Maemo UI improvements blog.

December 25, 2009

2010 UI countdown. #6 – XChat

Filed under: Design guidelines — Tags: , , , , — Andrew Zhilin @ 20:01

Good evening everyone.

Today I’d like to show you interesting user interface concept for extremely popular IRC messenger called Xchat. As you remember, it never had properly hildonized interface so I thought that it would be cool to design something for it.

Check out the concept after the break.

This is the main window. As you can see, now it looks more natural. Every user has its own colour for better clearance. Also “Tab” button was added cause it’s pretty functional in IRC but you don’t have one on your hardware keyboard. But there’s one problem – this fontsize helps you to see more but it’s too small for finger manipulations. That’s where I come in :) Tap somewhere in the text where the part you’re interested in is located and you’ll get into zoomed mode.

Now you can see enlarged text with timestsamps. And you can easily tap the part you need.

On tap you’ll see text input window and three options, copy selected text, copy all text quickly and open link (if there is one)

But lets get back to the main window. Now we need some intuitive way to switch between channels and user-selection. I thought that swipes from left and right would fit very nicely for this purpose. Left for channels:

And right for users:

Well, that’s all for now, hope you’ll like this concept. Thanks for reading and see you tomorrow.



  1. Vertical tab bar seems like a huge waste of space. How about a horizontal option the bottom (and much smaller) too?

    Comment by Ryan Abel — December 26, 2009 @ 03:39

    • Well,If you’ll look closer, you’ll notice that vertical tabs ate same 3 rows of text as horizontal will do. But it’s easier to navigate. Anyway, I think there’s no problem in keeping its position optional, just like in original XChat.

      Comment by Andrew Zhilin — December 26, 2009 @ 12:59

  2. XChat does not do the user color coding, so neither should the Hildonized version. Colored lines actually have reasons for it.

    However I like the swipe to see the channel/user lists.

    As for the tab key, on-screen keys always suck. Plus that space is supposed to be the button to open the dialog to rename yourself. The user should remap the hardware keys to suite their own needs.

    Hildonizing is one thing, but please, leave my XChat alone as much as possible. If the UI is going to change so much, why even bother calling it XChat anymore.

    Comment by jake — December 26, 2009 @ 10:56

    • Actually, hildonized application is the main thing end user should see in Extras, according to Maemo HIG. I think there will be no problems in having 2 versions – Oldskool and modern.

      Comment by Andrew Zhilin — December 26, 2009 @ 13:15

      • I’m saying, hildonize (touchscreen usability) yes, redesign no. If you change the UI so much that it is no longer XChat then just go design a new piece of software instead of sadistically maiming a decade old program.

        First fix the touchscreen usability issues, and if you have time left, then work on the new features you want.

        Comment by jaek — December 26, 2009 @ 21:05

      • Well, these are all touch screen/small screen usability fixes, there’s almost no redesign. Colour binds can be optionally disabled. And my time is the only thing I can manage myself, thank you :)

        Comment by Andrew Zhilin — December 26, 2009 @ 21:50

  3. Looks great. I think a fork/two-versions is the way to go. There’s no reason to compromise when hildonizing it and you can’t get that done properly without pissing oldskool xchat users.

    Comment by kynde — December 26, 2009 @ 15:24

  4. They all look really good. My only objection is that automatic text reflowing when you swipe left or right will be difficult and performance killing. Especially if you’re going to have it reflow dynamically (ie a little at a time) as you swipe left/right and not just snap left/right and reflow it once.

    Comment by Mark — December 26, 2009 @ 20:24

  5. you can do it, but it will make lots of people nervous..

    Comment by האנה מונטנה — December 29, 2009 @ 21:02

  6. IRC on Linux de-mystified for new users only…

    I found your entry interesting thus I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)…

    Trackback by Amit Agarwal — June 15, 2010 @ 18:41

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