Hello and good morning

April 13, 2007

Hello world! This is a new blog of the Nokia Maemo user interaction design team. Maemo is the software platform that is running in the current range of the Nokia internet tablet products. Since many of our software comrades are already blogging about their own work, it’s high time that we start our own blog.

We’ll be blogging about the various topics and issues relating to the user interface and user interaction design that we come across in our work.

However, since blogging is about direct feedback and communication, if you have any suggestions on what kinds of issues and topics would you want us to blog about, please comment and give your ideas. We’ll try our best to answer and discuss the topics that you want to hear about.

This WordPress account will be our temporary home away from home. Once we get the official Maemo site upgraded and fully functional, this blog will then probably move to that address. This will be a shared blog, with multiple persons writing entries and giving replies. We are individuals with differing personalities, so take everything we say with a healthy grain of salt. Absolute truths are very rare in the world of interaction design.When we’re not blogging, we’re busy designing new things and improving the current designs, so please have some patience with us. 🙂

On behalf of the interaction design team,

roope rainisto

8 Responses to “Hello and good morning”

  1. This is a great idea. I wish you much success with the blog, and can’t wait to read more of your ideas about how the Maemo UI can and should evolve.

  2. Roope Rainisto said

    Yes, Sean has written a very nice – and long – piece on the current UI. It’s way too long to comment fully, but we could certainly discuss bits and pieces about it. Any specific wishes on its topics? I can say at least that everyone in the team has read the article, that’s for sure. 🙂

  3. Nathaniel said

    I posted that link as a starting point, just to make sure you were aware of it. I may refer to it later. Here are a few of my complaints on the 770:

    Control Panel -Task Navigator:
    Why am I not allowed to rearrange the menus?
    Why can’t I add shortcuts to the menus?
    Why can’t I delete stuff from the menus? (I have some deleted programs that still show up )
    What is the point in having this in the control panel if I can’t control it?

    Control Panel – Personalization:
    Why is it called this, when it only can alter the themes but not the background?(Why not call it “Themes”, instead?)

    Why waste screen space on the taskbar thingy on the left side, when those icons are only one (home) button click away? Keep them where they are, definitely. But stop wasting the screen real estate.

    I would also like to have the ability in Control Panel to add icons to the topbar.

    Windows! I want Windows!
    I want to be able to have the internet radio applet on top of another open application.

  4. Sebastian said


    nice to see the UI team blogging 🙂

    I’d recommend sean’s article, too.

    Personally I would love a general “left-handed mode”, which would mainly affect
    – scrollbars (left side of screen) and
    – word suggestions of virtual keyboard (should be on the _right_ of the space button, so they would not interfere with typing spaces)

    According to wikipedia “Approximately 8 to 15% of the adult population is left-handed.” [1] and it’s extremely annoying if the stylus masks the whole screen when scrolling.

    You’re doing a great job designing an UI which runs with different resolutions, screens and devices, so I would see it as a missed chance if such things are left out for this great new fundament for a new class of devices.


    [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Left-handed

  5. Roope Rainisto said

    Hi Sebastian.

    As a fellow left-handed person I share your pain. 🙂 However, it is a rather tricky request. The default placement of scroll bars usually also affects the design of applications, views, lists etc. so that they are arranged so that the scroll bar being on the right hand side would be the most logical position for it, considering the entire content of the view and the placement of the various items inside the view.

    Even looking at Maemo, the fact that the scroll bars are on the edge of the right hand side is logical. Since the task bar covers the left side, placing the scroll on the left would result in placing it mid-way left to the screen. If a design has been done logically, then virtually everything would need to be flipped right-to-left. Which is problematic, since text still goes left to right and we as users have rather accustomed to seeing certain design patterns (left-aligned text, eyes going from top left to bottom right etc.).

    This is not to say that it wouldn’t work in some cases, but rather that it wouldn’t work in all the cases. Additionally, there is the practical concern of utilizing our available open source SW components. They do not, as far as I’m aware, support this functionality. We should be very careful about branching software unless for a very good reason, and personally at least don’t think that this wouldn’t be such a reason.

    Individual fixes to individual aspects of the design could of course be done, but it would really be a shame to give a small fix for only a couple of scenarios. Imho if we support left-handed use, we should then support it properly.

  6. Roope Rainisto said

    Hello Nathaniel. Thanks for the comments. You have several issues, but I’ll try to comment on those.

    Task navigator: You can actually rearrange the menu, by drag and drop operation. Start dragging an item on the right side of the “Organize favourites” dialog and it should work. Currently there is a direct 1-1 linking between the item in the menu and the actual application. (Unlike for instance the Windows start menu.) So there’s no duplicates (shortcuts) or missing items. That’s also why you can’t delete those commands: only if you could uninstall those applications then the commands would go away.

    “Personalisation” is called personalisation, because it’s a title for a group of applets. “Themes” is name of one of the applets there, if you hadn’t noticed. You’re right that there’s no way to change background image there, that’s done through the Home menu.

    The taskbar is wasting screen estate, yes, but that’s why there is currently the full screen command, to focus solely on the current task.

    Sorry, I don’t understand what you mean by “adding icons to the topbar”. Could you clarify?

    We consciously went against non-full screen windows, to simplify window management. If all windows occupy the whole screen, selecting which window to display is much simpler in the UI, as well as the implementation is. Each application can then assume that they have the whole screen for themselves. As well as other things, for instance the text input methods (that resize the available application area) can work better.

    Personally I also agree with this decision we made, I see much more disadvantages than benefits if we would start to support non-full screen windows on top of other windows. Any kinds of floating windows create really the rather unnecessary need of manual interaction, to drag windows around and manage them, especially on such a small screen device.

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