Java TM Look and Feel Design Guidelines: Advanced Topics > Part II: Special Topics > 8: Events and Alarms > Displaying Alarm Views   Previous Next Contents/Index/Search


Displaying Alarm Views

An alarm view is a window or pane that displays representations of alarms. For example, an alarm view might represent alarms in one of the following forms:

  • Badges on icons
  • Badges on nodes in a tree
  • Rows in a table

You can help users work with alarms more efficiently by providing different alarm views for different user tasks. Provide at least the following alarm views:

  • Monitored-entities view--A tree or pane that displays an icon and an alarm graphic for one or more monitored entities and their containers. (For more information, see Monitored-Entities View.)
  • Detailed alarm view--A table of all active and inactive alarms that match certain criteria--typically, alarms for a particular monitored entity. Each table row describes a particular alarm in detail. (For more information, see Detailed Alarm View.)

The rest of this section describes how to design alarm views, including how to use alarm graphics.

Alarm Graphics

An alarm graphic is an application graphic that indicates an alarm's existence and severity. Alarm graphics help users notice alarms and respond to them in the appropriate order.

You can use each alarm graphic as either:

  • An alarm badge (a badge on an icon)
  • An alarm symbol (an alarm graphic displayed alone)

Figure 87 shows the same alarm graphic as a badge and as a symbol.

Figure 87   Alarm Graphic as a Badge and as a Symbol


Table 21 shows a recommended set of alarm graphics and the level of severity that each graphic represents.


Severity Graphic Description


There is no response from the monitored entity (or from the device on which it resides).


An alarm condition occurred that seriously impairs service and requires immediate correction.


An alarm condition occurred, impairing service but not seriously.


An alarm condition occurred that does not currently impair service, but the condition needs to be corrected before it becomes more severe.

In alarm views, display an alarm graphic on each representation of an alarmed entity or of that entity's alarm events.

For example, display an alarm graphic:

  • On the icon for each alarmed entity
  • In each table row that describes an alarm event
  • On the icon for each container that contains an alarmed entity

Display an alarm graphic wherever you refer to a collection of alarms having the same level of severity. For example, display the alarm graphic in headings and labels for such collections. Using alarm graphics in this way helps users associate each graphic with its meaning.

You can display alarm graphics in different sizes. The correct size for each alarm graphic depends on the view that displays the graphic.

If the alarm view is in an icon pane or a tree, place an alarm graphic as a badge on the lower right corner of the icon for each alarmed entity, as shown in Figure 88 (an icon pane) or Figure 89 (a tree). Use a small alarm graphic on small icons; use a larger alarm graphic on large icons.

If the alarm view is in a table, place an alarm graphic in each row of a column dedicated to alarm graphics, as shown in Figure 91.

 In alarm views, place an alarm graphic on each representation of an alarmed entity.

 When displaying alarm graphics, use only the alarm graphics in Table 21.

 When placing an alarm graphic on icons, ensure that the alarm graphic covers no more than 25% of the icon.

 In the standard locations for alarm graphics, display only alarm graphics. Never display any other information in those locations. If an entity is not alarmed, indicate that fact by displaying nothing in the standard locations for alarm graphics.

 When representing a monitored entity where more than one alarm exists, display an alarm graphic only for the entity's most severe alarm.

 When representing a container that contains alarmed entities, display only one alarm graphic--the graphic for the most severe alarm among those for the container's contents. If the container contains other containers, consider the contents of the entire hierarchy when determining which graphic to display.

Monitored-Entities View

A monitored-entities view displays an icon and alarm graphic for one or more monitored entities or containers of such entities. Figure 88 shows a monitored-entities view as an icon pane.

Figure 88   Monitored-Entities View as an Icon Pane


Figure 89 shows a monitored-entities view as a tree.

Figure 89   Monitored-Entities View as a Tree


A monitored-entities view enables users to determine:

  • Whether any alarmed entities are in that view
  • How severely each entity is alarmed

When examining monitored-entities views, users might need more information about a particular entity. You can provide that information through supplements such as:

  • Tool tips for the entities in the view
  • Context-sensitive help in an additional pane of the window containing the monitored-entities view

Figure 90 shows a monitored-entities view with tool tips.

Figure 90   Monitored-Entities View With Tool Tips


In each tool tip, help pane, or other supplement to a monitored-entities view, display:

  • The name of the monitored entity
  • The time at which the entity's status was most recently updated
  • Brief information about the entity

 Supplement each monitored-entities view with at least one form of additional information about each entity in the view. For example, provide tool tips, context-sensitive help, or both.

Detailed Alarm View

A detailed alarm view, or "detailed view," is a table of all active and inactive alarm events that match certain criteria, defined by an application's designer or by a user. Each table row provides detailed information about a particular alarm event. Figure 91 shows a detailed alarm view.

Figure 91   Detailed Alarm View


The kinds of detailed views that you should provide depend on the tasks that your application's users need to perform. For each monitored entity provide at least one detailed view that displays all alarms for that entity.

For each alarm in a detailed view, display:

  • Alarm's level of severity
  • Time at which the alarm occurred
  • Status of the alarm event
  • Alarm condition that caused the alarm
  • Notes that users have entered about the alarm

For each detailed view, enable users to manipulate the displayed alarms. For example, enable users to:

  • Sort alarms
  • Filter alarms
  • Delete an alarm
  • Undo the deletion of an alarm
  • Change an alarm's status--for example, by acknowledging or closing the alarm
  • Add notes about an alarm

 In a detailed alarm view, enable users to request information about each active and inactive alarm for the monitored entities in that view.

 When displaying alarms in a detailed view, show the severity of each alarm.

 In detailed alarm views, enable users to sort and filter alarms by their status, level of severity, time of occurrence, and optionally, other criteria.

 In a detailed alarm view, display only alarms that match a user's criteria, or by default, display only active alarms. By default, when displaying alarms, sort them primarily by their severity (listing the most severe alarm first). In addition, sort the alarms secondarily by their alarm status (listing open alarms first).

 If a detailed alarm view is filtered by default or at a user's request, clearly indicate that the view is filtered and by which criteria.

Java Look and Feel Design Guidelines: Advanced Topics.
Copyright 2001. Sun Microsystems, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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Table 21   Alarm Graphics for the Standard Levels of Severity 
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