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Palm Programming: The Developer's Guide by Julie McKeehan, Neil Rhodes

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Designing for a Small Screen

One of the biggest challenges you face as a handheld application designer is how to fit data in the screen space on a Palm device. In the Sales application, this challenge happens when we are trying to figure out the right way to select a toy. We assume that there are more toys than would fit on one list on the screen. One approach might have been to have one long scrolling list—the least favorable solution. Toys, like many other types of items, naturally fall into obvious groups. We chose to take advantage of this by first putting the toys into categories.

Table 3.2 contains three ways that we could have organized the items. Our solution was to go with a category organization. This makes things like special sales promotional items easy to handle. A fast-food restaurant might use a similar approach for taking orders. In both cases, the customer is going to go through categories in certain obvious groupings.

Organizing things alphabetically is another possibility, but one that doesn’t make as much sense for our application. Neither the customer nor the salesperson is likely to think about the toys in this way.

Organizing the items by number might have been a good choice from the salesperson’s point of view. It is not uncommon to memorize part numbers of items you work with all the time; however, where this organization strategy breaks down is from the customer’s point of view. The customer is not necessarily going to request items by number. We ...

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