Comment 322 for bug 332945

Matthew Paul Thomas wrote:
>mb_webguy: <https://lists.ubuntu.com/archives/ubuntu-devel/2009-February/027568.html>

*Nothing* in that post justified the automatic opening of applications without direct user action. *Every* example you named would best be handled by some sort of transient or persistent notification, and *not* by having an application open automatically.

As getut and John Clemens have said, there is a huge difference between a notification and an interruption. Automatically opening applications is the latter. You seem to think that the user *should* be interrupted for certain events, but I vehemently disagree. You *don't know* what the user is doing, or how vital that activity may be. Interrupting the user's activity could be considerably more detrimental than for the user to respond immediately to the event of which you're notifying him. A user should be notified of an event, with an indication of its importance and the required action, but should his current activity should *not* be interrupted. A notification, no matter how prominently displayed, does not have to be an interruption.

Furthermore, opening an application doesn't even achieve your goal! An application that is opened without being initiated by the user will most likely be promptly closed, especially if it opens over other windows. An application that appears under other windows may be ignored or go unnoticed. Applications tend to open on a single workspace, and applications on other workspaces may likewise be ignored or go unnoticed. Applications that open on all workspaces are even more obtrusive and more likely to be closed simply to get it out of the way. An application that automatically opens itself will make inexperienced users, especially those coming from the Windows world, anxious and concerned about viruses and other intrusions into their system. Experienced users will only become annoyed. In neither case is the user experience improved, or the system made more secure.

Users want to be in control of their systems. Yes, less knowledgeable users need to be alerted of events in a more noticeable manner than simply an icon in the notification area. I have absolutely no problem with that. But an icon in the notification area is an appropriate method of providing users persistent notifications, especially of events that do not require immediate attention -- such as the availability of non-critical updates. OSD notifications are excellent but only appropriate for transient notifications, and can be used to bring the persistent notification icon to the user's attention, especially for more important events that require more immediate attention -- such as the availability of critical updates. They can even be timed to appear periodically to remind the user of that action should be taken -- such as that the user has still not installed those critical updates. And OSD notifications do this without interrupting the user's activity or taking control away from the user. The combination of these two methods do exactly what is needed to alert users of necessary action. Automatically opening an application does *not*. It is ineffective, an annoyance, and takes control away from the user, fomenting confusion and distrust in the system.