Notifications as instant messages?

Vincenzo Ciancia ciancia at
Mon Mar 30 10:44:39 UTC 2009

Mark Shuttleworth ha scritto:
> And I see your point! We've been focused on the idea that the action 
> itself should be immediately accessible to the user (rather than a 
> notification followed by a clickable panel icon followed by the action 
> :-)). But the windows itself could be minimised. Let's explore that. I 
> think it may be too late for Jaunty but I'll see what we can do.

 From the beginning, this issue made me think of IM programs such as 
pidgin. There, you have exactly the same problem: there are messages 
pending for you, and you have to choose how to be notified. Notice that 
the various modalities (blinking or non-blinking notification icon, 
pop-up window, pop-under window, pop-up minimised window) are _already_ 
(!) a choice in most IM clients. Because they had to solve this problem 

Here I'd like to argue that the two problems are the same problem and 
their solution should be the same, as the system is actually an entity 
talking to you. Of course your mileage may vary, but I would be happy to 
start a blueprint if there is consensus, with the idea of using a 
_local_ IM protocol (such as bonjour) and an IM client (either pidgin or 
a lightweight ad hoc receiver) to notify the user.

Motivations are as follows:

- IM clients already have to solve the problem of notifying the user.

- it is evident to most users that they can configure how to get 
notified of new messages (pop-ups, minimised pop-ups, blinking icons etc.)

- Pidgin already uses the new notification machinery, hence pretty 
notifications would be automatically obtained

- messages can contain URLs. One can use a clickable URI to run a 
program - e.g. update-notifier. Indeed, these URIs must be made 
clickable in the client _only if_ coming from the system account. And 
for more security enabled applications could be whitelisted as one can 
do with sudo.

- If ALL the applications notify via this system, there can be a 
"system" buddy that notifies you of ALL system messages, instead of a 
SEPARATE window for every application. Enabling the chat log in the IM 
client will save all the messages that the system sent to you, so that 
you can choose when to take a look at all the pending messages (e.g. 
before going home from office).

- Having a chat window is perceived as much less annoying than a perhaps 
non-standard pop-up dialog, and would enable for the future smart 
applications, such as enhanced "intelligent" interactions and dialogues 
with the system, as it happens with IRC bots.

- many more reasons but I first would like some impression on these.

- the only problem I see is: how to make a notification persistent 
across different sessions? That's a problem also in pidgin: if I close 
the session without reading a pending message, will I be notified next 
time? I don't think so. But perhaps this is easy to solve, and indeed 
would be part of the blueprint.


More information about the Ubuntu-devel-discuss mailing list