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Posts tagged with 'phone'

Michael Hall

Convergent File ManagerConvergence is going to be a major theme for Ubuntu 14.04, not just at the OS and Unity 8 levels, but also for the apps that run on it. The Core Apps, those apps that were developed by the community and included by default in the last release, are no exception to this. We want to make sure they all converge neatly and usefully on both a tablet and on the desktop. So once again we are asking for community design input, this time to take the existing application interfaces and extend them to new form factors.

How to submit your designs

We have detailed the kind of features we want to see for each of the Core Apps on a Convergence wiki page. If you have a convergence design idea you would like to submit, send it as a file attachment or link to it online in an email to design@canonical.com along with any additional notes, descriptions, or user stories.  The design team will be reviewing the submitted designs live on their bi-weekly Design Clinics (Dec 4th and Dec 18th) at 1400 UTC.  But before you submit your ideas, keep reading to see what they should include.

Extend what’s there

We don’t want to add too many features this cycle, there’s going to be enough work to do just building the convergence into the app.  Use the existing features and designs as your starting point, and re-imagine those same features and designs on a tablet or desktop.  Design new features or modify existing ones when it makes the experience better on a different form factor, but remember that we want the user to experience it as the same application across the board, so try and keep the differences to a minimum.

Form follows function

There’s more to a good design than just a good looking UI, especially when designing convergence.  Make sure that you take the user’s activity into account, plan out how they will access the different features of the app, make sure it’s both intuitive and simple.  The more detail you put into this the more likely you are to discover possible problems with your designs, or come up with better solutions that you had originally intended.

Think outside the screen

There is more to convergence that just a different screen size, and your designs should take that into consideration.  While it’s important to make good use of the added space in the UI, think about how the user is going to interact with it.  You hold a tablet differently than you do a phone, so make sure your designs work well there.

On the desktop you have even more to think about, when the user has a keyboard and mouse, but likely not a touch screen, you want to make sure the interface isn’t cumbersome.  Think about how scrolling will be different too, while it’s easy to swipe both vertically and horizontally on a phone or tablet, you usually only have a vertical scroll wheel on a desktop mouse.  But, you also have more precise control over a mouse pointer than you do with a finger-tip, so your interface should take advantage of that too.

Resources available to you

Now that you know what’s needed, here are some resources to help you.  Once again we have our community Balsamiq account available to anybody who wants to use it to create mockups (email me if you need an account).  I have created a new project for Core Apps Convergence that you can use to add your designs.  You can then submit links to your designs to the Design Team’s email above.  The Design Team has also provided a detailed Design Guide for Ubuntu SDK apps, including a section on Responsive Layouts that give some suggested patterns for different form factors.  You can also choose to use any tools you are comfortable with, as long as they Design Team and community developers can view it.

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Steve George

Today we are pleased to announce the beta release of the Ubuntu SDK! The SDK is the toolkit that will power Ubuntu’s convergence revolution, giving you one platform and one API for all Ubuntu form factors. This lets you write your app one time, in one way, and it will work everywhere.  You can read the full Ubuntu SDK Beta announcement here.

For the developers who are already writing apps using the Ubuntu SDK most of the beta’s features will already be known, as they have been landing in the daily releases as they become finished. Here’s a list of the features that have been added since the alpha:

  • Cordova Ubuntu HTML5 app template – leverage the Apache Cordova APIs to write Ubuntu apps with web technologies: HTML, JavaScript and CSS. Write your first HTML5 with the Cordova Ubuntu tutorial.
  • Ubuntu SDK HTML5 theme – a companion to all HTML5 apps: stylesheets and JavaScript code to provide the same look and feel as native apps
  • Responsive layout – applications can now adopt a more natural layout depending on form factor (phone, tablet, desktop) and orientation
  • Scope template – Scopes enable operators to prioritise their content, to achieve differentiation without fragmentation. Now easier to create with a code template
  • Click packaging preview – initial implementation of the Click technology to distribute applications. Package your apps with Click at the press of a button
  • Theme engine improvements – a reworked theme engine to make it easier and more flexible to customise the look and feel of your app
  • Unified Actions API – define actions to be used across different Ubuntu technologies: the HUD, App Indicators, the Launcher, the Messaging Menu
  • U1DB integration – the SDK now provides a database API to easily synchronise documents between devices, using the Ubuntu One cloud

Some of the biggest news here is the Cordova support and HTML5 theme, which brings together our goal of making first class HTML5 app that look and feel like native apps.  Cordova support means that apps written using the PhoneGap framework can be easily ported to Ubuntu Touch, and the HTML5 themes, written largely by community developer Adnane Belmadiaf, will allow those apps to match the native SDK components in both the way they look as well as the way the user interacts with them.

The Responsive Layouts, which landed in the daily SDK packages weeks go, gives developers the ability to adjust their application’s GUI dynamically at runtime, depending on the amount of screen space available or any number of other variables.  This is one key to making convergent apps that can adapt to be useful on both small touch screens and large monitors with a keyboard and mouse.

We’ve also put out the first set of Click packaging tools, which will provide an easier way for developers to package and distribute their applications both on their own and through the Ubuntu Software Center.  There is still a lot more work to do before all of the Click infrastructure is in place, but for now developers can start trying getting a feel for it.

All of that and more is now available, so grab the latest SDK packages, read the QML and HTML5 app development tutorials, and get a head start building your convergent Ubuntu application today!

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