Fwd: Re: tigert's mockups and HTML

Christian Hammond chipx86 at gnupdate.org
Tue Sep 21 19:14:33 EEST 2004

I thought I'd forward this along for some discussion.

One more e-mail coming.


----- Forwarded message from Mike Hearn <m.hearn at signal.QinetiQ.com> -----

From: Mike Hearn <m.hearn at signal.QinetiQ.com>
Cc: mike at navi.cx, chipx86 at gnupdate.org
Subject: Re: tigert's mockups and HTML
Date: Tue, 21 Sep 2004 09:39:23 +0100
User-Agent: Mozilla Thunderbird 0.7.2 (Windows/20040707)
To: Christian Hammond <christian at vmware.com>

Christian Hammond wrote:
>Hey Mike.
>Tigert put up a new mockup for the notification, and advised to me that
>we use HTML for the body. I don't think this is a bad idea at all, so
>long as things continue to work fine for those systems without HTML
>support. What do you think on this?

Yes, I see that tigert has been pushing for HTML. The mockups are indeed 
very pretty but I have the following concerns which so far nobody has 

- Those mockups appear to assume a very high screen resolution.
  I'm not convinced packing so much information into a notification
  like that makes sense, especially when they all have to be equal
  width in order to look good stacked.

  Tuomas solves this by not solving it, all his mockups show the
  notifications sprouting from the tray area, with only one visible
  at once.

- If you don't specify a subset of HTML in the spec, that means you
  have to load and initialize an actual rendering engine. That's
  far, far too heavy. We already have speed/responsiveness
  problems with a simple 800k C++ app (it uses over a meg of heap with
  nothing on the screen at all after the first notification!!).

  I'd note that one thing people (users) have been bitching about lately
  is how much of a resource hog modern desktops are. Having worked
  on a laptop with "only" 128mb of ram and a PIII/600 chip lately, I'd
  be inclined to agree with them. Loading up Gecko or GtkHTML to render
  a notification will kill performance even further.

- What is HTML? Sure there's a spec but we know how well that's
  followed. You could say XHTML instead, but then that's not
  actually implemented very much. I think KHTML does not support
  XML properly for instance.

- It feels like massive overkill. I don't think it's useful to pack
  so much text into such a little notification like his Planet
  Gnome example. It'd be smarter to have just the summary, body
  and the actions (Send IM | Send mail etc) and then leave the
  presence and timestamp info for a separate window that pops up
  when you click it.

- We actually have code written, debugged (mostly) and working
  for the current scheme. Allowing arbitrary HTML layout means
  rewriting most of the current GUI code in the server, especially
  if you want action links to go anywhere and such.

In other words, I think allowing arbitrary HTML for notifications has a 
far higher cost than benefit. If people want to display that level of 
information it's better done in a dedicated window that pops up when the 
notification is activated.

Alternative thought: we could have a request which simply opens up a 
window then docks arbitrary app-supplied widgetry using XEMBED into it. 
The server manages window layout/stacking/animation, and the client 
manages everything else.

However, again, I think it'd be better to have a simpler spec and 
consistency rather than having a bunch of wierd looking notifications 
because people wanted to cram more stuff into a little popup than is 
really usable ...

----- End forwarded message -----

Christian Hammond         <>  The Galago Project
chipx86 at gnupdate.org      <>  http://galago.sourceforge.net/
   Success always occurs in private, and failure in full view.
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