October 1st, 2006 by lucas
Most IM clients have a big problem: they seem to think they are the most important application on the desktop, or that their users always consider IM as top priority. Problem is, some users don’t! It would be great if IM clients where dealing better with two use cases :
- Joe is working intensively on something, and doesn’t really want to be disturbed, except, of course, if the chat he would have is of extremely high importance (knowing who just sent him a message would probably help in determining how important the chat is going to be). He can’t rely on setting himself “Busy” on jabber, because people then write to him saying “ok, you are busy, answer me later, but here is my question: ….”.
- Joe is working with Jack (a colleague) in front of his workstation. Since he has a mix of both professional and personal contacts, he needs to check if the message he just received is from his boss or from his girlfriend. (Opening a message from his girlfriend while Jack is watching might not be a good idea).
Typical stuff clients do:
- Display incoming messages using notification-daemon (see picture below), but do not provide a way to disable this behaviour (I don’t think many clients fail this test).
- The tooltip of the notification area icon (“system tray”) provides a fast way to be informed of important information. However, some clients (e.g Gajim) only give the number of unread messages, but don’t say who they are from (see picture below). The tooltip would be a perfect place to say “3 unread messages, 1 is from Boss, 2 are from ” in a Jack-safe way. When working intensively, it also allows you to make a quick decision about whether you want to read the messages and maybe start a chat now, or reply to them later.
- Some clients (e.g Gajim) do not provide a way to easily read a specific unread message (and not all of them) (see picture below). Adding something event-specific in addition to “Show All Pending Events” would allow to read the message from Boss without reading the message from Girlfriend in front of Jack.
So, how does your client behave in regard to this ? I don’t really like the way Gajim behaves because it doesn’t provide much info in the tooltip, and doesn’t allow you to read a specific event (you have to open the roster and select the contact). Is your client doing better ?