MachV/Mozilla: Mail & Newsgroups

UI Specification

Mail Notification

Last Modification:

Author: Jennifer Glick 
Creation Date: 06 Dec 2001

Status: In Progress


Account Settings
Potential Cases
System Tray Icon
New Mail Alert- Dialog
New Mail Alert - Prefs

Feature Team


 Scott Putterman, Scott MacGregor


 Gregg Landskov , Kevin Murray


 Gayatri Rimola,, Gary Chan


 Robin Foster Clark


 Jennifer Glick



Please post all comments and suggestions regarding this spec to the newsgroup, netscape.public.mozilla.mail-news.

*Note: "Check for new mail when Mail is not running" feature is not yet implemented. Mail must be running (but Quick Launch does not have to be enabled) in order for mail notification to work. 


  1. Bug 18729 - Windows integration for new mail notification
  2. Bug 97326 - Turbo and new mail notification should use the same tray icon
  3. 71105 - If there is new mail, update biff icon on the browser toolbox without having to start messenger 
  4. Bug 122626 - New Mail Notification
  5. Bug 123104 - Mail notification tooltip shows wrong count


Open Issues

  1. Turbo starts up, we don't know which profile user wants to use yet. Do we show a dialog making user pick a profile? Does it default to first profile, last used profile? Can we easily flush out profile info? 
  2. How do we handle multiple accounts in the UI? Tooltips with info for each account. 128 char max for regular tooltip. Use default account only? Last account to write into tooltip?
  3. What should be the tooltip for the tray icon? What if more than 1 account has new messages? What if char max for tooltip is surpassed? "<Username> has X new messages".
  4. Account Settings dialogs. Is checkbox with red star still valid?


Open Issues Popup Alerts

  1. Default display time. Stick with existing time (3 secs) for now and see how folks respond. Maybe increase it slightly if necessary.  3/18/02.
  2. Should the alert use the "user name" or "account name"? Account name is unique but user name is much shorter (and space is an issue). Use "User Name" for now. See if it becomes a problem. Default account name is the email address.  3/18/02.
  3. What if two or more accounts get new messages at the same time? Does one alert with multiple lines appear or do separate alerts appear one after the other? Currently, we check one account after another, so each the first account checked would trigger the alert. If one acct receives new mail first, and you don't click any accounts, bif won't go off again for the next account. Or should it be once per account? 
  4. Visual design of alert and tray icons. "Get Messages" toolbar icon or masthead icon for alert. Should tray icons be "Modern" or more generic? Stick with modern theme across all themes or per theme alert and tray icon? Marlon to decide. Width of alert can now be dynamic (yeah!). Resize as necessary to fit width of user name.  3/18/02.





  1. Provide a method of informing users they have new messages available when they are currently running the Mail application.
  2. Provide a method of informing users they have new messages available when they are currently Not running the Mail application, but are running another Mozilla application. 
  3. Provide a method of informing users they have new messages available when they are currently Not running the Mail application Or any other Mozilla application.
  4. Allow users to enable notification for some accounts and not for others.



  1. If No Netscape applications are running, Quick Launch must be running for Mail Notification to work.
  2. If Mail is not running but another Netscape application Is running (any, or only the browser?), Mail Notification will work. Quick Launch does not need to be running. Single profile user.
  3. Separate system tray icons (Windows) for Mail Notification and Quick Launch.
  4. Mail Notification when Mail is not running, is Off by default. If the user enables the feature, the are prompted for their Account password on startup. Password dialog should tell them why being prompted. If password saved with Master Password, they are prompted for MP.
  5. Don't worry about multiple profiles for now.
  6. Mail Notification will work for any account except news. IMAP, POP, AOL, WebMail.


Design Details

1. Account Settings 


Or, "Check for messages when Mail is not running (you will be asked for your mail password when you start your computer)".


b. POP



2. Potential Cases

Note: Currently, alerts do not work when user is not running Mail, but is running Quick Launch. 

a. Mail is Not Running. No Mozilla/NS App Running


b. Mail is Not Running. A Mozilla/NS App Running


c. Mail is Running


In cases a and b, the user's account password must be saved for Mail Notification to work. If the user is using Password Manager, they will be prompted for their master password.


3. Indicator Icon

The Mail Notification system tray icon is separate from the Quick Launch icon. It only appears in the tray when the feature is correctly enabled (see section 2 above) and when new messages are available. Once the user has acknowledged the new mail, the icon is removed from the system tray. 

Double clicking on the Mail Notification tray icon will launch the Mail application if it is not currently running, or give it focus if it is already running. 

The system tray icon should only be displayed if biff went off and not when the user manually requested new mail ("Get Msg" button). 


a. Quick Launch Enabled


b. Quick Launch Enabled and Mail Notification Goes Off


c. Quick Launch Not Enabled and Mail Notification Goes Off


d. Quick Launch Enabled. Unable to Connect to Mail Server


e. "Modern" Look Icons


4. New Mail Alert - Dialog

New Mail Notification feature in which a sliding alert dialog, appearing above the system tray in the lower right corner, is used to notify users that new messages have been received. It does not take focus away from the user's current task. The alert slowly slides open, pauses, and then slowly slides close. Alert only appears when the New Mail Notification system tray has gone off. See "Potential Cases" section above.

The alert is global and applies to all accounts for which biff is currently enabled. It is triggered at the same interval as the biff setting for each account. Once the alert has been triggered, it doesn't appear again until the user has acknowledged the existing mail.

Clicking the link on the alert brings the Mail window into focus with the appropriate account selected.  



Alternate Designs


5. New Mail Alert - Preferences 

Alert preference is global. It applies to all accounts for which biff is enabled. On by default.



6. Tooltips

Hovering over the New Mail Notification icon in the system tray displays the following tooltip:  "<UserName> has X new message(s)".  If more than one account has new messages, the tooltip has multiple lines, one per account.