(1) Would this to be useful to you? If so, is there any improvements that would make it more useful?
Yes. For an obvious example, action notifications in the battle engine, e.g. "Bandit 3 attacks with knife". Presently I'm using a dialogue box with an automatic forward, but that's mostly 'cause it's not been an important enough problem to spend any time on... if there were an easy way to pop up a fire-and-forget styleable message which will show while the rest of my code carries on doing stuff and disappear on its own after a while, I'd definitely use it.
I would suggest that for this kind of use, it would also be useful to be able to programmatically hide any currently-shown messages, perhaps via an optional Id param?
It would also be useful to be able to pass style parameters into the renpy.tout method in the same way one can to the ui functions, for example to get it to show up in different locations on the screen as appropriate.
(If you've played Jeanne d'Arc
, I'm also thinking of the random contextual speech bubbles you get from party members sometimes... ;-)
(2) How about the name? Does 'tout' have bad connotations in British English? Android uses the term 'toast' for this sort of notification - is that better? Can you think up an even better name?
In [British] English, a 'tout' (noun) is either a spy or (most commonly) a ticket scalper... while the verb obviously means something along the lines of "to advertise", that's not how the word is more-commonly used, in my experience.
(Even in the sense of advertising, it's generally got negative connotations; when I saw a thread-title of 'Touting' my first thought was to wonder whether it was some concern about people advertising stuff they shouldn't be on the forum...)
'Toast' is cute, but the name doesn't really have an obvious tie to the utility, so I don't personally think it's that great a name either. How about something simple and obvious like 'announce'? Samu-kun's 'note' would probably be good to, although I'd suggest 'announce' is already getting a bit long for a function name, 'notification' would be far too long!
the English word meaning "well publicized,"
If it means that in particular, it's an American thing... I'm curious, could you give an example sentence?
NOOOO. NO. Do not want. Self-hiding! Self-hiding!!
I'd tend to agree that self-hiding is best for a default, but possibly it could be an option specified by parameter?
Although, with the improvements available through ATL and screens, it seems like a non-hiding version wouldn't be impossible to program outside of the Ren'Py API anyway...