Design for a limitless screen

If you are used to designing for a smartphone, you might have organized the screens in your application in a hierarchy. Try to avoid this approach when you design applications for the BlackBerry® PlayBook™ tablet. Instead of creating an application with a hierarchy that users have to navigate, create an application that has a flat structure. Think of the screen as a window into your application instead of a container for the entire application. For example, if the number of photo albums does not fit on the display area of the screen, show part of a photo album at the edge of the screen so that it is obvious to users that they can view more albums by swiping up or down on the screen.

This screen shows the Pictures application.

Use a canvas strategy

The large area of a typical computer interface allows you to present an application with a mix of content and UI components. The same application that is created for the BlackBerry® PlayBook™ tablet requires a different strategy. In most situations, your application should make use of the entire screen, use gestures to control workflow, and access additional options only when necessary.

If you have a large amount of information to present, try to think of the screen as a frame that contains a small view of a large canvas. Users can move the view by dragging a finger in any direction, or by swiping to move the view quicker or a greater distance. For example, you might use this type of interaction when navigating within a map or large image.

This image shows an example of a canvas strategy.

As part of your canvas strategy, you should consider how the content behaves in response to gestures. One way is to categorize your canvas as either continuous or discrete. A continuous canvas contains content that can be arbitrarily subdivided (for example, a map, a building blueprint, or a spreadsheet). A discrete canvas contains content that has obvious defined sub-components (for example, a deck of cards, a contact list, or an eBook).

On a continuous canvas, consider allowing users to move (pan) slowly through the content, move quickly, zoom in and out, and perhaps rotate, and then use appropriate gestures, such as dragging, swiping, pinching, and so on. On a discrete canvas, you should also consider allowing users to move (shift) slowly or quickly through the content, but there are likely some other actions that you might want to enable using gestures. For example, you can navigate within a contact list, jump to the next chapter in a document, or flip over a card.

Related concepts
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