Notifications: uselessness of

Mat Tomaszewski mat.tomaszewski at
Fri Feb 27 09:52:01 GMT 2009

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?
First of all, let me quickly welcome everyone and introduce myself. My 
name is Mat and I'm with Canonical's design team, being responsible for 
large part of the design of the new notification system.

Now, to the point :)

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.

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.

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 :)

Again, 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). We are now going 
through long and painful process of carefully defining these cases. It 
is early days, and there can be reconsiderations. So please be patient 
and forgiving :)

Many thanks,


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