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Thread: The Perfect Frontend

  1. #1
    Constant Bitrate coffeejolts's Avatar
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    Lightbulb The Perfect Frontend

    Quote Originally Posted by danielkh View Post
    Someone should start a thread, rather than why so many frontends, it should be "The Perfect Frontend". And it can only be a list, no one allowed to say anything like "well, then, build it" and absolutely no "(insert FE name here) has features A, B, D, F, and Y".
    Per DanielK's suggestion- this thread is dedicated to "The Perfect Frontend". What features would it have? What would it look like? List your features below. Who knows, someone might come along and actually build "The Perfect Frontend" someday.

    RULES
    1. No pimping of current front-ends. Nobody cares that front-end X is '1337' and 'pwns ju n00bas'.
    2. No posts other than lists

  2. #2
    SD beats everything. So there. danielkh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by coffeejolts View Post
    Per DanielK's suggestion- this thread is dedicated to "The Perfect Frontend". What features would it have? What would it look like? List your features below. Who knows, someone might come along and actually build "The Perfect Frontend" someday.

    RULES
    1. No pimping of current front-ends. Nobody cares that front-end X is '1337' and 'pwns ju n00bas'.

    Ok, here are mine.... feel free to copy, edit, whatever to make other lists...
    1. Animated background available
    2. Large buttons, no logo's (none, dada, not even in the corner. It can be on an "about" button)
    3. Media controls on demand, meaning no play, pause, rew, ff, etc. keys visible. One button that calls them all up. Same with volume.
    4. Full featured weather, including radar, forcast, temp, etc. Perfect would be GPS moving and automatic severe weather alerts.
    5. "touch scrolling" music selection (Apple like)
    6. 3D navigation mapping overlay(google earth, ms virtual earth, etc) independant of the navigation software used.
    7. Intuitive interfaces for radio/hdradio/satradio, meaning presets, filtering by genre, location, etc.
    8. Autoplaylist creation (weekend, most played, star rating, etc)
    9. Fully programmable buttons (keystroke definitions for other control methods)
    10. SW Button, Gesture, Voice (Intuitive voice, ie, "Play Michael Bolton" lol), and hardware button control.
    11. Bluetooth phone with "smart program" features like contacts, numbers, etc. that are saved outside the phone linked. This allows certain contacts to be dialed regardless of what phone is paired.
    12. GPS based volume control
    13. Integrated traffic, detour inforation
    14. Adjustable colors for background and buttons to match current guage lighting scheme.

    I don't want to create "non-list" posts, so, by editing my original, I REALLY like this one (coffeejolts) .......

    12. Can automatically link to specials and other information about local POIs. For example, if I see that a Six Flags is nearby, it should tell me if there is a two for one ticket offer going on right now. Or, it should tell me that the pizza joint up the road has a $1 off coupon. Or it should tell me that the Mexican joint on the left just got a "15/100" on its health inspection and I shouldn't eat there.
    My opinion is my own.

  3. #3
    Constant Bitrate coffeejolts's Avatar
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    My PFE-

    My Perfect Frontend
    Yes, I know that some front ends do these things already, and that some things are next to impossible- ^^^RTFR^^^
    1. Plays all my music, even the subscription stuff with DRM on it.
    2. Has a simple, easy to use interface.
    3. Does not have feature limiting when my car is in motion.
    4. Can automatically get album art for all my tracks
    5. Can burn a cd for a friend from the tracks in my current playlist
    6. Can integrate with my mobile phone
    7. Can check and manage my email (IMAP or POP)
    8. Has satellite radio support
    9. Has TV support
    10. Has support for multiple monitors and multiple sound cards, so my son can watch PBS Sprout in the back seat while the rest of us listen to XM radio.
    11. Has great navigation, with constantly updated POI, weather radar, gas prices, traffic, etc
    12. Can automatically link to specials and other information about local POIs. For example, if I see that a Six Flags is nearby, it should tell me if there is a two for one ticket offer going on right now. Or, it should tell me that the pizza joint up the road has a $1 off coupon. Or it should tell me that the Mexican joint on the left just got a "15/100" on its health inspection and I shouldn't eat there.
    13. Can interface with my car's OBDII and give me the information in a nice, easy to read format.
    14. Sends a text message to my phone if I leave my windows down and it's about to rain, asking me if it should roll the windows up.
    15. Quote Originally Posted by Rob Withey View Post
      7) Configurable handedness - not everyone drives left hand drive, think about what is being obscured on the screen as you press those scrollbars with left/right hands from the right/left of the screen.
      Interesting!
    16. Can record or pause live radio broadcasts, like a Tivo. For example, I'm listening to a baseball game. I have to get out of the car, but I don't want to miss what happens. I just press pause and do what I have to do. When I come back, the game is waiting for me exactly where I left off.


    I could go on and on.

  4. #4
    Raw Wave Rob Withey's Avatar
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    My short list of things to think about (in no particular order):

    1) Very fast startup time (precompile playlists/ID3 info and save as binary so they don't need to be rebuilt at startup).
    2) Very fast operation - no waiting for animations or screens to load, load everything up front.
    3) Low memory and CPU requirements.
    4) Large buttons.
    5) No requirement to drag - you don't want to be dragging whilst driving.
    6) The common features can be accessed with very few button presses.
    7) Configurable handedness - not everyone drives left hand drive, think about what is being obscured on the screen as you press those scrollbars with left/right hands from the right/left of the screen.
    8) Stable - no crashes.
    9) Support for at least MP3 and Ogg Vorbis.
    10) Gapless playback.
    Old Systems retired due to new car
    New system at design/prototype stage on BeagleBoard.

  5. #5
    licensed to kill - FKA kev000
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    Quote Originally Posted by coffeejolts View Post
    My Perfect Frontend
    1. Plays all my music, even the subscription stuff with DRM on it.
    Playback for all DRM formats is next to impossible. ...Unless you want to spend the rest of you life signing NDAs .
    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.

  6. #6
    Constant Bitrate coffeejolts's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by coffeejolts View Post
    Yes, I know that some front ends do these things already, and that some things are next to impossible- ^^^RTFR^^^

  7. #7
    Low Bitrate benedums's Avatar
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    1) Linux (because it's more customizable and stable)
    2) No Front End (the OS is the FE, i.e. LinuxICE, Mobiln, Ubuntu Mobile, etc...)
    3) Designed for a mobile environment (this one is obvious but..)
    -should be designed for a small screen with VGA and WVGA resolutions.
    -buttons should be 70x70 pixels at 800x480 resolution (taken from the MID Design Guide)
    4) Should have a panel with a workspace switcher (next/previous) and an applet area like most OS's.... ICEPanel
    5) Minimal user input (I don't want to hit 6 buttons to play a song...)
    6) Able to run multiple applications in separate workspaces (one WS per App). minimal resource consumption on inactive workspaces.
    7) Easily launch an application from a "desktop"
    8) Several applications designed for a mobile environment (see #3), including media playback, GPS, OBDII, BT phone, etc...
    9) Fast boot and resume last task.
    10) Skinable

    what did I just describe?!?
    Sailin
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    CarPC Status:
    Planning.......[--------x-] 90%
    Parts..........[------x---] 70%
    Fabrication....[----x-----] 50%
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  8. #8
    Variable Bitrate
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    Set aside a little bit of the screen for features that are very frequently used, like volume and a play/pause button (or mute), and a 'back' button (take me to the previous screen, no matter where I'm at). This part of the screen should never change. Ever. If I want to adjust the volume I don't want to go hunting for the buttons, nor dig through screens.

    That unchanging part of the screen should also have a 'back' button, and and a 'go to home screen' button. And quite possibly nothing else. Vol+, Vol-, Mute, Back, Home.

    The 'home' screen should just have a few big buttons for the major features. (No animations or logos.) Those buttons should be user-configurable. All of the skins have DVD or Video on the first page, but personally I am never, ever, going to watch video on my CarPC, so the DVD/video buttons just waste precious screen real estate. I do want a screen full of engine gauges, which I gather most people don't care about... since different people have different (and correct, for them) ideas about what should be on the home screen, it must be very easy to configure what the buttons. And there should be just a few (like 4 or 6, maybe 8) so that they'll be big and easy to identify and easy to press without taking eyes off the road.

    No matter what screen I'm on, if I hit the back button enough times (usually 1-2, maybe 3, sometimes but not often more) I should reach on the 'home' screen.

    If I hit the back button once more, nothing should happen. THE FRONT END SHOULD NOT IMMEDIATELY EXIT. Yes there is an RR skin that does this (I won't name it). Immediately disqualified. I can see the logic behind that decision (what came before the 'home' screen? No front end! OK, so exit!) but it left the skin unusable. Sometimes I'm going to hit the back button once too many because I'm paying attention to the road, not the stack of screens in my CarPC UI. If that causes the front end to exit, I'll never use that skin again.

    Pick just 3 colors (one with varying intensity, gradient fades are nice) and stick to them. Add a 4th color if necessary, but more colors is not better. The Carwings UI "gets it" when it comes to colors. Pick one font and 2 sizes. Anything more is just visual noise. Carwings (again) does well here.

    So that's the easy stuff, the stuff that I don't think will be very contentious.

    Here's something that might be contentious: Every screen should have hotkeys that get the job done. +/- and maybe PgUp/PgDn for scrolling, etc. No tabbing between controls (that's great for desktop PC UI where our eyes are on the screen, but not for CarPC UI where our eyes should be on the road). Touch screens are nice but what I really want is physical tactile buttons, somewhere near my gearshift, or where my factory radio is (was), so that I can operate everything using those buttons, without my hand obscuring the view of the screen and without my hand moving very far from the steering wheel and gearshift. I'd like to be able to do everything without taking my eyes off the road, just like I could with the factory stereo, and I think that requires physical buttons, so my fingertips can feel the edges and feel the clicks without me looking at the screen for confirmation that I'm doing the right thing.

    Obviously today it's not easy to get the hardware to support what I just described, and to blend it nicely with the dashboard, so there's a chicken-and-egg problem. No front ends will have the right hotkey support until suitable hardware is widely used, and no hardware will happen while most skins have lousy hotkey support. Hard problem.

    As an aside... Notice how the iPhone UI is very different from desktop PC UI? And notice that it rocks? Microsoft smartphones and carpc front ends are just scaled-down PC UI. I can't help but think that CarPCs might just need to be re-thought from the beginning. And no, I don't mean make them like iPhones, I mean start over and design them as CarPC UI, from scratch, not as iPhone UI or as scaled down desktop PC UI. That sounds simple, but it's not. It would be easy to get wrong and hard to get right. I don't claim to be up to the job. But I think it needs to happen.

  9. #9
    Constant Bitrate peijffertje's Avatar
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    The perfect FE would impress and let me score with chicks!

  10. #10
    Low Bitrate benedums's Avatar
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    Lightbulb

    NSFW brings up a good point, as carPC's evolve and the hardware to control them advances, I think it would be great if there was a chassis with buttons that were USB HID compliant. Basically the buttons send a specific command via usb to the PC just like a media keyboard does. If the OS recognized these commands like XP does and Linux may do, no special apps or drivers would be necessary and all would be well!

    Obviously now there really isn't any interface to provide this user input, but there should/could be in the near future (I'm in the process of designing such a chassis).

    So to add on to my first list:

    11) USB HID compliant
    Sailin
    ________________________________________
    CarPC Status:
    Planning.......[--------x-] 90%
    Parts..........[------x---] 70%
    Fabrication....[----x-----] 50%
    ________________________________________

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