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  • General idea for flexible front end.

    A lot of you people may not remember Cobra3, but it had a very crucial feature that ALL and I mean ALL (including mine) of the current front ends do not allow. This feature is main menu skin independent customization.

    Explained...
    All front ends now are locked to what can be displayed on screen by what is programmed into the skin. If the skin has GPS, MUSIC, and PLAYLIST buttons on it, that is all you will ever see unless you change the skin.
    A new frontend system needs to be developed that allows the user to choose the components that will be displayed on the main screen (actually plugins would be a good determiner). They should be displayed in a visually pleasing manner (probably a skin definition) but still be flexible enough to allow the user to display 1 item to 20.

    This is a very complex thing that is hard to explain in a 10 minute break. I hope soon I can come up with a working example of how this will be a feasible system.
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  • #2
    Doesn't the LSX Void skin for RoadRunner allow you to customize your main menu with different items. You can relocate buttons and functions. I think it is the most flexible, in regards to on-the-fly customization, I have seen.
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    • #4
      Both TEK3 and MKIII also have the ability to change what options are available on the main menu - using buttonchanger ...
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      • #5
        To be honest, its not a hard thing to program at all. One of my first large programming projects used run-time plugins to show screens (ie: the SQL connections in a PHP editor).
        It seems that quite a few programs have what you've requested after all
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        • #6
          i'm hopping into this discussion a little late - hoping to get some help, though -

          I have a concept for a front end (or what I want as my "normal" display) (shown below).

          Can i make any other front end do this? In the middle section, I'd like the mapping program to take over when i launch it, so the buttons on the outside woudl be fixed...

          I'd also like the customization (the right hand buttons) to be easy to modifiy as i add/remove programs....

          I realiza the GPS program/module shown below would need to be custom, but i could PROBABLY write that as a Labview VI/exe if i had to....
          Attached Files

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          • #7
            Realistically this kind of thing is easy to do with RR and the Skin Builder. There are even utilities built in to embed programs (like any navi you want) into portions of the skin. I have no idea how its done, but RR is free and it seems like it will do what you want.
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            • #8
              I agree with post 1#.
              It would be great to have a front end that you just add/remove another app to without extensive skinning.

              I was thinking along the line of the iTunes layout:
              (Imaging GPS, TV icons etc, instead of album covers)


              A layout like that would work fine with touchpanel, a joystick or in my case steering wheel buttons.

              Another very nice "white room" layout from this post



              The idee would be to scroll thru icons from left to right, and the screen in the back would show miniature of highlighted icon. When selected the screen in the back would be zoomed into untill frame was gone.

              ****

              Thing is; I want to change applications all the time. I want to try out a new navigator, iTunes instead of mediaplayer instead of winamp, etc. And I want to do that without doing to much skinning every time.
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              • #9
                I'd like to chime in in support of this idea. Editing a skin is unrealistic to expect from *most* users. Even if there is or isn't a graphical editor for skins.

                The nGhost team is currently in the beginning stages of designing/developing nGhost3, which will be entirely plugin centric. The main menu plugin will display an iconized menu of all the other plugins that are installed on the system. An app/plugin manager plugin will help facilitate the installation/removal of plugins wich can be found in a central (linux style - debian) repository.

                The result should be a dynamic menu that shows what you have installed. Kinda like the iphone's. And a one click method of installing additional plugins.

                I'd really like to see skinning give way to more user friendly features. Skinning is really a feature for developers. If you create skins, you aren't a user anymore, you are a developer. Most normal users cannot be expected to even care about skinning. They just want their app to run and run well.

                I hope more front-ends implement this idea.

                just my two cents
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                • #10
                  nGhost3 sounds really great! But its Linux, isn't it?

                  I've started on a really simlistic FE on this theme. Struggling with sending WM messages from C# at the moment. (help apreciated) When that is solved it's not long before I can present something on the forum. Not that much work acctually.

                  As a part of that I am hoping that someone will cut down RR to embedd a single application. A bare bone thing without understanding of gamma, what is an mp3 player etc. Gamma would work as a plugin in itself. And so will IBusInterpreter. And it will have a simple dynamic data base app with pipes to communicate shared data like speed, songtitle etc.

                  I will make a small C# form application too, that will suck up application icons from this database for main menu.

                  Plugins can be added on-the-fly.

                  Any application can be added.

                  Seems to me that a lot of people that like me want a thing like that.
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                  • #11
                    Originally posted by bes51659 View Post
                    nGhost3 sounds really great! But its Linux, isn't it?
                    Heh, you almost make it sound like a bad thing :P. I think it's important to remember the targeted group for the application. nGhost3 is targeted to be a mobile desktop system, not just a FE. It's to be designed to run on MID, smart devices, and of course, your car. I'm just trying to share the concepts that we are toying with in hopes they may be of value to developers like yourself on the window's side.

                    I really hate the idea of embedding applications in other windows. IMHO, it's a hack to work around the limitations of the WM. If you use the WM correctly though, you shouldn't ever have to embed applications. Sure, it may only take a few lines in a config, but really, you can't expect users to do that every time they want to use a new app.

                    Look at how mobile OS's work. Ubuntu netbook remix runs a daemon called "maximus" that maximizes applications when they are started. Then there is a panel applet that embeds the window title in the panel and allows tabs to switch to the other open apps. Maemo for nokia, LinuxICE and moblin use the same pattern for the most part as I'm sure Windows Mobile does as well. No window embedding, no editing configs. That's how it should work in the vehicle.

                    We need to stop targeting our FE's to enthusiasts, hackers and devs and start thinking about what normal users will want. But, maybe your target is the devs and hackers... to each their own...
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                    • #12
                      Originally posted by kev000 View Post
                      We need to stop targeting our FE's to enthusiasts, hackers and devs and start thinking about what normal users will want. But, maybe your target is the devs and hackers... to each their own...
                      The best thing, would to have a dedicated "CarPC OS".. No windows, no linux, just CAR OS.
                      But, reinventing the wheel, is hard work if one do not get payed for it.

                      I know that BMW is planning to use Intel Atom/Ions for the future line of BMWs. And of course, in good old bmw style... "We invent everything our selves".

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                      • #13
                        Originally posted by CarComp View Post
                        All front ends now are locked to what can be displayed on screen by what is programmed into the skin. If the skin has GPS, MUSIC, and PLAYLIST buttons on it, that is all you will ever see unless you change the skin.
                        A new frontend system needs to be developed that allows the user to choose the components that will be displayed on the main screen (actually plugins would be a good determiner). They should be displayed in a visually pleasing manner (probably a skin definition) but still be flexible enough to allow the user to display 1 item to 20.
                        I really like this idea. As someone with zero interest in playing video on my front end, I'm really turned off by all the skins with buttons for DVD and Video (and I'm also vaguely amused by all the plugins that have buttons for both - like DVD isn't video? ).

                        Also, I use a 3rd-party application for engine monitoring, which no front end has a button for... I got so annoyed by all the front ends that I wrote my own "launch pad" that just has buttons to launch my GPS and ECU stuff, plus a couple of utilities that I use fairly often. The only other interesting thing it does is display a "back" button over the top of iGuidance. When I find a good standalone music player and phone software I'll add buttons for those.

                        It would be kind of nice to have a skinning library so that each of the standalone apps could share a common appearance, though.

                        What need is there for inter-process communication, other than having a way for each plugin to take control of the audio output from the music player for short periods?

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                        • #14
                          Having a frontend system that is module based with skinning options for the advanced users would be great!

                          If you don't have GPS, and XM Radio installed. Then, you would not have any GPS or XM Radio buttons in the frontend.

                          The idea of bes51659, by using an AppFlow kinda way of displaying the programs/modules awailable is quite neat, handy, and good looking.
                          But just to add a bit to bes's idea... How about that the 2/3 lower part of the screen is this AppFlow thingy, and the rest 1/3 are static custom buttons... (Let's call them quick buttons for easy understanding)

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                          • #15
                            Great minds think alike!

                            I have been tempted to go Linux. Imagine being able to debug down to the silicon.... But I think it is still to much work keeping track of versions etc. I use Linux at work in embedded system, and that is great!

                            But I would still like to push a little for an single-app-RR. That would make it possible to skin some of the more common apps that runs poorly on 480x800 without bothering about all the other apps. Example. TPMS, and phone app. And it can be installed as any win app and you can try to forget that it is acctually two exe's running ;-)
                            My car installation mp3car thread "showing off project"

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