I like Silica, but …

Today, Jolla released their SDK, showing to the world their hard work on making an interesting, pretty and smart UI. To help developers building their applications, they also created a set of graphical components, that can / should be used in 3rd party applications. This set of components is called Silica.

Silica is really gorgeous, the whole experience, based on glassy effects and glows is very consistent and enjoyable, however, there are still some points that annoys me. Even if I’m a guy that likes to tinker and discover new stuff, especially new interaction methods, and with Sailfish, the interaction were really fluid most of the time. Cancelling or accepting dialogs, navigating into the stack of pages were done in an organic and fluid way, but some of the dialogs were far more confusing.

Where is the selected information ???

These dialogs are the time and date picker. Let’s start with the time picker. First, we have to note that it is still taking inspiration from natural interactions with time, so we get the Harmattan-ish clock to choose time.

Silica time picker

Silica time picker

However, you have to find where is the current selected time being displayed. On Harmattan, we had indication of the hours and minutes inside the handles, but I can understand that with Silica, the glow effect have to be preserved, therefore, time should not be displayed inside the glows. However, Harmattan time picker also had a redundant display, just above the clock, showing the time that is currently being selected. Moreover, when the minutes are changed, the value of the minutes displayed in this indicator also became colored, to show that minutes are being modified.

Therefore, even if the finger is covering the value being changed in the Harmattan time picker, the user always know what is the value, and what is being modified. The color help to emphasize on the changing aspect of either the hour or the minute. On Silica, first, it was not easy to find where the redundant time were displayed. Actually, it replaces the “accept” text on top right corner. Putting it here disconnects it from the time picker, so the user do not understand the link between the clock being manipulated and that display.

It could be easy enough to just put back a large text above the clock, and getting that “colored entry is the one being modified” back from Harmattan.


Date picker is not better with Silica. Of cause it is still a huge step above from the slot-machine style date picker, but it can be made better. Once again, the text on the top right corner is a bit disconnected from the content, but what is more shocking is that, when the date picker is displayed, a calendar page is shown, without the year and month. Of cause this page represents the current month, but it is still a bit troubling.

Usually, calendar always display the current month above the page. Displaying it while sliding, and in a font that is barely visible (even smaller / lighter than the one used to display weeks) is not tolerable. Moreover, we might need a way to navigate quickly between years. What if I wanted to set my birthday, I don’t want to swipe 120 times the calendar to reach it …

Once again, the Harmattan date picker is close to perfection, allowing to reach a wide range of years, and displaying the information in a clean way. Whereas in Silica, even the selected date is not emphasized enough. Maybe a glow effect will help to see which date is selected.

Silica date picker

Silica date picker

Swipe done wrong

Sorry, the new word is now push. I feel like push application to navigate between current app, home and feed lacks feedback (as I have already said before). I can understand that the transparency effect while swiping can be a very good idea, since it reveals what are the running apps, as well as clock and status bar, but, there is something I hate. That gesture do not move anything, and is not connected to anything. A UI is used to manipulated, and touch components should be moved when a finger move on the screen.

I'm swiping / pushing the components app but it do not move !

I’m swiping / pushing the components app but it do not move !

The pull to back gesture is close to perfection, as you can see that the page, and the page depth glow indicator is being moved out while the user start the gesture. But when the application is pushed out, nothing move, the application only fades. What about doing something like that: when the push gesture is started, the application fades as well as it is moved out (like on Harmattan). When it is totally faded out, there should still be a transparent indicator (like the one on the multitask view) that indicates where is the position of the application in the pull gesture. Therefore there is a visual feedback, and the transparent effect is kept.

This part do not relate much to Silica, but I’m very upset with that (mis ?)design, and I have to republish it again and again.

In general, so far, there are the only problem I have seen in Silica. You can refer to my french article to see how much I’m enthusiastic about Silica. In summary, I found Silica very easy to use, intuitive, and really beautiful.


5 thoughts on “I like Silica, but …

  1. My “but…” is about pulley menu.
    The top pulley menu is accessible just when the page is on top. If you are in the middle of the page and needs to access a feature from pulley menu, the only alternative is scroll to top (or scroll to bottom, access another pulley menu, press “return to top”, access the pulley menu of top and then selected what you wanna do). Imagine making this in an app with infinite scroll (twitter/facebook clients, for example). I think the top pulley menu must be always accessible for the user…
    Screens: http://db.tt/sF2IFIqi

    • The pulley menus are something to be manipulated cautiously of cause. However, I have seen quite clever implementations with pulleys. The Sailfish Mediaplayer have a bottom pulley, just under a toolbar. That toolbar can be pulled to reveal more options, a bit like on windows phone.

      Options on top pulley menus must contain generic options that operates on the whole list, of cause. And they should be generic enough for the user not to think about an action to do in the middle of the list, but rather at the beginning. (like sorting)

      And developers must provide lists that are not too long. Endlessly scrolling from top to down and bottom to top is not a great idea …

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