[whatwg] Proposal for a web application descriptor

Robert O'Callahan robert at ocallahan.org
Sat Apr 30 08:23:36 PDT 2011

On Sun, May 1, 2011 at 1:52 AM, Glenn Maynard <glenn at zewt.org> wrote:

> On Sat, Apr 30, 2011 at 5:23 AM, Robert O'Callahan <robert at ocallahan.org>
> wrote:
> > The application could have a settings page with a checkbox "Enable
> desktop
> notifications". When you click on that box, the browser shows its (passive,
> asynchronous) UI for enabling desktop notifications for that application.
> This still implies having an API to ask for permission for a feature before
> using it.  (Web Notifications has a draft for this:
> http://dev.w3.org/2006/webapi/WebNotifications/publish/FeaturePermissions.html
> .)
> Also, many developers won't want a UI like that, since when you disable a
> feature and expect users to enable it in settings, a lot of them won't.
> Many people never look at settings pages at all.  Pages are more likely to
> request permissions as soon as they can.

Notifications are a particularly hard case for the principle of requesting
permissions in response to user action, because the whole point of
notifications is that they happen when the user isn't giving the application
attention :-).

Another possible approach would be to have the default be for notifications
to show up in browser UI associated with the page --- e.g., highlight the
tab title and show the notification(s) at the top of the page if you switch
to the tab --- and in that notification-showing UI, offer a "show on
desktop" button which lets the notifications for that application migrate to
the desktop --- effectively a permission grant.

Of course, asking each of these while using the application would also be
> painfully annoying, and it's not obvious how to make permissions meaningful
> to the user (eg. when you use its feature) while also scaling to lots of
> permissions.

I think we have to consider specific cases. For Skype, it depends on whether
all those permissions are really needed, and why... It might not be that
hard to figure out how to make on-demand permission grants intelligible. We
owe it to users to try.

"Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for
they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures
every day to see if what Paul said was true." [Acts 17:11]

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