Bangarang – a media player

December 7, 2011

Happy hacking pops out a 2.1 holiday cake

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — jamboarder @ 2:19 pm

There’s nothing like doing what you enjoy for no other reason than for the sheer joy of it.  Even better, when such joy produces something you can experience. Bangarang 2.1 is now released.

I really enjoy creating stuff.  Occasionally, if I’m at all like other folks (debatable, I know), I look at the stuff of other people’s passions (music, paintings, architecture, whatever) and say man I wish I could do something like that.  I often find myself wishing for the passion of others while ignoring my own passions, my own motivations.  Working on Bangarang is one of my own avenues of creative expression. I do it with joy.  I’ve learned that, much like others who explore their own avenues of creative expression, I’m most creative when I choose not to do it from a place of anxiety or obligation to the work.  It sounds stupidly simple but I have the most fun when I’m actually having fun.  Fun breeds fun. Joy breeds joy.  And it is not just ok, but better, to take breaks when the fun diminishes.  That is the luxury of a hobby instead of a job. I do it for fun and I can take breaks whenever I want to.  And the fun does diminish.  It is the nature of living.  We can’t go about prancing around like we’re blissfully happy and eternally creative all the time.  We’re not.  And that’s ok, because it allows us to appreciate those joyful times all the more.

And the Bangarang 2.1 release paired with the holiday season is one of those times for me.  Happy holidays!

(Release notes are here).

September 15, 2011

Bangarang Touchificationism

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — jamboarder @ 9:47 pm

With the recent activity surrounding Plasma Active, I was inspired to do a few simple things that might make Bangarang a “touch” more tolerable on tablet devices.

I had already made a conscious effort in the existing UI design to account for lower resolution displays like netbooks.  Now I hope to get to the threshold of being at least tolerable on tablet devices.  This primarily means accounting for sometimes higher dpis as well as the more obvious transition from a mouse and keyboard to touch.  At a minimum, this means increasing target areas and increasing the pixel size of some visuals and text.  (More completely, it means a full evaluation of all the interaction mechanics necessary to execute the basic use-cases and adjusting the design accordingly).

So the result of this first step are in the following screenshots:

Touch disabled(left) and enabled(right)

And at what I think is the WeTab resolution:

I also disabled drag and drop in the Media Lists view when touch is enabled since it’s likely to be running fullscreen.  Note that this is not all QMLified and fully optimized for touch (including swipe scrolling and all that)… yet.  Like I said, I’m mostly hoping to get it tolerable first.

But here’s the deal. I don’t have a tablet with Plasma Active to test on.  Which means I’m mostly doing this with my overly active imagination. So if anyone would like to test and can provide some feedback you can get the latest from http://gitorious.org/bangarang. To enable touch, run “bangarang –touch [any character]“.  Thanks!

February 19, 2011

UI Considerations: Layouts

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — jamboarder @ 10:15 am

This is the second entry in what I might make into a “UI Considerations” series. The first entry was UI Considerations for the Small Independent Developer that covered a few basic concepts like use-cases, Information Value and Interaction Impulse.  As a reminder, these entries are oriented toward to the hobby developers that do not have the resources of an expert UI design or test team, but are still seeking some easily digestible UI guidance that they can act on at design time.  To be clear, this is not canonical UI guidance nor is it intended as a substitute for expert advice. These are just a collection of my observations over the years as a hobbyist and a borderline-obsessed fan of design in general and UI design in particular.

A quick recap from the first entry:

  • Ideally, use-cases should be implementation-agnostic.
  • The best UI allows the user to accomplish their goal(s) with minimum cognitive impact.
  • Reducing or eliminating elements with low Information Values should a goal of the UI designer.
  • Minimizing or eliminating high Interaction Impulse elements that do not support the use case should be a goal of the UI designer.

In this entry, I’ll take a look at layouts from a pretty high level.  The focus will mostly be on the high-level layouts you see when you first encounter an application, a desktop environment, or website, not necessarily the low-level layout used for individual UI elements. These high-level layouts may also be how you recognize or remember the application.  For example, when you think of a Windows 7 desktop what is the first image that comes to mind? For me that image has two general sections: the desktop area on top and the taskbar area below.  How about a web browser like Chrome or Rekonq?  Address bar + tabs on top, page content below. How about a file manager like Dolphin or Nautilus?  Places on the left, list of file icons on the right. I’m talking about that high-level layout you encounter when you first ask yourself  “Ok, how does this thing work?” and proceed to visually scan the application for clues.  Go check out your favorite app, desktop environment or website and see if you can identify the top level layout pattern.

(more…)

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