UI ideas/questions or can we animate things as smooth as iPhone?

John Seghers jseghers at cequint.com
Thu Jun 7 18:05:51 CEST 2007

I've been lurking, but this is something that I do have a bit of experience
with--and definitely some opinions.

Michael 'Mickey' Lauer wrote
> Tomasz Zielinski wrote:
> > framework, designed for mobile devices and running quick
> > framebuffer operations? GameBoy provided nice full-screen animations
> > in 1989, eighteen years ago.
> I feel your pain. Trust me, it hurts me as well...

The GameBoy Advance is an ARM7TDMI running at 32MHz.  However, its screen
size was only 240 x 160 (1/8 VGA) and it had a hardware-based sprite system
as well as both bitmapped and character mapped graphics capabilities with
hardware fine scrolling and multiple planes.

IIRC, the GTA01 has a 266MHz processor--only a little more than 8x the
GBA--and fully 8x the screen area with 16x the memory required for a bitmap.

> > I'm 100% sure nobody will cry after pure-X11 applications we loose
> > this way. Almost every GTK application would require rewriting/porting
> > to fit OpenMoko capabilities, so it's not great loss too. Not to
> > mention font and other DPI-aware issues.
> Interesting. Can I hear more supportive or counter arguments?
> What do the others think?

I've been writing games since 1981, on Atari 5200, 8-bit NES, SFX, Genesis,
Windows, and too many cell phones to keep track of. Please, please, please
give us direct access to the frame buffer and a low level API to the Blitter
in the GTA02.

I don't know if you have to throw away X11 support to do so, but I do agree
that you won't lose much if you do so.

A lot of statements have been made here about people flocking to the Neo
*because* they can modify it. But remember that the geeks who will buy it
because they can run their favorite X application, or bring up a Linux shell
are the vast minority if you're looking at hundreds of thousands or millions
of devices being sold.  

The vast majority of the purchasers are going to be people who buy it
because it functions smoothly, makes great calls, and has lots of nifty eye
candy. And, oh by the way, the can customize it to their heart's desire. But
those customizations aren't going to be done at the Linux developer level.
Those are going to be seamless plug-ins or self-installing apps that give
them something they want on the phone. This also points to the need for a
slick graphical app catalog/installer.  Synaptic, apt-get, rpm...not going
to cut it for the normal end user.

This is a resource-constrained device compared to the computers we have on
our desks. Yet, people will expect that such a device will have fluid eye
candy, will be very responsive, and if it doesn't, it won't matter to them
that it was built with Desktop technology.

The basic apps that run the phone need to have performance, fit, and finish
as their top priorities. And for that you can't have a ton of abstractions
between the apps and the hardware.

- John

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