Stylus, the iPhone, and multi touch screens

Fabien fleutot+openmoko at
Thu Jun 28 12:05:05 CEST 2007

On 6/28/07, Cailan Halliday <chocolate.usa.chan at> wrote:
> Does the multi-touch screen make this easier somehow?

It might help a bit in corner cases, but what really makes or breaks it is a
proper, global thinking of the user experience (which is generally not the
same, and even sometimes directly opposed to GFX effects). It requires a lot
of experiments, an ability to empathize with non-developers... many
abilities considered non-technicals and boring by most hackers,
unfortunately. This is *the* skill on which Apple built most of its
successes, and something open source software tends to have a hard time
getting right.

However, user experience is especially important for a phone, so maybe
openmoko will experience some great improvements over other OSS projects?
IMO, the best thing technical people can do for openmoko is making it easy
to script/extend/modify by moderately tech-savvy people: since hardcore
hackers suck at building usable UIs, the best they can do is offering to
new, different talents the opportunity to get it right. Or at least better.

I'd bet on Lua (, because it's tiny, powerful, easy to embed,
designed for easy interfacing with C and C++, and has a very gentle learning
curve if you don't use advanced features. Let's provide bindings for UI
bricks, phone features, and you're set. Look at for integration with a multitask,
non-trivial C/C++ libraries set (that's the debriefing of the of adobe
photoshop lightroom's implementation, in lua), or about non-developers
easily getting hands-down with Lua (here, XBox level designers). I work for
a wireless embedded devices builder, and you can't even imagine the kind of
productivity boost Lua provides. Attempts with Python or Smalltalk never
brought that kind of power (and Scheme scares everybody).

Don't forget that easily upgradeable firmwares are not so common on phones,
and phone builders don't want to modify the UI of shipped products. That
means they don't have the best user feedbacks possible, whereas that's
something openmoko will get. Up to us to exploit it efficiently, instead of
focusing on skins and other mostly useless glitter.
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