Abort Bars

A Suggested Improvement to Progress Bars

May 24, 2024 — When I was a programmer at Microsoft I participated in a lot of internal betas.

So I saw a lot of animated "progress" bars in software that was actually hung.

I bet you could invent a better progress bar, I thought.

But life went on and I forgot.


Yesterday my FitBit app showed an animated progress bar for hours. It turned out no progress was being made—the phone had no Internet connection.

But it made me remember my progress bar idea!

Every time someone starts a long task, measure the duration and end result. Then you have the data to render a progress bar like the one above.

The green and red areas show tasks completions and aborts.

The moving line shows elapsed time.

The color of the moving line shows the odds that a task will succeed, given the amount of time passed.

It helps your users decide: should I wait or abort?

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