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Progress Bars

hyperorbiter (876833) writes | about a year and a half ago

6

hyperorbiter (876833) writes "How come after 25 years in the tech industry someone hasn't worked out how to make accurate progress bars? This migration I'm doing has sat on "less than a minute" for over 30 minutes . . . I'm not an engineer, but is it that hard?"

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Yes, it is (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42876337)

I'm not an engineer, but is it that hard?

Yes. When a single progress bar is attempting to represent a large array of entirely dissimilar tasks, some of which cannot have their respective ETAs predicted to any degree of accuracy ahead of time, it IS that hard. Frankly, you don't even need to be an engineer to figure THAT out, which makes me worry that this entire response will fall on deaf ears, but hey, the work day's over and I'm bored.

The answer is, of course, to not put time indicators on such progress bars (time indicators being a horribly, horribly misguided attempt to make progress bars seem happier and more user friendly and... I don't know, cuddlier and shinier?) so that you care less about the exact time.

Re:Yes, it is (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about a year and a half ago | (#42877105)

Most cases all the user wants from a progress bar is an indication that progress is being made. The trick is to make sure that it really does indicate progress and isn't something like an hourglass cursor that just runs on a timer independent of work happening in the background - e.g. if the network is hung the progress indicator better hang too.

In real life happens too (1)

gmuslera (3436) | about a year and a half ago | (#42877637)

You have to walk several blocks, you estimate that at the speed you are going you will reach your destination in 10 minutes, and at the last street (the remaining 5% of your trip) a car runs over you. Yes, it could be stuck forever even if was just a minute remaining.

Re:In real life happens too (1)

drcheap (1897540) | about a year and a half ago | (#42877959)

You have to walk several blocks, you estimate that at the speed you are going you will reach your destination in 10 minutes, and at the last street (the remaining 5% of your trip) a car runs over you. Yes, it could be stuck forever even if was just a minute remaining.

In that case, the progress bar should indicate an ever increasing (approaching infinity) estimated time remaining. If it stays at "1 minute" then it's broken. The ETA calculation should be performed regularly, regardless of when or how much actual progress has been made since the last update.

When I make a progress bar, I have it tell as much truth as possible based on the information available at the time.

The problem with many developers (esp. big name software companies like those that make operating systems) is that they are more concerned about image than utility, and they tend to start lying to the user by embellishing the "progress" that is being made. A lot of that mentality comes from people who get excited when they read crap like this [chrisharrison.net] .

Don't over think it, and don't blatantly lie to the user.

Re:In real life happens too (1)

sjames (1099) | about a year and a half ago | (#42880453)

Going with the walk again, you get within 3 steps (about 1.5 seconds) of your goal and a crazy homeless guy blocks your way. You know that at any moment he will pass out and you will complete the task within 1.5 seconds, but you don't know exactly when he might pass out.

So what's your call? How should the progress bar report? Should it hang at 1.5 seconds, or should it make it's way to 52 hours? If the latter, note that people will complain when the guy passes out and it drops to zeor in 1.5 seconds.

The fact is, you really just don't know how long it will take. You only know how long it usually takes.

Eh.... (1)

mhsobhani (2688177) | about a year and a half ago | (#42878287)

Yes.
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