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Thread: New "Ultimate" Front End Being Developed: Looking For User Input

  1. #1
    Variable Bitrate UnusuallyGenius's Avatar
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    Mar 2009
    Grand Rapids, Mi

    New "Ultimate" Front End Being Developed: Looking For User Input

    The "Ultimate" Front End is getting a lot of response as far as what is best, and what it should or should not have. In the development process you must realize that there is now way, you can ever satisfy all interested parties. With that in mind, I set out to develop a very stable, very functional FE. I give credit to those who have come before me, and those who are still on this road of Front End Development.

    It has been questioned as to why I do not skin a previous FE, that is because I want this FE to be as stable and fast as possible. I can accomplish this by starting from scratch. No extra bloat to slow the FE down.

    Also I have chosen to limit customization to some presets. You wont be able to change what items appear on the home screen. You get what you get. It will be a very easy to use FE, with everything you should need right there. There will be an "Apps" page that will allow you to assign programs to buttons. This is as far as customization will go, with the exception of a few built in themes and colors.

    Touchscreen vs. Griffin Powermate
    **EDIT** Originally the concept for this FE did not encourage the use of a touch screen, but as the design process has come along, i have decided that it would be beneficial to alot of users to use a touch screen.

    I am designing this FE for those who want to use it. I am not going to try and please the masses, because I never will. I will instead focus on what will make a solid program, that is easy to use.

    With all that being said, here are some images; updated rough drafts of what this interface will look like, and what it will do. As I fine tune the images, they will be updated, so far here is the home screen.

    We will start with the Home Screen

    As you can see by this, it is very simple and elegant. The final design will be very glossy and rich. Here you have the Honey Comb interface that works very well with the Griffin Powermate. As you rotate the controller, the focus will change from one item to the next, as shown in the next image.

    The currently selected item is highlighted in blue. You would press down on the item to bring up the page for that item.

    If you double press on the Powermate, on any screen, basic media controls will appear, as shown in the following image.

    This allows you easy access to basic media control functions; Play/Pause, Next Track, Previous Track, Rapid Scrubbing, Stop. It also has the volume up and down. As you rotate the Powermate, the individual controls will highlight. You press down, or hold down to perform the action. Now Playing and Album art is also displayed.

    The above image shows the Now Playing information, as well with the Album Art. The Now Playing is always shown while music is playing, and the Album Art briefly displays when songs are changed.

    When an upcoming action is required by the GPS Program, it will display it as shown in the following image.

    The notification will show up over any page when it is needed.

    This is the Apps Hive for your applications. You can assign a label or an image to each button. You will use the Powermate to scroll through the buttons, and press down to launch it.

    **EDIT** Once again, to clarify, I have chossen to build this interface for touch screens as well as other input devices such as the Griffin Powermate

  2. #2
    Variable Bitrate
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    For UI guidance, don't look at existing CarPC software, or desktop software, or media center software - look at something that uses a touch screen. The iPhone is an obvious example, but there are others.

    The most important thing to is to design the UI around a 7" touch screen with 800x640 or 800x480 resolution. Design it with the assumption that the user would rather be looking at the road than at the screen. Then test the UI with that hardware as often as possible. If you do 99% of the development on a desktop computer it will be far too tempting and too easy to put a dozen buttons on every screen that need hunt-and-peck while driving. Or a dozen little icons/glyphs/indicators that the driver will have to squint at to find the one they're interested in.

    A UI that works great on 17"+ screen with a mouse is probably going to be awkward in the car on a 7" screen with no mouse and no keyboard. A UI that works great in the car is probably going to be awkward with a mouse. Look for thinks that create those differences, and make something that rocks in the car. Doesn't matter if it sucks with a mouse.

    Most of today's front ends don't get this right, and that's the main reason I'm still using my car's own stereo for music. Some front ends get bits of it right, but other parts still have the legacy desktop UI design, and I'm still looking for something satisfying.

    Features, in order of preference:

    * able to launch 3rd-party applications (navigation especially, but I also have a Subaru-specific engine monitoring app, and proprietary stuff like that will always be far better and far faster than OBD2)
    * music library and player
    * acts as a hands-free device for bluetooth phones

    Nothing else matters to me.

  3. #3
    North of the land of Hey Huns
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    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Westminster, MD
    There is nothing to be gained in reinventing the wheel, so why do it? Why not take an already started project (like nGhost) and put all your effort into contributing to that?

    If you do insist on braching off on your own, I think some of the important things are:
    GPL licensing
    Complete Pluginability (able to add features or remove features easily)

    Most importantly:
    Fast on low power systems (500mhz or so).

    Look at CarPal (in my signature) it's a fine example of a not especially small frontend that runs great on slow linux and windows systems. One of the big problems with a lot of the major frontends is they are just plain slow and laggy.
    "stop with the REINSTALLS, what do you think we got some lame-o installer!!!" - mitchjs
    My Shop

  4. #4
    Low Bitrate Xygar's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Provo, Ut
    The only interface I've seen in person is centrafuse, and it looks ok. I like the large buttons (a must for a touch screen), and that there aren't too many buttons on screen at one time. I'm certainly a fan of the "clean" look.

    I agree that the ability to launch third party apps is very important, as well as bluetooth for phone and the all important media player. I like to see a certain amount of information displayed on screen at all times; e.g. a clock and track/title of a song that is playing. If that can be done in a clean way, it would certainly be worthwhile. Skinability is also a must in the "ultimate" front end.

    What language are you using to develop it? Has the project begun? Will the source be available? How can an interested party become part of the project?

  5. #5
    Admin. Linux loser.
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    Bugbyte's Avatar
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    Sep 2004
    Corning, NY
    Blog Entries
    Quote Originally Posted by NSFW View Post
    Design it with the assumption that the user would rather be looking at the road than at the screen.
    +1 for this. After using many FE's and skins, the only one I've ever been comfortable using is Amp, which is a Mac based imitation of Frontrow and Thunderstick's New Age Garmin skin.

    The reason is you don't use a touch screen with Amp (and I modified the New Age skin to work the same way). A touch screen requires you to touch it. To touch it, you must look at it to ensure your finger hits the right button. Since it is a touch screen, you can't tell from feel whether you hit the right control or not.

    I use Amp with the Griffin Powermate. A clicking sound allows you to know when you've scrolled from one menu choice to another. Big text allows you to glance at the screen and read it very quickly. Selecting the function is a press on the knob.

    Others will disagree, but give some thought to why they don't use touchscreens to control all of the functions in a car like heat, blinkers, fans and so forth. It would be much easier and probably cheaper to do this -like they do on wall ovens and microwaves, but they don't.

    After the cool effects and multiple functions are experimented with, you'll see that the computer-human interface is an area of car computing that is severely lacking.

    Oh, and don't even think about the iPod or iPhone. If you don't believe me, try using that tiny screen in the car. It's extremely well designed for personal use when not operating the car. But in the car, it is flat out dangerous.
    Quote Originally Posted by ghettocruzer View Post
    I was gung ho on building a PC [until] just recently. However, between my new phone having internet and GPS and all...and this kit...Im starting to have trouble justfiying it haha.
    Want to:
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  6. #6
    Variable Bitrate
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Also, I wrote up some thoughts on front end UI a while back...

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    The ability to use as many different types of GPS systems as you can.

    Pretty much make an ipod touch interface, with Garmin maps.


  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    programmable voice command for all tasks/buttons .

  9. #9
    Variable Bitrate UnusuallyGenius's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Grand Rapids, Mi

    Thanks so far

    Thanks to all who have sent their input.

    I will be looking forward to hearing more

    Also i will soon be posting some interface images and feature set

    No version of this software is available for release as of yet.

    Thank you for your time

    Unusually Genius Dev


  10. #10
    Low Bitrate
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Quote Originally Posted by gopichand View Post
    programmable voice command for all tasks/buttons .
    This would probably be the toughest to accomplish but in my opinion the most valuable of any feature a car pc engine could have. As bug byte mentioned, the interface between the system and the driver is lacking. This would really help keep eyes on the road.

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