Whether it’s a new wireless network detected, a new Tweet or Facebook update that’s tagged you, or a new post in a blog you’ve subscribed to – there’s stuff going on all the time. The problem is you spend all of your time trying to find out about it.
Snarl breaks this down into a simple statement:
When «stuff happens»…
In Snarl terms, something happening is known as an event. So, when an application registers with Snarl (so it’s authorised to create notifications), it also registers one or more events which it then uses as a basis for creating notifications. Let’s take a hypothetical IM client as an example, which might register the following events:
- Contact signs in
- Contact signs out
- IM received
- Contact added you
When an event is triggered, you can be notified using an On-Screen Display (usually referred to simply as a Display) and/or one or more Redirects.
Displays are the most obvious (and therefore most common) way to be notified. Snarl displays the notification content on-screen, typically in a small rectangular-shaped bubble – although many other variations are possible – and will play a sound effect if you’ve told it to. The bubble will disappear immediately if it’s clicked on, or after a short amount of time if not.
Who doesn’t have an API these days? Snarl’s is highly extensible, so applications can include extra functionality along with the notification which certain styles will recognise. This includes, but is certainly not limited to: percentage values (which are typically displayed as a meter), a pre-formatted date or time value, additional information about a music track, and so on.
Applications can also include a selection of options to pick from. These are then displayed in a pop-up menu which opens when the user clicks on the appropriate gadget, as follows:
While seeing a notification on-screen is important, having the ability to receive the notification when you’re not at your computer can be invaluable. This is where redirects come in. As the name suggests, a redirect takes the notification content and sends it to an external destination. This could be a phone (as a text message), smart phone (as an email or other form of message such as an IM) or literally any other device. For example, the notification could be:
- Spoken through your computer’s speakers
- Sent as an email
- Passed to an external push notification service
- Forwarded as a tweet
- Posted to facebook
- Routed to an external Braille device
- Logged as a Windows Event
- Displayed on an external visual device such as a scrolling LED banner