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Web and WebWorks Development

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Developer
Posts: 669
Registered: ‎02-19-2011
My Device: BlackBerry PlayBook 32GB
My Carrier: Sprint

An uniform GUI to rule them all

This is kind of a question for the RIM people here I guess:

 

I've developed WebOS apps before and when coming from WebOS to the PlayBook OS I noticed that there are absolutely no GUI widgets or whatsoever that can be used to build an user interface. At least not in WebWorld style apps.

 

As a result, developers have to design their own look and feel. This isn't a problem per se but it does result in each and every app to have a different look and feel which in my opinion is kind of a messy experience for the end user. 

 

Is there any effort planned at RIM to deal with this problem? I think the overall PlayBook user experience would be a lot better if most apps (if not all) would have the default QNX look and feel. Similar to what Apple and HP/Palm have really.

Staff UI Prototyper (read: full-time hacker)


My BB10 apps: Screamager | Scientific RPN Calculator | The Last Weather App

New Developer
Posts: 70
Registered: ‎01-13-2011
My Device: Torch 9800 and Playbook
My Carrier: Rogers

Re: An uniform GUI to rule them all

That's an interesting idea from a branding perspective, though I've liked the fact that I wasn't forced into a specific GUI toolkit. The default controls aren't too bad but I'm using Third party control libraries built for touch. I'm finding mobile web toolkits more than capable, specifically I'm using jQuery Mobile.

 

jQuery Mobile supports jQuery UI's themeroller framework, so that would be one approach to provide a unified GUI look and feel. Any idea how WebOS did it?

Developer
Posts: 669
Registered: ‎02-19-2011
My Device: BlackBerry PlayBook 32GB
My Carrier: Sprint

Re: An uniform GUI to rule them all

WebOS has it's own full featured widget set. While no one forces developers to use it, most do because it's very pretty looking and provides an uniform experience for users. I don't think Apple forces anyone to use their widgets either in iOS apps but yet everyone is doing it because they're simply very good and well thought out. 

 

It results in apps by people who have absolutely no sense of good UI to still look pretty good and still be easy to use.

 

The complete lack of such a widget toolkit forces people to do it all by themselves and let's face it, not every developer is a great UI designer. in fact, most developers plain suck at UI design. Therefore the result is many apps that may be very good in terms of their functionality but ugly in looks and harder to use than they need to be.

 

It's the same one thing I always hated about running Linux and FreeBSD. There were tons of great programs but there's some that use gtk, there's some that use MOTIF, there's some that use QT/KDE and lord knows what other toolkits there were out there. It made the entire user experience extremely inconsistent and messy. And since those toolkits were primitive at the time and didn't come with any guidelines on how to actually build a good UI with them a lot of excellent tools were an atrocity to look at or annoying to use.

 

It's because of this that I'm a huge fan of a well-designed uniform UI + guidelines that's super easy to use for developers. This will result in the large majority of them adopting it which greatly benefits the entire device experience. SOME people will still do their own thing (people do even on the iPhone/iPad but... only the ones that really know what they're doing)

 

Staff UI Prototyper (read: full-time hacker)


My BB10 apps: Screamager | Scientific RPN Calculator | The Last Weather App

Developer
Posts: 39
Registered: ‎03-01-2011
My Device: PlayBook
My Carrier: AT&T

Re: An uniform GUI to rule them all

i noticed from palm's introduction to the new enyo and webOS 3.0 coming out that they are no longer going to have any UI requirements.  in the past they've wanted everyone to have a similar app menu (which i agree, marco, is good for the user to understand where to look for help, about, etc.), but it looks like they are opening up to completely custom apps.

 

i haven't used anything jQxxxx anything yet, but coming from palm and the oh-so-easy to use UI widgets i'm going to have to learn some new stuff.  i'll definitely be willing to contribute as i learn more so that hopefully newbs such as me can have a smoother development learning curve and build cycle.

Developer
Posts: 669
Registered: ‎02-19-2011
My Device: BlackBerry PlayBook 32GB
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Re: An uniform GUI to rule them all

actually I think Palm's new ui stuff still has all the widgets available for use. And without any doubt I expect people to use them. I sure as hell will be.

 

Even in the old situation it was already fine to deviate from the common UI widgets too. Some scenarios simply required it. It's just that it was something usually not done by people unless they really knew what they were doing. (I hope I did, hah!)

 

 Here's the main screen of an app made by me for the Palm/HP Pre. No stock UI components. (and an insane amount of work)

 

 

All other screens use the common components from Mojo. Example:

 

 

 

So despite the fact that the main screen of my app is 100% custom it still very much feels like a WebOS app.

Anyway: A common look and feel for apps is a good thing. A very good thing. And in my opinion it's a shame that the PlayBook lacks it right now. I read that the AIR SDK has QNX widgets. It would be lovely if the WebWorld one would too at some point.

 

Just 2 cents from a dude who loves good UI design of course...

Staff UI Prototyper (read: full-time hacker)


My BB10 apps: Screamager | Scientific RPN Calculator | The Last Weather App

Developer
Posts: 669
Registered: ‎02-19-2011
My Device: BlackBerry PlayBook 32GB
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Re: An uniform GUI to rule them all

P.S. You guys think I should port this to the PlayBook?

Staff UI Prototyper (read: full-time hacker)


My BB10 apps: Screamager | Scientific RPN Calculator | The Last Weather App

New Contributor
Posts: 7
Registered: ‎01-09-2010
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Re: An uniform GUI to rule them all

I'm actually very curious about this as well. Is there a default (or recommended) widget set we should be using? After looking at the API reference it does look like we have to roll our own, which is unfortunate. Marco's right: most developers aren't great UI designers Smiley Happy

Developer
Posts: 669
Registered: ‎02-19-2011
My Device: BlackBerry PlayBook 32GB
My Carrier: Sprint

Re: An uniform GUI to rule them all

I'm wondering if we'd be legally allowed to recreate the whole QNX OS look and feel in HTML5 widgets and have this as open source project. If so it would be interesting to try maybe...

Staff UI Prototyper (read: full-time hacker)


My BB10 apps: Screamager | Scientific RPN Calculator | The Last Weather App

New Contributor
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Re: An uniform GUI to rule them all

I think something like that would be very useful (maybe it could be pulled into RIM's WebWorks github master?)

Retired
Posts: 3,708
Registered: ‎10-16-2008
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Re: An uniform GUI to rule them all

 

TheMarco wrote:

I'm wondering if we'd be legally allowed to recreate the whole QNX OS look and feel in HTML5 widgets and have this as open source project. If so it would be interesting to try maybe...


I don't see why there would be any problem with this

 

Tim Neil
Director, Application Platform & Tools Product Management
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