[whatwg] HTML vs Plain Text in Notifications

Dmitry Titov dimich at google.com
Wed Sep 10 19:26:09 PDT 2008

I'd like to comment on Notifications part of the spec:
In short, I think those notifications should be more like a "balloon popups"
or "toasts" with content rendered by the user agent in HTML form. Currently,
they are spec'ed as 3 strings + icon and rendered in the way "system
notifications" are rendered on a particular system.

So instead of:
   function callback() { ... }
   window.showNotification("You've got mail!",
                                       "From: Santa Claus",
                                       "What's in your wishlist?",

it would be closer to:
   balloon_window = window.open("http://.../mail_notification?id=....",

As a team that worked on Google Talk Labs Edition which is a "web app in a
desktop frame", we've implemented balloon notifications for Google Calendar,
GMail and Talk chat - example of their look is here:
http://www.google.com/talk/labsedition . They are rendered as HTML+JS. Doing
UX iterations on those convinced us that simple text notifications do not
solve majority of use cases.

The text-based box has following problems:
- Not enough formatting capabilities even for simple cases (calendar
appointment and mail notification).
- No mechanism to update content (as in "upload progress indicator"
- No way to add interactive features (snooze on calendar appointment)

Granted, HTML in notifications means more work to carefully design
security/opt-in/opt-out mechanisms, but perhaps no much more so than popups
already do.

What do you think?
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