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Old 02-27-2009, 04:46 PM
Mat Tomaszewski
 
Default Notifications: uselessness of

Jordan Mantha wrote:
> On Fri, Feb 27, 2009 at 8:56 AM, Mat Tomaszewski
> <mat.tomaszewski@canonical.com> wrote:
>
>> Jordan Mantha wrote:
>>
>>
> irritated by people in the Dx Team essentially saying that they know
>
>
>>> however think there's maybe too much assumption from the Dx team that
>>>
>>>
>
I've got an underlying feeling that you'd love to join our team ;-)

(All the points you've raised have been answered at some point in this
thread, I hope everyone will forgive me if I end it here).

Best Regards,

M.



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Old 02-27-2009, 05:27 PM
Bruce Cowan
 
Default Notifications: uselessness of

On Fri, 2009-02-27 at 09:52 +0000, Mat Tomaszewski wrote:
> I can't quite see how the window that appears *behind* your other open
> windows, so that you *don't see it* until you close/minimise other
> windows, is as distracting as big, ugly yellow bubble that appears *on
> top of* your open windows, covering your work. What you're saying simply
> does not seem logical.

The good thing about bubbles is the fact you can ignore them. Also, the
top right corner of windows rarely have anything very critical in it.
Bubbles have a timeout that closes them after a certain time (AFAIK).

Dialogues on the other hand, have to be closed by the user, which in
this case means they have to have to call up the window from the window
list, and then close it.
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Old 02-27-2009, 05:29 PM
Dylan McCall
 
Default Notifications: uselessness of

> >>> I also find it very arficicial and unconvincing to distinguish between a
> >>> bubble that contains actions and an open alert window as two completely
> >>> different things. One of them contains text, a button to invoke an
> >>> action, and another button (x) to close it. The other contains text, a
> >>> button to invoke an action, and another button (x) to close it. The only
> >>> difference being that the first has a shape of a speech bubble and is
> >>> yellow and the other looks like an app window. What if we decide that
> >>> all app windows should be yellow and look like speech bubbles? Is it
> >>> going to magically turn them into notifications? Really, when there is
> >>> no *functional and behavioural* difference, they are effectively the
> >>> same thing.
> >>>
> >>
> >> This doesn't make a lot of sense. If they're the same thing then why
> >> are you changing it? Obviously there is difference in function and
> >> behavior or else you wouldn't be gitting rid of one in favor of the
> >> other. Put another why, if they are no *functional and behavioral*
> >> differences then why are you bothering to change it?
> >>
> >>
> >
> > Right, I'll try to explain again. The bubble does essentially the same thing
> > as the window, and behaves similarly. *Apart* from the fact, that you have
> > to click on *the icon that the bubble points to*, rather than on a bubble.
> > That's tricky! Not only that - the icon itself is enigmatic, and scary! Yes
> > it is, it may not seem scary to you, but we want *everyone* to be able to
> > use Ubuntu and update their system regularly, not just you... That's why,
> > again, we want to make life easier for people.
>
> Who is it scary to? Who thinks an icon is scary but a flashing window
> list item isn't? Who thinks an icon is scary but windows mysteriously
> popping up isnt? We all want to make people's lives easier I think
> (there may be a few exceptions ;-) ). I'm starting to get a little
> irritated by people in the Dx Team essentially saying that they know
> what users want/need/feel and the rest of don't and are just going on
> our own personal preferences and experiences. I don't think that's
> really what you're trying to say but it's really coming off that way I
> think to a lot of developers.
>
> >>> The only issue regarding the U-M that has been raised and I agree with
> >>> is the fact that the window is big and clunky and uses a lot of RAM. We
> >>> will be investigating a possibility of replacing it with a simple,
> >>> lightweight alert window with short text and 3 buttons: [install now],
> >>> [details...] and [later] (exact wording TBC). I'm really struggling to
> >>> see how this alert box appearing in the background would be more
> >>> distracting and annoying than the yellow ugliness
> >>>
> >>
> >> That's really the only issue you think has been raised? And again, the
> >> "yellow ugliness" bit. It's like not liking the color of the house so
> >> you decide to remodel the whole thing.

Allow me to try explaining this from my excessively wordy perspective
As a developer, I am sure you are aware of concepts such as cruft and
duplicated functionality. I am sure you know how much those two things
suck and should be annihilated wherever possible, yet they run rampant
in every established computer desktop operating system.

Desktop Linux (traditionally...) likes having the window manager take
care of managing windows, because in theory that application should be
able to do a decent job. It has all sorts of window hints of use there
(urgency I believe being one of them); icons, process ids, parents...
all sorts of stuff gets attached to a window. GIMP uses Utility windows
so that its toolbox gets raised alongside the document. A clever window
manager can make that look nice. An awesome window manager might decide
to make the distinction more visible, for example by making those
utility windows dockable with the main window.

Now allow me to describe a typical dialog box: A window, rendered with a
GUI toolkit of the application developer's choice. Hints appropriate to
dialog boxes are set, the window is usually a child of something else.
Thanks to the GUI toolkit in use (eg: GTK) it is really easy to add
responses and content, for example with gtk.Dialog.add_button in PyGTK.
The icon can be anything. It can choose not to steal focus, it can
choose to be placed on top, it can sometimes be minimized, it can
request a specific position on the screen. Being a normal window, the
normal behaviour is to stay on screen until the close button is clicked.
The dialog can be accessed via window switchers and is accessible with
the keyboard.

Then there is the classic notification bubble. Hints, timers, responses,
content and an icon, each with slightly less functionality than what the
application's native tookit allows. Windows are presented at either a
position the notification daemon likes or somewhere specific requested
by an application. A notification typically stays on screen, above all
windows, continually. It must be dismissed with a click.
Remind you of something?

So now we have two kinds of dialogs: The ones that work like normal
windows, and the ones that appear on the corner of the screen and can be
closed a tad more easily. To a programmer, the difference is the API. To
a user, the two are functionally identical. This reminds me of the mess
that currently exists with notification area vs. window list vs. panel
applet. All three of those are bad ideas because they are functionally
very limited. To a user they present the same things in different places
and they make the same things happen. It's just that different
applications arbitrarily choose different APIs.

"But libnotify is just an easy way to make dialogs"
I would totally accept that, but it's not actually designed like that.
If it were, there would not be a notification daemon being sent messages
over dbus and the classic notification daemon would not call itself a
notification daemon. No, what happened here is the same thing that
happens all over the desktop: The notification stuff was completely
over-engineered and developers gleaned onto its deficiencies like
lunatics, entirely For The Sake Of fancy bubbles because using it for
fancy bubbles is easier than implementing them from scratch.

There are really three issues here:

* Libnotify provides a GetCapabilities function and applications
ignore it. A shame. I have the suspicion that Intrepid's dark
theme during development helped drive interest in solving
problems where apps just look horrible under such conditions.
(Still beyond me how perfectly good developers can mess up GTK
so tremendously; it's ridiculously easy to use). This is doing
the same thing: Driving interest in applications using Libnotify
properly. Granted, a notification daemon can fall back more
gracefully whe it receives things it can't understand, but if an
application gets capabilities ahead of time it can decide what
kind of summary text to apply.
* The classic notification daemon encourages functionality that
overlaps existing components of the desktop. **Notify-osd is
fixing this one.
* The window manager and GUI toolkit fails at presenting low
priority dialogs tastefully. For example, dialogs overlap their
parent windows by default (only modal ones should do that to
highlight their modality), and dialogs generally take up WAY too
much space. That is ultimately WHY libnotify is used to do them;
it's a miniature window manager / GUI toolkit to replace
deficiencies in the one we have... instead of just fixing them.

Personally, if I was in charge, I would have fixed the window manager
part first to make the change to a simpler (more notification oriented)
notification daemon a bit easier down the line. However, I think this
way could work as well.



Bye,
Dylan
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Old 02-27-2009, 05:32 PM
Scott Kitterman
 
Default Notifications: uselessness of

On Fri, 27 Feb 2009 17:46:18 +0000 Mat Tomaszewski
<mat.tomaszewski@canonical.com> wrote:
>Jordan Mantha wrote:
>> On Fri, Feb 27, 2009 at 8:56 AM, Mat Tomaszewski
>> <mat.tomaszewski@canonical.com> wrote:
>>
>>> Jordan Mantha wrote:
>>>
>>>
>> irritated by people in the Dx Team essentially saying that they know
>>
>>
>>>> however think there's maybe too much assumption from the Dx team that
>>>>
>>>>
>>
>I've got an underlying feeling that you'd love to join our team ;-)
>
>(All the points you've raised have been answered at some point in this
>thread, I hope everyone will forgive me if I end it here).

Except they haven't. The feeling I get from many email and IRC discussions
with people involved in Canonical Dx is that they are so convinced of the
correctness of their design that any disagrement with it must stem from a
lack of understanding from the community.

Personally, I've invested a fair amount of time in reviewing the available
documentation and in discussions with people on the Dx team. I understand
the design. Explaining it again isn't going to help. While I think there
are good aspects of the design, it suffers from some serious flaws that
members of the community are attempting (without apparent success) to
communicate to you.

I agree with the premise that an icon can't really communicate "you have
updates". I can even see where that might mean it's useful once to provide
some explanation the first time it comes up. It does not follow that users
will never know what an icon means and some kind of pop-up is required
EVERY time.

My reading of the traffic on this list is that outside the Dx team there is
a pretty strong consensus against this change. I'd suggest this might be a
good chance to demonstrate openness to constructive criticism and change
course.

I've actually gone through this kind of experience recently. Adept 3 (new
in Intrepid) switched to a new icon. The FIRST time I saw it I didn't know
what it was and some kind of pop-up explaining it might have been useful.
After the first time, I knew. For the second and every subsequent use I
would consider a pop-up excessive and intrusive.

If we consider that any of our users concerned with system updates are at
least literate, they have demonstrated an ability to learn to associate new
abstract symbols with specific concepts. I think learning a certain icon
means updates are available is quite approachable for them.

Scott K

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Old 02-27-2009, 08:06 PM
Matthew Paul Thomas
 
Default Notifications: uselessness of

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Jordan Mantha wrote on 27/02/09 17:23:
>
> On Fri, Feb 27, 2009 at 8:56 AM, Mat Tomaszewski
>...
>> Yes, true. But that's only provided that you understood that you have
>> to click on the icon in the first place. We believe that many people
>> won't get to that conclusion with the U-M icon. That's why we decided
>> to make life easier for them.
>
> "We believe" isn't very convincing. Why do you think people don't
> understand icons? What have you done to determine this?

It's an unfortunate attribute of human interface design that testing it
is extremely time-intensive, in comparison with testing other attributes
like speed and reliability. We are beginning collaboration with academic
institutions to do user testing of major parts of Ubuntu. But we will
never be able to test everything, so much of the time we will have to
rely on common sense. And common sense says that if update-notifier,
Gnome Do, and the Brightness applet have very similar highly symbolic
icons, for wildly different functions, at least two of those icons can't
possibly be obvious.

> I've not heard
> of anybody complaining about not being able to find the updates, quite
> the contrary.

Here's a fun example of someone not being able to find the updates.
<http://launchpad.net/bugs/175166>

> Usually the complaints I hear are "why are there so many
> updates?!"

Yes, that is also an issue -- it is often mentioned in Ubuntu reviews
(along with befuddlement at the names and descriptions of the updates).
The changes to Update Manager in Jaunty fix this a bit for the first
update after a clean installation, by explaining that "These software
updates have been issued since Ubuntu x.y was released". I hope we'll
take a bigger swing at that problem later.

> It's not that you're wrong, it's just that I don't have any
> evidence that what you're saying is true so I wonder what evidence you
> have that I don't. Has there been thought about how the icon or
> current notification system could be made better? How about user
> education? It just feels from this end that the Dx team had to do
> something "big" out of the gate to prove themselves so they just
> picked something to "revolutionize" in 6 months.

The reverse is true. As I said yesterday, we're starting small.

>...
> Who is it scary to? Who thinks an icon is scary but a flashing window
> list item isn't? Who thinks an icon is scary but windows mysteriously
> popping up isnt? We all want to make people's lives easier I think
> (there may be a few exceptions ;-) ). I'm starting to get a little
> irritated by people in the Dx Team essentially saying that they know
> what users want/need/feel and the rest of don't and are just going on
> our own personal preferences and experiences. I don't think that's
> really what you're trying to say but it's really coming off that way I
> think to a lot of developers.
>...

Please do not blame the Desktop Experience team for everything -- they
are just implementing what the Design team asks them to. :-)

Cheers
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http://mpt.net.nz/
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Old 02-27-2009, 08:35 PM
Milosz Derezynski
 
Default Notifications: uselessness of

Really, when there is

no *functional and behavioural* difference, they are effectively the

same thing.


I disagree. This is a too phenomenological take on this. There is a semantic difference
because the user knows it. I am absolutely confident that if you would do proper usability
testing on this, making people first aware of the semantic difference between a dialog

and a notification bubble (to a big enough extent, which would probably go beyond
the time scope of such a test, but almost everyone using Ubuntu probably very well knows
the semantic distinction between notification bubbles and dialogs, especially long time

Linux users), and then testing with them of what they think is a dialog and what is a notification bubble
(of course artificial befuddlement of the user is not a good thing to do because you want this
test to succeed for real-life purposes, so I find your example of "what if they looked the same"

pretty distracting off the course, because no one would make up dialogs so that they look
like notifications).

That said my point is that with a notification, users, I think, or at least a good part of them, will know

that the popup does not *require* their attention and an action button inside it does not NEED to be clicked,
differently so than with a dialog.

I also from time to time get notifications on Ubunut that have an action button for seemingly important stuff

but the notification just disappears after a while, I think it happened for me with something related to the network
configuration.

The thing is, it's in the first place not the notification system that should be overhauled, or actions removed from

notifications, but the apps or subsystems should be fixed so that actions that basically *require* user interaction
are presented in a different form than in a notification.

Right now it's not clear to me if this was your original primary goal. Sure your new notification system will have this

as a sideeffect, since if there are no actions within notifications possible anymore, then the relevant apps or subsystems
will have to take care of displaying them in a different way to the user: but in my opinion, the primary goal should

be to fix these apps, e.g. have network-manager or whatever does this display a proper, possibly even desktop-modal,
although that would be rather harsh, but could be useful, dialog to the user, instead of offering the option to configure

the network from the notification bubble; I think the *intent* was that the user "can" open the network configuration
from there right away if (s)he wants it, but if (s)he "doesn't" she always "can just go to the network preferences and do it there".

OK, but, who told the user that she can do so once the popup goes away? That's a real semantic messup there in the desktop
itself, it's got nothing to do with notifications in the first place.
*
Regards,

M.

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Old 02-27-2009, 09:13 PM
Scott Kitterman
 
Default Notifications: uselessness of

On Fri, 27 Feb 2009 21:06:30 +0000 Matthew Paul Thomas <mpt@canonical.com>
wrote:
>Please do not blame the Desktop Experience team for everything -- they
>are just implementing what the Design team asks them to. :-)
>
Please don't just pass the buck. These details of Canonical's internal
organization are opaque to the community and really irrelevant.

If you don't have the authority to address usability regressions, then
please let the community know who does and ask them to join this discussion.

Scott K

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Old 02-27-2009, 09:27 PM
Scott Kitterman
 
Default Notifications: uselessness of

On Fri, 27 Feb 2009 09:52:01 +0000 Mat Tomaszewski
<mat.tomaszewski@canonical.com> wrote:
> I'd like to reiterate the main point: we have a good reason to
>believe that persistent indicators only work for some very specific
>cases (examples being network connection, volume, etc).

References please ....

Scott K

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Old 02-28-2009, 07:01 AM
Robert Collins
 
Default Notifications: uselessness of

On Thu, 2009-02-26 at 21:50 +0000, Bruce Cowan wrote:
> On Thu, 2009-02-26 at 18:18 +0000, Matthew Paul Thomas wrote:
> > One pleasant side effect of our work on notifications is that it has
> > given us the excuse to rip out some gratuitous notification bubbles,
> > such as the one saying "Your laptop battery is now fully charged". And
> > when an interactive notification is really necessary, an alert box or
> > other window that opens in the background will usually be less
> > distracting then a bubble that floats on top of your work.
>
> Replacing a "distracting ... bubble that floats on top of your work"
> with a distracting window that appears behind your work doesn't seem to
> be much of an improvement. Also, why is the window list considered a
> second notification area now?

I'll be interested to see the one that appears behind things... I see my
desktop about once a week, when logging in. Then after that its a full
screen terminal, which I never minimise.

I know plenty of other folk that work in similar ways (many of them use
terminator and are sysadmins|programmers) .

-Rob
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Old 02-28-2009, 08:20 AM
Mackenzie Morgan
 
Default Notifications: uselessness of

On Friday 27 February 2009 4:35:55 pm Milosz Derezynski wrote:
> The thing is, it's in the first place not the notification system that
> should be overhauled, or actions removed from
> notifications, but the apps or subsystems should be fixed so that actions
> that basically *require* user interaction
> are presented in a different form than in a notification.

Agreed. I like the look of the new notifications, don't get me wrong,
but...this no-actions thing is really annoying. Pidgin-libnotify had a show
button so I could automatically open a chat window for whomever had just
signed on, or view the chat window upon receiving a message. I can't do this
anymore thanks to Notify-OSD. I would like, at least, a way to focus the
parent applications (if a GUI app) for a notification...perhaps holding down
Ctrl would highlight the notification somehow, signaling (for discoverability)
that the notification could be used in some way. So Ctrl+clik would bring the
parent app to focus.

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