Full Screen, Like A Hurricane

I’ve often been asked why the Moblin Web Browser doesn’t support full screen mode and I always answered with two points.

  1. We had some rather more important things to get done first, like saving cookies and making Flash work.
  2. I couldn’t work out a design to make it work without causing the rest of the application to suck.
Now, point 2 was mainly my problem and I admit that, but the solution was sitting right there in front of me embedded in our existing behaviours and  until I was explaining to jimmac exactly why we couldn’t do it I couldn’t see how it should work. When the user sets full screen they’re sending a message about what they want to do. It’s a message we’re already set up to hear.

One of the design features of Moblin is the Toolbar, which hides at the top of the screen until you need it. But when you’re in full screen mode, not only do you not need it - but you’ve told us that you don’t want it at all. You’re watching a movie or making an important presentation and our values of politeness and focus mean that we really don’t want to get in the way. And this is great for the browser, it’s just what we want. So, here’s the deal. Press F11. Go on, you know you want to. This’ll get you into full screen mode. I know it’s not exactly the most discoverable thing in the world but we’ll look at that entry point in future.

The clever bit is that the toolbar is supressed in full screen mode (you can still get to it with the Home key if you really want to) so we can hijack the behaviour that users already know about and return to normal mode by popping up to the top of the screen wherapon the browser toolbar will slide down in a downright slinky fashion restoring you to normal mode. Or, alternatively you can press F11 again, but where’s the fun in that? There’s some other cool bits and pieces but that’s the main excitement.

That solves point 2, but what about point 1? Well, during my talk at GCDS Chris was otherwise engaged and followed that through with some awesome work this weekend and pushed the fix. Top man! You’ll be able to get hold of this in tested builds in a little while after it’s passed through QA but if you’re very impatient then you can build the code yourself using these handy instructions.

So feel free to ask us why we don’t do things that you want, it may be that we work out how to do it right whilst we explaining why we can’t.