Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Ugly Duckling to Beautiful Swan, or How an App Developer Benefits from Designer/Developer Collaboration

Last week I snatched an hour here and there to work on my Feedzilla app. I like Feedzilla because it has an api that is free for me to use, so it's easy to write the app. However, I'm not totally enamored with the content, it seems like it is often out of date, though I suppose I can apply a filter to limit the content to new stuff from this week, or whatever.

However, what really stopped me working on it was that my implementation was just depressingly ugly. I'd look at all the cool and beautiful things that other people were doing with their apps, and be totally unmotivated to work on TechNews. Last week, I decided to ask for some help in how to improve my app, and I was told about ListItems. For TechNews, it was like the sun coming out from behind the clouds.

Now, the thing abut Ubuntu.Components is that the project is fundamentally a design project. Yes, the components need, and have, an awesome development team that makes them "real", but the components are really about providing developers with the tools for making a well designed "Ubuntu App". This couldn't be more clear than when using ListItems.

For an example, to turn the categories list from this:
My very ugly list which was my honest best effort without design help.

to this:
My now lovely list that I got to be that way just by using the right components and inheriting all of the designers' knowledge and talents.

I just had to use Standard list items. First, I went ahead and imported the ListItem namespace:
import Ubuntu.Components.ListItems 0.1

Then this is what my delegate for each list item looks like. The "progression: true" declares that the item will navigate somewhere. The designers ensured that this means the list item adds that ">", so it is standard navigation in all apps!
    delegate: Standard
        progression: true;
        text: articlesListView.model[index]["title"]


So my app went from ugly duckling to beautiful swan just by using the right components and getting all the benefit of the designers' abilities that I so sorely lack. Thanks SDK team!


  1. I guess you'll also have to don a designer's mindset too as you go on. Great work so far!

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