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newRPL: design of soft menus
11-13-2016, 04:23 PM (This post was last modified: 11-13-2016 04:43 PM by Helix.)
Post: #1
newRPL: design of soft menus
I've tried to imagine several types of soft menus.
My starting point is the following example, which shows how newRPL currently displays soft menus. The primary and secondary menus have been exchanged between the two images:

[Image: 1611130433275864614633426.jpg]

1) In the following case, both primary and secondary menus are white. Directories and submenus are indicated by a black line on top of the labels. The borders are in very light grey:

[Image: 1611130433285864614633427.jpg]

2) Perhaps a more elegant solution would be to use a light grey background for directories, probably even lighter than the SD indicator. I don't know if this is possible, and if the contrast would be sufficient. Only a test on the real machine can give the answer.

[Image: 1611130433295864614633428.jpg]

3) If grey background is valid, then the grey borders can probably be removed. The progressive fading of the labels avoid confusion between adjacent names. That would be a very elegant and simple solution:

[Image: 1611130433305864614633429.jpg]

4) I'm not sure that the primary menu should be black, because I'm still making errors between the keys when I use soft menus in newRPL. However, here is an example with a black primary menu. Directories are indicated by a dark grey background. Again, only testing on the real hardware can tell if this is a valid solution. I'm afraid that there will be a lack of contrast:

[Image: 1611130433305864614633430.jpg]

5) Here is an intermediate solution: the black primary menu has the traditional tabs. We lose one pixel for the stack. On the other hand, this additional space between the level 1 object and the soft menus makes the look more clear. I wonder if this additional blank line should be used in the other designs too.

[Image: 1611130433315864614633431.jpg]

6) Finally, here is an example with all menus in black and dark grey. Again, I don't know if this is a valid solution.

[Image: 1611130433325864614633432.jpg]

If you have other ideas, or if you have worked on other examples, you can share them in this thread.
For those who are interested, my working file to create these images can be downloaded here:
http://nsm08.casimages.com/img/2016/11/1...633660.png

Jean-Charles
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11-13-2016, 04:51 PM (This post was last modified: 11-13-2016 04:54 PM by Vtile.)
Post: #2
RE: newRPL: design of soft menus
Programs / Variables etc. : Black with white text
Directories : White background and black text.

The idea behind the programs / variables beeing as black background is that most important things have most contrast. In this case immediate actions.
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11-13-2016, 05:17 PM
Post: #3
RE: newRPL: design of soft menus
From my experience when I originally tried all these things:

a) I went for black, white and one level of gray because I found that many grays can appear to flicker in some calcs, and others can be hard to see unless your contrast settings are exactly as designed. On the PC screen of course, this looks a lot better.
b) Let's not forget that labels can be inverted (like the white solver menus), so for example light gray background with black text, what's the inverted state of that?

I think I agree (perhaps because we are used to it) that option 5 is the cleanest, but we would have to lose 3 pixels (one for each row) to have that extra line on the second menu as well (to keep it consistent).

What about inverting a triangle in the upper-right corner of the label for directories instead? Let's say 3x3 pixels:
Code:

XXX
 XX
  X
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11-14-2016, 12:00 AM
Post: #4
RE: newRPL: design of soft menus
7) Vtile's suggestion. Seems quite effective. Does it pose a problem?

[Image: 1611140102025864614634677.png]

8) Claudio's suggestion. It was not easy to find where to draw exactly the triangles, but I think the following is the best way.
I've made three cases. Let's call them 8a) 8b) and 8c):

[Image: 1611140102025864614634678.png]

Jean-Charles
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11-14-2016, 01:50 AM
Post: #5
RE: newRPL: design of soft menus
In my humble opinion, example 5 looks best. Using triangles (especially white ones) makes a full secondary menu (black background, white text) too busy.

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11-14-2016, 03:11 PM
Post: #6
RE: newRPL: design of soft menus
(11-13-2016 05:17 PM)Claudio L. Wrote:  I think I agree (perhaps because we are used to it) that option 5 is the cleanest, but we would have to lose 3 pixels (one for each row) to have that extra line on the second menu as well (to keep it consistent).

9) Here is the case which eats these famous 3 pixels. In fact we lose nothing, apart from the series of dots at the top of the screen, telling us that there is something in the level 8 of the stack. I don't think it is so important. Furthermore, this case gives a more finished look. Even with 7 pixel and 6 pixel font heights, the 56 pixels remaining for the stack won't cut characters.
In this example, I've added one pixel to the tabs, and shifted them by one pixel to the right, in order to improve visibility.

[Image: 1611140415065864614635789.png]

Jean-Charles
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11-14-2016, 04:46 PM
Post: #7
RE: newRPL: design of soft menus
I updated the rom with the new look for the menus. I think I captured the best ideas from everybody:
  • Added the 3 pixels to give an even look
  • Removed the vertical lines
  • The top line didn't work very well on the 2nd menu, so I went with the light background. But only a couple of pixels to keep contrast

Looks better, hope you guys like it. Go ahead and download and flash the new ROM.
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11-14-2016, 08:01 PM (This post was last modified: 11-14-2016 08:58 PM by Han.)
Post: #8
RE: newRPL: design of soft menus
(11-14-2016 04:46 PM)Claudio L. Wrote:  I updated the rom with the new look for the menus. I think I captured the best ideas from everybody:
  • Added the 3 pixels to give an even look
  • Removed the vertical lines
  • The top line didn't work very well on the 2nd menu, so I went with the light background. But only a couple of pixels to keep contrast

Looks better, hope you guys like it. Go ahead and download and flash the new ROM.

The gradient background keeps making me think that my screen has contrast issues. The more I think about the menu system, the more I prefer the old HP48 design. I have long forgotten why the 2nd menu needs to be of a different background. It seems to me that it being on a different row is sufficient differentiation from the 1st menu. So having black background for both menus (and tabs for directories) is in my opinion a "solid" way to do the menus.

Also, I believe the rows can be kept to 8 pixel height with a single empty pixel row between each of levels. Having solid black background means we can have 7 rows of pixels for the label (some letters like y and g will have to dip into the bottom-most row, but I don't think it would look that bad). The top (8th) row then is used for the directory tab.

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11-14-2016, 10:33 PM (This post was last modified: 11-15-2016 01:14 AM by Helix.)
Post: #9
RE: newRPL: design of soft menus
+1

It is not possible to see the grey backgrounds in both menus at the same time. We have to set the contrast to see them either in the first menu, or in the second menu.
And we lose 4 pixels, so the top of the level 7 is masked, which is not a good thing in my opinion.

10) So, here is what Han described, another simple and effective solution:

[Image: 1611141128385864614637133.png]

If for some reason a label must be inverted, it's perfectly possible. In this example I have arbitrarily inverted 3 variables, to show the effect:

[Image: 1611141128545864614637134.png]

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11-16-2016, 03:55 AM
Post: #10
RE: newRPL: design of soft menus
(11-14-2016 08:01 PM)Han Wrote:  The gradient background keeps making me think that my screen has contrast issues.

In the bands that appear when you press On+/-, the contrast setting I use is the one that shows all 15 shades clearly. If I go one point more the first 4 darks become black, and one point less and the first 4 lights become white. But in both calcs there is one point which displays all 15 shades.

The light background should be barely visible on the dark menus, and very light on the light menus on that optimum setting. This is to keep the text readable. If you try to get a "stronger" gradient then yes, you'd have to see one or the other, but not both at once.

(11-14-2016 08:01 PM)Han Wrote:  Also, I believe the rows can be kept to 8 pixel height with a single empty pixel row between each of levels. Having solid black background means we can have 7 rows of pixels for the label (some letters like y and g will have to dip into the bottom-most row, but I don't think it would look that bad). The top (8th) row then is used for the directory tab.

I fought for those pixels for a while, the only reason I got convinced that losing 4 pixels was acceptable is this:

7*3+2 = 23 pixels height
8*3+1 = 25 pixels height

The first is close, but only allows for 3 lines of help using a 6 pixel font. Losing those few pixels we can have 4 lines of text, so I could add the command name to the help without going fullscreen, which I much prefer.

The gradient can force you to use one contrast setting, which is a bad thing, I'll find something else to show directories. I'm thinking the first letter could be gray, the rest black (or white). Or the first letter have gray background, the rest black or white. I'll test to see what looks best, but unfortunately I can't afford to spend years just changing pixel colors, the project needs my attention in many other areas.
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11-16-2016, 04:22 PM
Post: #11
RE: newRPL: design of soft menus
(11-16-2016 03:55 AM)Claudio L. Wrote:  I'll test to see what looks best, but unfortunately I can't afford to spend years just changing pixel colors, the project needs my attention in many other areas.

I agree that this is not as big of an issue and am happy to just have a working menu system. In the long run, anyone who prefers something different can always modify the source to their liking.

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11-17-2016, 03:55 PM
Post: #12
RE: newRPL: design of soft menus
Tried a couple alternatives, the better looking one was the first letter over gray background. I updated the rom with that change. With the ideas from this forum I think it looks much better than before. Keep brainstorming and posting ideas, we might attempt another face lift in a few months, for now let's move on to other things.
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12-18-2016, 01:08 PM (This post was last modified: 02-01-2017 11:49 PM by compsystems.)
Post: #13
RE: newRPL: design of soft menus
Hi, an idea, allow to select the font type for the menus, in case of FONT 5 would be the largest vertical saving in pixels.

Annex some sources that I wrote, they have the first characters with symbols, the place of squares

[Image: fonts_hp50g_image00.png]

PHP Code:
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font6x6
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minifont6x5
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font5x6
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END 
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12-18-2016, 09:19 PM
Post: #14
RE: newRPL: design of soft menus
(12-18-2016 01:08 PM)compsystems Wrote:  Hi, an idea, allow to select the font type for the menus, in case of FONT 5 would be the largest vertical saving in pixels.

User-selectable fonts are already being worked on. We can't use your sources, as the new fonts use a custom format to make Unicode characters more compact, also they are not fixed pitch, therefore not compatible with anything done before.
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02-01-2017, 11:54 PM (This post was last modified: 02-02-2017 11:20 PM by compsystems.)
Post: #15
RE: newRPL: design of soft menus
idea #1: Menus of variable width.
Many times the fixed width of the menus (hp48/50) only allows to see part of the commands name or variables name, the ti68k calculators, show the menus with a variable width, ideal to replicate this operation on newRPL,

idea #2: display the menus as optional value at the top, and the variables bar below.

sorry for my bad English
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02-02-2017, 01:47 AM
Post: #16
RE: newRPL: design of soft menus
Just skimming through, as I own no device that can run newRPL.

It looks advanced, but (sorry to say this, it is not your fault) the display with that tiny font is not so thrilling. Is there any chance of running newRPL on some device with a more high resolution display? Is there anything planned for, or is anything on the horizon?

I wish I had snatched a blue 50g for newRPL when they were around...

Håkan
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02-02-2017, 02:04 PM
Post: #17
RE: newRPL: design of soft menus
(02-02-2017 01:47 AM)hth Wrote:  Just skimming through, as I own no device that can run newRPL.

It looks advanced, but (sorry to say this, it is not your fault) the display with that tiny font is not so thrilling. Is there any chance of running newRPL on some device with a more high resolution display? Is there anything planned for, or is anything on the horizon?

I wish I had snatched a blue 50g for newRPL when they were around...

Håkan

In the future newRPL will find other hardware to run on. The Prime is the most obvious choice in this regards and yes, it has a much nicer display. But there's tons of work to do before newRPL can run on the Prime hardware.

BTW, newRPL runs just fine on black 50g's, no need to be sad about the blue ones...
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02-02-2017, 02:08 PM
Post: #18
RE: newRPL: design of soft menus
(02-01-2017 11:54 PM)compsystems Wrote:  Hello,

idea: Menus of variable width.

Many times the fixed width of the menus (hp48/50) only allows to see part of the commands name or variables name, the ti68k calculators, show the menus with a variable width, ideal to replicate this operation on newRPL,

One problem: 131 pixels on the screen are not much to play with. Variable width menus mean there won't be space for 6 keys, and you would have to scroll the menus somehow to see what's there.
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02-03-2017, 12:22 AM
Post: #19
RE: newRPL: design of soft menus
The ti89 LCD is very similar in size to the lcd of the hp50, you can see in the next capture (1 with 2). If there is space to play with the width of the menu.

At ti89 when the menus can not be adjusted, the next menu is displayed, press [F6] and [f1] to return capture (3 with 4)

[Image: newRPL_menus_image00.png]
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03-20-2017, 04:50 PM (This post was last modified: 03-20-2017 04:55 PM by Helix.)
Post: #20
RE: newRPL: design of soft menus
Since the beginning, i'm not comfortable with this dual menu interface. From time to time I tend to press a wrong key.

One reason is that I don't use newRPL very often. But I think that the bi-color scheme of the menu disturbs me. I have to think before pressing a key to avoid a mistake, and I find this is not natural. Of course, I can display only one menu if I don't like the dual menu interface, but it's a pity to miss this interesting feature.

Would it be possible to select the color of the menus by a flag? The second menu, with its white background and gray background for the first letter, looks good for my eyes, contrast setting and usual lighting conditions. I would like to see also the first menu like that.

If the color of each menu was user selectable, with two flags, then one could choose any of the following combinations: black/white, black/black, white/white, or white/black.

Jean-Charles
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