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  1. #1
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    Canvas based UI library with good support...

    Well although I have found heaps of Canvas based 3rd party libraries on the net very few are being maintained and support actively...
    To name a few Lwuit, J2ME Polish, Twuik....
    All the above seem to be a bit heavy for the Series 40 phones.
    At the moment to develop my own GUI components using Canvas will be time consuming I guess or I am a bit overawed by the situation...
    So I am looking here for your experience, what other libraries(open source or freeware) can I find support for so that I can choose from them and use them.

  2. #2
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    Re: Canvas based UI library with good support...

    Someone recently mentioned Thinlet - but it might have been you!

    LWUIT is relatively heavy (as it's quite new, targetted at newer device), but Polish has been around for years, and people have used that on old MIDP-1 Series 40s (with a 64k JAR limit), so presumably it can run in a very limited environment.

    Graham.

  3. #3
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    Re: Canvas based UI library with good support...

    Quote Originally Posted by grahamhughes View Post
    Someone recently mentioned Thinlet - but it might have been you!

    LWUIT is relatively heavy (as it's quite new, targetted at newer device), but Polish has been around for years, and people have used that on old MIDP-1 Series 40s (with a 64k JAR limit), so presumably it can run in a very limited environment.

    Graham.
    Yeah apparently I may have mentioned it I was playing around with it for some time but not quite satisfied as no one supports it now and there is no active forum for me to get help in case I'm stuck, so basically I will have to sort out my own problems and not to mention if some subtle bug crops that will be quite a mess wouldn't it?
    Apart from that I found several others like Kui, Kuix, ApiMe, J4ME, MWT ....only tried MWT out of those.. again support issues caused me to abandon it...
    Well that you mention J2ME Polish I really didn't know it would run on Series 40 devices maybe I should check on that but then to use it in a commercial app they will be licensing issues. etc... which I again don't wanna get into...but I will try to look into it...
    In the meantime any other expert advice regarding other libraries?...

  4. #4
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    Re: Canvas based UI library with good support...

    sorry only tried LWUIT and J2ME Polish, mostly because all other GUI libraries were a little limited (in functionality) when compared to the two aforementioned...
    My experience was also a somewjat lacking support/community, on the other hand that is the case for all those 3rd party FREE GUI libraries I noticed... So if the two "best-known" libraries have this kind of support, well you can guess how the support is of the other ones (especially from the community)... So I'd stop looking for the perfect solution if I were you...
    Performance-wise : I always noticed that with LWUIT for example I had better results on my Nokia 6233 (S40) than on my N95 (S60)... Never understood why but I saw similar replies on their forum around 5-6 months ago...

  5. #5
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    Re: Canvas based UI library with good support...

    Quote Originally Posted by Tiger79 View Post
    .. So I'd stop looking for the perfect solution if I were you...
    Performance-wise : I always noticed that with LWUIT for example I had better results on my Nokia 6233 (S40) than on my N95 (S60)... Never understood why but I saw similar replies on their forum around 5-6 months ago...
    Well I'm looking at phones as far back as the Series 40 2nd edition so I don't know whether those devices can handle LWUIT with their limited 125K jar size then around maximum Heap Size of 500 KB.

    So I guess with whatever limited experience I have in searching and evaluating these libraries is that "I will have to build one on my own" especially for these lower end devices and my app needs lots of user input filling in forms, text boxes etc that makes it even more harder for me to handle key inputs, word wrap etc...

    And regarding the "perfect solution" Well I'm in a quandary...
    • Should I invest time and build a UI library?...
    • Should I use an existing library and risk the non-support?
    • Or Finally just design for higher end phones that LWUIT supports?


    More expert opinions welcome...

  6. #6
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    Re: Canvas based UI library with good support...

    well you might look into the possibility of using only parts of LWUIT and/or J2ME Polish and see if you can leave out the non-used funtcionality/classes... that would reduce the needed jar file obviously.. But you will need to contact the developers themselves I guess...
    Have you already treid to create a mocjup of your application with those libraries and see how big they have become (the jar size that is) ?
    Also LWUIT isn't specifically for the higher end devices like you are mentioning, even a 6233 runs it and I definitly wouldn't catalogue that one as a hihgh end device
    You also might want to buy a test-device of the type you were mentioning (S40 2nd edition) and simply test on that one...
    Is it gonna be a connected (internet) application ? If so then forget thsoe old low-end devices, no-one who has such a device has an internet subscription cause that would cost more than the device itself... Not to mention that you also should decide for yourself if your application will look good or will be usable at all with those 128x128 screen sizes...

  7. #7
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    Re: Canvas based UI library with good support...

    I'm a bit late to this discussion, but I was looking at your requirements and wondered if you have looked at J2ME GUI from http://www.garcer.com/ yet? It's very lightweight when you consider today's mobile market. It's compatible with MIDP 2.0, CLDC 1.1 devices (because we all need to be able to do division and use floats, right?) and a Hello World app that I tested with J2ME GUI with NetBeans on full obfuscation level resulted in a JAR file of around 53K.

    Anyway, it's got all the basics and you can extend the components if you need to.

  8. #8
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    Re: Canvas based UI library with good support...

    Had a look at it, seems better than standard MIDP high level components, but to be honest it's not up to par with j2mePolish or LWUIT, which seems to have really a miriad of extra options...

  9. #9
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    Re: Canvas based UI library with good support...

    Quite right, Tiger79. J2ME GUI will only give you the basic components similar to the basic visual components on desktop PC's. Any extras would require you to extend the components yourself. So it depends on what your target market is. Because of J2ME GUI's small footprint and simplicity, it works on a wider range of devices. Also, I tested the performance against LWUIT and it was much faster. So its simplicity gains you performance and compatibility.

    But LWUIT and Polish do have many additional features, such as animation and in the case of Polish almost double the number of components.

    After reviewing those two, though, we decided to use J2ME GUI for our new project instead, specifically for compatibility and performance. We started out with LWUIT, but after testing it, it didn't work correctly on quite a few phones and had problems on the Nokia S60 series (very slow for some reason - a known issue), so we weren't comfortable releasing it with LWUIT.

    Sometimes you need the flashy apps, though, and when you only need to cater for the higher end phones, LWUIT and Polish are both good options.

  10. #10
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    Re: Canvas based UI library with good support...

    I agree with every argument you're supplying
    Especially the fact that LWUIT is slower on S60's, which has always been a mistery to me, and to be honest, also to the LQUIT developers themselves... I remember I tried one of their first (publicly released) versions, and I notice it was way faster on my Nokia 6233 than on my N95 dual-core :P When I reported this on the forum they actually were asking me if I was trying the right build (there was only one public build at that time) and if I had the right firmware because they actually had no slow performance at all... I just dismissed it right away, I did try it on a N73 which we had on office and it was slow as well, but I simply wasn't in the mood for a yes-no argument regarding performance...
    How is the user-friendliness )or should I say developer-friendliness) of that GUI package ? Does it use some kind of CSS structure (like J2ME Polish) ?
    You might want to Wiki article comparing the three packages, if you already made a research about it.. This is information which might help out, like comparisons, but alos tutorials (installation etc)...

  11. #11
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    Re: Canvas based UI library with good support...

    Yes, a comparison would be really nice for all the major contestants. I've done quite some research on this, but not enough for an article, though. I would at least need to install and play around with Polish as well to give a fair review. But as soon as I do install it, I will make such a contribution to the community. It would indeed have helped me to make a better choice.

    What I can contribute now is that I have a list of all these libraries currently in the market (or surely close to all of them) and of those 24 libraries, only 6 are worth looking at in my opinion: Twuik, TagsME (a bit different), Kuix, J2ME Polish, LWUIT, and J2ME GUI (our choice for our current project).

    Regarding how I find the J2ME GUI package, it's quite simple to start out. I just built on the hello world example and take snippets from the demo application, but J2ME GUI will definitely need a "How To Get Started" document if it expands further. But with the samples and JavaDoc, I guess it's fine for now. The closest thing to a "How to get started" is probably on the Products > Documentation page at http://www.garcer.com/documentation.aspx. There's a section on sustaining handset compatibility that all mobile developers should read, whether you use J2ME GUI or not.

    About the CSS question (if I understand you correctly), J2ME GUI uses a styling system similar to LWUIT's. It uses an external style file that is compiled with a Styler tool. The tool is very raw at the moment, but in its About it says that there will be a new one later on. I do my styling in the code itself and then move it to the style file when I'm happy with the look.

    J2ME GUI is only on its first release now, so I guess there will be a few bugs picked up over time. I didn't find any yet, but I'm not that far in with our project. Garcer opened a forum for J2ME GUI, so I will be posting any problems there.

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