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Touch UI experiments

info-beamer touch UI experiments

Before you proceed: This is nowhere near finished and the UI isn't pretty. But it shows how you might build interfaces on your info-beamer hosted devices with very little code in the future.


This repository shows how a touch interface running on info-beamer hosted might work. Right now it's quite ugly and there are only three widgets implemented. If you're able to ignore that, you might find some interesting concepts used in the experiment. You can play around with this package right now:

Immediate mode GUI

Graphical user interfaces libaries all expect you to create widgets, place them, manage their lifecycle, hide and show them at the correct time and handle their events.

Immediate mode GUIs make this a bit easier as you directly write and handle events where they happen. Here's an example:

-- define button and its state
local btn = {
    text = "toggle";

-- using it later is as simple as
if ui.button(btn, layout.row(400, 100)).clicked then
    enable_foo = not enable_foo

If you need not conditionally show interface elements just use them inside if. So you don't need to explicitly show/hide interface elements. Instead you call or don't call them:

if enable_foo then
        text = string.format("Background alpha: %.2f", background_alpha.value)
    }, layout.row(760, 20))

Coroutine and tail-called based flow

Usually when you create interfaces with multiple different pages you have to keep the state of where your user is somewhere. This might be in variables (e.g. current_page = pages.SETTINGS or similar). This experiments uses coroutines combined with the Lua tail-call feature instead to make things even easier:

function main_menu()
    local child_btn = {
        text = "Goto child menu";
    while ui.loop() do
        if ui.button(child_btn, layout.row(300, 50)).clicked then
            return child_menu()

function child_menu()
    local main_btn = {
        text = "Goto back to main menu";
    while ui.loop() do
        if ui.button(main_btn, layout.row(300, 50)).clicked then
            return main_menu()

ui = UI{
    entry = main_menu;

function node.render()
    layout.reset(20, 20, 20, 10) -- show current user interface

This is example code that shows a button to enter a "sub menu" and from there return to the "main menu". Altough both main_menu and child_menu might all each other indefinitely, thanks to the tail call optimization this doesn't result in a stack overflow.

Additionally both menus seems to be causing an endless while loop. Under the hood, the coroutine feature of Lua is used. resumes the coroutine started at main_menu and ui.loop yields from the coroutine back to Together this creates the illusion of an endlessly running UI that can immediately respond to (user) input.

Building widgets

Creating new widgets should be easy as well. Here's how a slider looks like at the moment.

local function slider(ui, state, x1, y1, x2, y2)
    state = ui.get_state(state)
    local w = x2 - x1
    local cy = y1 + (y2 - y1) / 2

    local value = state.value or 0
    local mode = state.mode or "idle"
    local before = value

    if mode == "idle" and ui.touched(x1, y1, x2, y2) then
        mode = "change"
    elseif mode == "change" and not ui.touched() then
        mode = "idle"

    if mode == "change" then
        local x, y = ui.touch_pos()
        value = clamp(0, 1, (x - x1) / w)

    white:draw(x1, cy-2, x2, cy+2)
    local x = x1 + w * value
    white:draw(x-3, y1, x+3, y2, .5)

    state.mode = mode
    state.value = value
    state.changed = value ~= before
    return state

Basically all widgets right now follow the same idea:

local function slider(ui, state, x1, y1, x2, y2)
    -- get current widget state
    -- modify current widget state
    -- draw the widgets
    -- update and return widget state

Playing around with this code

You can import this code into your info-beamer hosted account by clicking this button:

You need a supported touch device. Right now that's either the official 7" Pi display or the CM3 PANEL.

If you want to edit and extend this code, you should use the dev-mode feature so you can directly see changes you make to the code on your info-beamer hosted device.

Want to run Touch UI experiments on your Raspberry Pi?

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Source code for this package

You can view (and modify) the source code for this package on