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It occurred to me that the textual warnings we all suggested are fine
as far as they go, but miss an important point: why not _show_ the
audience how long the process is? The Macintosh interface guidelines
suggest that any reasonably long process should be accompanied by a
pop up "fuel gauge" or "bar chart" that shows the progress of the
operation. The basic principle is to display an empty bar at the start
of the operation, then fill in the bar progressively as the operation
moves along. (This need not be precise... viewers needn't know whether
the operation is 50% vs. 51.5% complete, just that it's approximately
half done.) If accompanied by a note such as "this will take 30
minutes", the user can estimate how much time remains. This is far
more informative than the Windows Hourglass cursor, which means "I've
crashed, please call my mother and administer the three-finger salute"
as often as it means "wait a tick, I'll be with you soon". On the
positive side, better programmers build this visual indicator into any
software, whatever the operating system, so let's not start a
Mac/Windows flame war please.
--Geoff Hart geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca