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Icons and Blunders - Part 1

Manik Chand Patnaik
Sat Apr 23 10:46:36 2006

Recently I associated myself with the OpenOffice.org KDE project. Ok, you need not ask it, I am signing JCA just as it is because I feel it is better in the interests of the project. If I had to apply my mind into the legal perspectives, I would probably never have signed. In my view LGPL serves the purpose much more and I don't think there should be joint ownership on my contribution to protect OpenOffice.org from me or from somebody else.

The real issue

However the real idea behind my writing this article is not to discuss JCA vs LGPL, I am commenting on the usability perspective of the whole icon issue. The icon designer often resorts to creation of high detailed icons in SVG and exports it to a PNG for adoption in the program interface. However I found out that the icons for OOo designed by the project OpenOffice KDE is more than what I can bear and so I volunteered to help it out myself. I am not a good graphic artist though I accept that fact and so I may not be able to design the most exquisite icons but certainly I can help to clear up the cruft.

Cruft? What cruft? Give some Introduction man!

Many people are of the opinion that Everaldo's Crystal is the most exquisite icon set ever designed (at least many in the KDE community believes it). Later several artists expanded and extended the set with similar icons for many applications. So it makes crystal a very large icon set and it is going tough to beat it in the sheer number of icons in the set. Later icon sets worth mentioning are Nuvola (similar to crystal) and Jimmac's tango set. In appearance Nuvola is richer to crystal and the tango set (contributed by several artists) is more expressive. As tango is being designed to encompass almost all the UI elements of a common Linux desktop, one day it may well surpass what crystal has now become. Nuvola is not such an all-encompassing set and the developer of Nuvola along with two other brilliant artists at KDE are collaborating their efforts on a Nex-Gen Icon set, Oxygen. Till such replacements are available crystal is the only go.

The crystal icon set is quite appealing to the eyes but lacks some very basic usability points. They are:-

1. Lacks proper Silhouette.

2. Over designed and so un-simplified.

3. Overlapping objects in icons confuses the purpose of the icon.

4. Icon Edges are not well maintained.

In the second part of this article I would be explaining on what needs to be done to clear-up the cruft.

- - - - - This Article is under GNU FDL with title as FC text. Contact Author for any queries.

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