Personal tools

User:P.A./Download user experience improvements

From MozillaWiki

Jump to: navigation, search

This page is a summary of several independent interventions that can improve the overall user experience related to downloading files and saving web pages locally in Firefox. It was last updated in May 2011.

DISCLAIMER

This is a user page that reflects my current understanding of the subject and does not necessarily indicate features that will be actually developed.

I'll try and keep this page updated as more information and feedback becomes available.

Contents

Overview

Scope

This page lists the overall goals for user experience improvement, and provides more specific lists for individual features, but does not indicate any particular design.

Specific designs are discussed in the individual feature pages and associated Bugzilla bugs. An overall design for all the features is described in the main design source of this page.

Overall goals

This pages includes features and improvements that are functional to these goals:

  • Streamline the experience of downloading files to a centrally defined folder.
    • This includes downloading the files first, and later running or viewing them.
    • Optimize for a small number of concurrent downloads.
  • Separate the management of current tasks and historical data.
    • Operations on historical download data should be integrated with the browsing history interface.
  • Make the default action easy, the advanced powerful.
    • The most common use cases should be accessible with single clicks of the left mouse button.

Excluded items

These features are explicitly not described in this page:

  • Download acceleration.
  • Management of many concurrently running downloads.
  • Queuing of concurrent downloads.

More suggestions and features not described here are currently organized in other lists of possible improvements.

Panel-based Download Manager

Summary

The current Download Manager user interface is not optimized for several common use cases, and is not yet integrated with the latest Firefox user experience design. Integrating this interface with the latest design is the first step to improve the downloads user experience.

In the new design, an easily accessible panel shows you current state of downloads, your recent downloads, and gives you a good indicator of how far along your download is. Advanced operations like searching, clearing entries, sorting, and everything else related to download history is integrated with the interface for browsing history.

Goals

  • Fit in with the overall goals of download user experience improvements.
  • Remove the need for a separate Download Manager window.
  • Unify download history with browsing history.
  • Support common use cases, but not necessarily all of those supported previously.
  • Improve the user interface code, and use asynchronous database queries.

Non-goals

  • Power user fuctionality, like handling many concurrent downloads.
  • File management, except for showing where the target file is located.
  • Improve download performance or general front-end responsiveness.
    • Note that we still don't want to introduce significant regressions.
  • Improve the Download Manager or Places back-end C++ code, or make it asynchronous.
  • Any other improvement already defined by other features in this page.
    • For example, streamlining the entire download process.

Status

This feature is currently being worked on, and the details can be found in the Panel-based Download Manager detailed tracking page.

Unobtrusive error handling

Summary

Currently, download errors result in message boxes being shown to the user, one per failed download. Instead, failure notifications should be unobtrusive, like the completion notifications.

Goals

  • Avoid browsing interruption caused by background download events.
  • Avoid getting a lot of failure message boxes when the Internet connection fails.

Status

Work on this feature has not started. There is no detailed feature page or reference bug number.

Consistent behavior across sessions

Summary

At present, the list of current download items is always preserved when the browser is closed and reopened. Completed downloads should instead be treated as "open tasks" just like tabs. They should not be restored immediately when the browser starts, but together with the tabs from the previous session, only when requested.

Goals

  • Make the session restore behavior of downloads consistent with tabs.
  • Ensure in-progress downloads are still resumed at the appropriate time.

Status

Work on this feature has not started. There is no detailed feature page or reference bug number.

Integration with the platform's file manager

Summary

Add a couple of small functionalities aimed at people using the operating system's file manager to handle downloads after they are finished. Similar functionalities are already present, like the "Open containing folder" command on completed download items.

These are not primary functionalities, thus they should be accessible from right-click context menus or drop-down menu buttons.

Goals

  • Open the centrally defined downloads folder, even when all downloads are finished.
  • Cut a completed download item and paste it as a file into any target folder.
    • This in addition to the existing drag-and-drop support.

Non-goals

  • File management within the browser.
  • Detecting management operations done in the platform's file manager.

Status

Work on this feature has not started. There is no detailed feature page or reference bug number.

Unification of security warnings

Goals

  • Ensure the user doesn't see multiple security warnings in a row when opening a downloaded executable file.
  • Ensure that the security warning is shown at least once, either by the browser or the operating system.

Status

Work on this feature has not started. There is no detailed feature page or reference bug number.

Streamlined download process

Summary

It should be simple to get from the left click on a download link to viewing the document or running the downloaded program. The process should provide only the most relevant information, and should default to sensible choices.

Goals

This list might actually be separated in different features.

  • Fit in with the overall goals of download user experience improvements.
  • Don't ask in advance for the action to perform on downloads initiated by left clicks.
    • Ensure to ask before automatically starting a download initiated by a web page.
  • Avoid browsing interruption caused by helper applications starting automatically when a download completes.
  • Display an unobtrusive indicator whenever a download completes.
  • Provide the choice of the helper application as an advanced option (context or drop-down menu) in the completed download item itself.
  • When a link to an in-progress or completed download is left-clicked, show the associated download item instead of starting a new download.
    • Duplicate detection can be further improved using MD5 or SHA file hashes.
  • Unify the behavior related to temporary files across platforms.

Status

Work on this feature has not started. There is no detailed feature page or reference bug number.

Improved drive-by downloads

Goals

  • Ensure to ask before automatically starting a download initiated by a web page.
  • Ensure that the confirmation messages behave consistently with other in-content alerts.
    • For example, they should not steal focus from the current tab.

Status

Work on this feature has not started. There is no detailed feature page or reference bug number.

Improved external applications handling and preferences

Goals

  • Make settings for common types like e-mails and web feeds more prominent.
  • Highlight helper application choices that have been customized.
  • Ensure that the helper application name and choice is consistent, and results in the right application being opened.
  • Ensure that handling of common types cannot be broken by unusual system configurations.
  • Ensure that descriptions of known file types are consistent regardless of the applications registered and chosen to handle them.

Status

Work on this feature has not started. There is no detailed feature page or reference bug number.

In-content display of known file types

Summary

For file types that can be displayed by the browser, without the need for an external helper application, the user might want to preview the content before downloading it.

If the site marks the content as a file to download (Content-Disposition: attachment), show the file in the browser, but provide a visible command to save it to the centrally defined downloads folder.

Goals

  • Fit in with the overall goals of download user experience improvements.
  • If possible, show files with Content-Disposition: attachment as inline content.
  • For files with Content-Disposition: attachment, make sure that downloading the file is the next logical step (for example, show an information bar or a popup notification).
  • For some file types, like multimedia, it might make sense to show a download command even if there is no Content-Disposition: attachment header.
  • When downloading, use the file name suggested by the website, if any.

Status

Work on this feature has not started. There is no detailed feature page or reference bug number.

Miscellaneous

  • Replace "Save" with "Download" in the menus.
  • Preview of link type (to a normal page, to a file to download) using the mouse cursor image.
    • Might conflict with the need of avoiding background requests which might break web site statistics or functionality.

References

Main design source

The blog post "Improving download behaviors in web browsers" by Alexander Limi is the main source for the features and designs described in this page.

In the article, most of the goals and items presented in this page are examined in greater detail. This page has been further integrated and updated with additional considerations.

Other lists of possible improvements

This page does not list all the download experience improvements that have been suggested. There are a few wiki pages where more suggestions can be found:

Historical documents

There are several sources and documents related to previous versions of the Download Manager, that can be of historical interest: