Vector GUIs and display sizes (branch: You decide)

7 Jan 2005 - 5:00pm
9 years ago
6 replies
442 reads
sylvania
2005

One thing that the pace of innovation has taught us over the last 100
years is that we often grossly underestimate the potential speed of our
progress. ("640k ought to be enough for anybody." -- B.G. 1981)

Marcin Wichary:
>> [...]the original Macintosh from 1984 had a 9" screen (and before
that, people worked with Osbornes and their stamp-sized 5"
displays), the first iMac from 1998 had a 15-incher, and the current
offerings sport 17" or 20" LCDs, without any obvious intentions to stop
growing.

How about "[...] more than four million pixels in [a] 30-inch flat panel
display" (Apple Cinema Displays: http://www.apple.com/displays/)?

GPUs processing more than 6 billion pixels per second (Apple Core Image:
http://www.apple.com/macosx/tiger/core.html)?

I've heard a lot of dissent regarding scalable design (especially for
Web stuff), but I guess I don't really understand why. Sure, it's a
challenge, but with everything from the 4-inch Palm up to a 30-inch flat
panel (or bigger!), I'm not sure that the 800x600 vs. 1024x768 vs. X x Y
static size design debate makes any sense anymore. Especially
considering that, from what I've seen & heard, more and more users are
*not* working full-screen, but arbitrarily sizing & arranging their own
windows. I'd be interested to know what others think about this --
from desktop ui as well as Web design perspectives.

For anyone interested in where gui design is headed, if you haven't yet
watched the WWDC2004 Keynote
(http://www.apple.com/quicktime/qtv/wwdc04/), ya outta. Really exciting
stuff. (*Two* 30-inch flat panels side-by-side -- 8 million+ pixels?!?)

On the Microsoft front, I've been fortunate enough to get to play around
with Avalon/XAML lately - the possibilities coming up in vector-based
gui design are really quite exciting.

Marcin Wichary:
>> I've seen some vector "masters" of Windows XP icons. They weren't
particularly attractive after zooming to full screen.

True, but it's all about *how* they are designed. Vector graphic design
is fundamentally different from bitmap graphic design - scalability
needs to be accounted for straight from the get go (concept stage).
I've seen vector graphics that don't scale well too, but it's usually
obvious in these cases that the scalable nature of the vector format was
an afterthought to the designer. I've also seen some beautifully
created vector graphics that scaled well from 16 pixels up to full
screen and larger. With photorealism and alpha effects.
With all that's on the horizon, I (a traditional [bitmap] designer) am
realising that I need to learn some new techniques. I wonder how many
of us are starting to make the transition to vector-based design?

-- Sylvania

Comments

7 Jan 2005 - 5:15pm
Dave Malouf
2005

Scalable displays?
Web?
Other?

I think better than scalable displays are intelligent displays. At least the
way I'm thinking about the term scalable. Scalable means that it will
stretch, right?

What I prefer are interfaces that are intelligent. Scaling/stretching isn't
always the right answer, but often what you display at all should change
based on the display size. i.e. a 4" handheld not only requires a smaller
icon, but it also requires less content and a more progressive display
behavior model. That is to me intelligent display.

The idea of scalable icons and other graphical widgets is interesting. I
think I would need to see it in action first though.

-- dave

7 Jan 2005 - 6:46pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Jan 7, 2005, at 2:00 PM, Dye, Sylvania wrote:

> I've heard a lot of dissent regarding scalable design (especially for
> Web stuff), but I guess I don't really understand why. Sure, it's a
> challenge...

Just a challenge?

It's one of the most difficult, complicated challenges there can be in
this field, and we have only 20-30 years of early field experience in
the profession to help us work through it. The automotive industry has
had 100+ years and they are just getting to the point where cars are
reasonably designed.

When it comes to the scalable/stretchable interface issue, I think far
too many people vastly underestimate how complicated and nuanced this
problem is in reality.

> For anyone interested in where gui design is headed, if you haven't yet
> watched the WWDC2004 Keynote
> (http://www.apple.com/quicktime/qtv/wwdc04/), ya outta. Really
> exciting
> stuff. (*Two* 30-inch flat panels side-by-side -- 8 million+
> pixels?!?)

That's an issue of resolution, which is only a fraction of the
issue/problem regarding creating interfaces that scale to various
sizes. And GUI design is not heading that way. It's heading in multiple
directions at the same time, which complicates the matter
exponentially.

> True, but it's all about *how* they are designed. Vector graphic
> design
> is fundamentally different from bitmap graphic design - scalability
> needs to be accounted for straight from the get go (concept stage).
> I've seen vector graphics that don't scale well too, but it's usually
> obvious in these cases that the scalable nature of the vector format
> was
> an afterthought to the designer.

Creating scalable icons requires designing multiple sizes off the
artwork. It's no different than creating a corporate identity so it
works on billboards or on business cards. You have to actually make the
different sizes yourself. You don't make one piece of art and it
magically scales from small to large sizes.

The Mac OS X desktop icons are not vector based. It's basically
multiple-size pixel renderings for the icon where the OS uses a
live-resampling algorithm that creates the various dynamic sizes.
Similar to how morphing in animation works. Also similar to how 3D
games adjust polygon count on models to make large worlds render in
real time.

> I've also seen some beautifully
> created vector graphics that scaled well from 16 pixels up to full
> screen and larger.

I highly doubt that. I would suspect what you saw was multiple versions
being used to move from small to large sizes.

> With all that's on the horizon, I (a traditional [bitmap] designer) am
> realising that I need to learn some new techniques. I wonder how many
> of us are starting to make the transition to vector-based design?

It's not about vector based design. Just like in traditional print
design, there's a place for vector and raster art. The GUI of the
future will not be entirely vector based

Andrei

7 Jan 2005 - 7:19pm
sandeepblues
2003

SGI Indigo Magic Desktop had true vector-based icons.

It worked, but needed ground-up rethinking.

Sandeep

7 Jan 2005 - 5:31pm
Elizabeth Buie
2004

David Heller writes:

>What I prefer are interfaces that are intelligent.

You mean interfaces that have buttons for "Home" and "Contact Us" and the
like?

;-) ;-)

Have a good weekend, everyone!

Elizabeth
--
Elizabeth Buie
Computer Sciences Corporation
Rockville, Maryland, USA
+1.301.921.3326

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8 Jan 2005 - 9:13pm
Alain D. M. G. ...
2003

--- Elizabeth Buie <ebuie at csc.com> a écrit :
> David Heller writes:
> >What I prefer are interfaces that are intelligent.
> You mean interfaces that have buttons for "Home" and "Contact Us" and
> the
> like?
> ;-) ;-)

Maybe he means Network-based desktop (as opposed to Web based)
applications with teams of UCD and HCI (or CHI) professionals at the
central facility constantly doing intelligent modifications and daily
updates to individual and group interfaces.

All kidding aside, this is also, in a way, a reponse to Ziya's desire
to contrast Web based applications with "traditional" desktop
applications. I find it difficult to define a "traditional" desktop
application environment because it is currently undergoing a major
overhaul with the gradual introduction of things like IBM's "Workplace"
ensemble. Some of the network centric but PC anchored applications
have many of the advantages of Web applications.

Alain Vaillancourt

__________________________________________________________
Lèche-vitrine ou lèche-écran ?
magasinage.yahoo.ca

9 Jan 2005 - 7:19am
CD Evans
2004

Vector based is a good idea for effeciency. But we have to convince the entire industry to stop slowing things down with
bloatware first. I think the whole need for effeciency is bit frayed anyway, anything truly effecient is usually high
maintenance. If we can come up with a deign that isn't, perhaps the bloat doctors would be interested enough to support it,
but I doubt it.

CD Evans

On Sat, 8 Jan 2005 21:13 , 'Alain D. M. G. Vaillancourt' <ndgmtlcd at yahoo.com> sent:

>[Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted material.]
>
> --- Elizabeth Buie ebuie at csc.com> a écrit :
>> David Heller writes:
>> >What I prefer are interfaces that are intelligent.
>> You mean interfaces that have buttons for "Home" and "Contact Us" and
>> the
>> like?
>> ;-) ;-)
>
>Maybe he means Network-based desktop (as opposed to Web based)
>applications with teams of UCD and HCI (or CHI) professionals at the
>central facility constantly doing intelligent modifications and daily
>updates to individual and group interfaces.
>
>All kidding aside, this is also, in a way, a reponse to Ziya's desire
>to contrast Web based applications with "traditional" desktop
>applications. I find it difficult to define a "traditional" desktop
>application environment because it is currently undergoing a major
>overhaul with the gradual introduction of things like IBM's "Workplace"
>ensemble. Some of the network centric but PC anchored applications
>have many of the advantages of Web applications.
>
>Alain Vaillancourt
>
>__________________________________________________________
>Lèche-vitrine ou lèche-écran ?
>magasinage.yahoo.ca
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