Universal Splash Screen
This article concerns an idea I came up with regarding the K Desktop Environment, it's about a universal splash screen proposal and it also proposes a unified startup notification mechanism because the two are kind of interlinked if you look at them from a distance. I visualized the concepts with a few mockups so it makes for a pleasent reading experience.
The Universal Splash Screen
Historically, splash screens have offered developers a way to uniquely identify their application by pushing a piece of artwork in the waiting users face. All is well in my opinion as long as the splash screens are consistent with the platform and that they are not, well I hate to say it, plain ugly. Give me a decent uniform splash screen design anyday above a quickly hacked together and unpolished bitmap.
While having a relatively short discussion on the #kde-artists IRC channel on FreeNode today, I came up with the idea of a universal splash screen design which would be defined at the desktop-environment level instead of being application-specific. I created the following mockups to clarify my intentions.
Mockups part 1
These two mockups were created using 32 by 32 pixel icons. I don't really like them since the visual balance is kinda shifted to the right, but hold on - it gets better after these ones:
So, the basic concept is working, but it needs a bit of refinement. What I tried next was to take the largest icon size available, which is 128 by 128 pixels. Hold on, here we go.
Mockups part 2
Let's immediately jump to the pictures:
Wow. That's already starting to look like something you'd smilingly present to a user. The most deciding factor here is the quality of the icons. As you can see, the Kontact and K3b icons in the CrystalSVG set I use are really nice, which adds to the total visual pleasing appearance of the splash screen. Being confident, I posted the concept to a thread on the KDE-Artists forum.
You will have noticed the progress bar on the mockups, if not look again at the 75% filled blue bar. The progress bar indicates the total estimated progress of the startup of the application, but now you might ask where the indicated value comes from. Don't worry my friend, this is where my second proposal fits in, the extended startup notification.
The KDE API should provide a way for an application to indicate how far the estimated startup procedure is completed. In the backend implementation this value can later be used to populate the splash screen, and more importantly it can serve as a basis for other indications, like a non-intrusive passive balloon popup indicating the startup status of pending tasks.
How'd that look? I made a mockup.
Mockups part 3
Here is the proposed startup notification in action:
Say of that what you will, I think the idea needs a bit more refinement but it'd sure be a nice addition if we can blend it in without too much disadvantages.
This article was added on the 8th of August 2005.