Re: [Usability]Notification Area guidelines
- From: Jeff Waugh <jdub perkypants org>
- To: usability gnome org, desktop-devel-list gnome org
- Subject: Re: [Usability]Notification Area guidelines
- Date: Wed, 12 Mar 2003 13:20:00 +1100
<quote who="Rodney Dawes">
> > Status Icon:
> > Status Monitor:
> Why should these two be referred to as separate things? To the user,
> they do the same, which is provide a simple status icon in the tray.
> The only difference is the underlying backend code. The behavioural
> differences are very minor.
A status monitor can be a panel applet or something sitting on the desktop
too. Mark is just trying to establish vocabulary so that we can discuss this
> > + Applications which display an icon to inform the user of
> > some change in the application's "status". E.g. a new mail
> > + Status monitors.
> Again, there is no real difference here in terms of UI.
There is a significant difference between these two - see my followup post
> > + An application adds an icon to the tray when it starts. The only
> > "status" the icon shows is that the application is currently running
> > and the main purpose of the icon is essentially to provide a
> > shortcut to various application operations without switching back to
> > the application itself.
> This may make sense in a very small amount of use cases. I wouldn't throw
> the things out entirely which may be useful in a very minute number of
Do you have any example use cases in which this approach would make sense?
Many Windows programs do this (as does acme), reducing the value of the
notification area as a useful tool for the user -> overloaded with icons =
too much information.
> > Both of these sound like cases where custom applets would be more
> > suitable. However, both of these cases seem to be recommended by the
> > KDE guidelines.
> Custom applets are really annoying usually. It is even very annoying that
> 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.
> > + 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.
> > + 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"
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
> > + Icon's should have tooltips with a short summary of the
> > icon status.
> Agreed. A textual representation of the status belongs in a tooltip.
Again, regarding the point about labels, I'd say "further information". :)
> For battery status, people typically want to know from a quick glance if
> it's on AC power, charged, charging, or an approximation of the amount of
> battery life. For an exact percentage, a tooltip should contain that info.
That's really important 'at-a-glance' info, and I believe it should be part
of the nicon itself.
"A 'lame' server is a server that is SUPPOSED to be authoritative, but,
when asked, says: 'Me? I know nothing, I'm from Madrid!'" - Ralf
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