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GUI framework touts Android support

Feb 9, 2010 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 5 views

Fluffy Spider Technologies (FST) announced an Android-ready version of its FancyPants 3.0 lightweight embedded graphics framework for consumer electronics. FancyPants 3.0 will initially support Android 1.5 and 1.6 SDKs on MIPS and ARM platforms, providing “autonomous UI” capabilities for ongoing customization, says the company.

Fluffy Spider tipped the Android support angle when it announced FancyPants 3.0 in December. The cross-platform FancyPants 3.0, which for years has primarily targeted developers crafting GUIs to Linux consumer electronics, adds 3D effects as well as virtualization and multi-processor support. The key addition may be "Lua" scripting, and the associated decoupling of UI design from underlying code. This "autonomous UI" capability enables more third-party control over interface modifications, says the Australia-based company.

FancyPants 3.0 interface examples
(Click to enlarge)

The firm is now formally announcing the Android support package for FancyPants, and has supplied more details on Android specific features. The Android support package will be available for Android 1.5 and 1.6 when it ships in March, but will soon move up to the most recent Android 2.1 spec, says the company.

FancyPants 3.0 targets mainstream Android mobile development, as well as digital video (STBs, DVRs, and home media centers), office automation (printers and MFPs), and other consumer electronics and industrial automation areas. The graphics stack specifically targets the MIPS Android port, which aims to move Android beyond mobile consumer electronics to the larger embedded market. At CES, MIPS was said to have demonstrated "connected home interface" solutions based on MIPS processors, involving FancyPants and technology from ISB Corp.

The FancyPants 3.0 Android implementation binds with Android application properties "for easy development of launcher/home screen applications," says Fluffy Spider. The software is also said to interface to native functions and services, accessing Android databases and call functions for development of media player and photo gallery applications.

FancyPants 3.0 architecture

(Click to enlarge)

FancyPants 3.0 provides OpenGL ES support for hardware accelerated devices to achieve fast frame rates and rich effects, says the company. A secondary graphic engine is said to be available for systems without OpenGL ES.

Autonomous UI extends customization

Along with other changes to FancyPants 3.0, Lua scripting enables autonomous user interface coding, enabling third parties to more easily add or remove any item from an application's UI without changing the underlying application code. This includes control over images, videos, and widgets, says the company.

The decoupling is said to go far beyond typical theme, icon set, and color scheme customization. FancyPants 3.0 lets application developers specify generic or abstract presentation of controls, widgets, and even content, says the company. Because there is no predefined template layout requirement for any given screen with FancyPants 3.0, the same application can drive two entirely different looking interfaces.

The autonomous UI capability is also said to enable easy integration of new device capabilities and services into existing FancyPants applications. This support is said to include shaking and orientation (accelerometer), location and movement (GPS), and definable data and network events (calendars, stock quotes, sports scores, and wireless traffic).

For more details on FancyPants 3.0 and an interview with Fluffy Spider CEO Robi Karp, please see our earlier coverage, here.

Stated Karp, "FancyPants is unique and empowering to multiple ecosystems, from mobile wireless to consumer electronics and beyond. Its autonomous user interface lets OEMs and their partners build differentiated Android-based products and product lines, supporting code re-use and in-channel branding of devices, applications and services."

Stated Art Swift, VP of marketing, MIPS Technologies, "We're pleased to work with Fluffy Spider to offer our licensees a straightforward path to building media-rich user interfaces and applications. Fluffy Spider's FancyPants product has the potential to help our customers build devices that stand out in today's dynamic marketplace."


Android support in FancyPants 3.0 will be available in March for MIPS-based Android devices, as well as systems based on ARM and other architectures. More information may be found here.

Fluffy Spider will demonstrate FancyPants 3.0 running on Android in the MIPS Technologies Hospitality Suite #3.1HS162, at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, next week.

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