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View Full Version : Does SC need a separate, simplified, stylised user interface?



simbo
2008-04-11, 06:56
A few weeks back I posted a proof-of-concept (http://forums.slimdevices.com/showthread.php?t=45158) to the Plugins forum; a 3D album browser using hardware acceleration. The aim was to spark a conversation over the demand and benefits of a simplified UI focused on being easy to use and heavily stylised, rather than being feature rich. Of course this wouldn't be a relacement to existing interfaces, just compliment them.

I'm very grateful to those people who gave feedback, it's certainly helped me focus on areas like 2D vs. 3D. On hindsight, however, I wish I had attached a poll in order to get a more general feel for the demand, especially as the number of comments seems disproportionate to the number of downloads of the PoC!

Hence the reason for this poll. Apologies if this looks like a cross-post, that's not my intention, but I can't retrospectively add a poll to my previous topic and I think this deserves some discussion from a wider audience.

Here's where I'm coming from:
- I believe there is a potential space in the Squeezebox setup for a simplified UI focused on being easy to use (particularly for non-owners such as house guests) and non-destructive (e.g. cannot accidentally wipe out the current playlist).
- There is a perceived demand for a "10ft UI", one that can be displayed on a TV and controlled via a remote control. Integration with Media Center would be nice.
- A UI that has a certain "wow-factor" (i.e. impress-ya-friends) could be beneficial, especially with the emergence of highly stylised products such as Sooloos (http://www.sooloos.com).

As you can imagine, I'm reluctant to work on this unless there is real demand, so I'd be interested to know what you think.

FredFredrickson
2008-04-11, 07:14
I completely agree.

I spent some time and money on a media center computer with TV hookups and all that jazz, because I was excited about the integration with Napster.

I found out quickly that it was buggy, unsuported, and generally very poorly made to begin with.

Since then I haven't even used my media center computer.

It'd be nice to hook those up again...

plus 3-d album browsing is cool, but it'd need to cache all the images quickly, browsing albums otherwise is a real pain, since the album covers never show up until you wait 3-5 seconds on the controller and squeezecenter. Blah!

mherger
2008-04-11, 07:31
> Question: Does SC need a separate, simplified, stylised UI?
> - Yes, and making it 3D would give it a real competitive edge

Simplified? 3D? Hmm.... :-)

Michael

simbo
2008-04-11, 07:49
Simplified? 3D? Hmm.... :-)
LOL! OK, maybe some clarity is needed; not 3D-for-3D-sake but where it makes sense. Few can say that the iTunes CoverFlow interface isn't simple to use, on the flipside those attempts in the 90's to make 3D folder navigation tools were pretty awful. I actually think that, correctly used, the 3D space can improve a UI if used with the right metaphor.
I suppose what I mean by "simplify" is to trim down the functionality to the basics, so even your enebriated mates can choose the music without wiping your playlists.
Of course, I'm not suggesting that a 3D interface would be simpler to develop. :-)

amey01
2008-04-11, 13:37
Awww - Simplified 3D? I thought the same. I was thinking you were talking about a text-based, green text on black screen, menu driven type of interface - NOW THAT WOULD GET MY VOTE! Seriously.

FredFredrickson
2008-04-11, 13:48
Thanks to the fact that you can send command line commands- uh, couldn't you just right a quick Basic script with shell commands to do that?

jsprag
2008-04-11, 21:02
I gave it a "no" because a lot of solutions already exist for playing music using the TV as a display. Hardware solutions like XBMC, Xbox 360, PS3, Apple TV, other media extenders (i.e. D-Link DSM-520) as well as software such as LinuxMCE, Apple Front Row, J. River Media Center, so on and so forth...

For me, the appeal of the Squeezebox is the ability to separate my TV from my computer. I would be very unlikely to use of your proposed plugin.

casonbang
2008-04-12, 00:51
My Duet just doesn't seem to show that well to non-geeks. I still haven't figured out why. They just say "oh, it looks like an iPod, that's cool" and hand it back. Why don't they get it?

I would like some sort of simple interface for guests that works as you say... nondestructive and instantly intuitive. I don't even know if it would have to be an entirely different interface. Might be just as effective with a more simplified menu just for choosing music and adding it... that's all guests get to do!

As for the flash... I find the web interface completely abysmal. I think that a dedicated program would be 10 times better than all of the web versions out there. The default skin is way too limited... it doesn't even support drag n drop. The only way I see the situation improving is with flash-based skins. Where are they?

simbo
2008-04-12, 00:58
The only way I see the situation improving is with flash-based skins. Where are they?
You might want to check out SlimFX (http://forums.slimdevices.com/showthread.php?t=32422). The only issue for me is that it's designed for the desktop and doesn't work well in a 10ft environment.

aubuti
2008-04-12, 04:44
The default skin is way too limited... it doesn't even support drag n drop. The only way I see the situation improving is with flash-based skins. Where are they?
Actually the default interface *does* support drag & drop in the playlist (right pane). Or were you thinking about dragging from left pane to right pane? Check out slimfx, which is a nice (ie, not tacky) Flash-based skin that looks a lot like iTunes and supports D&D. However, I'm not sure slimfx has been updated for SC7 yet. Also, if you are on Windows, you should give Moose a look as a frontend to SC.

casonbang
2008-04-12, 14:07
Actually the default interface *does* support drag & drop in the playlist (right pane). Or were you thinking about dragging from left pane to right pane?

Yup, I was thinking dragging left to right to build playlists. All too often I go to click the tiny "add to playlist" button and miss by a pixel or two... and then my whole playlist is wiped out. :-(

SlimFX looks very cool. I've been afraid to try it because it's been so long since it was updated. But maybe I'll give it a go...

SlimRemote has been my favorite in the past, but it hasn't been updated for SC7 either... No favorites and it doesn't support Slacker cover art.

theStimmer
2008-04-13, 09:41
My answer would be yes to a simple 3D interface.

I looked at the sooloos and they look cool. Essentially I have the same set up today using a laptop with a wireless connection (although its not touch screen) but your limited to use the web interface.

This is not bad but for someone that has never seen it before its a little too much.

I think an easy to use java applett would do the trick...similar to softsqueeze. I think the biggest use case would be a simple interface that a casual user could use to browse the artwork and add music to a playlist. If the 3D looked and worked like iTunes then user adoption would be fantastic.