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  • Another (new) car front-end

    Hi readers!

    Let me introduce myself a bit. I've been following this forum for
    a while. But now is the time to post my first item.
    I'm a developer, coding in Delphi for years and lately a bit in C#.

    My brother has installed a carpc in his car with all kind of gadgets
    connected from cams to separate amps for his 5.1 audiosystem.
    Sounds great. But then...

    I took the time to experiment with a couple of frontends.
    Commercial/free/opensource/etc. Some are nicer than others,
    but overal, they lack certain features or really perform slow.

    I decided a couple of weeks ago, to go and build my own
    (or actually his) frontend. Our primary goals are:
    • Fully skinable, scriptable and alpha blended interface
    • Really fast performance
    • Huge database support (can browse through 15000 files with ease and no delays)
    • Must do music, video and cam-sources out of the box
    • Plugin architecture

    So far, I've got the basics running.
    Currently the graphics system is quite basic, but fast,
    already included are simple animations and fading.
    Sound is working, although I'm still working on a user-interface
    element and the playlist. Browsing the library and modifying the
    playlist is not yet implemented. (remember, this project is still in
    early development)

    I'm just curious if there are any people interested in this project.
    Trying it out, testing, designing, suggesting, participating, etc.

    Let me know what you think.
    Ofcourse, in the end, this will become 'the next best thing' on the scene

    And ofcourse a couple of screenies:

    Let me know what you think!
    Is there a place in the scene for another frontend?!


    ** Update: The screenshots above are obsolete. The core however.....
    Development is best being tracked on a wiki we're setting up.

  • #3
    Thats some quick response already!

    I really want this project to finish, or at least, reach a really usable state.
    So far I'm using Delphi 7 for development, Bass audio-system (easy to control,
    lightweight and complete with EQ, although I'm still thinking about using wa2)
    and some toolkits to glue all those bits 'n pieces together. No OpenGL, SDL
    or DirectX, but some very fast 32bit graphics (fast is after me optimizing it all).

    I also need to build some more screencontrols like sliders and switches (I do have
    already an 1- and 2-state imagebutton, usable for switches based on images)
    Some indicators would be nice too, but I think I'll start with a simple LED and

    Scripting is already running. In fact, everything in the UI is scripted.
    Even switching to a new page, which can be done with fading or sliding.
    Each page is a new XML file containing screen elements, their position,
    color and script, and special properties for a particular UI-element.

    The graphic system is layered. Each control is a new layer.
    Animated backgrounds are also supported, even layered and,
    f.i., 30% alphablended.

    The script itself is based on ansi-pascal, but reaaallly kept simple (really!).
    I'll might consider using ActiveScript or something else, but this is now the most
    lightweight scripting solution I have. And for advanced skinners/scripters, it will
    be fun to program the interface, controlling certain aspects of the application or
    reading sensor inputs from plugins.

    ... well.. the plugin system is not yet developed, and script commands are
    added every day (on a is-now-needed base, as like the UI-controls itself).
    But you can do fun things already.

    In the next days/weeks/months, I'll try to keep this thread alive with the state
    of development. I'll post input of my brother here too, ofcourse he has his
    wishlist too.

    For now, I'm finishing up some UI controls to get some playlist control, and
    after that I'm planning to work on the volume controls (every channel is
    available from the soundcard) and music library browser.

    Suggestions are more than welcome, so let 'm hear!


    • #4
      how about a Name

      and vertical labels


      • #5
        Yeah, I don't have a name yet..
        The project's name is CarIntf, but that's just a
        development name and hard to pronounce.

        Vertical labels are no issue at all. Thats just an extra property
        I'll have to add for the textlabels.

        I'm trying to wrap up something soon, but I'm afraid that won't be
        until next week (or maybe 2). There are some bugs in list-control,
        used to display the playlist. It won't track the current song and
        sometimes the display is completely lost.


        • #6
          Just implemented rotation for any UI-control before I forget.
          It just needed a property of the layer to be exposed.

          I'll post details of the scripting language and
          User Interface-XML's later this week.


          • #7
            Finally another Delphi frontend! (or so Im assuming since the icon in your picture is the D7 default icon)
            Im writing a frontend in Delphi (Codegear 2008) and Flash and its coming along really really slowly. However, all the code is there for some major functional pieces (music processing -- takes a little while though, pictures, videos, flash communication, OBD, GPS< HD Radio, etc). If you have any good code chunks to share, please feel free, or if you'd like some information on protocols or whatnot, shoot me a message
            2001 Mustang Convertible Worklog
            Indigo Custom Frontend (Flash/Delphi)

            Qube v1.3 Now Available at the mp3Car Store!!!!!!
            The simplest IO controller you'll ever use!


            • #8
              Colin, can you send over any screencaps of what youre working on? I'd like to take a peep at it. Especially the GPS and if you have bluetooth implemented.


              • #9
                Some really good bluetooth phone integration would be nice. Built into the FE. I've been researching the best way to integrate my phone and it seems they've all got quirks about them.
                I would have to say that the best and worst parts of all FE's is getting all the plugins and 3rd party programs to work well with them. Its not always a simple point and click.

                Just my 2 bits. Good start so far though. A few suggestions might be to have your GPS speed and music info on the front page, or will that be an option to enable or disable?
                ~If your not living on the edge, your taking up too much space~


                • #10
                  Don't have bluetooth implemented yet since Im basically writing my frontend for ME and I only have until the end of the summer, after which my car goes in a garage and I go to school.

                  Here's what I've got anywho:
                  2001 Mustang Convertible Worklog
                  Indigo Custom Frontend (Flash/Delphi)

                  Qube v1.3 Now Available at the mp3Car Store!!!!!!
                  The simplest IO controller you'll ever use!


                  • #11

                    Yes, very much possible. I will provide usable UI controls for that
                    purpose. The GPS data will probably also be available within the
                    scripting language. (imagine, driving home, the screen already
                    dims and presents you the shutdown confirmation screen,
                    or something like that)

                    Reading the GPS is not a problem at all.

                    Time is.. time is the big problem I don't have a workaround for


                    • #12

                      Ofcourse I couldn't resist to have a look.
                      Your work looks quite awesome. Impressive amount of features included.

                      You're still worried about the soundsystem?
                      May I suggest you have a look at BASS? Opensource project and
                      the API is easy to master. (although I'm still questioning myself if I
                      shouldn't use Winamp2, which is also lightweight and full featured)


                      • #13
                        Im paranoid about "clutter."

                        Ive finally implemented a decent sound system with VLC because it plays pretty much every format I can think of and it has some decent features. It also plays my videos and that made all the difference, one program to do it all without codecs (clutter).

                        I appreciate the compliments Im going to check out BASS right now actually, thanks.
                        2001 Mustang Convertible Worklog
                        Indigo Custom Frontend (Flash/Delphi)

                        Qube v1.3 Now Available at the mp3Car Store!!!!!!
                        The simplest IO controller you'll ever use!


                        • #14
                          It's very pretty, but IMO there are too many buttons on each screen. A while back I posted my thoughts on UI design for CarPC, in a nutshell I just want to be able to find all of the UI elements at a glance:


                          Not that I expect you to take my thoughts as gospel, but since you asked for feedback...


                          • #15
                            Ofcourse.. All suggestions are welcome.

                            The screenshots don't really tell something about the app.
                            I just had a look at centrafuse, and just let me inspire by
                            its interface.

                            BUT.. By no means this will be the final user interface. I just
                            had to use something to discover what kind of UI-elements I
                            need. It is fully skinnable, it's already being developed for that
                            purpose. So... Don't worry, you can have the interface the way
                            you want