Chrome Desktop Notifications and why they are useless

Responding mainly to the optimistic vibe in the article and comment section on 0xfe’s brilliant article on webkit notifications I have the following brief’ish commentary:  first of all the chrome dev’s need to get the window-on-top-feature under their belt, otherwise these messages/notifications are simply going to disappear in mass numbers into the land of behind-the-app. [edit: thnx to NoFancyNick for pointing out that my browser is broken]

Secondarily I’m in 2 minds about the permission asking (same with localstorage i html5) – as in: is there any web-developers that will make use of features that demands their non-super-geek-userbase to press novel and scary invented-for-the-occasion buttons in their browsers before their site/app will work as intended? I seriously wonder: if I am to construct a notification (which is actually the case in regards to the db admin shell I’m currently working on) it is obviously better for me to use a jQuery attention grabber (like Tim Benniks’ “growl-like”). It would in essence never work for my no-tech users that they had to take into consideration whether a yellow bar is asking them some obscure message about accessing their desktop during their admin session.. it would spell out consistent and reoccurring user problems!

Lastly, while these app-like features are definitely needed we do need to find another option than the permission asking game – it works for users that are installing Firefox add-ons as second-nature thing but the rest of humanity have just come around to NOT clicking every single thing asking them for permission because it caused their computer to die of virus overload (which you and I had to fix for them). Not good.

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2 thoughts on “Chrome Desktop Notifications and why they are useless

  1. Thanks for presenting the flip-side. :)
    While I see your point, I am not sure I agree 100%.
    Wrt. to messages disappearing, I have not experienced the notifications popping under. They happily stay on top of windows I open over Chrome etc.

    Wrt. to your DB shell, I am guessing this is to work from a browser tab and in that case I agree that growl-like is a good match. Notifications provide a different functionality. I see notifications more as a mechanism to let me know that something has happened – i.e. my calendar telling me I have a meeting soon – while I am working in a different tab or application.

    The real problem with notifications, and here I am in sync with you, is the user-acceptance and the possibilities of abuse (but then all web technologies are potentially abusive… ). Guess there is no real way around that as long as we are not all running Chrome OS. Until then, I think Notifications will mostly live i GMail/Google apps and social apps like Twitter and Facebook. While the users of these may or may not be web savvy, I think they at least trust those sites…
    So what I am saying is: I think notifications provide some cool functionality. The permission asking problem boils down to educating the general user to discern legit requests from bogus ones. And the responsibility of educating them lies in mainly with the IT crowd, i.e. us.

  2. I do see your point regarding social apps and their need for notifying users. Still, I’m left wondering whether we need desktop-wide notifications.. a more subtle method should be doable where the browsers stays on top of the web-apps a bit more while drawing attention all the same. I guess my problem with notifications boils down to particular usage scenarios and the fact that I like apps to be fully featured without requiring pressing of yellow “are u prepared for this”-type boxes.

    About the Chrome on top thing; must be my version then – I’ll update and give 2nd try.

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