Animations in user interfaces considered harmful

A not quite recent trend in modern UIs most likely driven by smartphones becoming ubiqitous seems to be the hapless need to have animated transitions between little, lesser, and no information.

This could be an effect related to the long forseen but still debated climate change, which might have influenced (and more or less toasted) human brains at least since the invention of the atomic bomb.

Despite the increasing refresh rates of computer monitors to 100 Hz and more, optimizations of the switch time of the cells used for composing the pixels in modern TFT displays to less than 5 ms, the trend to UI animation neglects permanently physical laws.

Instead, it drives global warming by wasting CPU cycles for useless computation of intermediate images produced for the sole purpose to warm up consumer brains even further to increase already prevalent global warming effects (and to decrease and/or subdue intelligence of those brains, of course).

And physically it is contradictory. The images could be computed and presented immediately. Many animations pretend a process which in nature is slow due to mass inertia but really require more energy as needed for the final result.



Pinky sez: Brains not. Remember "Max Headroom: Blipverts [L1 ]".

Larry Smith: Global warming people are mostly crazy, perfectly happy to change baseline measurement techniques (the NOAA) and with outright forging of data (the UNCC) but THIS is nuts. The amount of extra heat generated by an animation in a cellphone is so ludicrously small that it cannot be measured at all by any responsible researcher, the effect would be swamped by environmental impacts like sitting next to a sunny window, task scheduling on multi-core processors, or even how sweaty the user's palm is. It is beyond silly, in a debate that has already been shown to be about the silliest thing ever argued about by "responsible" human beings since the Dark Ages debate on how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

The sad fact is, he is right, but for utterly the wrong reasons. Gratuitous animations are a waste of processor cycles, but more importantly are a waste of human attention. Trying to convince people the phone is "working" by throwing up an animated gif while it waits for a network handshake is very nearly as silly as these assertions below. It is lousy GUI design, a pointless and witless attempt to give people the illusion their miserable "app" is doing more for them than it really is. But it belongs in a user interface design forum, not promulgated as a Tcl "issue" in a transparent effort to post propaganda.

We have REAL issues with REAL data that need to be addressed. We have a huge number of loons who believe worshiping the wrong God - or even the right God the wrong way - is a peachy excuse for murdering people who have nothing to do with either religion. We have a government so sunk in lies that its' credibility, never very good, has cratered to the point where no reasonable human being could take anything it says at face value, ever. We have failed socialist experiments running amuck, spinning off dictatorships and destroying economies as well as civil rights in wholesale lots - and a hundred other REAL, and IMMEDIATE problems, all with FACTS and DATA associated with them and fully amenable to reasonable and logical discourse and solutions - assuming, of course, we can control our idiotic desires to stifle free speech and render all such discourse impossible.

This is NOT the place to debate global warming, Noah's Ark, the co-existence of humans and dinosaurs, the rightness of Shia Islam over Sunni Islam and how it relates to murdering Jews, or any other political CRAP masquerading as "news" in the media. Let us not pollute Tcl resources in this pointless, irritating manner. This page should be deleted forthwith.

ANOnim - 2016-05-27 05:31:39

Actually, animations are introduced to indicate to operator that their workstation did not freeze outright but is working on something as intended. So, calling them useless is wrong.

Larry Smith Actually, since most animations of that sort are gifs or similar, the fact that an icon is spinning really tells you nothing about the state of the application, which is why I dislike it. It is NOT telling you "not frozen, working as intended" it is, in fact, telling "trying to give you the IMPRESSION of working as intended, even if hung up somewhere outside the gif loop". A REAL spinner, assuming various states in direct reflection of internal states, IS "working as intended" - but the former is far easier than the latter, and the latter is far too prevalent.

Actually, a "spinner" widget that would assume various states from callback and update itself w/o called "update" might be a very useful tool to encourage good coding practice. In that case you know callbacks are happening and the program IS legitimately "doing something" - until it hangs up, in which case you know the program is legitimately hung and its final state a clue to why.

Gotta love the category choice. =) Brilliant.

chw - 2017-03-26

More proof in this direction (now even covering blinking cursors) can be found in