Today I’m starting new series of posts, dedicated to my work in Mer project. It became more complex and interesting so I think you’d like to see the UI developing process in details. In past few days I’ve done some nice stuff so let’s begin.
All our team, guys from all over the world, chats on #maemo IRC channel and the developing is going literally real-time. That’s quite convenien, especially for me cause I can get a feedback on my ideas and mockups in seconds.
So, the first main idea of UI was simple – to throw away Maemo’s sidebar and give user more space to work without fullscreen mode. That sounded good but the problem was pretty obvious: sidebar contained lots of critical functions so we can’t just disable it. There is app-menu, quick switcher and notifications/task switcher and all of it is pretty “must-have” for the user. And all of that stuff required space, that we could get only on statusbar area. But I’ve remembered my very first post in this blog, where I was talking bout statusbar modifications. There I got rid of title and that gave me lots of space to use. So, after hot debates about “why the hell we need title there” we finaly said “goodbye” to it. And “hello” to extended quick switcher, which now had 7 slots to show opened items. Overflow worked same way as in applets area so everything looked perfect.For 30 seconds.
Now, as we removed title we have nothing to trigger “hildon menu” or simply “title menu”. But we had some space on the left, where sidebar was before. So I’ve made a button with “mer” logo that theoreticaly should trigger it. Not so obvious as it thought to be but whatever. Everything went well for one more minute.
Then we’ve tried to figure out how user will open large task switcher. I’ve used “Rambo-style” and just added it’s icon in the beginning of quick switcher. Whatever :)
Now we only had one problem – how to launch applications. We had no exits out of current layouts so I had to rework it. I settled down and started to think again, right from the start. What do we need: no sidebar, all functions, flexibility (since Mer now even can be loaded on x86 pc) finger friendliness, realism :) And I came up with this.
So what we have now: “Mer” button launches some kind of standard maemo tabbed applications menu, but instead of words it uses icons for categories. And bottom category became the task switcher, that looks totally the same as maemo one. Then we have nice quickswitcher with 7 slots for apps so now you’ll use large switcher way rarely :) Then goes “title menu” button, that signed same way as maemo title, to ease functionality recognition. And after that we have common applets area and minimize/close area. All notifications are shown there now, as it’s goddamn status bar :) More than that, our new “Mer” menu is square shaped, that means that it’s screen rotation-friendly. Also current layout is totally scalable. And the last remarkable thing is – that you can adjust apps/applets show ratio from 7/7 to whatever you like. You can even disable quickswitcher and see only 14 applets in a row :) And that’s not all I want to tell you today :)
My second UI improvement was pretty small but nice. And it works already in current Mer builds.
Mer’s rescue menu is a special device mode, which boots before OS itself and allows you to rescue device in different ways if something bad happened. Now you’ll wish that “bad” to happen because from “hello 80′s” style rescue menu became this:
Well, it’s all for now, hope you enjoyed this long article. Keep an eye on Mer cause more great features are waiting to be released!