← Back to team overview

unity-design team mailing list archive

problems with messaging indicator and workflow


So I've finally had to get rid of the messaging indicator applet after
trying it out for the last month or so. I'd like to throw out a few
reasons why and talk a little about how I use my computer and how the
notification system would ideally work for me.

First, problems with the existing messaging indicator applet:
1) I only ever have 1 or 2 messaging apps open at a given time so
consolidating 2 icons into 1 is not really cleaning out my systray (or
Notification Area as it seems to be called in GNOME)
2) It is difficult to see what applications are actually open because
I have to click on the applet to get the drop-down list. I don't like
this at all. The obfuscation is annoying.
3) I can only know that there is some notification waiting for me if
the green dot shows up, I don't know from which app, which makes it
more difficult for me to assess the priority
4) It is more difficult for me to open my apps when minimized to the
applet than to the tray:
    1. see if app is in systray or indicator applet
    2. click on indicator applet
    3. find app I want
    4. click it
    1. find proper icon in systray
    2. click it
5) It doesn't respect my away status in any way. I expect notification
behavior to change depending on if I'm away or not (that's a whole
other thread though).

The only benefit I've seen, for me, from the indicator applet is
having a somewhat consolidated place to see actionable notifications.
That benefit is reduced though because other notifications that would
benefit from actions are not present there. It seems as if messaging
is the only area deemed worthy of action, which is rather the opposite
of what I'd like to see. Which leads me to my workflow and how I'd
like to interact with notifications.

First off, messaging is pretty low-priority for me. My work is not
message-driven so if I check my email a once or twice a day I've done
all the messaging I *have* to. Everything else is "fun", i.e. low
priority. I also check messages on *my* schedule, not the app's. Every
once in a while when I need a break from real work I go through new
emails/dents/tweets/RSS feeds and then get back to work. This is why I
turn off most notifications, I don't need apps yelling at me. I just
want to get to them easily when *I* want to. Since IM is really the
only realtime communication method commonly used it's the only place
where I can see notifications and the indicator applet being of much
use. Since you generally only use one IM app at a time this means a
tray icon is just as effective as the messaging indicator applet.

Secondly, there is a lot of useful information that the messaging
indicator will not hold. Things that I would personally find useful
are bzr-notify messages, update notifier notifications, critical
system info like disk-out-of-space, reboot required, app restart
required, apport crashes. Those are things for which a systray icon is
rather pointless but the information is still important and at least
might need action.

So in the end for me, user-to-user messaging was just fine for me
before the indicator applet and so I've removed it, but system-to-user
messaging could *definitely* use an indicator applet.

-Jordan Mantha

Follow ups