We're in agreement that the way we design/build UI's for LinuxMCE currently is far from ideal... and if you look back through archives of the Forum you will see that I have voiced that view many times. I also think that the current UI implementations suffer from the very limited tools we have at our disposal. Now Thom & I do not see 100% eye to eye on this...but we are in general agreement I think that something needs to be done to re-engineer the Orbiter and how UI's are built for it.
We are currently in the early stages of re-engineering the Orbiter so that we can un-entangle the substantial parts of it that are hard coded and so that we can make UI design something that can be carried out with simple and standardised tools. The objective would be to make it possible to retarget the UI to pretty much any device...even to the extent you could create an orbiter UI for an text only display for example. If you like PIP type interfaces then building one should be easy...we're designing the tools not what you do with them.
When we have this scoped out our intention is to make it available in an early form to the community here so that it can be looked over and played with by anyone who's interested. All of the code will be GPL and hopefully if the community like it they'll not only be able to easily create new UI's but also improve and extend the code with relative ease to.
Working on this side of the system is the next major task we have on our schedule so I would expect us to have some working code in not too distant future.
All the best