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Re: Opening windows without user action

Subject: Re: Opening windows without user action
From: Chow Loong Jin
Date: Fri, 27 Feb 2009 04:24:25 +0800
On Thu, 2009-02-26 at 19:41 +0000, Matthew Paul Thomas wrote:
> Hash: SHA1
> Several people have made these points over the past couple of days, but
> I'll reply only once. :-)
> Aigars Mahinovs wrote on 24/02/09 02:55:
> >...
> > However, the system should _never_ open windows without user action.
> That is a nice ideal, and certainly developers should be sparing about
> opening windows unasked.
So why not be sparing about u-m?

> We think the reverse is true. Notification bubbles should not be
> overused, but when they are used, they should be for things that do not
> need response or acknowledgement. If a program does need response or
> acknowledgement, it should use a more substantial window. And except for
> a few highly-recognizable icons (envelope for messages, speaker for
> volume, battery for power, etc), panel icons are pretty hopeless as a
> method of notifying people of things.
I disagree. You are discounting the fact that users will generally learn
to associate certain icons with certain events. For example, Pidgin's
icon isn't exactly the most intuitive, but it can convey my status to me
pretty effectively, just by changing the icon. Also, in the case of
incoming messages, it changes and blinks. To a first time user, this may
not be intuitive, but to one who has used this for some time, it conveys
the message very effectively. Similarly, update-notifier's icon will not
make sense to a first-timer, but after that, it gets indispensable.

There is and will always be a learning curve to everything, especially
learning how to use a new operating system, or even a desktop
environment. While smoothing that learning curve is good, I believe that
what matters more at the end of the day is the day-to-day experience of
using the software. You seem to be inverting this priority -- making
things easy to discover during first-time usage, and not changing this
behaviour for later uses, such that it gets annoying.

Here is a use case where u-m automatically opening up is pointless and

Every time I see the update-notifier icon, I open a terminal and run
'sudo apt-get dist-upgrade' simply because I prefer the terminal for
upgrades over the GUI. Surely you won't deny me that choice. Note that
since I upgrade via terminal, I never manually open u-m. This means that
after a week, u-m will open on its own. What do I do? I close it. And
then I continue performing my upgrades via terminal. Next week, it
happens again. And again. And again. I cannot understand how this
behaviour can possibly be not irritating. On the other hand, from what I
understand, if I disable this behaviour completely, update-notifier
won't even give me an icon any more. So I'll have to check on my own for
updates. How inconvenient.
Chow Loong Jin
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