[Jaffa Software]

Monday 31 March 2008

Non-tablet software in maemo.org downloads

X-Fade's been working hard and bug #2347 has been fixed. This now means that the official maemo.org downloads catalogue can now contain non-tablet software such as tablet-encode.

Hopefully this'll boost the profile of things like mediautils to a wider audience.

Steps are simple:

  1. Go to add new application (logging in if necessary) and fill out the fields as detailed.
  2. One particularly cool feature is the ability to put in a direct download URL for the "click to install" arrow.
  3. Don't try and attach any screenshots until you've first saved the details; there's an issue with that and it's best done when editing the page after the first save.

I've raised a feature request that the download statistics available to extras(-devel) users are picked up from garage.maemo.org for a more integrated system.

Saturday 29 March 2008

tablet-encode v2.18 - with much improved DVD ripping

tablet-encode has had v2.18 released. Notable new features in this release include:

  • A new "mplayer" preset with a very high bitrate.
  • Ability to define your own presets and options in ~/.tablet-encode.conf.
  • Ability to rip all the episodes off a DVD with a single option.
  • Add support for Freevo FXD files as pointers to the actual video.

The --episodes option is particularly cool; ripping a TV series' DVD (for, say, a long flight) is now a 3-step process:

  1. Attach N810 via USB.
  2. Insert DVD to computer.
  3. Run:
    tablet-encode --episodes dvd: /media/nokia-sd/Video/

It's hard to imagine it being any easier! Of course, at some point the GUI should support showing you thumbnails of each of the titles so you can select the ones you want to rip. If anyone's got any time, and experience with Perl Gtk+, I'd be happy to accept some help in improving the GUI version.

I'd also like to thank GeneralAntilles, rm_you, Marius Gedminas, Mike Lococo and divinerites for all their help with this release.

Sunday 9 March 2008

Improving application start-up: mockup

A quick follow-up to my post on improving application start-up usability. I've done a very rough & ready mockup:

A higher-quality (but not any better put together) AVI can be downloaded (333KB).

Saturday 8 March 2008

Improving application start-up usability

The announce of the iPhone SDK has revealed some interesting facts; including a particularly ingenious (and simple) way Apple have improved the user experience of starting applications.

It's a bit of a cheat, but with sound User experience Design (UxD) principles behind it: two small waits are better than one long one. It's why we have "please wait" messages on everything from ATMs to websites, and Hildon Desktop's own "Application loading" info messages at the top-right. The user feels the action is progressing whilst complex operations are occurring underneath.

Therefore, Apple's idea is simple: display an image of the application completely empty of content, but with the structure of its window in place as quickly as possible after launch. When the app actually opens its window, it replaces the image.

For example, the "launch image" for the iPhone's Settings app is shown on the left, with the actual app's first window on the right:

...and the Stocks app:

I've just posted to maemo-developers an idea for similar within the Hildon Desktop. For example, imagine the instant you selected File Manager from the launch menu, this image was shown:

The normal "File Manager loading" infoprint would also be shown, and then the File Manager proper would open and replace it.

Although it's "only" a few seconds we're talking about, I think it could really make ITOS feel more responsive. Given we've only got a 400MHz processor to play with, the impression of speed is just as important as the making the startup time as low as possible (but with the overhead of shared libraries etc. there's a lower bound which is achievable).

Comments, as ever, welcome.