Subject: Balancing simplicity with complexity
Date: Monday 20th August 2007 16:08:07 UTC (over 10 years ago)
Dear Community! A top ten complaint that we have received is directed at our user interface. Many people feel like the current interface doesn't address their exact needs. The organization is not "intuitive"; the colors are not pleasing; there is no simple way to navigate "exactly" where you want, exactly when you want. All Hardware has limits. All FOSS runs on hardware. Our current interface (OM-2007) was drawn almost in it's entirety before our designers had seen a working Neo. We had to live without an embedded stylus in the current version. And we had to learn to adapt to the lip on the touch screen preventing us from using interface elements on the edge of the display -- prime real estate regions. It was tough. We pressed on, faithful in our belief that our community would overcome this limitation and begin exploring our new found oceans. Personally, I feel that one of the most important areas for this project is the development and exploration of the mobile user interface. The human-machine interface is the intersection of art and technology. Great interfaces blend the visual with the technical. They balance simplicity with complexity. Often times, I feel, really great new interfaces are not immediately intuitive. They are not instantly natural. In fact, I would even argue this can be detrimental to improving interface design. If an interface is to be superior it must be different. Therefore it can't be intuitive, that is, familiar. A better metric, perhaps, is the learning time it takes until the interface feel's natural and intuitive. Now that we have freed phones, everyone can contribute to an improved baseline interface. This is our collective challenge. Can we create something truly different? Can we lead this incredibly important field? Recently, emails have been pouring in, questioning the community's ability to make our user interface into something insanely great. While some doubted, others stepped up. Thomas Wood, of our extended team (AKA: OpenedHand), sent an email, entitled, "OpenMoko Design Suggestions" proposing -- in detail -- a redesigned interface concept that was totally finger-based, optimized for GTK+ at 285ppi and, might I add, very cool looking. We went back to the drawing board with OpenedHand -- lead by their vast experience with GTK+, Matchbox, and mobile user interfaces -- and redesigned an incredibly promising new interface. Today I'm extremely excited to announce that everyone can find this, right now, in our subversion repository, under the name OM-2007.2. We have already converted the following applications to the new framework: * Dialer, * Contacts, * Today, * Calculator, * Feedreader You can find an official snapshot here: http://buildhost.openmoko.org/snapshots/2007.08/ The remaining applications and wiki specifications will be converted as we approach phase 2. We have new style guidelines here: http://wiki.openmoko.org/wiki/GUI_Style_Guidelines Here's a list of the major changes we've made with respect to this new interface: 1) We redesigned the user interface to better fit both the hardware capability of the Neo and its physical form factor. 2) Performance was improved by streamlining the visual appearance, still keeping it attractive, but at the same time lessening the resource impact. The current design allows for further future performance improvements. 3) We vastly simplified the UI design and optimized the available screen real estate and physical characteristics. This included the following: * Improved the interface clarity by taking into account the screen's ultra-high DPI. * Allowed functions to be accessible using less accurate finger methods with requiring the stylus. * Placed common functions on easy access prominent buttons and increased the button target areas. * Reduced the number of objects on screen at once by splitting applications into tabs and redesigned the application layout. * Added more natural interaction methods, such as finger scrolling. * Removed some unnecessary elements such as the footer. Improved usage and accessibility of existing ones. 3) Application management and navigation is now improved by with a completely rewritten today app and by using the Neo's hardware keys. 4) This is now an interface that uses the strengths of our toolkit so that we can keep the extra framework and developer learning curve to a minimum. Please keep in mind that this new interface is still, very much, a work in progress. This is the earliest possible stage than we can release something with enough of a framework for you all to start exploring. It's a huge advancement in balancing simplicity with it's digital antagonist -- complexity. Also, thanks to Jon Phillips help, we've finally got around to licensing our artwork for this new interface under Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0). The introduction of OM-2007.2 goes hand in hand with merging the OpenMoko OpenEmbedded overlay into the upstream repository org.openembedded.dev. We are now based directly on the upstream metadata found in OpenEmbedded and synchronized with the most recent developments. Here are a few examples many of you have requested: * dbus 1.0.2 * glib 2.12.12 * Cairo 1.4.10 * Gtk+ 2.10.14 * GStreamer 0.10 * ... Finally, we are very close to publishing our extensive software roadmap covering plans for adding more exciting software components and detailing areas where you can get involved and help us reach our goal of freeing phones around the world. Stay tuned for more information! Sincerely, The OpenMoko Team.