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Gauging Interest: Windows 7 C#-Based Front End

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  • Gauging Interest: Windows 7 C#-Based Front End

    I've been toying around with this idea in my head, but I haven't gotten the change to put it on paper until now. Basically, I've been thinking of writing a CarPC front end that works with Windows 7's features (volume control, etc) and integrates with any smartphone (Androids, iPhones, etc). Here are a few of the features I've been thinking of:

    General:
    • Log in screen that comes up when the computer starts or resumes from hibernate/standby. The password prompt would be similar to the Android's password-lock screen (connect the dots).
    • If a bluetooth connection to your phone is detected (and the MAC addresses match), the log in screen will be skipped and your phone will log in for you.
    • Transitions - Fades between screens, etc. (Similar to Compiz in Linux)
    • Multi-monitor support - You can specify certain programs to open up in certain monitors (e.g. - have the rear monitor show full screen videos/DVDs, have a second monitor display navigation maps in full screen mode, etc), or set up a mirrored display
    • WiFi support - Automatically connects to any open wireless networks and any designated WiFi networks the user chooses.
    • Built in war-driving
    • GPS tracking - Plots your GPS coordinates and uploads them whenever any internet connection is available.
    • Most importantly, it will be skinnable and the interface will be fully customizable.
    • I haven't decided if I should make this open source. But if it's not open source, I will create an API so people can write plugins.

    Music:
    • Basic music player features (album art, shuffle, etc)
    • Delete songs by a single click, directly from the front end
    • Display and edit tag information
    • Play a given album or artist's music
    • Switch between directories (e.g. - play from the "My Music" folder, but can also play music from a USB stick / USB hard drive / mp3 player)

    Phone:
    • Built-in Bluetooth support for SMS, MMS, phone calls, contact lists, etc.
    • When someone is calling your phone, the front end will display an accept/reject prompt with a contact picture.
    • (If possible) Reads the caller's name out loud.
    • Calls a given contact when you arrive to your destination
    • Able to tether from your smart phone via USB or Bluetooth
    • As an alternative to tethering, have the phone write information to a text file and have the computer read from that file (e.g. - Phone downloads movie times, writes them to a text file, CarPC reads the text file and displays the movie times on the screen)
    • Music sync via Bluetooth/USB - The CarPC will check the music stored on the phone, and add/remove the songs from itself accordingly.
    • (If possible) Send an address/location from your phone to the CarPC, and set the navigation software to go to that address.
    • Once the computer shuts down, the phone will mark the current GPS location so you won't forget where you parked.
    • Remote control - Use your phone as a bluetooth/USB mouse and keyboard.

    Sound:
    • Automatically pauses the music player when navigation prompts run
    • Automatically pauses the music player when sound comes from the line-in

    That's about all I can think of at the moment, but I'll be adding more as I think of them. If anyone is interested or has any ideas, please do not hesitate to say so.

    I'm also going to need a little bit of help coding this thing.. I'll need the following:
    • Knows C#
    • Can write Android applications
    • Can write iPhone applications
    • Can write Windows Mobile applications
    • Can write Blackberry applications
    • Testers
    13
    Yes
    46.15%
    6
    No
    38.46%
    5
    Yes, and I can help with development
    15.38%
    2
    2003 Mazda 6i Sedan - White
    CarPC in the making!

  • #2
    Have you done a forum search for similar projects yet?
    openMobile - An open source C# Front End (why choose openMobile?)
    - Always Recruiting Developers -
    Like what you see? Donations are always welcome

    Comment


    • #3
      No need to reinvent the wheel. Check out OpenMobile

      Comment


      • #4
        yes

        yes

        Comment


        • #5
          I think you more or less described something that's already existing...
          Failure is not an option...
          __________________________________________________ ______________________________
          The only full multizone / multiscreen cross platform open source Front End -> OpenMobile

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by justchat_1 View Post
            Have you done a forum search for similar projects yet?
            OT (sorry, OP, this is sort of related...)...My friend, your openMobile project intrigues me. As you know I have been struggling with a front end selection, and while each of them have their strengths and weaknesses, I may be at the point where I may have to write one as well.

            While the goals of the openMobile project are very admirable, I think I'm a lil confused in the direction it's going (but that's a topic for a different discussion, not here).

            That said, OP: I'll try and contribute what I can, although my schedule ends up being fairly hectic, between work and family. As a background, I'm a Microsoft technologist with about 18 years of overall experience, and my last "employee" position, was Director of software development, before I quit to strike out on my own. As far as development experience goes, been working on C# since it came out, been working on Windows Mobile, since the days of it being a piece of utter crap, lots of other related graphics, SDLC, architecting etc etc thrown in.

            btw, I'm kinda sorta dabbling with a front end as well.... Yes, it is C# as well... It leans very heavily towards Windows Media Center for inspiration.

            Comment


            • #7
              This is a mockup of some of the screens I have been playing with. Right now, I'm using a BMW theme (hey, I have a BMW after all.. ), but if this does end up being a front end, it can certainly be skinned (the whole look is made up of images and XML markup, translated to windows controls in C# at run time).

              Main menu:



              When an item gets selected (the "highlight" is RR style, where an ON image is used, and that part of the image gets overlayed over the OFF background image).



              WMP embedded natively (with full object, library and playback control): This was today's LOST on ABC btw, recorded via Windows Media Center in HD.

              Comment


              • #8
                You're going to have to push a list of "gotchas" as well as a feature list to present your arguments on why Frontend X isn't good enough for you are thus creating your own.

                However, I do like compiz effects on my carpc a lot. So +1 for that (although, i believe openmobile also has transitions, but not compiz-awesome transitions).
                Former author of LinuxICE, nghost, nobdy.
                Current author of Automotive Message Broker (AMB).
                Works on Tizen IVI. Does not represent anyone or anything but himself.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Hmm...forget Windows Media Player.... I whipped up a lil small media player of my own, that runs off of Media Foundation and Directshow, with multi instance, screen and multi sound card support.

                  This is while playing two HD streams at the same time. The CPU usage is ~8-9% with two streams.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by kapone View Post
                    Hmm...forget Windows Media Player.... I whipped up a lil small media player of my own, that runs off of Media Foundation and Directshow, with multi instance, screen and multi sound card support.
                    Weren't you telling me what a useless idea muti-screen and multi-sound card support is just the other day? and how implementing a player based off of directshow would just cause problems?
                    openMobile - An open source C# Front End (why choose openMobile?)
                    - Always Recruiting Developers -
                    Like what you see? Donations are always welcome

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by justchat_1 View Post
                      Weren't you telling me what a useless idea muti-screen and multi-sound card support is just the other day? and how implementing a player based off of directshow would just cause problems?
                      I bite my own words... You can smack me now.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by kapone View Post
                        I bite my own words... You can smack me now.
                        fair enough
                        openMobile - An open source C# Front End (why choose openMobile?)
                        - Always Recruiting Developers -
                        Like what you see? Donations are always welcome

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          WOW... I had no idea people were replying to this topic. I guess I must be using an old email address for mp3car, cuz I know I subscribed to this thread..

                          Anyway, I just wanted to post that for now... I'm going to read through all the posts and reply to each one of them.

                          Again, I'm sorry for the delay.
                          2003 Mazda 6i Sedan - White
                          CarPC in the making!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by justchat_1 View Post
                            Have you done a forum search for similar projects yet?
                            Originally posted by ws6vert View Post
                            No need to reinvent the wheel. Check out OpenMobile
                            Originally posted by Borte View Post
                            I think you more or less described something that's already existing...
                            I'll reply to all these at once. I do know of the other projects in existence, but I never really looked into them. Do they have the exact same features that I'm looking for? And even if they do, I'm not necessarily reinventing the wheel, but making it a little more customized/efficient to my tastes.
                            Currently, I'm using Ride Runner with the DigitalFX 4.0 skin, and I must say, tailoring/customizing it to fit my needs is no where near as intuitive as I'd like it to be. I still can't even get IGPause to work consistently (sometimes the carPC's volume spikes whenever any sound comes out of iGuidance). I also can't click on many of the options that I haven't implemented yet (e.g. camera, weather, and even the iGuidance menu shortcuts) because then RideRunner will crash or go into some sort of infinite loop.
                            My idea is to write everything (excluding the navigation) from scratch, so I know exactly what's going in, what's coming out, and to achieve that as efficiently as possible.

                            Originally posted by kapone View Post
                            OP: I'll try and contribute what I can, although my schedule ends up being fairly hectic, between work and family. As a background, I'm a Microsoft technologist with about 18 years of overall experience, and my last "employee" position, was Director of software development, before I quit to strike out on my own. As far as development experience goes, been working on C# since it came out, been working on Windows Mobile, since the days of it being a piece of utter crap, lots of other related graphics, SDLC, architecting etc etc thrown in.

                            btw, I'm kinda sorta dabbling with a front end as well.... Yes, it is C# as well... It leans very heavily towards Windows Media Center for inspiration.
                            Very glad to have piqued your interest, Kapone. Just to share my own credentials:
                            I'm currently a computer science student (graduating in May). I've learned C++ (including OpenGL), Java (including synchronization), and I've just started dabbling in C# and the Windows API.
                            Your project looks very promising, by the way.

                            Originally posted by tripzero View Post
                            You're going to have to push a list of "gotchas" as well as a feature list to present your arguments on why Frontend X isn't good enough for you are thus creating your own.

                            However, I do like compiz effects on my carpc a lot. So +1 for that (although, i believe openmobile also has transitions, but not compiz-awesome transitions).
                            I find RideRunner to be a little too boring in that department. With my old CarPC (Celeron @ 1.3GHz w/ 256MB RAM), the only "transitions" I had was when the screens weren't loaded in RAM, so you'd see each button appear one by one...

                            Originally posted by kapone View Post
                            Hmm...forget Windows Media Player.... I whipped up a lil small media player of my own, that runs off of Media Foundation and Directshow, with multi instance, screen and multi sound card support.
                            How small is the media player (size on disk and RAM)? What file types can it play?

                            Originally posted by justchat_1 View Post
                            Weren't you telling me what a useless idea muti-screen and multi-sound card support is just the other day? and how implementing a player based off of directshow would just cause problems?
                            I know this wasn't directed at me, but the reason why I want to implement multi-screens to the front end is because my car has more than enough space to use 2 screens (one in the middle of the dashboard and the other in the center console (radio)). My friend, who has a Honda Pilot, wants to have 2 monitors for his future carPC - one replacing the radio, and the other replacing the rear dvd player. Indeed, to each his own, but I'd like to make it an easier task for the end-user.
                            2003 Mazda 6i Sedan - White
                            CarPC in the making!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by angel120 View Post
                              How small is the media player (size on disk and RAM)? What file types can it play?
                              It's fairly small, but right now it's barebones, so the size is not indicative of it's final incarnation. But, the DLL in it's current incarnation is only 18KB The player is based on Directshow/Media Foundation, so whatever you can play in Windows Media Player, it will play. Even if WMP doesn't play something, the player "may" be able to play it, as the code tries to (and can be told to) build manual filtergraphs and render them.

                              The player needs to build custom graphs anyway, if you want multi screen and multi sound card support. By default Directshow will render to the default video and audio outs only.

                              And it looks like the front end will most probably happen, I have officially drawn up a project plan for it. .NET, C#, WPF and XAML, with some custom skinning and management support.

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