to be
> solved or why we have the thing in the first place. ;-)
> The less-annoying-than-dialogs event notification idea does seem like
> a nail we could hit with our hammer-we-aren't-sure-what-to-do-with.

This is actually a nail that I've wanted to hammer for a while...
I'm glad something hammer-looking came along! :)

> Though, I think the hammer is a bit malformed for an event
> notification service, i.e. the spec could be beefed up and enhanced to
> support the right kinds of properties and events on the notification
> icons.

Yep, people don't seem to have originally intended it for this use.
But, I suspect that an event queue for the user would improve the
human interface quite a bit.

I'm glad other people have some similar thoughts.


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