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We have a large & complex web application where users currently can perform certain tasks, but they have to sit on the page and wait for them to complete. Some of these take a really long time, so we are about to add a "long running task" framework that will allow users to kick off a task, something else will process it, and they are updated later when it has completed. They don't have to sit around and wait any more.

It would be an icon & menu in a top bar. Clicking it would expand the menu to show all current things being processed, and any past ones that have completed or failed.

Right now we are struggling with what to name this feature because it needs to be obvious as to what it means, and it needs to be generic enough to contain any kind of operation that might take a while to complete.

Some examples of tasks that we will probably throw at this:

  • Ordering a single service for a user
  • Ordering a service for multiple users
  • Changing a setting/preference for multiple users
  • Importing settings for multiple users from an external source (CSV file, etc.)

Right now we have a few names in mind, none of which I'm crazy about.

  • Orders
    • The argument for this one is that anything can be an "order", even changing settings.
    • I don't think that most users will think about things in these terms like "I've placed an order to reset Bob's password"
  • Jobs
    • We don't love this one, and the name doesn't seem to have a lot of meaning behind it. I don't think people will grasp what this means all the time.
  • Long-Running Tasks
    • This name feels overly technical to me

Edit

Based on this thread and some discussiong we had, I've changed the name to "Tasks" for now. Below is a screen recording of a semi-functional mockup of the UI and how this might work.

Screen recording of the tasks UI

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    Would just the word "task" not suffice? Sure, it doesn't say how long it takes, but that's something that should be communicated while setting up the task regardless. I assume each task has a different time frame for completion here. If the fact that this can run in the background is communicated, then you directly imply it's something that takes longer than a few seconds anyway. – Wanda Jan 25 '18 at 15:15
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    I think you've found a logical solution with that new mock-up. – RobbyReindeer Jan 26 '18 at 13:52
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    Thanks @RobEarle! Do you think that the name "Tasks" is sufficient to be not confusing to the average person, and generic enough to contain anything? – Chris Barr Jan 26 '18 at 15:00
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    I love the solution you arrived at! – invot Jan 26 '18 at 15:05
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    @ChrisBarr It depends, I think, on if your users are "expert" at using the system or not. If in the case that they are "experts" then it shouldn't matter as long as system feedback is sufficient and I think it is demonstrated very well in the mockup. Possibly "Processes" might work better, as it communicates the status of the system well enough, but "Tasks" may also be sufficient depending on the users. – RobbyReindeer Jan 26 '18 at 19:58
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InDesign calls these “Background tasks” because they continue running in the background while you continue working.

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How about "Request"? The verb seems to fit the context.

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First thing that pops to mind is the "Task Manager" application on Windows. But it could be a variety of things and your choice will be mostly opinion based. Some things that jump to mind are : Operations Manager, In Progress, Task Handler, Background Tasks (as mentioned by djwesto), Operations.

The list can go on and on take your pick...

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I would actually show a short description of the task itself - that is more useful to the user since they can get a sense of the progress of the task without an extra click and menu. The menu would still have the full details, especially if more than one task can be in the queue.

mockup

download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

  • I don't think we have the room to show the text in the top-level menu like you are suggesting, and multiple tasks could be running at once, so we wouldn't know which one to show the text for. When expanded, the menu would show all tasks that are currently processing, and a list of all past tasks that have completed or failed. – Chris Barr Jan 26 '18 at 12:27
  • You could pick the one that's furthest along, FIFO, LIFO, or an average of all progress. I feel like these kinds of tasks would be "primary" tasks in their workflow and would be worth the screen space to show progress. You can take a cue from how browsers show status on multiple downloads at once. – J. Dimeo Jan 26 '18 at 13:11

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