Browser throbbers are broken. These spinning, swirling, pulsing
artifacts were a great way of indicating state back when a web page
wasn't loaded until it was loaded, and once it was loaded it didn't
need to load any more.
But the Web 2.0 blah blah has crept up on us, and I suddenly find
myself waiting for pages to load with no indication of state. I
interact with pages, wait for a response, but find myself without any
idea of whether the connection is actually working, or how long it
might take to finish the transaction. Okay, so www.gmail.com has it's
"Loading..." jigger and www.newshutch.com has it's own contextual
throbber. But these are local pieces of code that are invoked when
users click on something: they still appear even if there's no
connection with the server and nothings is actually happening. And
they provide no indication of progress.
What's needed? Well, I'd like to know the progress of the transation
(a need already served by browsers, it just doesn't work for AJAX),
and I'd like to know whether the server connection is alive (something
browsers don't do now, and pages might work with many different
servers at the same time, so this isn't exactly trivial).
These are not site-specific needs; this is what's required for the
next generation browser (Firefox? Flock?). I don't want to have to
learn each site's design for tracking state and progress - this should
be something that works at the browser level.