Where’s Mama Bear’s update notification?

Paul Bausch is absolutely right that Firefox’s current update notification, a popup dialog that gives you the choice between “stop what you are doing and restart your browser right now” and “be nagged at some random later time until you stop what you are doing and restart your browser” is the sort of annoyance we use Firefox to avoid, not to seek out.

But the previous version, a red Christmas tree that I think was supposed to be an arrow displayed up by the throbber, flat out didn’t work. For every single non-geek on whose computer I installed Firefox, that was something for me to see when I was doing something else for them, my little Christmas present of also getting to update their browser, and not anything for them to even notice, much less do anything about.

A couple of hours of thinking about less extreme methods of reminding people about an update without being invisible has only left me reinventing Clippy. So, what sort of notification can’t be missed, but can be ignored until you’re ready for it?


Comment by Michael Koziarski #
2006-02-04 20:59:50

Where’s my less-than in the title?


;) I ask as net news wire can actually render this one…

Comment by Phil Ringnalda #
2006-02-04 21:52:32

Lack of nerve: I wanted to put it on Planet Mozilla, which hasn’t upgraded its parser, so it can’t handle Atom 1.0, so I have to feed it RSS, so it’s not possible to include a less-than without violating the intention of the spec, so my RSS generator does any title with a less-than as ”[Title contains characters which cannot be transmitted in RSS]” which I swear I’ll put on p.m.o as soon as I have an actual excuse, but for just a ”learn to behave”? Maybe next time.

Comment by Firas #
2006-02-04 21:15:10

Despite all the hatred for Windows Update, it’s been mostly a success, no? Download during browing and install automagically upon browser startup…

Comment by Rad Geek #
2006-02-04 22:16:56

How about that yellow-information-bar-across-the-top widget that all the cool features are using these days? It gets attention, gives you space to say what you mean, but also can be tuned out as necessary.

Also, you should be able to mash a button to make the notification disappear and Firefox always update automatically when something fresh is available, until you tell it to do otherwise.

Comment by James #
2006-02-04 23:06:29

I’m pretty sure I read on a mozblog somewhere that the yellow bar is missed by a lot of users.

Comment by Neil T. #
2006-02-05 15:49:27

I like the idea, but perhaps make the bar somewhat ’sticky’ – i.e., it reappears every time the browser is restarted until it is updated, and it’s difficult to dismiss (i.e. click a button and choose a menu item, rather than an ’X’).

Comment by Joel Syverud #
2006-02-05 01:50:06

I never really had a problem with the popup. I could install the update and then continue to browse, with the installation being finished when I restarted the browser… I never got nagged again after the initial pop-up… Maybe I didn’t browse long enough after the installation.
You replace the startup page with a notice saying that there’s a new Firefox out for grabs, and no reminder pop-ups at all. Or a possibility to choose between the little red christmas tree for geeks, and something more attention caching as default for non-geeks…?

2006-02-05 08:27:04

[…] Where’s Mama Bear’s update notification? […]

Comment by Lanny Heidbreder #
2006-02-05 10:29:36

Mama Bear’s stuff was always too weak; it was Baby Bear’s stuff that was just right. ;)

My first thought was that Firefox could open a new tab with update prompts, but it has to be something that’s obviously not a web page or a popup from one. So this comment now is only good for my Goldilocks correction.

Comment by Stuart Ballard #
2006-02-06 08:53:36

Well, Mama Bear probably restarts her browser on a regular basis, it’s only we geeks that leave it open for days, and the red christmas tree works fine for us.

What’s wrong with ”upgrade the browser automatically, prompt once to let the user know that the upgrade has happened and they should restart, and then just leave the christmas tree as a reminder without any further nagging”?

Furthermore, where’s the setting to automatically install extension updates? It seems I can automatically *check* for those, but not automatically *install* them…

Comment by Mossop #
2006-02-07 15:58:24

How about temporarily changing the homepage when an update is detected. On startup rather than google or whatever they see a nice page saying that an update is available, possibly even including release notes or new features.

A button on the page stops it from displaying again for this update. Another installs the update.

Comment by John Kirkwood #
2006-04-05 00:53:06

Problem with existing solutions: When the application is active and trying to notify us of an update, we are usually much too busy using the application (or another) to be bothered with an update.

New approach: Only notify of updates when the application with an available update is being closed down. Then, the update can be installed and the application ’restarted’ (or rather, shutdown now and restarted later) without interrupting our workflow so much. At closedown of the application, a more obvious notification would feel less intrusive, as we have probably now finished what we were doing before anyway.

Well, I think that’s worth a ’Notify of updates at shutdown’ option, at least.

Comment by Paul Clark #
2006-09-29 07:26:53

I like balloon tips: they’re discreet, they’re non-modal, and they don’t (if implemented sensibly) demand interraction from the user (ie. they can time-out and disappear).

I loath balloon tips being used as giant real-esate tooltips; they’re not the same thing!

When used appropriately, I think they work very well.

Comment by Robert Accettura #
2007-02-23 05:43:49

I’d say the following is about as good as you can get:

When last window is closed, prompt:

There are important security updates that need to be installed.

[ 1 day ] ( Hold Off )

(Install Now )

Then the user can hold off for 1 day, 1 week, 2 weeks. Or can install now (obviously the default).

It has to be somewhat intrusive to get attention. It’s important, not a frivolous feature. By doing this, a user can throttle, but must consciously avoid updates, or be updated.

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