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Subject: Interface fundamental proposition.

Interface fundamental proposition.

From: Paul Louden <>
Date: Tue, 29 May 2007 06:01:35 -0500

This seems to be a point I find myself arguing more often than I'd
like, so I'd like to bring up some discussion of it here so that maybe
some more abstracted decisions can be made (both for moving forward
and for revising some existing targets).

In my opinion it's very important that certain fundamentals of the
user interface remain consistent across targets so that users of
Rockbox can migrate to any target easily, and learn it very quickly,
as well as keeping things somewhat consistent for supporting targets
that the supported is not wholly familiar with, and writing and
maintaining documentations. Essentially, in my opinion, a new user of
player X, who's used Rockbox before, can pick up a new player and say
"Ah, this is the menu button, this is the select button...etc" and
after having identified the buttons in one screen have a reasonable
expectation as to what each of those buttons will do in the rest of
core Rockbox.

To me this means defining some control consistencies. For example
currently on many of our targets the "Select" button is paired with
"Context Menu" on long press, the "Menu" action is paired with the
"Quick Menu" on long press, and "Stop" is paired with "Power off" on
long press. Even on the iPods where there is no Stop/Power button,
long press is stop and longer press is power, somewhat preserving the

I think it would be beneficial to define some of these interface
consistencies so that future buttonmaps make use of them. I have no
objection to new players which have more buttons finding uses for
them, and for players with limited buttons (iPods, and I hear some of
the Archoses I don't have access to yet) to double up or come up with
cleverer solutions, but I think that a consistent input method is
quite valuable.

To me there are some fundamental keys (inputs / actions / as you will)
that each player has, in terms of buttons.

These are:
List Advance (Down)
List Backward (Up)
FFWD (Right)
REW (Left)

Basically, four directions, Play, Power, Menu, Select. The iPods are
short one of these. I think there would be a value to making at least
these buttons the 'fundamental' Rockbox buttons. If a button moves
down in the list, it should lower the volume in the WPS. If a button
moves right or left in the menu structure, it should serve as FF/RW
and next/prev in the WPS. The button that is used to select songs
should banish the WPS, and a long press should be used for context

I know I'm a bit contentious on this point, and I apologize, but I
feel very strongly that a consistency of interface among Rockbox
targets is a more valuable benefit to users of the software than
preserving habits of the original software. When a user moves to a new
software, they expect to learn a new interface. When a user moves to
the same software, with an equal set of buttons bearing most, if not
all, of the same symbols, they expect the buttons to continue working
between screens as they did before.

I've placed a patch in the tracker for implementing some of this
consistency on the Sansa (it is apparently not so popular already),
but there are still some changes the Gigabeat could experience to
bring it into line with this ideal (and in all honesty, the Archos
Recorder too).
Received on 2007-05-29

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