The "unread messages" appearance of the tray icon is not noticeable enough in Karmic

Bug #450398 reported by Michael on 2009-10-13
30
This bug affects 4 people
Affects Status Importance Assigned to Milestone
Indicator Applet
Invalid
Wishlist
Unassigned

Bug Description

Until today, I didn't notice the difference in appearance in the indicator applet tray icon between "no new messages" and "unseen messages", and missed a few messages because of that. And I only noticed today because I was actively observing it to see if I could spot a difference. In Jaunty it was somewhat more noticeable. You might want to take a look at this, but feel free to mark this as "won't fix" if you disagree.

David Barth (dbarth) wrote :

Thanks for your feedback. I can't directly answer your remark, but will make sure to let the Design team know about it.

Changed in indicator-applet:
importance: Undecided → Wishlist
status: New → Triaged
Ted Gould (ted) wrote :

This isn't an issue with indicator-messages, but instead the theme that ships with the default Ubuntu. Unfortunately Launchpad makes it difficult to move bugs downstream into Ubuntu packages, so we can't reassign it there. Please file a new bug here: http://launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/human-theme

Changed in indicator-applet:
status: Triaged → Invalid
Michael (michaeljt) wrote :

Filed there as bug 461456. Thank you for redirecting me.

Michael (michaeljt) wrote :

After discussions around the human theme, I came to the conclusion that as long as they stick to a pure black-and-white icon set, there is not much they can do to fix this. An alternative, on the indicator applet side, might be for indicator applet to keep a short text floating "You have new messages" visible when there are new messages. I realise that one of the goals of indicator applet was to reduce floating bubble noise, but not to the point where messages go entirely unnoticed (I am still missing them). I realise that for various reasons this is not very likely to get into Karmic, but it may well still be relevant for Lucid, and I think that it would be a small amount of code (though probably more discussion) for a decent usability improvement.

Kenneth Wimer (kwwii) wrote :

As I understand it, this a bug in the humanity icon theme and should be addressed as such...it does come down to the icons and not text or bg colors, right?

Michael (michaeljt) wrote :

Actually what I meant was that, particularly as long as humanity is restricted to black and white non-animated icons, there is probably not much they can do about this, so I was suggesting a way that indicator applet could do so instead: keeping a short floating text of the sort that indicator applet manages anyway (it is indicator applet that is responsible for those, isn't it?), saying something like "You have new messages" and making sure that it is on-screen whenever there are unread messages and no other floating texts to be shown.

This is definitely not something the humanity icon theme can do. I think (please tell me if I am wrong) that it is something indicator applet can do. And of course, only you people can say whether it is something that indicator applet is ever likely to do :)

Kenneth Wimer (kwwii) wrote :

Thanks for the explanation, now I get the idea.

As you state, this is not an icon problem, instead a matter of the indicator applet itself which follows very strict design rules (which I doubt are easily changeable).

Michael (michaeljt) wrote :

What is the best way of pushing this to the people who decide on those design rules? Or are they likely to be reading this already? I understand of course that they may see the need for this differently to me; on the other hand, they may have other ideas about how this can be solved in a better way to what is done now.

Vish (vish) wrote :

The whole point of the monochrome change done to the notification area icons was to *not* grab attention of the user unless there is something essential or urgent for the user to perform.
Hence the color red is used only for errors and for low battery or such events which need immediate action from the user.

A new mail/IM is not an event that needs to grab attention of the user. And there isnt really a need for the use of color to grab attention.
 - The new mail or a new IM event is notified by the notify-osd , if the user has not received the notification then it would be a notify-osd bug...
 - If the user was not around and missed the notification then obviously the IM or mail icon is different from the one with no mail.
Having a constant color [green or whatever] for the messaging indicator to show a new event is not ideal , since it would grab attention of user who has chosen to ignore the new event .

The present icons are quite different , and saying that the icons are not distinct enough is not correct.[attaching screenshot]
It is a different change and surely it would take a bit of time adjusting , since the icons now lack color. [as users were always used to blinking or color indicators for IM/mail events] Once the user knows the icons then it becomes evident.
There were even users who complain that, it was a regression to loose the color from the volume/wireless/battery icons.

A better way to do this is by expanding the icons used by the applet will make the applet more relevant and quicker to identify the type of message received:
- Use a generic icon which indicates all forms of messaging.
 - Use an envelope overlay for new email
 - Use a chat bubble overlay for new chat
 - Use an "@" overlay for gwibber and relevant

But there is absolutely no need to use color for these icons.

Michael (michaeljt) wrote :

mac_v: I'm not really arguing for the use of colour here. Since the general theme is a monochrome one, I understand that the use of colour for this would spoil the look. I am arguing that the new instant message notifications are not visible enough (partly because they also rely on sound, and I tend to work with sound switched off to avoid disturbing others).

I gave my suggestion for improving the situation above, but perhaps your idea of the chat bubble icon would also do the trick better than the current envelope colour switch, which I still often fail to notice. (I am training myself to look at it regularly, but that in itself is to my mind a sign that it is not working as it should).

In any case, at least for instant messaging, I think that most users will want to notice new messages immediately when they are sitting in front of their system and using an instant messaging client (otherwise they would stick to e-mail). And in my case - perhaps I am the exception to the rule, I don't know - this is not always working.

Michael (michaeljt) wrote :

Of course, my bubble suggestion might have a better home in the IM client itself. With so many co-operating packages, it is quite hard to work out which is in charge of what if you don't know them well :)

On Thu, 2009-10-29 at 13:37 +0000, Michael wrote:

> In any case, at least for instant messaging, I think that most users
> will want to notice new messages immediately when they are sitting in
> front of their system and using an instant messaging client (otherwise
> they would stick to e-mail). And in my case - perhaps I am the
> exception to the rule, I don't know - this is not always working.
>

FYI , Bug #392265 was filed when human theme was used , at that point
the yellow star was used and the user complained that it did not grab
attention either . ;)

As I'v mentioned above the IM is notified by the notify-osd message.
So, why does the user miss that and depend only on the icon in the
panel?

So the only next step would be to use a blinking icon... which is
against the gnome HIG.

If the user is missing the notify-osd notification then the notify-osd
isnt doing its job of notifying the user properly.

IM also usually have the sound event too...
Not sure why a user would ignore the IM sound [could be muted] and the
notifications ... but rather depend only on the panel.

Are you sure you received the notifications? or did you miss the
notification while using a full screen app? [the notifications are now
suppressed when using fullscreen apps]

Michael (michaeljt) wrote :

Yes, as i said I usually mute sound to avoid disturbing other people nearby. And I do sometimes miss the notify-osd notifications. However, I think that you have convinced me that this is not really something indicator-applet can reasonably fix (except perhaps for the icon improvement you suggested), so I have filed bug #463345 against empathy as my next attempt :) Probably a rather futile occupation, but still.

Vish (vish) wrote :

On Thu, 2009-10-29 at 14:49 +0000, Michael wrote:
> Yes, as i said I usually mute sound to avoid disturbing other people
> nearby. And I do sometimes miss the notify-osd notifications. However,
> I think that you have convinced me that this is not really something
> indicator-applet can reasonably fix (except perhaps for the icon
> improvement you suggested), so I have filed bug #463345 against empathy
> as my next attempt :) Probably a rather futile occupation, but still.
>

the icon improvement needs to be done in indicator-applet , so your
empathy bug would be a dup of this bug again ;)

Michael (michaeljt) wrote :

I just discovered upstream bug https://bugzilla.gnome.org/show_bug.cgi?id=585914 . A fix for this bug would solve the problem for me. But please don't let that put you off doing the new icons, they sound really nice! You would just want to think of something new for the "no new messages" icon, as it would be too similar to "new e-mail"...

Damiano Dallatana (damidalla) wrote :

Marking as a duplicate of bug #392265 as this is invalid while the real bug is in humanity-icon-theme.

Vinicius Seixas (vipseixas) wrote :

This is insane... You are saying that instead of the computer alerting me of an event I have the keep pooling the notification area with my eyes to search for an event. This is an inverse logic, the computer should work for you.

I disagree with this statement: "So the only next step would be to use a blinking icon... which is against the gnome HIG."

Gnome HIG says: "Do not rely on blinking or animation as a means of alerting the user to any particular event. " - It is not explicit forbidding blinking icons. It also says "Icons should not usually appear animated. They may change to indicate a change of state, but should not do so when that change is occurs regularly rapidly." IM messages and e-mails are not "regularly rapidly".

I've been loosing a lot of important IM messages because I do not use sound, which are not very pleasant at working environments, and very often I am not looking at the screen and miss the notifications. There should be something stronger than a different icon to tell you there is a event you should be aware of. Maybe a slow blinking, a limited number of blinks, an small animation. Otherwise the indicator-appet will be useless to almost all regular users.

Alden (jason-alden-benoit) wrote :

I agree who heartedly with Vinicius Seixas' interpretation and view on this. We may be wrong, and if so, we should escalate this to whoever can allow changes to the Gnome HIG. I do not believe that we can't get past this issue, as it hampers usability.

Claude Gagné (miltiad) wrote :

It would be useful to see that someone is trying to talk to you instead of masking it (or almost).

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