Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Software

A Rant Against Splash Screens 477

Posted by Soulskill
from the useless-colorful-rectangles dept.
An anonymous reader writes "This controversial post by Adobe's Kas Thomas asks if splash screens are just a sign of program bloat and callous disregard for users. It suggests that big programs should launch instantly (or appear to), perhaps by running against an instance in the cloud while the local instance finishes loading. Users of cell phones and tablets are accustomed to apps being instantly available. This is the new standard for performance, the author argues. Nothing short of it will do, any more."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

A Rant Against Splash Screens

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 20, 2012 @03:13PM (#39101837)

    Adobe complaining about bloat?

    • by homey of my owney (975234) on Monday February 20, 2012 @03:16PM (#39101873)
      More specifically, doesn't every Abode program have a splash screen and don't they take a loooong time to load?
      • by localman57 (1340533) on Monday February 20, 2012 @03:25PM (#39102015)
        Yeah. But obviously, having some stuff running "In the Cloud" is the answer. Crap. It reminds me of 1999 all over again, with the word "Cloud" replacing the word "Internet" in all sort of stupid places:

        1999: Five years ago, this would have been totally unworkable. But now we can use The Internet !
        2001: Why the fuck did we think that was gonna work?


        2012: Five years ago, this would have been totally unworkable. But now we can use The Cloud !
        2014: ...
        • by Anonymous Coward

          2014: ...

          Profit?

        • See also "time-sharing", "client-server" and "thin clients". Much of the evolution of computers has been a power struggle between centralization by technology producers and decentralization by users. "The cloud" is just more of the same.
          • by DrVomact (726065) on Monday February 20, 2012 @04:54PM (#39103145) Journal

            See also "time-sharing", "client-server" and "thin clients". Much of the evolution of computers has been a power struggle between centralization by technology producers and decentralization by users. "The cloud" is just more of the same.

            But which is it? Are we centralizing or decentralizing right now? I tend to lose track. As far as I know, the current "cloud" talk mostly means "storage of your data on our servers". I've seen it used this way a lot in the "smart phone" context. I'm guessing that because we don't know where the servers are, we're supposed to think this is a form of decentralization. As if vagueness were the same as decentralization! We send our data off into the great unknown, and...well...that's a decentralized as it gets, right?

            Not really, of course; it's jargon that is intended to get people to think that they're storing their data on neutral, trustworthy servers. If the instructions actually said "back up your personal data to the Google (or Apple) server", then we might ask if we can really trust Gapple with that data . But if we keep our stuff in a cloud...well, who asks about the integrity of clouds?

            The other way I've heard "cloud" used is as a form of wishful thinking that features programs executing on unspecified servers, along with our data. Of course, if the wish comes true, it will be Gapple servers that run the programs and keep the data, but we won't be troubled with that level of detail. (For all I know, this sense of "cloud computing" has already been implemented, and everybody is doing it—and I'm just so totally out of it that I haven't noticed.)

            For what it's worth, I saw fluffy things labeled "The Cloud" on gee-whiz marketing slides for a super-computing company I used to work for back in 1998. Nobody knew what it was, of course (yes, I asked, bad move if you cared whether Marketing liked you). I'd say it was—and is—a marketing meme trying to push its way into reality.

        • by Asic Eng (193332) on Monday February 20, 2012 @04:23PM (#39102685)

          IIRC KDE3 had a style guide requesting that splash screens would be all inside the application window. I always thought that was a brilliant idea. Whether an app can be made to load instantaneously might depend on computing power (although I agree with him, that this shouldn't be an issue for modern computers, anymore) but the really annoying thing about Splash screens is that they sit there blocking access to your desktop, just to tell you "look I'm loading". There is certainly never a need for that.

          Other than that, I think there are many good usability ideas in smartphone/tablet GUIs which ought to be brought to the desktop. Not the stupid stuff like making a desktop UI look like it was intended to be used with a touchscreen, but doing away with all the superfluous confirmation dialogs. An application should not ask you whether "you really want to quit" you already told it that - instead it should make sure that when you quit nothing bad happens. If you were working on a document but didn't save that yet - then just keep the working copy when the program is closed. Don't overwrite what's in the saved copy and don't throw it away - just restore it when the application is opened again, and suddenly quitting word processor is no longer dangerous. When quitting a music or video player it should remember what you were playing and come back to that when the application is started again. A video player should keep the position basically for every movie it has been playing, so if you come back to it later you can continue to watch from the same position, even if you have watched something else in between.

          Remove the danger rather than asking the user twice when doing something dangerous.

          • by marsu_k (701360) on Monday February 20, 2012 @05:11PM (#39103397)

            IIRC KDE3 had a style guide requesting that splash screens would be all inside the application window. I always thought that was a brilliant idea.

            While that indeed is a good idea, I've also found that within KDE (this was certainly true with latter versions of KDE 3, but now with KDE 4.8 there's not much of a difference either, on contemporary hardware) that most, if not all, applications launch themselves pretty much instantly once the desktop has loaded itself. People keep complaining about the "bloat" in KDE, but the system is very modular; and while kdelibs is undoubtedly big, once it is in memory, it is shared by so many programs that the amount of loading needed for a single application is quite insignificant. The problem is, once you start to use programs that require other frameworks (GTK and such), initial load times are much worse; and with Windows, the situation is even worse.

            • by marsu_k (701360) on Monday February 20, 2012 @05:36PM (#39103733)
              Oh, and before someone inevitably starts to flame me for dissing Windows, that was certainly not my intention; my point is, in any given application of even moderate complexity, there are some (usually trivial, but still) tasks that have to be done. So one has to either to reinvent the wheel (always a bad idea), or rely on the environment or external libraries to take care of them, which the various Windows APIs do, up to a point - but there are some tasks for which external libraries are needed. And there are many OSS libs for such tasks, some with enough permissive licenses to be used with closed source software as well. But still, apart from the core libraries, Windows binaries tend to be statically linked. As such, they will take more time to load themselves, instead of having only to use a shared library (which might already be in memory - hell, even utilized at the moment by a different program). I do realize this is a double-edged sword when it comes to Linux, not more than once I've had to hunt for a version x.y of libfoo when trying a proprietary program. But when it comes to startup times, when using only programs designed to run on a given DE, splash screens are pretty much a non-issue.
              • by miknix (1047580) on Monday February 20, 2012 @06:31PM (#39104353) Homepage

                The problem is, once you start to use programs that require other frameworks (GTK and such), initial load times are much worse; and with Windows, the situation is even worse.

                People have to agree with that no matter what. If an application executable is linked to a dynamic library that is not yet mapped into memory, the OS then first needs to map it. This can take time if the library depends on other libraries which are not mapped yet (often the case of GUI frameworks). In the case of GNU/Linux, most of GUI applications are linked to either libQt* or libgtk. If you (the reader) are running Gnome and you execute a application linked with KDE, you will certainly notice that it takes longer to execute. Nonetheless, the opensource nature of the GNU/Linux ecosystem makes it easy (and a standard practice) to reuse code and for that reason QT and GTK are linked with a common base of shared libraries like libX11, libz and libpng, which is a good thing.
                It was long the time I last programmed in Windows so correct me if I'm wrong but I don't think that the situation is worse in Windows because it also provides a base of system libraries where most of proprietary applications are linked against (DirectSound, GDI32, etc..) . Now, *it could* be worse in the case of proprietary (non-Microsoft) applications because they tend to depend on shared libraries which are also built by the same vendor to reuse some code between their multiple products or just to abstract the underlying "low level" API. Obviously those libraries are not reused by other vendors.

                Now back to topic. When I fire up an application, I expect it to load instantaneously. If it does not, then I look at the laptop's HDD LED light to check for HDD activity (the HDD is always the bottleneck here). I don't need a splash screen because I know (through the blinking HDD LED) that the application is running and I wait for it. However this is my case, which is an exception because I know about OSes and Computers. Most (regular) users run the application and if they don't see any feedback in the screen, they run it again and again until it works; completely ignoring subtle feedback tips from the mouse icon or even the laptop LED indicators. In those cases, I strongly believe a splashscreen is obligatory.

                • by b4dc0d3r (1268512)

                  Let's not forget the shell. If you drag and drop huge numbers of files, Windows allows the program to do this:

                  For each file
                  Get the filename
                  Do some processing

                  For simple operations, this is fine. For processing that takes a while, the entire shell is locked up waiting for the program to release the HDROP. Far better to ask programs to just get the filenames and process from the list. But shouldn't the shell remain responsive?

                  And virus scanners, when something like FireFox has

              • by DMFNR (1986182) on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @12:02AM (#39106739)
                Part of the solution to this problem would be for operating systems to be smarter about caching entire programs in memory. The Linux way of doing things is very efficient, but it works because of the Free Software ecosystem where there is usually a standard library for a given task. This makes it very easy to cache things in memory and make for very small binaries for the actual programs. Even on GNOME, after you load one KDE program, the next one you open will probably boot very vast because all of the libraries are already there in memory. On Windows, everyone has their own proprietary libraries, and even if two programs are using the same shared library, the chances of them both using the same version are slim. The average computer has more RAM than most users will ever need, and modern operating systems already do a ton of caching, but the need to be smart about it and applications need to be able to influence and interact with it. Back in day, if you had an IDE running and a browser open with documentation and all of a sudden your boss came over and said he needed some report on his desk by the end of the day, you'd need to close a few programs before opening Word because otherwise you'd start hitting the swap and everything would run slow as hell. So users got in to the habit of closing programs when they were done with them, which isn't really necessary these days. Some people have figured this out, and leave their frequently used programs open, and they never have to deal with loading times and splash screens. For those who haven't the operating system should do this for them. Say Windows determines Photoshop is a frequently used program, after it's loaded for the first time, if the user closes it, the entire program should stay resident in memory unless that space is needed by something else. So if Photoshop is loaded again, it should be able to know if it's already in memory, and skip all of the splash screen garbage and just get down to business. It should be able to communicate with Windows, and let it know if there are images that are edited frequently so it can store those in memory too. This is similar to the way things are done today with speed loaders and programs running in the system tray, but it could be a lot smarter and more efficient in the way things are done.

                My biggest pet peeve in this area is programs that show splash screen for absolutely no reason, they just set a timer and you get an irritating reminder of what the software is called every time you load it. Everyone knows what the program they are running is called, and they probably know what company made it too. Some of them show developer credits or something like that, an nobody gives a damn, they probably never get read even though the user is forced to stare at them every time the program starts. I can just see a PHB suggesting it, "all of the other big programs have one, it will make our software look much more professional".
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by evJeremy (1721378)

            Other than that, I think there are many good usability ideas in smartphone/tablet GUIs which ought to be brought to the desktop. Not the stupid stuff like making a desktop UI look like it was intended to be used with a touchscreen, but doing away with all the superfluous confirmation dialogs. An application should not ask you whether "you really want to quit" you already told it that - instead it should make sure that when you quit nothing bad happens. If you were working on a document but didn't save that yet - then just keep the working copy when the program is closed.

            Blender 3D has been doing this for years and the complaints about a missing quit dialog never seem to stop.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 20, 2012 @05:22PM (#39103559)

          Wait a minute. I'm a manager, and I've been reading a lot of case studies and watching a lot of webcasts about The Cloud. Based on all of this glorious marketing literature, I, as a manager, have absolutely no reason to doubt the safety of any data put in The Cloud.

          The case studies all use words like "secure", "MD5", "RSS feeds" and "encryption" to describe the security of The Cloud. I don't know about you, but that sounds damn secure to me! Some Clouds even use SSL and HTTP. That's rock solid in my book.

          And don't forget that you have to use Web Services to access The Cloud. Nothing is more secure than SOA and Web Services, with the exception of perhaps SaaS. But I think that Cloud Services 2.0 will combine the tiers into an MVC-compliant stack that uses SaaS to increase the security and partitioning of the data.

          My main concern isn't with the security of The Cloud, but rather with getting my Indian team to learn all about it so we can deploy some first-generation The Cloud applications and Web Services to provide the ultimate platform upon which we can layer our business intelligence and reporting, because there are still a few verticals that we need to leverage before we can move to The Cloud 2.0.

        • by phantomfive (622387) on Monday February 20, 2012 @06:53PM (#39104593) Journal
          Best ad I've seen lately is from Western Digital:

          The Western Digital Personal Cloud! Have your own backup of data in the cloud in your own home! Maintain control of your data.

          I was going to try to explain why it's funny, but if you don't get it, you never will.
      • by kelemvor4 (1980226) on Monday February 20, 2012 @03:30PM (#39102091)

        More specifically, doesn't every Abode program have a splash screen and don't they take a loooong time to load?

        Photoshop CS5 does both! I've got a very beefy system, and I still sit at the Photoshop splash screen (after a fresh reboot) for 11 seconds waiting for it to load. Not that it really bothers me, but your point is valid.

        • by rev0lt (1950662)
          Do you have a SSD disk? Photoshop almost looks like a regular application when opening... And lightroom is actually usable.
      • by flyingsquid (813711) on Monday February 20, 2012 @04:02PM (#39102473)
        What annoys me about Adobe's splash screens isn't that they exist, but that they are so hideously ugly. Right now, Adobe welcomes me to its programs with this monstrous, abstract geometric shape. I know I'm running Photoshop if the geometric shape is blue. If I'm in illustrator, then the shape is colored orange.

        But not so long ago, Adobe Illustrator would fire up and you'd get this picture of Botticelli's Venus gracing your screen. A piece of fine art. It provoked a lot of positive reactions- it was literally a familiar face that you saw every time you fired up the application. A sort of welcome. A reminder that even if you're doing something as boring as fixing up a bivariate plot, you're using some of the more artistically-inclined neurons in your head. You associated what you were doing with, well, art. And when you saw that face in your computer screen, your brain recognized it and started getting itself in its "lets-go-be-artistic" mode. Photoshop would have a picture of an eye and a camera lens- reminding you that you were manipulating pixels the same way that photographers used to manipulate film. The new splash screens look like something you'd see in a powerpoint presentation at a large corporation... they feel, in a word, soulless. They don't make you feel like an artist, they make you feel like a corporate drone.

        As for the article's contention that splash screens are inherently bad... I disagree with that. They're sort of like the cover art for albums. Back in the day, music came on spinning discs, and people would put artwork on the sleeves that the disks came in. And you'd associate the artwork with that disk in your head, so that sometimes all you'd have to do is look at the art and it would evoke all the emotions of the music and the lyrics of the whole album. There were also these things called "books" that were made out of dead trees, and we were never supposed to judge books by what was on the cover, but a good book cover on a good book... it was like seeing the face of an old friend. A good splash screen can do the same. I can't help but look at Botticelli's Venus and think warmly about hours spent tweaking teensy little handles on points with Illustrator.

        If there are any Adobe people out there, I really, really wish you'd consider bringing back Venus and the eye-and-lens motif.

        • by JoeMerchant (803320) on Monday February 20, 2012 @04:17PM (#39102611)

          Watch the movie "Helvetica" regarding design swings from baroque to simplistic and back. The pendulum seems to have a period of about 15-25 years.

        • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Monday February 20, 2012 @04:26PM (#39102709) Homepage Journal

          Unlike you, I'm offended by the existence of splash screens. I don't give a rat's ass which splash screen, whether it's my BIOS when I boot, the operating system when it takes control of the hardware, or the applications after I've finally logged in.

          We (humanity) built computers so that we could do lightning-fast calculations, and do impossible chores in seconds or minutes, instead of lifetimes. The fun and everything just followed.

          All those damned splash screens are anathema to the concept of computing.

          I already KNOW that my BIOS was written by (ASUS, Phoenix, fill in your brand here), I do NOT need three, ten, or thirty second splash screens to remind me.
          Ditto with my nVidia card.
          Ditto with the boot loader.
          Ditto again with the operating system

          And, that goes double (or more) for any application I might want to run. Adobe, Oracle, whoever - I KNOW where I got the software already. All I want it to do, is just what I want it to do. I most certainly DO NOT want it to waste precious seconds of my lifetime reminding me that Adobe or Oracle are wasting my time!

          All I want from a computer is "instant on" and "instant responsiveness". I've invested a fair amount of money in good hardware, fast CPU and video, and plenty of memory. I want it to FLY, not to display inane splash screens!

          • by Imagix (695350) on Monday February 20, 2012 @05:38PM (#39103747)
            You do realize that the splash screen is showing you something useful, namely that the computer has heard and understood your request. Even Adobe's. It is better that the program throws up a splash screen and that rapidly changing status bar, instead of doing _nothing_ until the application springs forth fully formed. And in the meantime, you've launched three more copies, because the computer didn't acknowledge your first attempt. Also provides diagnostic information as to progress too (even if the splash screen only flashes by...)
            • by russellh (547685)

              Yeah. But here I am, reclining on my silk pillows, drinking a fine Tokay, with exotic animals lounging about and servants fanning me with feather palms. I clap my hands for Photoshop and what do I get? A fucking splash screen. I should have the developers flayed for such insolence.

          • by Fnord666 (889225) on Monday February 20, 2012 @06:05PM (#39104063) Journal

            Unlike you, I'm offended by the existence of splash screens. I don't give a rat's ass which splash screen, whether it's my BIOS when I boot, the operating system when it takes control of the hardware, or the applications after I've finally logged in.

            I'm just the opposite. I dislike programs that take a while to start up, but don't provide me with any feedback at all. I have no idea if the damn program even launched, and if so, how long it will be before I can do something useful. I would rather see a splash screen of some sort with a progress bar or some other form of visible feedback. To each his own I guess and the solution is simple. Allow a preference setting as to whether a splash screen should be shown at launch or not. Problem solved.

    • by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmh@NoSpAM.gmail.com> on Monday February 20, 2012 @03:31PM (#39102117) Journal

      Forget that, what crazy-ass world does this guy live in where your Internet connection is faster than local disk access!?!?

      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 20, 2012 @03:52PM (#39102365)

        The guy works at Adobe. For all we know, his desktop interface IS entirely flash, and Internet access IS faster than his local disk.

        • by rev0lt (1950662)
          So, his copy of Photoshop will complain if you add to Hosts "127.0.0.1 activate.adobe.com"?
  • by Noughmad (1044096) <miha.cancula@gmail.com> on Monday February 20, 2012 @03:13PM (#39101839) Homepage

    Kettle, meet blackhole.

  • I'm an iPad user (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Richard_at_work (517087) <richardprice.gmail@com> on Monday February 20, 2012 @03:13PM (#39101841)

    And most of the apps I use on it have splash screens...

    • Re:I'm an iPad user (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Necroman (61604) on Monday February 20, 2012 @03:23PM (#39101983)

      initial load time of most apps takes a while in the iPhone / iPad world. If its a good programmer, they will be loading content during that splashscreen. For the apps that look like they load right away, it may be a lie. A lot of devs will take a screenshot of the app when it was closed last, then when it opens again it shows that screenshot until the app fully loads.

      • Re:I'm an iPad user (Score:5, Interesting)

        by BasilBrush (643681) on Monday February 20, 2012 @03:52PM (#39102385)

        Not only do a lot of devs do that, that's what you're supposed to do, it's in the HIG (or perhaps somewhere else in Apple's dev docs).

        And I've seen it done on other mobile platforms too.

        A "lie" that the UI is starting to work earlier than it really does is better than a splash screen, and the article makes that point.

        • Re:I'm an iPad user (Score:4, Informative)

          by anyaristow (1448609) on Monday February 20, 2012 @05:15PM (#39103457)

          No, they aren't supposed to take a snapshot as it appeared last time the app quit. They're supposed to include with the app a snapshot of the parts of the interface that won't fool the user into thinking there are working controls, and display it when the app first launches. Since apps don't really exit unless they crash, appearing as they did last is a non-issue, since that's the way they load.

          My app loads with a captured and photoshopped screenshot showing the toolbar with no buttons and nothing in the user data area, and when the thing finishes loading it displays its real interface, and then loads and displays the user's data. This is how it's supposed to be done, according to Apple. Staged loading.

        • by chrismcb (983081)

          A "lie" that the UI is starting to work earlier than it really does is better than a splash screen, and the article makes that point.

          Actually it is worse, WAY worse.
          Which is better? Show the user a screen that basically says "hang on we are loading, we'll let you know when we are ready and you can start working" Or "Here is your screen start working.... psych you actually can't do anything, and you won't know when you can do! hahahaha"
          What Apple suggest is your splash screen has what is essentially a picture of an empty frame, and then you fill the content in as you download it. I personally think a splash screen is still better.

          • Actually it is worse, WAY worse.

            No it's not. This stuff isn't even in question. I've already written some of it up here, so I won't repeat it, just link you to it.
            http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=2682303&cid=39105601 [slashdot.org]

            Yes, I'm talking about the skeleton launch screen that looks like the start of the app itself being rendered. Just as Apple advise. Not a screen shot of the exact screen as it was when the app last quit.

    • by Pharmboy (216950) on Monday February 20, 2012 @03:34PM (#39102141) Journal

      Remember when most minor websites had splash screens? Usually flash animation. Was particularly true for gaming clans and other small sites. Splash screens are so 2002.....

      I don't mind a splash while it loads drivers, etc. for a few seconds, like Photoshop does, but a splash that stays there until you click to start using the program, well that is just excessive. I already bought the damn program, you don't need to keep advertising it to me, and I already KNOW what the name of the program is, I just started it....

    • by 19thNervousBreakdown (768619) <davec-slashdot@l ... t ['per' in gap]> on Monday February 20, 2012 @03:37PM (#39102177) Homepage

      Splash screens are a nearly-mandatory part of any iOS app. The thing is, you're supposed to supply a bitmap of the unchanging parts of the screen to display while the actual app is loading. I'm annoyed every time I open iBooks or Mint. It makes no sense, it's just absolutely useless. Since it's a static picture it adds no more information than a splash screen would, so it's not even like it gives you something to process while you're waiting for the app to become responsive--the only purpose is to fool people into thinking it's fast, but they'll only be fooled until they're familiar enough with the initial static image that they've already planned their next move. The first time they try to "buffer" that next move, they'll realize just how worthless the image is.

      Show me something worthwhile, like a progress bar, so I can estimate how long I have to wait. Or, better yet, don't load every damn thing when you start up. Load up the UI, whose libraries are typically loaded into the OS already, and then spawn a low-priority thread to do all that other loading in the background.

      It's really stupid that we're locked into splash screens now. Because lazy-loading wasn't added at the very beginning of a project, when it would be easy, it's now practically impossible to switch over to it due to all the subtle timing issues that are essentially hard-coded into the apps. If lazy-loading had been the default, and it wasn't fast enough at any point, the background cache method would be easy to implement. Oh well, just makes it easier for my own projects to stand out.

      • by perpenso (1613749) on Monday February 20, 2012 @03:53PM (#39102399)
        I agree that putting up a full screen graphic that looks like your loaded app can just be a gimmick cell phone manufacturers prefer to give the *illusion* of performance. There is no harm in showing a splash screen rather than the fake user interface. The splash screen serves your interests, the fake user interface serves the cell phone manufacturer's interests. Serving your interests rather than the manufacturer's does not harm the user, **unless** you do something like introduce a delay to force the user to see your splash. And as you say apps should delay loading of resources to minimize their startup time.

        In a calculator app [perpenso.com] (RPN scientific statistics business hex) that I've developed the screenshot that I use was converted to gray scale and dimmed to suggest the buttons are not enabled. My splash is just a product name and copyright notice and I put that in the standard numeric display. The user experience is an instant but disabled user interface with a copyright notice, the notice is replaced with numerics as soon as the interface is enabled. There is no artificial delay. Splashes can be done is a reasonable and honest (UI has a disabled visual appearance) manner.
    • by Jesus_666 (702802)
      That's because you use an iPad. Kas Thomas uses a smartphone that cold-boots in under a second so it's obviously Apple's hardware that's holding you back. (Actually I think his smartphone emulates his input in the cloud when it's not running.)
  • Huh? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Carewolf (581105) on Monday February 20, 2012 @03:13PM (#39101847) Homepage

    Don't you mean perhaps run against a local instance until the so-called cloud loads?

  • Notes? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by courteaudotbiz (1191083) on Monday February 20, 2012 @03:16PM (#39101877) Homepage
    Are you saying that Lotus Notes MIGHT BE "bloatware"?
  • by zombie_monkey (1036404) on Monday February 20, 2012 @03:16PM (#39101881)
    It's not a new trend. They have always been annoying.
    • by Noughmad (1044096) <miha.cancula@gmail.com> on Monday February 20, 2012 @03:23PM (#39101981) Homepage

      They are good for really long processes (OS or window-system startup, game loading), because they give confirmation that something is really happening. However, they have to have progress bars or at least something (I like KDE's system with icons) by which you can tell how far it is.

      However, I have noticed a recent trend towards splash screens with an endless loop and no connection to what's actualy happening. Window 7 has such a screen, so does Ubuntu. This is something I'm very annoyed by, because I always think it's complete before it actually is.

  • It really bugs me when a webpage take forever to load because it's waiting on ad servers to dish up a new ad
    Why can't they write there pages to load the ads last so you can read the page while the ads load?

  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Monday February 20, 2012 @03:20PM (#39101917) Journal
    Well, I'm dumbfounded. What is this man's capacity over at Adobe? One the one hand hats off to him for having the balls to come out with such a post and to end it with:

    You can e-mail the CEO of Adobe at snarayen@adobe.com (to tell him to keep me or fire me).

    But on the other hand, I wonder if he was aware of the network problems some of his proposed solutions represent. Surely, he must realize that "Run my gestures against an image in the cloud" amounts to increased network traffic. Don't even get me started on the privacy of those "gestures." Let's say you open up Photoshop to edit some 12 megapixel family pictures immediately. Are they transferred to the cloud in the process? And transferred back? Who has the network to do that faster than just loading to main memory with CPU cache? This increases what Adobe must now host as far as server farms and will, probably, raise the price of Photoshop in doing so. And, you know, it's already too expensive for me. Furthermore his post rails against "bloatware" but it's not like hosting this out on the cloud is going to make the application any less bloated. On the contrary, it can only make software more intricate, bloated, buggy, susceptible to attack, expensive, etc. Furthermore are there any users out there that are stationed on top of an internet backbone on Google's campus that could even take advantage of this additional functionality? Perhaps decades into the future this will be reality but until the infrastructure catches up to your consumers, this is a logistical headache.

    As a developer, this all sounds very much like a two year old prattling off "and then I want a hover board, and then I want a flying car, and then ..." ad infinitum while we're still concentrating on minimizing highway deaths. He's probably sitting there with the latest iPhone asking why everything doesn't run like this but I have coworkers that are complaining about the latest iOS 5 updates to their older iPhones and all the problems associated with it. Good luck with pushing that "instant on" standard to all hardware out there man, I really will be amazed if you pull it off.

    • by Skapare (16644)

      What actually is happening between when the splash screen comes up, and when the user can start to use the application? Since there is no user input, yet, it would have to be basically the same thing happening each time it starts. So why not just save the memory image of all that the first time, and just map it in every time after that? Of course that means thinking about your programming environment in a different way, and very likely doing some major modifications of that, so that things like building

    • by Rogerborg (306625)
      I doubt he's even aware that the "cloud" involves a network. He probably just uses it as shorthand for "smelly neckbeard magic." The prick clearly thinks that marketing is the hard part of the project.
  • by xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) on Monday February 20, 2012 @03:20PM (#39101919)

    Four things:
    1) Launching an app from the cloud isn't going to be faster. Hell, many of those apps already use a modal web dialog that essentially acts as a splash screen while all the Javascript bloat sent down to the client gets its defecations together.

    2) Angry Birds has some of the worst launch time that I've ever seen - and it's a top tablet and phone app.

    3) Adobe, you want disregard for users? Try your stupid EULA clickthrough every time a new version of your PDF reader comes out.

    4) Try a usability test in an app without a splash screen some time. What you get is poor end users clicking (launching) the app multiple times because it looks like "nothing's happening". The splash screen is an "ack" at the usability level - "yep, we're launching the app!" As long as it's not modal and the wait isn't long (e.g., the user can go finish surfing on his browser during the 10-15 seconds the apps loads) then there's usually no problem.

    • by hjf (703092)

      OTOH, download TrendNet's own app for their network cameras and let me know how you like their splash screen.

    • by Animats (122034)

      3) Adobe, you want disregard for users? Try your stupid EULA clickthrough every time a new version of your PDF reader comes out.

      It's worse than that. I often use machines at TechShop which run off a frozen deployed image of all the software. The first use of Adobe Reader each day on each machine produces that message. Then Firefox complains that it wants to update itself. Then that Java runtime starter complains. Windows 7 itself at least comprehends that it's running from a frozen image and doesn't try to update itself.

  • by Kenja (541830) on Monday February 20, 2012 @03:20PM (#39101933)
    Lots of games for example require setup time between levels to avoid chewing up excess drive and memory space. Likewise with productivity apps that need to load add-ons, lib's and the like. Angry Birds on the other hand just downloads new adds, so the splash screen could go away without effecting performance.
  • by djdanlib (732853) on Monday February 20, 2012 @03:21PM (#39101941) Homepage

    Perhaps it's just because "cloud" is the still-trendy buzzword. Hand-wavy talk of offloading into the "cloud" that solves all performance and scaling issues goes a long way with execs. You can pay someone else to deal with your poor architecture... excuse me, "provision appropriate capacity in the cloud" as they say... and push the real issues into obscurity.

    Perhaps it's because app vendors can then use the user's Internet connection as a scapegoat for poor application performance. Yeah. Must be your cable, man. You know how it gets sometimes.

    But whatever it is, it's a strange idea and VERY ironic that Adobe is pushing it.

    What happens when the local app is done loading, 15 seconds later? Does it freeze up while the user is typing, while it transfers the data, and then hitch like crazy for a few seconds? Sounds like a terrible experience.

    How is this much different from showing a screenshot of the program until it's able to be interactive locally?

  • I think I would prefer office to boot with a splash screen rather than suck up memory when I am not using it.

    I especially hate it, when I choose restart and the OS has open all these stupid programs. When I rarely hit restart, I was a fresh system.

  • by Roger Wilcox (776904) on Monday February 20, 2012 @03:21PM (#39101945)
    The author of this article is an asshole who doesn't understand how computers work. To paraphrase him: "I want it, and I want it now. Period. PERIOD." Sometimes even with computer technology as advanced as it is, applications need time to load. A splash screen says "Don't worry Mr. Computer User, this program has successfully launched and is now loading." Without the splash, you'd sit and wonder if the program was loading or not... and then probably launch it a second time before it was finished loading, further slowing the process.
    • by lennier1 (264730)

      Pretty much, but there are some programs which would be available immediately, but still have a splash screen just for the sake of having one.

    • by MrEricSir (398214)

      Without the splash, you'd sit and wonder if the program was loading or not... and then probably launch it a second time before it was finished loading

      This is a key feature of the OS X dock -- you can see the icon "bouncing" as the program loads. Unity has a similar feature where the icon's background fades in and out.

      Guess what I'm saying is this: it would be nice if the OS could take care of telling the user that a program is loading. That way the user knows what's happening and the software doesn't have

      • by QuasiSteve (2042606) on Monday February 20, 2012 @04:07PM (#39102535)

        For what it's worth, Windows developers can also do this - they can put a progress bar in the program's task bar button - since Windows 7.
        Of course that they haven't might be indicative of it being too difficult.. or that they're too unfamiliar with it.. or that they do offer their own splash screen because it's more informative than just a task bar progress bar.

      • by Fujisawa Sensei (207127) on Monday February 20, 2012 @11:50PM (#39106663) Journal

        Fucking modal windows don't have any place in an application.

        Fucking having to cancel out of a modal display to copy-paste what you wanted into it because it didn't happen to be in your clipboard.

        The modal option need to fucking die; if your shit required modal, you've fucking done it wrong.

        Developers and marketoids have abused that option for too long and they need to have their toy completely taken away.

    • and then probably launch it a second time before it was finished loading, further slowing the process.

      Or, ya know, use a lock.

  • perhaps by running against an instance in the cloud while the local instance finishes loading

    Why don't we track the killer by his IP address using Visual Basic or whatever while we're at it?

    But I agree with the main sentiment; as computers become faster devs use it as an excuse to make apps more bloated and slower thinking users won't notice. But the best apps will always run fast and light.

    Interestingly, Google Chrome attempts to at least APPEAR to start fast by loading components in the background while

  • by Art3x (973401) on Monday February 20, 2012 @03:22PM (#39101953)

    Loading . . .

    First post!

    Ah, nuts

  • I'm getting tired of display devices having splash screens. I already know the name brand of my TV and monitor. Just start displaying the signal.

  • What kind of... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) <marc.paradise@g m a i l . c om> on Monday February 20, 2012 @03:22PM (#39101963) Homepage Journal

    How about - now call me kooky - using some of the massive parallelism that desktops have been shipping with for the last half-decade? Launch background threads to do your resource loading; ensure that your main UI thread is doing as little blocking work as possible? You know, all the "tricks" that have been around for ages, but fell into disuse until mobile platforms became mainstream?

    What kind of diseased mind thinks that the answer to a slow-loading client-side app is to connect it to a cloud instance, thus introducing external dependencies and unpredictable network latency?

  • are the same size as our phone "apps" (a handful of MB) then that might mean something. Until then splash screens are just a way to indicate, yes, your program really is starting and yes you did click the right icon. A number of programs offer the option to disable splash screens, maybe making that a "requirement" would make everyone happy.

  • by gstrickler (920733) on Monday February 20, 2012 @03:23PM (#39101973)

    Splash screens were originally designed to let you know the program was launching, so you weren't sitting there wondering "is it opening or not". Now, some splash screens are unnecessarily intrusive, particularly those that require you to click (or press enter) before they disappear and allow you to use the software.

    The real problem is lack of responsiveness. The author points to that in his proposed alternatives, but he's misplaced the blame. For interactive processes, response time is more important than speed. 0.1 seconds is essentially instantaneous for most tasks, that is, the user won't notice that little delay. Games are an exception to that. 0.25 seconds starts to become noticeable, but it it's only occasionally that long, user's will barely notice. 0.5 seconds or longeer is noticeable in almost all instances. Any process that takes over 0.25 seconds should display some form of busy indicator or a progress indicator.

  • I have a TrendNET camera and an android phone. The stupid app shows a silly splash screen for 3 seconds and then shows you a list of available cameras, which you have to click, then click the MENU button, and finally, VIEW.

    It's awful. The worst part is the splash screen that does absolutely nothing.

  • by fiordhraoi (1097731) on Monday February 20, 2012 @03:26PM (#39102025)
    The author complains about various things. He may have a point with some of them, but some are just ridiculous. For example, he mentions how it takes X amount of time to boot up his laptop, but his phone starts "instantly." I am 100% sure that his phone does not start up instantly from a reboot. Rather, his phone is simply on the vast majority of the time. The more complex the application, the longer it takes to prepare to run. I know numerous applications on both IOS and Android that deliver a splash screen while they load up. Many of these are games or similarly graphic intensive applications (comparative to other more "utility" focused apps). Or if they do not have a splash screen, they deliver no useful function while the data is loading. Ever started up google maps or something similar, and seen your position sitting there on a completely blank field for five or ten seconds? While I agree that perhaps splash screens/load times should be more streamlined as a whole, this "zero load time" environment that he purports to enjoy with phones and tablets simply does not exist.
  • Man I've been steaming about the new splash screen on Quicken. It used to be switchable, now with 2011 it's not. And it sits there for minutes, locked on top and not letting you do anything else. I use Quicken for one reason and one reason only, to be able to pay bills directly and electronically through my register, and to be able to download transactions and reconcile accounts. Other programs offer the former or the latter, but I haven't found any that does both. Once some other software (and I don't

  • The cures are worse (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Animats (122034) on Monday February 20, 2012 @03:29PM (#39102077) Homepage

    Attempts to fix this problem usually seem to take the form of some abysmal hack to keep the program in memory when not in use. There's one of those memory hogs for OpenOffice, Microsoft Office, Photoshop, and Java. (Java's "jqs.exe" is particularly wasteful of resources. It tries to keep the whole Java environment in memory, deliberately causing page faults, even when there's been no use of Java in hours or weeks.) This is one of the reasons it seems to take gigabytes of memory to do anything today.

    Nobody thinks much about linkers any more. That's part of the problem. What's needed is something that organizes the executable file so that the stuff you need to get going loads first, using one big read operation. Linkers which once did that were once common, but are now rare.

    Then there's the DLL/shared object problem. Many programs need only a small part of some shared library, but requesting it either brings in the whole thing, or it gets loaded one page fault at a time.

    Much of the problem is just bloat. Adobe's PDF reader (which is now unnecessary, since there are good alternatives) takes far too long to load for what it does. Most people don't need the text to speech system, or "WebBuy" (electronic commerce in PDF, a feature used by nobody), yet each adds a noticeable delay to startup.

    Hooking something up to the "cloud" makes it worse. Then you get to wait for the server.

  • I don't mind (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Freddybear (1805256) on Monday February 20, 2012 @03:31PM (#39102107)

    I don't mind a splash screen on a game if it's really waiting for the program to load resources, and it goes away when the game is ready to play. I realize that games can have a lot of resources to load up before they can begin play.
    I do mind when there is a whole series of splash screens for each and every little sub-library, and they all insist on playing their little animation for me every time I load up. Especially when it's obvious that the screen is just waiting on a timer or the escape key. Even if I can dismiss them with the escape key, it's still irritating.

    On a business application, there is absolutely no excuse for a splash screen. I don't care if it takes several seconds to load up, but I don't want to ready your ad.

    • Re:I don't mind (Score:4, Informative)

      by Opportunist (166417) on Monday February 20, 2012 @03:51PM (#39102353)

      Games are a prime example of really crappy splash screens. Why?

      loading.....
      Creator's splash screen, actually, creator's intro video.
      loading...
      nVidia's splash video
      loading...
      distributor's splash video
      loading...
      with some luck, already the game

      At least most of the time you can shorten the video display time by hammering the space bar like a trained monkey, but you can't escape that loading time wasted to load the videos you might watch ONCE. If, and only if, you never played a game from that maker or distributor before.

  • by BitHive (578094) on Monday February 20, 2012 @03:33PM (#39102135) Homepage

    This is the kind of embarrassing sophomoric musing that most people would be ashamed to read let alone write. Let's cut this guy some slack, in 5 or 10 years he's going to feel really stupid.

  • by viperidaenz (2515578) on Monday February 20, 2012 @03:34PM (#39102153)
    Its often quicker to download a PDF than to wait for Adobe Reader to load.
  • Always-on-top (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Scutter (18425) on Monday February 20, 2012 @03:41PM (#39102231) Journal

    I don't mind splash screens, but I HATE HATE HATE splash screens that insist on always-on-top. Let me launch the app and then go back to what I was doing while it loads. When you force always-on-top, you're basically saying "Stop everything you're doing and look at me for 30 seconds!"

  • by mspohr (589790) on Monday February 20, 2012 @03:47PM (#39102303)

    "It suggests that big programs should launch instantly (or appear to), perhaps by..."
    Oh, I don't know... perhaps you could just splash something on the screen so the user would know that the program is starting and won't wonder WTF is happening after they tell the program to run.

  • by Eponymous Coward (6097) on Monday February 20, 2012 @04:25PM (#39102697)

    Adobe? Isn't this the company that loads reader_sl.exe to make reader load faster? Very funny.

  • by mwvdlee (775178) on Monday February 20, 2012 @04:49PM (#39103057) Homepage

    I hate Splash screens too, but they do have a purpose.

    If you accept the reality that harddisks, memory and CPU don't run at infinite speed, you have to accept the reality that large programs take some time to start.
    While it's loading, a splash screen provides visual feedback that the program IS actually loading. If you've ever accidentally opened a program a number of times because you thought it wasn't starting, you understand why this type of feedback is useful.

    The real issue is whether a splash screen is the right way to do it. Modern OS'es have notification mechanisms which could be extended to show a minimal progress indicator, why not replace splash screens with such an OS-provided notification system?

  • by LtGordon (1421725) on Monday February 20, 2012 @05:05PM (#39103325)
    Just the other day I was outside working on my car. Every time I reached for a tool, I had to sit through a brief advertisement and patent notice for the company that made it. This is getting ridiculous, I say.
  • by illumnatLA (820383) on Monday February 20, 2012 @06:41PM (#39104491) Homepage
    I don't want my software to start instantly when I get in to work... I need time to pee and go get some coffee from the kitchen. If my software starts right away, I'll be expected to be productive right away!

A failure will not appear until a unit has passed final inspection.

Working...