Improving Usability by Reducing Popups

Registered by matatk on 2007-09-17

update-manager does a great job at bringing package upgrades to the novice (GUI) computer user. However, it does have a tendency to produce rather a lot of potentially both irritating and alarming popups during the (relatively simple) update process. This is a justification of why there is a problem and a suggestion on how it can be simply and effectively solved.

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To inline the pop-up windows, we need to address the following issues:
1. The Check and Install Updates buttons will need to be disabled or hidden. We don’t want people clicking Install when update-manager is still checking, or clicking check when it’s in the middle of an install. The pop-ups are modal currently, and restrict access to these buttons.
2. A Cancel button is common on the pop-up windows, so the new layout will either remove the option, or possibly be very confusing with a single window containing both Cancel and Close buttons.
3. The pattern of clicking, or usage, is an issue. That is, in what order the buttons can be clicked, and when they can be clicked. Currently checks for new packages are made when opening the update-manager, and after installing updates. These checks force the user to wait before moving to the next step. The ideal would be: Click the icon to open update-manager, Click Install, Click Close.

A notebook (tabbed) display would work well for showing different aspects of the update. The Tabs could be:
1. Major Components listing (ex. GNOME Utilities)
2. Package list
3. Package descriptions
4. Package Release Notes
5. Console
They are all views of the same update, just showing different information. This could free layout space for the progress bar and messages from the pop-up windows.


(The following was written by Matthew [blueprint poster].)

Thanks for the above comments. I haven't used Launchpad before, as the comment below pointed out :-). I decided to wait until Gutsy is out to ask for feedback, in case that helped you out. In response to the comments above:

1. Agreed.
2. OK, but we don't have to call the ``stop current task'' button ``cancel'' -- that would, I agree, cause confusion. For the sake of clarity, we could call it ``stop'' or something and use the standard ``stop'' (white cross in red circle) icon for it.
3. The ideal button-clicking order proposed is great.

To clear up any misunderstanding: the dialog that the above comment refers to as ``checking updates'' is, I think the one that corresponds to apt working out the dependencies and if newer versions are available. I don't think we should provide a facility to interrupt this task. We may, however, wish to interrupt the downloading of new package lists task (which I would have called checking for updates in the spec on my website). I hope this clears things up!

This all sounds very promising to me; thanks for your time so far.



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