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Old 10-23-2008, 04:46 AM   #1
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The iLiad OS Project UI discussion

I've just started this thread to start discussing proposed UI improvements to the iliad OS.

This is: pie-in-the-sky style improvements (architectural), not quick fixes .

Perhaps a Wiki page would be handy for the current consensus. I'll update this post with it if someone starts that page.
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Old 10-23-2008, 05:51 AM   #2
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A proposal for buttons usage and UI

Hi!

Here is my proposal. It tries to fix up the following problems (IMHO):
- Need for a full-screen mode
- Usefulness of the news/books/docs/notes buttons
- Under-usage uf the "iRex" key
- Problems with long-presses being recognized wrongfully sometimes (esp. with the page turning "button")

The proposal has the following key aspects:
- Make the programs by default display in full-screen (as in the DR1000)
- Make the icon toolbar hidden by default when in a viewer, and only pop when up/down arrows are pressed
- Put the toolbar at le left side (covering all the height of the iliad), to be able to show more icons.
- Reserve the bottons on the left of the iliad for the viewer (not for the system).
- Reserve the buttons of news/books/docs/notes to be used as virtual desktops; so they can be used to switch between applications (4 applications open at maximum seems reasonable for the iliad).
- Use the "iRex button" as a system button, that displays a system menu with the battery state, date/time, Wifi/Lan connect/disconnect options, close application of current virtual desktop, portrait/landscape mode selection, etc.

Descriptions of the buttons

Left column, from top to bottom:
Back - When in sub-menus, goes back. Mapped to "Esc" key
Index/Bookmarks - Open document index and/or bookmarks for document
page button - prev/next page. Mapped to "Space"/"Backspace" keys.
Up - Opens the menu (left toolbar). When in menus, goes up
Enter - Select an option in the menus. When no menu, mapped to "Enter" key
Down - Opens the menu (left toolbar). When in menus, goes down.

Bottom:
news - go to the news virtual desktop (the app open there, if applicable)
books - go to the books virtual desktop (the app open there, if applicable)
docs - go to the docs virtual desktop (the app open there, if applicable)
notes - go to the books virtual desktop (the app open there, if applicable)

Upper-right:
irex button - open the system menu

All of the above is for the case in which the iliad is in a viewer application. When in the ContentLister, the following differences apply:
- The left menu is always open, and instead of having icons, it has the filter options (more on the ContentLister in another post)
- The cursor in used for navigating both the left menu and the main content (the list of books, and programs)

I attach some very rough mock-ups.

P.D: Fot the viewers that want a standarized page number view, that could be put in the lower-right corner. But some viewers (html) have no notion of pages, so it must be optional.

P.D.2: The battery is not in the normal view. But in battery low condition the system would superimpose a "empty battery" indicator in the upper right corner (much like camcorders and digital photocamaras). This is easy to do technically using a shaped window.
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Last edited by Antartica; 10-23-2008 at 05:55 AM.
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Old 10-23-2008, 06:13 AM   #3
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I just had a similiar thought.
The basic idea is:
I used sshd often, and I seldom need to connect to iDS (only for upgrade and developer package) or my computer. If I can access sshd through connect button, it would be very convenient.
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Old 10-23-2008, 06:34 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ericshliao View Post
I just had a similiar thought.
The basic idea is:
I used sshd often, and I seldom need to connect to iDS (only for upgrade and developer package) or my computer. If I can access sshd through connect button, it would be very convenient.
mmm, I use the "connect"-button (top right hand) all the time. For downloading my newspaper from the ids, but also to download content from my server.

I don't mind if the functionality is moved, but I would like to point out that different users use the iLiad differently. Radical changes to the UI should not be taken lightly (nofi!)
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Old 10-23-2008, 07:33 AM   #5
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The virtual desktops by bottom buttons idea is brilliant.
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Old 10-23-2008, 07:50 AM   #6
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I don't mind if the functionality is moved, but I would like to point out that different users use the iLiad differently. Radical changes to the UI should not be taken lightly (nofi!)
Don't worry about this. Because in a flexible design, such button re-mapping must be configurable. Oirginal old function, unless proved useless, will still remain.
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Old 10-23-2008, 08:05 AM   #7
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The virtual desktops by bottom buttons idea is brilliant.
I fully agree
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Old 10-23-2008, 12:58 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Antartica View Post
- Make the programs by default display in full-screen (as in the DR1000)
- Make the icon toolbar hidden by default when in a viewer, and only pop when up/down arrows are pressed
- Put the toolbar at le left side (covering all the height of the iliad), to be able to show more icons.
To me, full screen mode is a window manager issue (like virtual desktops). So I don't think it should be associated with application keys (up/down arrows). I suggest reserving one of the four bottom keys (e.g. notes) for "toggle full screen". So long as apps support full screen mode and there is a dedicated key, the default is moot and might depend on the app.

I don't object to long presses, so long as their functions are relatively painless to errors (which means that the short press functions are painless, since long presses interpreted as short presses is the usual error mode). If the four bottom keys can have a long press version, then the full screen key could be overloaded with another window manager function using a long press. I like the virtual desktop idea, but in that case overloading the keys might be error prone (i.e. don't have long presses for news,books,docs).

Another possible use for a system key (e.g. notes) is as a meta-key - hold it down and all the other key presses have a new meaning (this presumably would exclude a long press option for this key). I would love to have left and right arrow keys for example (the long presses on the up and down arrows should have been this in the first place).

Finally, I agree that more icons are needed but the best place for the icons is on the bottom. The screen isn't wide enough to have them on the side. I don't see why more icons can't fit on the bottom, now that we can change the matchbox setup.
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Old 10-23-2008, 02:23 PM   #9
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Personally, I don't like the idea of having full-screen as default. I very rarely read documents that need to be full-screen (though I like to have the option), and like to be able to see how far through a document I am. An option in the setup that could set whether full-screen was default or not would do the trick.
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Old 10-23-2008, 06:04 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wallcraft View Post
To me, full screen mode is a window manager issue (like virtual desktops). So I don't think it should be associated with application keys (up/down arrows). I suggest reserving one of the four bottom keys (e.g. notes) for "toggle full screen". So long as apps support full screen mode and there is a dedicated key, the default is moot and might depend on the app.
IMHO assigning a hardware key for full-screen has several drawbacks:
- none of the hardware keys is labeled acordingly .
- we lose a key that can be used for more frequently used functionalities
- if it's using one of the news/books/docs/notes keys (that are not that useful), the UI will lose symmetry (being equal to the other keys in that row it functions differently). IOW, a hack. The problem of doing that is that you transform a easy UI into WordPerfect from DOS days (a lot of things to remember just to be able to use the product).
Finally, on other devices (i.e. the Nokia Internet Tablet) the full-screen button is really needed as the the system menu bar wastes a high percentage of the screen real state, but in the iliad if we are careful with the sizes of the pageBar and the panel, it doesn't matter so much. But IMHO the current size of the pageBar is not reasonable and something must be done to fix it . In my proposal I just nuked it, but perhaps that was too radical.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wallcraft View Post
I don't object to long presses,...
I loathe to have to remember lots of "hardware keys" functions. I don't have very good memory and programs that stress it (i.e. cinelerra video editor comes to mind), make me shiver if I have to use them after some months of not touching them, as I've to relearn them.

I think that the iliad should be as intuitive as possible, to the point that all functions should be labeled; they must be related to the icon in the key or the function must be in a software icon (in the toolbar).

Quote:
Originally Posted by wallcraft View Post
Finally, I agree that more icons are needed but the best place for the icons is on the bottom. The screen isn't wide enough to have them on the side. I don't see why more icons can't fit on the bottom, now that we can change the matchbox setup.
I was thinking in changing things deeper; retaining the protocols (liber...) but replacing panel with a simpler app (that takes less time to launch).

And if we refine the initial idea?

That is, another thing I was meditating was if it would be reasonable to enable compositing in KDrive and put a simple compositing window manager. So when the toolbar appears, shrink the app window accordingly (but without disturbing the application). Implementing a shrink function in ARM assembler for that case would not be difficult; my concerns with this idea are:
- The image quality would degrade (we would be discarding about 1 pixel of every 16, even with some antialiasing that would be noticeable)
- We would waste much more memory (about a MB)

Any thoughts?

Last edited by Antartica; 10-23-2008 at 06:11 PM. Reason: typos
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Old 10-23-2008, 06:09 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carandol View Post
Personally, I don't like the idea of having full-screen as default. I very rarely read documents that need to be full-screen (though I like to have the option), and like to be able to see how far through a document I am. An option in the setup that could set whether full-screen was default or not would do the trick.
Having to press a key to see the page temporarily would suffice?

OTOH, the proposal considered the possibility of putting the page number in the lower right corner (that was one of the P.D of the proposal). Is that sufficient also?

And finally, there is the way that FBReader does it (with a progress indicator with the page number overimposed). How good is that in your opinion?
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Old 10-23-2008, 07:26 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Antartica View Post
Having to press a key to see the page temporarily would suffice?

OTOH, the proposal considered the possibility of putting the page number in the lower right corner (that was one of the P.D of the proposal). Is that sufficient also?

And finally, there is the way that FBReader does it (with a progress indicator with the page number overimposed). How good is that in your opinion?
Page number and total would do me fine! Especially if it's accurate, unlike the current Mobipocket one, has an ever-receding final page. Nothing worse than reading in bed and thinking "I'll just finish this book before I go to sleep" only to have the last page recede ahead of your page turning!
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Old 10-23-2008, 08:11 PM   #13
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Page number and total would do me fine! Especially if it's accurate, unlike the current Mobipocket one, has an ever-receding final page. Nothing worse than reading in bed and thinking "I'll just finish this book before I go to sleep" only to have the last page recede ahead of your page turning!
odd.. usually (with big books especially) with mobipocket the actual page count turns out to be lower than first reported (i recently read Stephenson's Quicksilver in .mobi, and that lost almost 25 pages when i got to page 940)
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Old 10-23-2008, 08:12 PM   #14
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Hey, all!

I like Antartica's ideas a lot. I was thinking along similar lines... here's a UI concept I put together based on Antartica's earliest post. I kept some of the elements from that, then I changed some things and added some new things, based on comments in this thread plus my own ideas.

My goals were to make the button functions as simple and intuitive as possible, maintain some consistency with the old UI, minimize the number of touches necessary to perform common tasks, and add room for new functionality (search, bookmarks) without being confusing.

Here's what I ended up with... What do you all think of this?

Key aspects :
  • Make the programs display in normal mode by default (not full-screen).
  • Keep toolbar at the bottom but reconfigure it (see below).
  • Remove the pagebar, but add a "current page/total pages" element to the toolbar.
  • Reserve the buttons on the left of the iliad for the viewer (not for the system).
  • Reserve the buttons of news/books/docs/notes to be used as virtual desktops; so they can be used to switch between applications (4 applications open at maximum seems reasonable for the iliad).
  • Use the "iRex button" as a "system" button that pops up a menu dialog box.
System dialog box :

Popped up / toggled by the iRex button, the system dialog box provides access to system utilities and options:
  • Information display includes:
    • Date & time
    • Detailed battery status, including exact charge % and approximate time remaining.
  • Menu options include:
    • Exit/close current document
    • iDS connect
    • Device Manager
Revised toolbar :

The toolbar has left-side icons and right-side icons. The right-side icons provide higher-level functions and don't change much with context. The left-side icons depend on the application.

To revise the toolbar and make the icon functions clearer, I suggest changing the left-side icons into menu headings.

When a menu icon is clicked, the icon expands to show the buttons in its sub-toolbar. The sub-toolbar is persistent and remains open until it is closed, or until you open a different sub-bar.

Right-side icons
  • Page number/Total pages
    • Touching this element with the stylus pops up the original pagebar to allow jump-navigation.
  • Enter fullscreen mode
  • Battery indicator
  • Close document
Left-side icons
  • Page
    • Close this sub-toolbar
    • Portrait/Landscape
    • Single/Continuous
    • Zoom out to page
    • Zoom in
    • Last zoom
    • Pan
  • Bookmarks
    • Close this sub-toolbar
    • Create bookmark
    • Remove bookmark
    • Next bookmark
    • Prev bookmark
  • Scribble
    • Close this sub-toolbar
    • Draw
    • Erase
    • Line size
    • Line color
  • Search
    • Close this sub-toolbar
    • New search (pops up keyboard/dialog)
    • Search direction (toggle fwd/back)
    • Next match
    • Prev match
Button functions :

Left column, from top to bottom
  • Back - Exits fullscreen mode. In normal mode exits current document. In menus/ContentLister, go up a level.
  • Index/Bookmarks - Open navigation popup window with document index listing bookmarks, links, and scribbles/notations within the current document.
  • Pagebar - Previous/Next page.
  • Up - Previous bookmark, hyperlink/scribble, or search item. (Context-dependent.) Also used for menu navigation.
  • Enter - Add/remove bookmark, follow a hyperlink, or start new search. (Context-dependent.) Also used for menu navigation.
  • Down - Next bookmark, hyperlink/scribble, or search item. (Context-dependent.) Also used for menu navigation.
Bottom row
  • One idea:
    • news - Go to desktop #1. (If no app, open the news folder.)
    • books - Go to desktop #2. (If no app, open the books folder.)
    • docs - Go to desktop #3. (If no app, open the docs folder.)
    • notes - Go to desktop #4. (If no app, open the notes folder.)
  • Another idea:
    • news - Rotate through open newspapers. (If none, open the news folder.)
    • books - Rotate through open books. (If none, open the books folder.)
    • docs - Rotate through open documents. (If none, open the docs folder.)
    • notes - Rotate through open notes. (If none, open the notes folder.)
Upper-right
  • iRex button - Open the system menu.
Special long-press functions
  • News/books/docs/notes : Long press brings up the corresponding folder automatically.
  • Escape : Exit current document.
  • Pagebar : Skip fwd/back five pages.
  • Up/Down Arrows: Skip fwd/back five bookmarks, links/scribbles, or search matches.

Last edited by jharker; 10-23-2008 at 08:20 PM. Reason: Language edits and rewording.
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Old 10-23-2008, 09:20 PM   #15
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A suggestion would be to make the four bottom buttons configurable as to the default setting for short and long presses, either folders or virtual desktops. For me personally I won't normally be running multiple applications, but I would like quick access to the different categories of content.
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