Balancing simplicity with complexity

Jeff Andros jeff at
Tue Aug 21 19:56:34 CEST 2007

mostly to rod... how soon until mokomakefile is updated?

On 8/20/07, Sean Moss-Pultz <sean at> wrote:
> Dear Community!
> A top ten complaint that we have received is directed at our user
> interface. Many people feel like the current interface doesn't address
> their exact needs. The organization is not "intuitive"; the colors are
> not pleasing; there is no simple way to navigate "exactly" where you
> want, exactly when you want.
> All Hardware has limits. All FOSS runs on hardware. Our current
> interface (OM-2007) was drawn almost in it's entirety before our
> designers had seen a working Neo. We had to live without an embedded
> stylus in the current version. And we had to learn to adapt to the lip
> on the touch screen preventing us from using interface elements on the
> edge of the display -- prime real estate regions.  It was tough. We
> pressed on, faithful in our belief that our community would overcome
> this limitation and begin exploring our new found oceans.
> Personally, I feel that one of the most important areas for this project
> is the development and  exploration of the mobile user interface. The
> human-machine interface is the intersection of art and technology. Great
> interfaces blend the visual with the technical. They balance simplicity
> with complexity. Often times, I feel, really great new interfaces are
> not immediately intuitive. They are not instantly natural. In fact, I
> would even argue this can be detrimental to improving interface design.
> If an interface is to be superior it must be different. Therefore it
> can't be intuitive, that is, familiar. A better metric, perhaps, is the
> learning time it takes until the interface feel's natural and intuitive.
> Now that we have freed phones, everyone can contribute to an improved
> baseline interface. This is our collective challenge. Can we create
> something truly different? Can we lead this incredibly important field?
> Recently, emails have been pouring in, questioning the community's
> ability to make our user interface into something insanely great.  While
> some doubted, others stepped up. Thomas Wood, of our extended team (AKA:
> OpenedHand), sent an email, entitled, "OpenMoko Design Suggestions"
> proposing -- in detail -- a redesigned interface concept that was
> totally finger-based, optimized for GTK+ at 285ppi and, might I add,
> very cool looking.
> We went back to the drawing board with OpenedHand -- lead by their vast
> experience with GTK+, Matchbox, and mobile user interfaces -- and
> redesigned an incredibly promising new interface.
> Today I'm extremely excited to announce that everyone can find this,
> right now, in our subversion repository, under the name OM-2007.2. We
> have already converted the following applications to the new framework:
>    * Dialer,
>    * Contacts,
>    * Today,
>    * Calculator,
>    * Feedreader
> You can find an official snapshot here:
> The remaining applications and wiki specifications will be converted as
> we approach phase 2. We have new style guidelines here:
> Here's a list of the major changes we've made with respect to this new
> interface:
> 1) We redesigned the user interface to better fit both the hardware
> capability of the Neo and its physical form factor.
> 2) Performance was improved by streamlining the visual appearance, still
> keeping it attractive, but at the same time lessening the resource
> impact. The current design allows for further future performance
> improvements.
> 3) We vastly simplified the UI design and optimized the available screen
> real estate and physical characteristics. This included the following:
>    * Improved the interface clarity by taking into account the screen's
>      ultra-high DPI.
>    * Allowed functions to be accessible using less accurate finger
>      methods with requiring the stylus.
>    * Placed common functions on easy access prominent buttons and
>      increased the button target areas.
>    * Reduced the number of objects on screen at once by splitting
>      applications into tabs and redesigned the application layout.
>    * Added more natural interaction methods, such as finger scrolling.
>    * Removed some unnecessary elements such as the footer. Improved
>      usage and accessibility of existing ones.
> 3) Application management and navigation is now improved by with a
> completely rewritten today app and by using the Neo's hardware keys.
> 4) This is now an interface that uses the strengths of our toolkit so
> that we can keep the extra framework and developer learning curve to a
> minimum.
> Please keep in mind that this new interface is still, very much, a work
> in progress. This is the earliest possible stage than we can release
> something with enough of a framework for you all to start exploring.
> It's a huge advancement in balancing simplicity with it's digital
> antagonist -- complexity.
> Also, thanks to Jon Phillips help, we've finally got around to licensing
> our artwork for this new interface under Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0).
> The introduction of OM-2007.2 goes hand in hand with merging the
> OpenMoko OpenEmbedded overlay into the upstream repository
> We are now based directly on the upstream metadata
> found in OpenEmbedded and synchronized with the most recent developments.
> Here are a few examples many of you have requested:
>    * dbus 1.0.2
>    * glib 2.12.12
>    * Cairo 1.4.10
>    * Gtk+ 2.10.14
>    * GStreamer 0.10
>    * ...
> Finally, we are very close to publishing our extensive software roadmap
> covering plans for adding more exciting software components and
> detailing areas where you can get involved and help us reach our goal of
> freeing phones around the world.
> Stay tuned for more information!
> Sincerely,
> The OpenMoko Team.
> _______________________________________________
> OpenMoko community mailing list
> community at

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