So, carrying on from the last article, how DO you achieve the designs programmatically? Provided of course you don’t know at present and have no access to a comparable example or person that worked on something similar. If that’s the case, you’re a-for-away. Merely adapt the example or plumb the brains of the hapless programmer!
Granted, this is a luxury most of us don’t have. What stands one to do then? Well, the most obvious answer is often the right one, so Google it! Simply entering “How do achieve X on Android” (where X is the feature you are looking at obviously) will return a whole host of returns (hopefully). Heck, for all you know one of the first results may very well be a link to a library that does exactly what you need and the search is over.
Barring the lucky find of a library or two, the next site that almost certainly will appear in the results is www.stackoverflow.com. This gem of a site enables programmers to ask questions of other programmers, and allows you to answer a question with your own solution to the problem. Chances are that if the design is in widespread use, it has been posted on Stack Overflow. If it hasn’t, you can post your own problem, although there are guidelines concerning the posting of questions. An attempt at a solution in the form of a code excerpt is welcomed, although this isn’t a hard and fast requirement.
If the solution has been documented on the Google, Apple or BlackBerry sites, they are next in line to be perused. These sites can be found at developer.android.com, developer.apple.com, and docs.blackberry.com for the three largest smartphone manufacturers. Usually, more formal design patterns (for instance the Action Bar on Android devices) are documented, but it can prove a valuable resource to expanding on these ideas.
Apart from the major sites, you may find some random blog or forum post that explains what you are trying to achieve. If nothing turns up, try modifying your search slightly. Google can be a fickle beast, so cast your net wide! Maybe what you’re trying to do has been achieved for a completely different design paradigm. And if, after trying all the above and coming up with nothing…well, time to roll up your sleeves and code from scratch! Good luck!
Johann Van Den Bergh
App design is a thorny problem for most people. This is doubly true on mobile devices, where maintaining a sleek, user-friendly interface is trickier than it looks. Thankfully, there is a wealth of information on this subject, making it just a bit easier to decide on what an app should look like.
First is the iPhone and Android site http://www.mobile-patterns.com/. Consisting of a gallery of the most successful apps (including Twitter, Instagram, Facebook etc), this site contains a list of categories that may be giving you problems. This list contains a handy menu of the most common features in apps, such as Lists, Camera Controllers and the like. Each page contains images of examples in practice, providing guidance on how to achieve a similar effect in apps currently being worked on.
Second is the iPhone only site http://pttrns.com/, which provides a similar service to the above site, albeit focused on iPhone. Apart from the magnifying glass enabling your cursor to see up close to the images, it’s all pretty similar to the site above. Where it differs though is selecting an image that you like doesn’t just display the image in a fuller size. Instead it takes you to all images listed on the site under the same app, along with a link to the iTunes website and ratings for the app.
Apart from the above sites, there exists a host of other sites in a similar vein. These include dribbble.com, www.lovelyui.com and www.androidpatterns.com. Sadly, these are all related to Android and iPhone, and I have been unable to find a site for BlackBerry devices. Thankfully, the BlackBerry site contains tips on how to create a standardised UI across BlackBerry devices. How to implement these features in code is a whole different problem. Hopefully I will address that in a future update!
Johann Van den Bergh
Mobile Software Developer
4U Rage Festival 2012 which is brought to you by G&G, Vodacom and Blackberry is around the corner, and Cobi had the pleasure of developing the Blackberry app.
We have already seen over a 1000 downloads since the launch date on the 8 November!
The app was designed to insure that all the raggers have access to any and all information they would need to enjoy this magnificent event. Cobi’s user experience expert designed the app to be user friendly and was customized to cater for all raggers and ensuring smooth and easy access to all the fantastic content. Cobi was really proud to be part of this project and can’t wait to hear how much you guys love it.
You can download the app from the BlackBerry App world or from www.ragefestival.co.za/.
Enjoy it and let us know what you think!