Smitop's blog

Gmail's fake loading indicator

By · · 1 minute read

Whenever I visit Gmail, I see its loading indicator for a fraction of a second before it loads:

A looping image of an envelope opening, with the text “Loading Gmail” below it

Here’s what it looks like when I artifically make my network connection dial-up speed, preventing Gmail from loading within a reasonable time (it would take several minutes for Gmail to actually load, but you couldn’t tell that from the loading bar):

A looping image of an envelope opening, with the text “Loading Gmail” below it. A loading bar appears, which fills up quickly at first, but then slows down, and eventually stops moving entirely.

Some investigation reveals that Gmail’s loading bar isn’t an actual loading bar! In fact, it’s progress is controlled by a CSS animation that makes it start fast, then slow down, then just stand still until Gmail is loaded. This defeats the point of a loading bar: it’s supposted to give an estimate of progress, not fill up at a rate entirely unrelated to actual loading!