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AlBlue’s Blog

Macs, Modularity and More

Annoyances with GMail and Safari in tabs

Rant 2006 Mac

I must be the only person to be annoyed with this ... is anyone else annoyed that GMail keeps using JavaScript to raise the window when it finishes doing a refresh of the inbox? None of Google's other AJAX applications seem to be so problematic (Reader, Maps). It just seems that GMail thinks it is so important, whenever it updates the screen, it will steal the window focus by bringing it to the top with a focus() or raise() or whatever it is.

The problem is immediately visible if you are using GMail in a tabbed browser (such as Safari) with other pages, such as blogger. If I were to go to my Google Mail tab now, click on (say) 'Harmony-Dev', and then switch back to this tab to continue blogging whilst it was loading, I'd suddenly be interrupted mid-...

Yup, that's right. GMail will steal the focus from the tab that you're working on to shove itself in your face. There's just really no reason to ever need to do that. If the user already has GMail open, and is doing things; they're going to be there, looking at the window in any case. If they've instructed GMail to do something, and then go away into the background whilst they do something else, they don't expect GMail to suddenly stick its face up just because its proud that it's done. It's like a 2-year old going "FINISHED!" as soon as they've done something and waiting for praise.

This functionality isn't even necessary. I've used FireFox, and disabled JavaScript from being able to raise and lower windows. GMail still works fine in those circumstances, except that it doesn't get In Your Face when it (and you) are working.

Unfortunately, Safari doesn't have the ability to selectively disable commands like this, so if I'm using GMail in tabs in Safari, then GMail just gets in the way. Yes, of course I could install FireFox and be done with it ... but Safari has a much nicer UI and launches faster. (I know, I could use Camino instead...) But the point is, I shouldn't have to use a browser to invoke an anti-spam/popup-blocker to disable an unnecessary piece of functionality in GMail in the first place. It just shouldn't be there.

I've tried passing feedback by mail, I've tried putting comments into the google groups; I've even asked for my comments to be forwarded on to any Googlers who are reading this and who know people who work in GMail. Unfortunately, it's still present and that means I have to rant about it.

Am I the only one?