Re: [Usability] online/offline design

On 5/19/05, Brian Skahan <bskahan etria com> wrote:
>  On Wed, 2005-05-18 at 20:36 -0400, Luis Villa wrote: 
>  I was, uh, trying to be a bit less grand in scope :) Obviously it
> would be nice to catch some of these things and think through them,
> but I'm more concerned with the concrete-and-fixable-RIGHT-NOW issue,
> which is 'we have a way to tell if a machine is online/offline, and we
> have many apps which should fail gracefully if they are offline. What
> should they say when they fail?' So, uh, any suggestions? :)
>  I think Gossip's offline dialog is a perfect example of how far you can go
> with a standard dialog for the right-now issue:
>  I'm paraphrasing but:
>  +---------------------+
>  | **Connection lost** |
>  |                     |
>  | [ignore] [reconnect]|
>  +---------------------+
>  It's not really gossip's job to deal with why I'm offline, it just need to
> go on/offline smartly.
>  That said, gossip's dialog is excruciatingly annoying.  When I start
> gossip/evolution/epiphany and I'm online, I expect them to go online and
> stay that way until I tell them not to.  If something happens to the
> network, I'd like to know but I don't want to be interrupted, and I don't
> need every application telling me at the same time.  Whatever programs went
> offline should just go back online when there is a network.
>  Evolution is in the best position to handle this smartly, with the little
> connection icon in the corner.  No desktop application should pop-up a
> dialog to tell me about the network, the network manager should do that.

Thanks for rolling with my punches, Brian. I think after reading your
response I'm not describing the problem I see many apps trying to
solve (poorly) very well. Let me try again :)

So, evo has the little connection icon, but even in the evo case, some
actions are offered as options and then fail when the connection is
away. I guess I was thinking that this is an opportunity for
applications to do something slightly smarter than what gossip
currently does, which (from what I can see from your dialog) is to
assume that gossip and/or the server is broken.

Let me put it another way by describing the scenario I'm envisioning.
* I go offline for some reason.
* I don't realize it. (You're right that this part is probably
NetworkManager's and/or a good notification framework's problem.)
* I go to Gossip and try to use it. What happens then?

What the apps currently typically do: say 'hrm, I'm disconnected/I've
failed, please try again.' (Epiphany's version of this is 'I can't
resolve/reach', and as far as I can tell, Gossip's dialog is a
variation on this.)

What they could ideally do (which I think was Alan's point, and a fair
one): audit everything so that various things are magically disabled
and/or magically enter offline mode when the machine is offline. In
this scenario, Epiphany wouldn't let me try to get to a new page (or
it would redirect me to a cached version), and Evolution would
magically enter offline mode (which it tries to do in some cases now.)

What I'm asking about is the intermediate case between these two,
which is what developers are going to implement as they begin to
assume that network manager is available: can we design a dialog that
apps can use to replace their current 'we failed' dialog with a 'we
failed, checked, noticed the network is down, and are offering you
these options' dialog?

So, in the epiphany case, currently we get on a resolution error:

" could not be found. Please check the name and try again. [OK]"

and in the gossip case, we get:

 | **Connection lost** |
 |                     |
 | [ignore] [reconnect]|

What I'm wondering is if both of those apps could (when the network is
off) replace those dialogs with something like:

| <b>You are not connected to the internet.</b> |
| $OPERATION failed, probably because your network is not up. |
| [cancel] [configure networking] [try again] |

Like I said, this dialog is necessarily suboptimal- a more complete
audit/lockdown of functionality and better offline modes is the ideal
failure mode here, instead of this dialog.

In the meantime, I'm asking you guys what this dialog should look
like/offer/say, because I believe in the very near future (as
NetworkManager establishes itself) every network-aware app we have is
going to start having such a dialog, and it would be great to have
that dialog designed and standardized now, before people start
implementing it widely.

Hope this makes my question more clear-

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