Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Opinion of Winterboard

Through the last few weeks, I've ever so slowly been downloading themes and building an idea of what I want my iPod Touch to look like. Don't get me wrong, jailbreaking is great; amazing, in fact. And winterboard adds a stupendous amount of functionality to the whole experience. But there's just a few things I've got to make a suggestion on.

First off, if you're going to be downloading alot of Themes, or any for that matter, I highly recommend Rock, which is an alternative to Cydia. Don't get me wrong, Cydia is great.....but it's just so freaking slow. Rock is actually quite a bit faster, more organized, and in my humble opinion, just works better all around. But it's really just preferences. If you want to stay with Cydia, that's fine too. I tried Icy as well, but since there were absolutely no sources preinstalled for Icy and I didn't feel like taking the time to go back and forth between Cydia and Icy and copy over the sources, I've pretty much ignored it. But it could be a viable option, as well as Pakage (which I believe is not yet released). And I believe those are all the alternatives, but I could be missing a few.

Anyway, then you have Winterboard which handles all of your themes. Great app, truly....in functionality. There are literally hundreds, perhaps even thousands of themes that can change almost anything on your iDevice. They're even organized into nice little categories in the Cydia or Rock repositories. The downside? As soon as you download any theme, they all get thrown in a giant list together, with only their name. What's wrong with that?
  • It's hard to tell what is what. I have statusbar battery themes or lockscreen battery themes, and they all just get thrown together and it's quite frankly just hard to remember what is what.
  • The names are hella confusing. For some weird reason, the name in Winterboard isn't always the package name, so for example, I want to uninstall the theme "Mario Brothers", but I can't for the life of me find it in Rock, since I downloaded a ton of Mario themes to try them all out.
  • The long list is just hard to navigate as it is.
One reason that I do know why they have the one list is because Winterboard/Springboard/what-have-you loads the list from bottom to top, so order does matter (ie. putting "User Wallpaper" above a complete theme will let you change the wallpaper, whereas below will not).

HOWEVER, I do believe there are alternatives. I'm not an iPhone developer, but I would like to think that there is a way to organize it more gracefully, so here's my idea.

1. "Browse Themes"
Instead of having one list, have a "Browse Themes" section, where you can browse the themes in accordance with their type, much like Cydia or Rock. That way, if you're looking to enable a Lockscreen battery, all you have to do is go to the "Lockscreen" subsection and choose one with battery in the title. Which leads me to my second point.

2. Individual theme pages
Some developers may hate this idea for reasons I don't know, but I would love if each theme had a tiny little page that told a few things about the theme (like Name, Type, Description), but then also told what package it is a part of and had a "View in Cydia" (or Rock) button that would take you to Cydia (or Rock) so you can easily view stats about the package (such as size) or uninstall it. And the last thing to be on this page would be Screenshot, if applicable.

3. "View Active Themes"
The last part of the idea is what really kind of ties everything together. If you just had a "Browse Themes" section, it would be increasingly difficult to see just what you had enabled without going through every single section and looking for checked items. So right below the "Browse Themes" button, we have "View Active Themes", which will show every theme you checked in "Browse Themes". This would essentially be a compiled list of everything like Winterboard has now, but with a few changes.
First, you'd have a numbered list going from top to bottom. Items would still be draggable so you can reorder them, and this way you can choose what you want to be loaded in what order.
Secondly, you could still have the ability to click on any item and view its Individual Theme Page.
Lastly, it would probably be nice as well if it had the type right next to the title, maybe right-justified, so each item would appear like
1. Transparent Clock                (Lockscreen)
2. Portal                                  (Complete)

So that's my pitch. I know there could be a few problems with it right off the bat:
  1. I don't know if each theme is handled in such a way that Winterboard even knows what Type it is, what package it came from.
  2. Each theme would either have to have a screenshot included with the install, or would have to get the screeny from Cydia/Rock, which seems messy/intrusive.
  3. People like things the way they are. I know I already visited a thread somewhere where someone was asking "How do I reorder themes other than manually dragging them?" and people were treating them like he was insane for thinking that there was any other way.
I really don't know how much how Winterboard works. What I'm suggesting is mostly a UI makeover, but it also might require two tiny little things: an info file (including Name, Type, Cydia ID or what have you) and screenshot(s). Other than that, it's mostly just UI.

I'm not at all complaining about Winterboard, it's a wonderful app. It's just frankly rather hard to try new themes on. Once you get the theme you like, it's awesome.

I actually already looked in to attempting to develop an App that could serve as an alternative UI to Winterboard, but I didn't get very far, as soon as I got to the point where you need a Mac. I don't have a Mac, and unless someone would want to donate one or sell me one at a very low price, I can't justify going out and buying one, since my car just died and I had to drain my bank account to buy a new one.

The point is, I don't want to just be talking about (perceived) problems and not do anything to fix it. If given the chance, I would gladly attempt to develop an app (despite my lack of any iPhone developing training) or even help with the UI or concepts. The jailbreaking community is a strong one, and I only wish to strengthen it.

Stay chilly,

1 comment:

  1. yep i love you idea too i just stared to use iphone and after downloading a lot of things i have this huge list on winterboard its just not pretty, but i hope things will get better this is som thing new and every day is getting better