November 19, 2003

Mac OS X Themes Part Deux

In the last few days, we have seen an abundance of OS X theme news. Unsanity released ShapeShifter, a new theme application that promises to do more than the old method of replacing system files ( changing text colors, for example), as well as remove the stability problems associated with such replacements. This is good for everyone -- theme creators have stopped worrying about hosing user's systems or having their work stolen easily. They also are prepared to pay far less for bandwidth now that 20 MB themes weigh in at 900K.
Unfortunately, I have a number of problems with the product. First and foremost, the guikit format is closed. There is no way of creating guikits besides using ThemePark. There is no schema for guikit. This has the goal of, apparently, not allowing people to open a guikit, slightly modify files, and release it as their own. There are problems with this though: ThemePark creates new themes by loading the system resources, which, when you have a theme loaded, are the resources inside of these guikits. So first of all, guikits do not succeed in their attempts for security, nor can they really, since it's a matter of time before some other app comes along that can save the system resources it loads after ThemePark's security hole is fixed (who knows how, though). So anyway, guikit is not secure, but because it is closed it does not play nice with others. If ShapeShifter is so spectacular (and there is no reason to believe it isn't) , Unsanity and Geekspiff should let guikits play fair in the open market.
Next, theme creation is still so unweidly. I should be able to open a 800x1200 or so PSD template, that has on it all the metrics for the various controls, and I should be able to simply create my theme on one file, save it as a TIFF, and have some application convert that TIFF into a guikit. Some people were against this when I brought it up, saying it would be the realbasic of themes. I have to disagree, though, because I think a lot of GOOD artists are turned away from making OS X themes because of the obscene complexity of the process. We're using Macs for a lot of reasons, but one of them is ease of use. Don't assume that the OS X theme group will go the same way as the wincustomize group. More themes is better for everyone, and I'll be damned if it isn't better for Unsanity/Geekspiff trying to sell their software.

On some way lighter news, Max ( released Aluminum Alloy for Panther, which I am using right now. I love the theme, so kudos to him.

Posted on November 19, 2003 08:39 PM | apple | TrackBack

The real basic of themes, thats pretty funny. I love to hear realbasic bashing because by and large it is unfounded. There is no problem with real basic per se, its all about how people use it. There are a ton of apps that it really wouldn't matter if they used real basic or not, its just when people try to do "too much" with real basic that there is a problem. And I think that if its something like theming, just providing the raw images and having a program do it's thing (the "real basic way"), theres not any problem. If the theme turns out nice and its easier to do, I don't see where the problem is. Simplicity doesn't equal inferiority necessarily, and people shouldn't write something off based on the fact that it makes something easier.

·November 20, 2003 02:29 PM · comment by cloudaj   -   ∞

Well, a PSD template with all resources will bring looooots of ugly themes. But on the other side, the situation was the same back in the KS days.
100 ugly themes, 10 great themes. And yes, i want it like that :D

·December 26, 2003 02:41 PM · comment by Christopher Anderton   -   ∞
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