Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 26th Nov 2013 23:07 UTC
Graphics, User Interfaces

It's rare these days, but it happens: a (what I think) is a completely new UI element (or 'widget', in proper parlance).

In my quest for an Android Twitter client that doesn't suck, I stumbled upon Tweedle, a no-frills, properly designed Twitter client for Android that, as far as I can tell after a few days, does not suck. It integrates properly with Android and has an actual Android user interface - unlike other Android Twitter clients, it doesn't shove any non-standard UI crap in my face. Really, the complicated, overdesigned user interfaces many Android developers come up with just to show several snippets of text in a scrollable list (that's all Twitter is, folks) is remarkable. Let's save that rant for another day, however.

What I find most intriguing about Tweedle is that it includes a UI widget I've never seen before. Instead of a regular scrollbar, Tweedle has a vertical line that increases in length as you scroll down in your timeline, and decreases in length as you scroll upwards. If you reach the newest tweet, the bar disappears. It's a different take on the traditional scrollbar, but to me, it feels like a better fit for a timeline than a traditional scrollbar.

If you scroll far enough down, the line will reach all the way to the bottom. If you keep scrolling beyond that point, the line just stays there. A traditional scrollbar, like in, say, Tweetbot 3 for iOS 7, acts differently. Once the scrollblob hits the bottom of the screen, a new set of tweets loads, and the blob erratically jumps upwards, which is just plain weird when you think about it.

The traditional scrollbar - even a proportional one - does its job best when used with finite scrollable areas. Timelines on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and so on, however, are essentially infinite lists, which causes traditional scrollbars to jump around whenever you reach the 'bottom' of your timeline and new content is loaded. The line in Tweedle does not have this issue, but it does introduce a new one - once the line fills up and hits the bottom, but you keep on scrolling - it stops conveying any new information.

Still, I find it a fascinating rethinking of the traditional scrollbar, and I hope to see it in more applications.

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RE: Surprising
by Thom_Holwerda on Wed 27th Nov 2013 12:51 UTC in reply to "Surprising"
Thom_Holwerda
Member since:
2005-06-29

Sometimes, careful experimentation that is well-thought out leads to improvements. Take pull to refresh for instance - it used to be non-standard, but now it's everywhere - and it's more pleasant (if implemented properly) than a separate refresh button.

While it's clear that opinions on this new element are divided (at least in our comments), time will tell if it has a similar impact. I would really love to see it used on every infinite scroll surface, but that's just me ;) .

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[2]: Surprising
by Heard on Wed 27th Nov 2013 13:27 in reply to "RE: Surprising"
Heard Member since:
2009-12-24

I agree with you that differing from a standard can lead to big improvements sometimes.

But: I think there is a difference between adding a completely new feature and changing the behavior of an existing feature for a special type of application. The second could in my opinion create a real mess.

Another thing is that I don't think a twitter app is important enough to change the way most apps behave, but I may be wrong there. :-)

Edit:
I just wanted to add that I think it's a little bit similar to what you described in your article about modes (http://www.osnews.com/story/18904/Common_Usability_Terms_pt._V:_Mod...). The user might not realize the difference between the two "modes" (finite/infinite).

Edited 2013-11-27 13:33 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: Surprising
by leos on Thu 28th Nov 2013 05:24 in reply to "RE: Surprising"
leos Member since:
2005-09-21

Sometimes, careful experimentation that is well-thought out leads to improvements.


I still don't see any improvements. Is the cosmetic one the only one? Since when are you all about form over function?

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[3]: Surprising
by galvanash on Thu 28th Nov 2013 22:18 in reply to "RE[2]: Surprising"
galvanash Member since:
2006-01-25

I still don't see any improvements. Is the cosmetic one the only one? Since when are you all about form over function?


I think you are missing the point...

You don't want to indicate a position relative to the size of "a part of the list", and you don't want indicate the size of "part of the list".

You are trying to create the illusion of the list being infinite...

By using a conventional scrollbar behavior you are exposing the "man behind the curtain" - the information destroys the illusion.

Its a list. It has information going back in time forever. I don't have to load it, its just there. That is the conceit you are trying to achieve.

A conventional scrollbar exposes the very thing that you are trying to abstract away. It can't help but do that, because that is what it was built to do. This implementation doesn't expose the illusion. Its not perfect, but it is loads better than the alternative imo.

Reply Parent Score: 2