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Perspective and Skinning for Konqueror -IV

Manik Chand Patnaik
Tue July 04 08:14:50 2006

The previous parts lay the Introduction to the issue, Similarities of the interfaces and Broader base of the issue. Kindly read through the previous parts before proceeding with this part of this article.

In this part I come back to the main theme of the article, that is providing for a changeable UI to applications; here the test case being Konqueror.

Continuing the answer for why? there is a special consideration for branding and partial theming too. These considerations may seem unrelated to the user experience but are commercially and practically quite important.


What KDE or Konqueror has to do with branding?

There are many Linux distributions as well as BSD and like which distribute KDE. Many of them want to add their special "Touch" to make the distro feel exceptional. Those which can spend their resources on graphical themes like Bluecurve, SuSE theme, Galaxy are the top players with good resources. Still they feel constrained for supporting wider explorations into theming because of resource constraints.

Current constraints:

Graphic designers are rarely taken for adoption. This has resulted in the current state of theming of the KDE desktop. Approximately three most complete icon themes (crystal,Industrial(less complete than crystal),Tango(Currently we don't know the depth of Tango)), Five, Six modern and good-looking base toolkit themes, (Plastic, Baghira, dotnet ... ) The situation is not that pleasing. This happened because these wanted to theme complete desktops! not individual applications. This is a HUGE Job and it requires a massive effort to build a new look-n-feel. Oxygen developers are currently facing such a situation.

Application theming and Branding

Application theming works on a narrower scale. The theme design work is distributed because small contributor can also contribute to individual applications and as the theme is not system-wide, the user will be tempted to take the plunge with out worrying about any possible fall-outs from the adoption on other applicatons. Commercil vendors will be interested towards theming as the stakes involved would be far less. They can place their branding on the applications which they want to theme and not worry about others. In an other angle, a large theming project may offer piece meal implementations targetting an app at a single instance.

Skinning as the ultimate theming

Skinning takes theming to the next level as it can target the on-screen placement of graphical elements like text boxes, buttons gradients and so like. Skinning separates the program into a functional bi-layer. The program is the service provider and the skin is the User Interface layer. As I have already pointed out in the first part of this article, skinning makes the UI and HCI issues far less important and now the programmer can focus more on the program-engine rather than worrying about the steering wheel and brake pedals. As skins are not global, any skin corruption will have consequential effect on the concerned program. As skins would be focussed more towards graphics and less towards coding, they would be easy to create and implement.

Do you say Iñaki could have created a working skin for Konqueror rather than the mockup?

Yes Exactly that!

Now it is the question of HOW?

I will explain it in the concluding part.

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