Thursday, March 12, 2009

Carousel for UI: Pros and Cons

I've played around with Swing 2D a little bit. Then I thought: OK, if images can be viewed in carousel, maybe it is good idea to show running applications? Like a shrink to thumbnails and show as minimized windows, sort of a'la OS X exposé? Here is how this thing looks like:

Yup, it works: you click on any other window that is not in a center or use arrow keys "←" or "→" and you move to another one.

Used as a dashboard. Completely bad idea, probably. It looks like "Wow!!" to user, however after 3 minutes user realizes it is a pain to use, because what he is suppose to see right away in front of his eyes is actually covered. Dashboard supposed to show you information right in a moment you spot it.

Used as a menu. Only for stuff, like Apple TV. I've built one for myself, using Freevo at my home, getting a cheap-small-macmini-like PC and putting it behind my TV. For such sort of software, where user wants to relax and see fancy transitions on a very big screen with five menu items — this is a good choice to use carousel view.

Used for multimedia. Well, Apple did that in iTunes and iPods. Me — shrugs. I don't use it and none of my friends I know. Somebody might like to grep over a pile of album cover pages and visually trying to catch one like "Yeah! That's it!". But I prefer have a convenient powerful search instead, typing: "Met<ENTER>" and get for me "Metallica" playing right now.

For something else? Maybe could be done as miniature composition for a minimized windows, like OS X stacks or something. But still it looks ugly, frankly. Because these windows will never be fixed WxH pixels, and thus will never look slick in this way...

Where to put this to make it really useful for people? I have to think more, seems like... :-)

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