Desktop Notifications Spec 0.3

Bryan Clark bclark at
Fri Sep 17 00:55:03 EEST 2004

On Wed, 2004-09-15 at 21:30 -0700, Christian Hammond wrote:

> The specification is currently available at:

I guess I have a couple of concerns about this since the spec
incorporates pieces that may shape how the notification system interacts
with the users.  And I'd like to say that I think you guys are great for
doing this work, not trying to be critical of your efforts here.

Notification Types and Urgency Levels are the two sections that I'm
concerned about. 

Perhaps I don't understand it fully, but I don't see the clear idea
behind Notification Types maybe you could clear this up for me.  I see
that it is in reference to allowing groupings of notification types,
what is the end user visible goal of the groupings of notifications via
type?  Are you expecting lots of notifications from different
applications of the same type at the same time? (i.e. running
thunderbird and evolution at the same time and coalescing the new
message notifications into single popups?)  I'm not sure about this idea
yet so I'd appreciate some clarification of how you think this is going
to help users.

Urgency Levels is the section that is the most concerning from my point
of view.  What do Low, Medium, High, and Critical mean to the end user?
I can see how there is the critical "Your computer is on fire!", and low
"Joe Bob signed on", however I don't see where the others can fit into
place.  I've been working for a while to compile all the information on
status notifications in order to write a decent HIG recommendation on
notifications and so far what I've come up with is that there are two
types of this style notifications.

    1) Requires Interaction from the user
    2) Has the possibility for interaction from the user

Beyond these two types there isn't much else that users are concerned
with and by giving developers choice over more options that they expect
the user will understand is going to create confusion.  Let me explain
the two types.  (1) probably maps to the Critical level you already
have, basically the user needs to acknowledge the notification in order
for it to go away.  (2) is a notification that can just be a status
update, however it always includes the possibility for the user to
interact with the information.  These status messages may go away on
their own after a certain period of time without user interaction, but
they always include the ability for users to interact with them.  Note
that I purposely didn't include a "Require no interaction from the
user", because these types of notifications are a true mistake in
interfaces.  As a rule of thumb you should never just pop up message to
the user informing them of something without giving them options of
interacting with the information you're presenting; it just becomes
added noise.

~ Bryan
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