Symbian Foundation's Scott Weiss on UI

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In this video interview, recorded just before MWC, we speak to Scott Weiss (User Interface Technology Manager at the Symbian Foundation and Chair of the Symbian Foundation UI Council) about the Symbian Foundation UI and some of the initiatives and projects that Symbian is undertaking around UI topics. You'll hear about some of t he key user experience changes, the UI workshops and the UI pattern library.

Key points

  • Lots of improvements coming to the UI in Symbian^3. Including multi-page homescreen support (pages limited only by available memory) with improved widget support, one click connectivity (no prompts as before) and single tap enhancement (contributed by Ixonos) that strips out a step from most activities (e.g. selecting something from a list).
  • The Symbian Foundation is creating a Symbian^3 theme, which is completely open source, to show case some of the new functionality. It will also provide the community with a valuable resources. People can use the icons, chrome, transitions etc. and make new themes based on the original theme. It also takes advantages of some the capabilities new graphics architecture (e.g. in some of the gradients and transitions). 

Symbian 3 theme   Symbian Theme 


Symbian^3 theme (preview)

  • Single tap contribution came about as a result of a UI Workshop held in Helsinki - the theme was making the UI better and what was 'quick win'. Ixonos seized the opportunity and submitted a major contribution proposal. Nokia saw this and offered to participate with Ixonos - a good example of open source sucess story with collaboration between two companies resulting in a major platform contribution in a short time.
  • Gestures have been supported in the platform, but not in a developer framework. Now there is a gesture framework (tap, drag, double tap, pinch etc.), which means developers can create applications that are consistent through-out the platform (e.g. kinetic scrolling).
  • Nokia have contributed Symbian^4 proposal (see video below). It is an elegant evolution of the platform's UI (e.g. two button softkey evolves to four button toolbar giving more direct access to commands). People can read more about the proposal here.
  • Symbian UI Workshops are held between in person UI Council meetings (roughly every 2-3 months) and allow people from different areas of the industry (operators, designers, manufacturers, developers and more) to come together and discuss ideas around UI and the future of the platform (e.g. ideas around the future of gestures).

Symbian Workshop in Japan

Symbian UI Workshop in Japan (Photo Credit: Scott Weiss)

  • The Pattern Library, which is completely community created, for Symbian^3 is a way to explore and find Symbian UI widgets and patterns of how they come together to create the UI. It is built into the Symbian Wiki here. Nokia will be contributing a similar library for Symbian^4, but the community can help complete the Symbian^3 library.
  • For Scott working for the Symbian Foundation has been the most challenging, but also the most enjoyable job he's ever had. In particular he highlights the 'community ownership' of the platform as a key driver in improving the platform iteratively every six months for a 'long time to come'.

Scott Weiss on Symbian UI

See also

Symbian^4 UI Framework video - video showing some key Symbian 4 UI ideas

Symbian^3 Design Preview - Nokia 'productised' version of Symbian^3

Symbian completes move to open source - Lee Williams on the Symbian Foundation's EPL announcement.

Lee William's on Symbian^3 - Lee Williams on the 'official' Symbian^3 announcement.