Linked by Hadrien Grasland on Tue 11th Jan 2011 13:40 UTC
Graphics, User Interfaces Nowadays smartphones, tablets and desktop/laptop computers are all siblings. They use the same UI paradigms and follow the same idea of a programmable and flexible machine that's available to everyone. Only their hardware feature set and form factor differentiate them from each other. In this context, does it still make sense to consider them as separate devices as far as software development is concerned? Wouldn't it be a much better idea to consider them as multiple variations of the same concept, and release a unified software platform which spreads across all of them? This article aims at describing what has been done in this area already, and what's left to do.
Thread beginning with comment 456971
To view parent comment, click here.
To read all comments associated with this story, please click here.
RE: Two words:
by Neolander on Tue 11th Jan 2011 15:05 UTC in reply to "Two words:"
Member since:

Pie Menus.

Edit: mainly as a means of overcoming inconsistencies between touch/mouse-driven interfacen.

Well, if I keep using my favorite OO example...
How do I turn that into a pie menu that fits on a smartphone screen ?

(PS : More seriously, a problem which I have with pie menus is the absence of text in them. If you try to include text, they become gigantic. On the other hand, not everything can be explained through the use of icons. And on a touchscreen, you can't hover icons and read the tooltip...

For these reasons, I do think that big scrollable menus are a better fit for touchscreen devices)

Edited 2011-01-11 15:21 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[2]: Two words:
by TheGZeus on Tue 11th Jan 2011 15:59 in reply to "RE: Two words:"
TheGZeus Member since:

Gripe one's solution: Sub-menus.From 8 main choices you can get 7 sub-options. You can also get a different menu from 3 buttons on the mouse, and you have modifier keys on the keyboard that can more than triple that.
With a multitouch screen on any handset you can support up to 3 individual menus. 1-finger, 2-finger, and 3-finger, further expandable by tap or tap-and-hold.

Many of the options in that example don't even need to be menu items. A key command to bring up a dialogue or simply having a dialogue for some of them already visible makes much more sense to me.
Not everything can be explained with icons, but icons can be explained, and hopefully remembered.

I think too much effort is put into discoverability in UI, and not enough into actual usability.

Often I find user interfaces that are meant to be easy to navigate the first time you use them to become cumbersome as you familiarise yourself with them.

I've put alot of thought into this (drawn out diagrams, thought about how they could be configured) and done research (books, papers, old articles on the subject) and I really think user-interfaces have gone down the toilet due to programmers patronising and looking down on 'users'.
It's hurt accessibility, and widened the gap between programmers and so-called 'users'.
"No one wants to learn a programming language to set up a program!" No one wants to use a program to accomplish a task. No one wants to do anything to get that task done. They want the end result. Effort is rewarded, and making things 'simpler' could be re-defined as 'minimalising the capabilities of a system'.
People don't want to read manuals before they start using something, but end up reading 10 websites and reading and re-reading these menu options, digging through Help pages _after_ they start...
It all seems... sideways to me. Like opening the hood of your car and tightening things until you have to read the manual and/or call a mechanic anyway.
Can you tell I live in Emacs?

Edited 2011-01-11 16:04 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 5

RE[3]: Two words:
by Neolander on Tue 11th Jan 2011 16:18 in reply to "RE[2]: Two words:"
Neolander Member since:

Can you tell I live in Emacs?

If you didn't mention it, I'd have thought that you use Vim ;)

The problem you raise is very interesting, and is one I've been thinking for some time since I've first bought a (very good) book on software usability out of curiosity. In a chapter which I'd translate in English as "Top ten myths about usability", a point which I found particularly relevant was "it's not usable if my grandmother can't use it".

The author pointed out that you always have one target user base in mind, and that you must optimize for *that* target user base. Not your grandmother. That overly guided interfaces are bad when you put them in the hand of a specialist audience.

That being said, for a phone/tablet OS, whose target audience is composed of maybe 90% of computer newbies and 10% of computer literates, I do think it's important to optimize for discoverability. Moreover, users will be used to big menus (since most of the phone's interface is built using them), whereas pie menus will be totally new for them. By using a pie menu, you violate interface conventions.

Now, if you're advocating designing the whole OS' UI around pie menus, that would be interesting indeed. But I fear that we would go back to the manual age then. Users don't read manuals these days...

Edited 2011-01-11 16:21 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[2]: Two words:
by vodoomoth on Wed 12th Jan 2011 16:36 in reply to "RE: Two words:"
vodoomoth Member since:

I was also about to reply: "pie menus". I think this is the best UI configuration for menus. I am currently writing a very configurable pie menu for SWT (in Java): it has a zone below the circle that displays the text that would have been displayed in a classical contextual menu. It also has a "brief" description in a styled big balloon that uses HTML for the presentation.

Granted, I did it with the desktop in mind but the configuration is there to cope with different settings. It isn't finished yet as it's much more work than I initially thought. Moreover, I'm planning on these menus to open in an overlay on top of the parent pie menu, with the overlay being a transparent layer that darken the background (and hence the parent).

EDIT: the only problem is finding appropriate icons.

Edited 2011-01-12 16:37 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2