Open Bug 468006 Opened 14 years ago Updated 5 years ago

online/offline experience is confusing

Categories

(Thunderbird :: Mail Window Front End, defect)

defect
Not set
normal

Tracking

(Not tracked)

People

(Reporter: davida, Unassigned)

References

Details

(Keywords: polish)

the online status button in the status bar is confusing -- I don't think that having a lightbulb "on" is a good metaphor for thunderbird feeling like it's connected to the network.  

While we're at it, there's no indication that that lightbulb is something I can click on, as there's no hover or active versions of the icons.  

Finally, clicking on that button should immediately change its representation, even if the underlying state change takes a long time (which I find it often does).
while we're at it, going offline shouldn't block the ui the way it does.
> while we're at it, going offline shouldn't block the ui the way it does.

Yes, at most we should only trigger the network connected / disconnected state.  I think we might want some kind of indicator if TB is currently downloading something.

I put up some initial designs : http://clarkbw.net/designs/online-offline/

However they still need work.  As davida pointed out the (x) looks too much like a button and so isn't the best representation of offline.  Also I think we should move to call this "Connected" / "Disconnected" instead of (on|off)line
remember that some users can configure TB to download all their undownloaded messages when we go offline, and in that case, I think we don't want to show the user as disconnected until that download process is finished (I guess we could immediately show them as disconnected, but then we have to separate that ui from the actual state of the network connection, which will inevitably lead to us getting it wrong...)
> remember that some users can configure TB to download all their undownloaded
> messages when we go offline, and in that case, I think we don't want to show
> the user as disconnected until that download process is finished (I guess we
> could immediately show them as disconnected, but then we have to separate that
> ui from the actual state of the network connection, which will inevitably lead
> to us getting it wrong...)

I think that should be part of the (animated) transition state.  Assuming we can show the progress meter in the status bar directly to the right I would think we can show the icon going from online to offline.  ( see: http://clarkbw.net/designs/online-offline/offline-online-status.png )

Using the set of terms:
  Connected
  Disconnecting...
  Disconnected
  Connecting...
The first time I seriously used offline mode I thought to myself that light bulb icon is just strange.  Firefox has nothing.

I agree red is too in your face. And, if you do use color you might want offline to be presented as an "intermediate" state, like yellow, and instead reserve red to indicate failure state. I still like the disconnected wire metaphor still seen in seamonkey.  Instead of circle-X how about such a wire, or a split+jagged circle?

Another thought ... is it useful/possible to show *both* offline/connection state *and* what mozilla thinks is actually possible networking wise?  Would this help roamers?
Yes, this is precisely why I'm finding it difficult to create a clear picture in this limited space.  You have 2 states of networking that can't really be shown in this area.  

One state is about the connection to your server, which is a per-account state.  Per account state needs to be indicated within the account areas, however the status messages should pull from the system network state.

The second is the state of the network, which is system wide.  I'm not sure this really even needs to be shown in the status bar area.  If you had Thunderbird open and your network is down your accounts would also be down as well.  Firefox offers a File -> Work Offline menu item for manually going offline, something similar to what this icon area current provides.

I'm starting to think the Firefox method is the best path forward.  Remove the status bar area.  Offer a menu item for "Working Offline" and otherwise be totally transparent about network connection state.  Improve the account connection state indications by showing connection status inline and taking into account the system network status.
restating this since andreas has done new online / offline icons for each theme and they are much clearer now than the old light bulb.  I think this bug was more about the "going offline" experience anyway however I'm not really sure what has already been done.
Summary: online/offline icons are confusing → online/offline experience is confusing
(In reply to comment #7)
> restating this since andreas has done new online / offline icons for each theme
> and they are much clearer now than the old light bulb.  I think this bug was
> more about the "going offline" experience anyway however I'm not really sure
> what has already been done.

Shall we make this a meta bug for the experience of online / offline usage ?
I think we want to work on the new designs for the offline / online experience in this bug and then we'll switch over to implementation and perhaps creating spin-off bugs at that point.
I shouldn't be the assignee for these bugs.  Filter against clarkbfilter to delete all these from your emails.
Assignee: clarkbw → nobody
See Also: → 678947
See Also: → 386853
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