Norstrum is my Personalized Google Word of the Day. It means: a questionable remedy.
Saw some discussion of notifications on Rodrigo’s blog and the desktop-devel-list this week. I had done some design work on desktop notification a little while back with Red Hat Desktop team so I figured I’d share what was done.
Some important things that came out of this design about notifications:
- Notifications are just like regular dialogs but they cannot steal focus.
- There is no priority in notifications, they are all low priority messages. High priority messages could be regular dialogs or take the whole screen if they have to.
- Bubbles should come out of the objects that are responsible for them, or the notification area if there is no responsible object. See I got your notification right here pal
- The major separation in notifications are “Can interact with” and “Cannot interact with”. Either it’s just a message, or it’s a choice that doesn’t really need to be made by you.
I made the point that notifications are just like dialogs because there is a tendancy to over-engineer them so they won’t be annoying. We should resist this tendancy. When designing Gtk+ it would have been ridiculously futile to try creating an API for dialogs to make sure that people wouldn’t abuse them. People will abuse them no matter what, we just need to design the applications to be smart, not try to be triple smart in the API.
So that’s all, below I have some scenarios where these types of notifications could come in handy. We used these to test out the initial design ideas.
Battery Running Low
You’re running on batteries and your computer needs to let you know it’s about to go down. A bubble up describes how much time you have until power failure. Interaction isn’t possible with this and disappears after a medium timeout. Bubble comes from the battery applet.
Because your network admin is cruel you need to re-key often. This bubble appears under a security icon that appears in the notification area, asking you if you’d like to re-auth or ignore. Interaction is possible and brings up the re-auth dialog or goes away. Disappears after a medium timeout.
VPN Login Message
After selecting a VPN connection to login to, there is a bubble up message showing that you’ve successfully connected and any useless message that your VPN provider has included. No interaction is possible, except maybe to close this. Disappears after short timeout. Bubble comes out of the networkmanager icon.
Switching network after lost connection
When NM decides to change connections after losing a wired or wireless connection. It tells you what connection it is changing to, or if there is no connection tells you that all hope is lost and you might as well destroy your laptop if you don’t have the interweb. No interaction possible, except through applet. Disappears after short timeout. Bubble comes out of the networkmanager icon.
Disk almost full
A notification that you’re about to run out of disk space with options to delete trash or clean tmp space or something like that. Interaction is possible to make space, but clears out after a medium timeout. Bubble comes out of the Trash? Perhaps a disk icons appears in the notification area? This use case sucks.
New device found
Immediately after you insert a new device your computer tells you it’s found it before it even recognizes it. No interaction is possible since we don’t know what the device is yet. Disappears after a short timeout and before device is handled by some application. Bubble comes out of a “New Device” icon that appears in the notification area.