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Re: [Public WebGL] download/activity indicator

> On Tue, Aug 10, 2010 at 11:05 AM, Mark Callow
> <callow_mark@hicorp.co.jp>wrote:
>>  I was not for a moment suggesting the browser should tell the user
>> "We're
>> not ready to play yet." I am simply saying that a blank page with Done
>> written in the status bar is less useful than a blank page with an
>> activity
>> indicator in the status bar. I agree it is ideally the application's
>> responsibility to provide the user with appropriate feedback during
>> loading
>> but many applications fall short, even some written, as Chris wittily
>> pointed out, by people close to WebGL.
>> Such applications could tarnish the WebGL name because people on seeing
>> a
>> blank page and Done will say "this is crap" or "this is broken", move on
>> and
>> then tell their friends WebGL doesn't work. If an activity indicator is
>> showing while the page is blank they may (a) wait a few more seconds and
>> so
>> actually see something and (b) if their patience is exhausted before
>> anything appears, they may be more likely to blame the app rather than
>> WebGL.
>> Having the browser status bar displaying an activity indicator does not
>> detract from any application provided feedback. If the application
>> provides
>> good feedback the user probably won't even notice the browser status
>> bar.
> Unfortunately it would effect lots of existing apps. Email apps are
> constantly doing requests behind the scenes. So are chat apps and several
> image viewing apps.  Whether it's appropriate for that activity to be
> displayed to the user is something that only the app can know.
> I'll be happy to add progress indicators to any of the demos on the wiki
> if
> no one has any objections. I'll try to add them to any new demos as well.

But if the 'activity indicator' doesn't necessarily mean "don't worry -
the application is just waiting for the network" - then what does it mean?

* If the application is doing a bunch of heavy JavaScript - then the
indicator won't show that and you'll still see "DONE" when the app is
still working.
* If the application is still loading stuff while trying to keep the user
interested while it does so then the activity indicator will indicate that
we're not "DONE" when in fact we are ready for user interaction.
* If the application continually streams stuff - then it will never be
"DONE" and the browser can't tell whether it is or not.

The heart of the problem is that "DONE" is just the wrong word here. 
Nobody can tell whether the application has finished loading or
not...perhaps not even the application itself.

IMHO, this is not a WebGL issue.  There are at least three or four things
the browser could show the user down in the bottom corners of the display:

1) That there is network activity.
2) That JavaScript code is actively executing.
3) That there have been JavaScript fatal errors flagged in the Error Console.
4) That the application has registered mouse and/or keyboard event
notification - and that the user might try wiggling the mouse, clicking or

But sadly, none of those necessarily means that we're "DONE" or "BROKEN"
or "WAITING" - which is what the end user would actually like to know.

These apply equally to all kinds of pages - not just WebGL.  The same
exact problem exists for Canvas applications, Flash, HTML5 audio and video
tags...you name it!

This is a wider problem than WebGL.  It's a systemic problem now that
browsers are not simply displayers of static content.

The best thing we can do to sell people on the idea that WebGL is "cool"
is to launch the new browsers all on the same day to make a media splash
and show that there is broad support (except for IE of course).  And to
announce that with at least a handful of really kick-ass applications -
not just spinning teapots - actual working, useful/interesting/compelling
things, all nicely polished, tested to death and running on fast, solid
servers.  Once everyone has seen that it can do super-amazing-cool-stuff,
subsequent crappy experiences from poorly-written applications will be
squarely blamed on the application author - because everyone will have
seen that WebGL does actually work.

3D graphics isn't easy - there WILL be crappy applications - there is
nothing we can do about that other than to set a high bar to start with.

  -- Steve

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