Wednesday 11 February 2009

Notifications - a new direction for developers

Notifications is a common phenomenon. A lot of us have Gtalk as our IM client, even those on Pidgin would have noticed notifications like these:



You get the point. Every other application has their own notifications for users (btw, the notification on the right is from feedalizr, a great tool for updating you on twitter, facebook, friendfeed and other alerts all in one place). Imagine what happens when each of them are unaware of the other application and serve the user as though they were the only software using notifications
  • Each application would have a differently styled notification popup, confusing the user
  • The scheduling of notifications would be nonexistant.
  • The user could be bombarded with multiple overlapping notifications from different applications at the same time ("low battery" , "Mystifier is online" , "Dp replied to your twitter entry ..." ....)
  • The user would begin to get frustrated at times.
The solution? A notification system that each application could communicate with.

I just discovered a Growl inspired tool for Notifications on Windows - snarl.
How is it different from the numerous other notification software available? Well, for one, it uses a BSD style license, which means it is free to be used by both open source and proprietary software systems alike.

Snarl can be used by any application and it provides a centralized way for managing notifications. The user can turn it off, if say s/he has plugged the laptop to a projector and is in a meeting. Its a very convenient way to manage notifications and is highly skinnable and allows for fine grained control. The user can also override the application defaults and change the notification style based on their own preferences and style.

For a start, here is what you can do. If you have a Pidgin client (and assuming you have network on twitter / identi.ca etc which you have linked to your IM for updates), you can integrate snarl to give your pidgin more bite.

I think snarl is the future for notification management on windows. Looking further down the line, there would probably be standardized protocols for notification management making the application work seamlessly on any platform / environment.

4 comments:

dpreacher said...

Hmmm...Do I have reason to believe I'm being mentioned here? :)

and its a great thing we're checking out this snarl tool simultaneously.

What was irritating was the old system notification popups aren't hidden and they look gross in comparison to the snarl notifications.

The default theme even blends well with the Royale Remixed theme that I use currently.

Best is the hourly reminder. Good to remind me to sleep when I'm browsing full screen and the clock is hidden.

how the hell do you get twitter updates thru IM when they themselves are not giving a damn about doing anything to bring the service back up. is it a feed2im service? I think I've used one of them, but thing is I can't tweet or twiply back.

I also saw your comment on the article about snarl that I commented on. will reply to that there. :)

RTM notifications on the desktop is the absolute deal-maker for me.

Abhishek Kumar said...

lol.. yup it was a coincidence for both of us to be surfing the same things at the same time...

Yup snarl should make things better.. esp coz of the bsd type license which means everyone can take it and plug it in to their app royalty free.

Sending updates through IM is easy. For gtalk: Just add twitter@twitter.com to your contact list and shoot off an IM to it about what u're doing.

I'm not sure about how you get updates _to_ your IM per se, but there must be some service somewhere.

I use feedalizr for twitter, friendfeed and facebook updates all in one place :P

Drake said...

Hey, this is nice.. do you know which applications are already using snarl? There may be a great many of them, we dont know what tool they use for their already existing popups. Is it snarl itself? Or is it some other tool? What is it?
I ask because I plan to integrate it on my app for my client as well...

Aneesh Arora said...

I hope MS dosent show intrest in this. They will most likey intregate their own such tool in the upcoming Windows 7 and then 88% of the world will have to follow them.