Touch and Go: Leading Touch UI with Open Source

Mobile Platforms
Location: Portland 255
Average rating: ***..
(3.50, 2 ratings)

We face an onslaught of new user interface input paradigms in what seemed a stagnant field for many years. Consumers today have access to multitouch trackpads, touchscreens, tablets, and mice, and developers have begun playing with full three dimensional interfaces. Open source systems are just now beginning to integrate support for these new functionalities. However, our tardiness is an advantage. We have the ability of hindsight as we look back on previous interfaces, and there is still much to be developed.

In this talk, an overview of the uTouch gesture framework developed by Canonical and the XInput 2.1 multitouch extension for the window system will be presented. We will look at:

  • The history of touch platforms to gain insight on useful approaches to touch interfaces
  • Extrapolating from single application interfaces to windowed desktop environments
  • Gestures and how they may be interwoven into the input architecture
  • Providing backwards compatibility for legacy pointer-based applications

In each of these areas we have seen mistakes both remedied and left lingering. It is time now for open source to take what has been learned and lead the way forward.

Photo of Chase Douglas

Chase Douglas


Chase Douglas is a software developer at Canonical working primarily on multitouch user interface support. For the past year, Chase has been involved with developing gesture support through Canonical’s uTouch framework and multitouch support through the window system. Prior to working on multitouch, Chase spent three years performing Linux kernel and plumbing layer development and maintenance at Canonical and IBM.