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Re: Notifications

From: Henri Sivonen <hsivonen@iki.fi>
Date: Fri, 12 Feb 2010 15:06:09 +0200
Cc: Drew Wilson <atwilson@google.com>, Matthew Paul Thomas <mpt@myrealbox.com>, John Gregg <johnnyg@google.com>, Jeremy Orlow <jorlow@chromium.org>
Message-Id: <E0227DBD-31DD-440E-9B11-66FA756EC76F@iki.fi>
To: public-webapps WG <public-webapps@w3.org>
On Feb 10, 2010, at 20:35, John Gregg wrote:

> I agree that this is a good distinction, but I think even considering ambient notifications there is a question of how much interaction should be supported.  NotifyOSD, for example, does not allow the user to take any action in response to a notification.  

Being able to acknowledge an ambient notification could be an optional feature that isn't supported on Ubuntu as long as NotifyOSD doesn't support acknowledging notifications. (If it's a problem to make acknowledgement optional, I think making HTML notification optional is going to be a bigger problem...)

FWIW, Microsoft explicitly says notifications must be ignorable and don't persist. "Notifications aren't modal and don't require user interaction, so users can freely ignore them." "In Windows Vista® and later, notifications are displayed for a fixed duration of 9 seconds."
http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa511497.aspx
As such, it's always unsafe to design UI in a way that expects the users to be able to acknowledge a given notification.

> So a very simple use case: email web app wants to alert "you have new mail" outside the frame, and allow the user to click on that alert and be taken to the inbox page.  This does not work on NotifyOSD, because they explicitly don't support that part of the D-bus notifications spec.  However, Growl would support this. 

If acknowledgement support is super-important to Web apps, surely it should be to native apps, too. It seems to me that it would be a bad outcome for users if the Ubuntu desktop and the Web platform disagree on this point and it causes the duplication of notification mechanisms. I think it would make more sense to either add org.freedesktop.Notifications.ActionInvoked to NotifyOSD (if acknowledgeability is the Right Thing) or not to add acknowledgeability to the Web platform (if that's the Right Thing). Having two groups of platform designers (the designers of the Ubuntu desktop and the designers of the Web platform) disagree on what the Right Thing is makes the users lose.

CCing mpt in case he can share some insight into why NotifyOSD explicitly doesn't support org.freedesktop.Notifications.ActionInvoked.

On Feb 11, 2010, at 00:10, Drew Wilson wrote:
> it seems like the utility of being able to put markup such as bold text, or graphics, or links in a notification should be self-evident,

It's not self-evident. If it were, surely native apps would be bypassing NotifyOSD and Growl to get more bolded and linkified notifications.

On Feb 11, 2010, at 16:07, Jeremy Orlow wrote:

> As has been brought up repeatedly, growl and the other notification engines are used by a SMALL FRACTION of all web users.  I suspect a fraction of a percent.  Why are we bending over backwards to make this system work on those platforms?

More seriously though: Virtually every user of an up-to-date Ubuntu installation has the notification engine installed. As for Growl, the kind of users who install Growl are presumably the kind of users who care about notifications of multiple concurrent things the most. Furthermore, it seems that notifications are becoming more a part of operating system platfroms. For example, it looks like Windows 7 has a system API for displaying notifications: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee330740%28VS.85%29.aspx

> Are there other examples where we've dumbed down an API to the least common denominator for a small fraction of users?  Especially when there's no technical reason why these providers could not be made more advanced (for example, embed webkit to display fully functional notifications)?

It's not a given that it's an advancement in user experience terms not to force all ambient notifications into a consistent form.

-- 
Henri Sivonen
hsivonen@iki.fi
http://hsivonen.iki.fi/
Received on Friday, 12 February 2010 13:06:46 GMT

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