Tuesday, June 12, 2007

What not to do with a progress bar.

This morning I installed an update for adobe software. As the software updated this dialog would display progress from 0% to 50% over and over again for over a minute. The text on the dialog didn't change at all during the process. It just seemed to be stuck in one of those out of control infinite updater loops from hell where it tries to perform a task and can't so it just keeps trying over and over again until you run out of patience and kill it. For your software you may think of a few other ways to utilize the progress bar and dialog in your apps.

First, the progress bar does go all the way to 100%. Test your update dialog and make sure it is listing the progress smoothly.

Second, If you have a long install you have a few choices. One way to do it is to break them up into a bunch of small tasks and display progress of each individual task and properly display and update the message to the user so that they know what your updater is doing.

Third, and probably the best way for a large update is to show the total progress for the entire update and change the message text to indicate that something is actually being done. Your users really want to know how long its going to take so that they can get on with their life. Why not tell them? That's why this is the best choice.

This updater is a good example of an update dialog. This is an updater for a Blizzard product. It shows the progress of the udpate, the percentage completed, and even tells the user an estimated time to completion. It even has some blinky lights in the title bar that indicates that its doing something!

P.S. The game is pretty good too.

Happy Coding!