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Thread: A Start Community Project

  1. #1
    Low Bitrate BenjaminS's Avatar
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    Mar 2005

    A Start Community Project

    Due to the current state or should I say lack of Mac specific software for CAR; I have decided to start an open source (GPL) project. I have started to put together ideas for myself pertaining to the direction I want the project to head in. Let me list my thoughts.

    1. Internal MP3 player/Movie Player/Track Organizer (play lists)
    a. Read iTunes music library
    b. Create new playlists on the fly, using the iTunes source AND other sources.
    c. Read attached devices(iPod)
    d. Movie play lists.
    e. Remote syncing of iTunes (This feature is the only thing that I can imagine using myself. Basically I will write a client/server application so that you can push a button in you car and sync your car with your home computer’s media resources. Sounds simple but has to be highly configurable, I will work out the details later)
    2. Internal Slide show and photo management

    What this project will NOT have.
    Internal DSP(Audio Processing), I am a firm believer that a car’s computer is a SOURCE of media. Audio processing should be handled by equipment that was meant to do so.

    Internal Navigation, now this is really up in the air for me. I haven’t been able to find any open source projects that I could incorporate into my project. If provided with a solid solution I will be more than happy to implement it.

    These are the few ideas that I have floating around in my head. All of them I can implement fairly easily. Basically I am looking for a few things out of this post. One is to see what features you are looking for. I already know what I want, a,b,c, and e. :P I am just curious as to what you want.

    I need an incredibly well designed interface. I feel that skinable apps leave the app looking “cookie cutter” and this is something that is not acceptable. I will provide all source code and nib files with this project so if you know how to use them then feel free to skin away.

    This is really just a shot in the dark post here. I see a few projects floating around but nothing that has any serious goals. I would like to provide you with a tool for your cars computer. I just need to know what you want, and I am going to need all the help I can get.

    Please feel free to leave ideas, rants, raves, questions, concerns, etc. When I have a name for this project and a official list of goals I will create a website devoted to it.

    Thank You

    Benjamin S

  2. #2
    Low Bitrate
    Join Date
    May 2004
    The Netherlands
    Why don't you join the ones allready started. Now you are starting a project of your own, and, like the other projects do, you start looking for people to help u.

    If you want to go on with it: good luck.

    For ideas and what we want, just take a look at the other projects and their treads or websites:
    Car specific: iDash, AstraMac, i3, TatraMac
    Not Car specific: iTheater, CenterStage



  3. #3
    Variable Bitrate Grimey's Avatar
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    Feb 2005
    Moody, ME
    Yea I agree with defender90, making your own is maybe something you just wanna do but if you're looking to do it just to get another program out there maybe you should consider contributing to other project that are always looking for help? This way you'd have more people working on one project instead of a bunch working on different projects.

    Just my $.02
    Dak TruckPuter:

    Mac: - Researching and Awaiting Funds

    Changed to planning for a Mac Mini Trukputer...w3rd.

  4. #4
    Low Bitrate BenjaminS's Avatar
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    Mar 2005
    OK I figured that was the response I was going to get. Let me reason with everyone on why I feel these current projects are not the solution I am looking for.

    i3 - proprietary software. I feel that this project needs to be open for everyone to contribute at will. Proprietary software does not allow such things and I will not consider putting time and effort into something that is more concerned with "what would make you pay 25$ for this"

    iDash - AppleScript front ends are not quality solutions. You have the overhead of the currently running application (the front end) and the other applications, such as iTunes. Although this may be good enough for most people this is not the quality of application that I want to produce.

    AstraMac - This seems like a good project, but I have yet to see a mention of the license that it will be released under or a release. Until then I will have to wait and see how things pan out.

    iTheater and CenterStage-
    Great concepts, really good projects, but not built for cars. You have to remember that a 7" LCD screen is no comparison to a 27" television screen. I am sure that one could hack it to make it look right on there smaller screen, but still leaves much to be desired. Also this project is focused on a computer that remains connected to the net all the time, and the interfaces are controlled via remote.

    I will be contributing to both iTheater and CenterStage as much as I can. I feel they are great projects for home users, but the car world is a different realm. It requires a specific focus and layout to make it usable in car.

    Thats my $.02 concerning what is out there. Well I guess if this thread goes no where I am on my own.

    Benjamin S

  5. #5
    Newbie emdub's Avatar
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    Jan 2005
    I'm sorry you feel that way about i3... but you took what I said a bit out of context. I wrote that in answer to someone who's main complaint was the price of the app. That person didn't say anything was wrong with i3 except the price so I answered "what would make you pay $25 for it, whats missing in it for you?"...

    i3 is a home-made project still in very early stages. I could tell you we have a GPS application, a video application and an mp3 application and are considering ways to insert those into i3... but for now we're keeping i3 as an application launcher as all integrated applications are in somewhat early stages of development (Fabio had them working on his mac defender though...).

    Something I've said from the start and will keep insisting on is that i3 will go in whatever direction the majority of feedback we get pushes it. It's really up to you guys to tell us, we want this or that. We've evolved much from v1.0 to v1.1. V1.1.1 is ready and we're trying to add one more customization option before we post it!

    I'm sorry if you don't believe in charging for work / hobbies / software (whatever you want to call it) but would people rather we keep this to ourselves? It's pretty apealing to have a unique project too, you know?

    Carputers have been a "geek" thing... maybe i3 can change that if we can make the application simple enough. If no one thinks it's worth the effort to give us some good feedback then maybe it's not worth the effort to try and sell this... let's just keep it for ourselves! On a side not the most positive feedback we've received is exactly from people who want an application launcher.. we've even received a "please don't integrate applications... i want to use my own ones..."

    Jeep Grand Cherokee 4.7 V8 in preparation to become a MacJeep.

  6. #6
    Low Bitrate BenjaminS's Avatar
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    Mar 2005

    Sorry I re-read that statement and it sounded pretty harsh. Its not that I personally have any problems paying for software, its just that I feel for this type of project anyone should be able to look over the internals too learn, modify, and reuse any part of it in their own projects. I also want the freedom to take a piece of code from another open source project and put it in mine.

    I look forward to future releases of your project. Judging from the feed back you have received it looks like you are on the right track.

    When i see a computer in a car, I see a source of data. This data includes, music, movies, photos, etc etc. I want to create an application that can handle the data and present to the user in a clear and usable format.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Staffordshire, UK
    I will be a bit busy for the next few weeks, but after that im willing to help with a project like yours. Im currently torn between Astramac, yours and writing my own. Astra looks more like what I want, but also currently looks closed source. Yours sounds like something i could help with, but unfortunatly i was hoping to do some things differently. For one thing, i would probably want iTunes as the music backend, which you dont. The only way around that i can see is to have both and choose which in settings. Id also want to use rsync instead of a custom client/server app. It might end up just being easier to do separate projects than to try to include both of our ideas though. (And you prolly dont want to bloat it up trying to do both..)

    I will keep following this project, but cant really decided if i will help until i am ready to sit down and code.

  8. #8
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    Bugbyte's Avatar
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    Sep 2004
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    I encourage you to go ahead with the open source model. The reason you see iDash and others using Applescript is because of it's accessibility and theoretical ease of use, although I can testify that the learning curve is pretty steep.

    I think you'll not have quite as many folks able to help out if you're going with Objective-C because it's not as common, particularly on the Mac. For example, I'd like to help out but would have to learn Obj-C and that would probably just slow you down.
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  9. #9
    Low Bitrate BenjaminS's Avatar
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    Mar 2005
    I would love to have you both help out with this project. I need all help that i can get. I reason I have decided to ask for help on this forum is because, each one of you is a car enthusiast, which is the most important aspect of this project. :P

    Although I have been programing for some time I do not consider my self an expert, but having inexperienced programers on board i would not consider a slow down. Usually the inexperienced programmers help me alot; due to that fact that I know someone else is going to be reading my code I tend to comment it more and write it in the simplest way i can. Which leads to an easier project to maintain.

    Go ahead and pick up an Objective-C book.
    I recommend this one, Its very well written and easy to understand, if you have OO programing experience and a small background in C.

    This project is still in the R&D phase. Currently i am working out most of the gui issues from the start(custom sliders and time displays, table issues, layout, clickflow). Most would say this is a terrible idea, but I say what does it matter because the view will never affect model or control.

    One thing that would be an incredible help to me would be size of everything in the GUI. I have yet to purchase my touch screen so know how large to make things. From a general guesstimate it looks as though at 800x600 the size of a 133x133 icon would roughly be one square inch. Can anyone confirm my guess? Going from that i would say that no buttons in an 800x600 resolution should less that 100x100 pixels, and text should be no less that 50 pixels in height.

    If you could help out me out with a "rule of thumb" gui design guide that i could follow it would be great. In fact this should be ANOTHER community project, a resource to help people conform to a standardized design guideline in terms of proportions and usability.

  10. #10
    Newbie iKenndac's Avatar
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    Feb 2005
    Knebworth, UK
    Quote Originally Posted by BenjaminS
    AstraMac - This seems like a good project, but I have yet to see a mention of the license that it will be released under or a release. Until then I will have to wait and see how things pan out.
    Hey there, I'm the guy writing AstraMac.

    At the moment, AstraMac is being written with *my* equipment in mind as it's a fairly personal project. However, I'm writing it in a way that'll make it easy to make the project more general. When it does get released, it will be free but not GPL'ed, I'm afraid - it uses iPod scanning routines from the program I earn a living on and I'm not really prepared to release that code to the public. Now, making it a plugin and having the *rest* GPL'ed is something that could work. However, that'd only happen once it's fairly matured and works well. Until then, it's a personal project. Also, it isn't written in Objective-C, but in REALbasic. That might be a problem to it's usefulness as a GPL app.

    AstraMac isn't an AppleScript front-end. All the Media Library and iPod stuff is handled within the program. It does use AppleScript at times - at the moment, to tell DVD player to launch and play. However, I may well use Apple's DVDPlayback.framework to do that in-program, too. Eventually I aim to have it communicate with a server to get new music (much like you stated in your first post) and all sorts of other fancy things, including talking to my car's CAN to get info about what the car is doing. That'll have to wait a while .

    I'm also going to the South of France in the car in a couple of weeks, and I want it working well before I go. Expect a lot of development between now and then!

    Quote Originally Posted by BenjaminS
    Most would say this is a terrible idea, but I say what does it matter because the view will never affect model or control.
    This will make it *so* much easier once you get going. Having a model to work from is much better than looking at an empty window with nothing to do but start randomly adding controls.

    Quote Originally Posted by BenjaminS
    If you could help out me out with a "rule of thumb" gui design guide that i could follow it would be great. In fact this should be ANOTHER community project, a resource to help people conform to a standardized design guideline in terms of proportions and usability.
    I say, custom controls all the way. A pain in the arse to set up, but you can make your own custom controls as classes. Once you've done the drawing code, you can make as many buttons as you want, like 'normal' controls. This way, you change the code in that one button class and all your buttons change too.

    Also, standard system controls aren't suitable for touchscreen use. You can make buttons big, but everything else (sliders, tab-panels, checkboxes etc) is simply too small for touchscreen use.

    I also recommend you keep the click-flow as short as you possibly can. With AstraMac, a single click (touch?) can get you to any major area of the program (Audio, DVD, Advanced, etc). A second touch gets you to the sub-section you need. Sometimes it ends there and you have music. If not, a third touch gets music/dvd/etc playing.

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