I have a Windows desktop application that is used as the front-end for a webservice. This application has a database that could get updated from time to time, but it would also work with an old database. I want my application to do a background check on startup, whether the database needs to be updated.

If that is the case, I want to notify the user.


What are the best ways to show the user a notification for available updates on a desktop application ?

  • 1
    Rather than the technical details of how it works, maybe you can add some context about what your users do with it and maybe a mockup of how it looks so far?
    – Big_Chair
    Commented Nov 7, 2019 at 14:37
  • Is there any reason why a user might not want to update the database? If not, then auto-updating the database on startup or shutdown (if the process is quick) might be a better approach.
    – ultrafez
    Commented Nov 7, 2019 at 18:14

3 Answers 3


The scenario that you have described can be considered as an event, which is not very critical (dis-allowing the user to use the application), but requires action (update database).

Since it is not a critical event, you may have to allow the user to dismiss the alert box and access it again from somewhere.

A very common, and well-established pattern of showing a notification that requires the user's action is to notify the user by using a toast component.

Here is how MacOS does it: enter image description here


I would suggest an in-app popup information [which is not a full screen modal] Many web applications use this method. Here are 2 examples: enter image description here enter image description here


Create a new endpoint in your webservice backend which returns a version number. Whenever you launch your application, call that endpoint and compare the received version number with the one (i.e last) you have previously persisted. If the received version number is greater than the persisted one, notify the user. Once the user completed the update, persist that new version number in the application.

Edit: Another way is to provide a version number in the header of every response of every webservice request and then follow the steps aforementioned

  • 1
    This was more of a UI/frontend question. I've clarified the question to be more specific. Commented Nov 7, 2019 at 6:53

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