Tuesday, July 2, 2013

zonColor 1.6.5: Glossy Icons, Desklets, Modern UI, LXDE, more...

After some testing in 1.6 releases, I finally decided that zonColor is ready for a stable version of zonColor Themes Pack 1.6.5. This update is aimed to be compatible with latest version of various desktop environments (GNOME/GTK 3.8, Unity 7.0, Cinnamon 1.8, MATE 1.6, Xfce 4.10), along with additional features, theme components/templates, improvements, tweaks, and fixes.

One of differences in 1.6 compared to its previous releases 1.x, as previously noted, is in order to be compatible with GNOME/GTK 3.8, zonColor 1.6 introduces creation of actual GTK themes for color variant, rather than just make use of GTK-color-scheme feature that has been removed from GNOME/GTK 3.8.


For this release, I included some additions, one of them is new icons. Some people may like flat, square-framed icons, but me, I like icons that looks natural, 3D-shaped, shiny and glossy, and easy to be distinguished. This is a work in progress -- for now, I created icons for some apps, but for future releases I plan to create other icons too. And I also plan to include more than one icon template, so that users can have more choices of icon shape/style in creation of icon theme variant.

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In latest release, Cinnamon 1.8 desktop introduces desklets, desktop widget that reminds me of my life in dark ages when I was still using windoze vista :)


For GNOME Shell theme, zonColor 1.6.5 were also updated with style for some new things in GNOME Shell 3.8. One of them is App Folder Popup in GNOME Shell app view, like you can see in the screenshot below, which is somewhat similar to category in classic menu. Other styles also added for the new GNOME 3.8 classic session.


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For you who may not notice, one of the cool feature in GTK theme styling that I really like is its ability to define-color, refer color and use color shading/mixing so you don't have to use fixed color code for each of GTK theme elements. What I meant is if you open gtk.css or gtkrc file in text editor and you can see something like: @define-color: bg_color #dedede -- and than in next lines you can see something like: .button { background-color: shade(@bg_color, 1.08) } -- or another one like: .button { background-color: mix (@bg_color, selected_bg_color, 0.9) }. As you can see, it uses color reference, which is much more efficient IMO, compared to using fixed color like: .button { background-color: #e7e7e7 } for each theme element.

Metacity window decorator theme can use color reference/shading/mixing like GTK themes too, so it will automatically follow and can generate gradient or color variant by referring/shading/mixing of specified GTK theme colors. But that's not the case for some other theme engine, one of them is Openbox (default window manager in LXDE desktop). Openbox theme uses fixed colors for each element. This gave me problem when I want some of Openbox theme elemets like highlight color, border color, or inactive text color to automatically refer to color defined in GTK themes. I can simply put these color config in config files (*.zcfg files) and let users decide, but I don't want to fill config files with so many config options, not when they can be simply defined using color shading/mixing.

So I decided to create a simple script for color shading/mixing. This tool is used internally to generate color codes for some elements, for example are for Openbox highlighted titlebar background color which is a brighter variant of header_bg defined in config file, text color for unfocused window titlebar which is a mix of header_fg and header_bg, and also border color which is a darker variant of header_bg color. So for this release, for me that is an improvement in making of Openbox theme, special for LXDE users.


Because of different way (and more complex IMHO) of storing theme configuration in LXDE desktop compared to GNOME/Xfce, in previous releases zonColor app does not support LXDE for enabling themes. But now zonColor 1.6.5 includes a seperate zonColor app for LXDE, that can be used for enabling zcfg theme-set config files. But note that this tool for LXDE is still experimental.

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Some new GTK theme templates have been added in latest releases. This includes flat GTK theme template, and also a new template called RedmondModern, inspired by the "Modern UI" (formerly known as Metro UI) Windows 8 style, a simple flat, square-ish GTK theme complete with window decoration theme template.


The nature of zonColor theme is color customization. After created the Modern UI inspired theme, I was thinking about some mixing/combination. So I created a theme called RadianceModern, a GTK theme that uses Ubuntu Radiance GTK theme color scheme but, instead of using Ubuntu Ambiance like theme template, it uses the Redmond Modern template. The result? Here it is:


This release is also a mark that is finally all available zoncolor metacity window decoration themes have been converted to Xfwm window decorator themes, so that Xfce users can have the similar experience like GNOME users have when using window decoration themes.


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How about update for latest version of Ubuntu Unity desktop? Well, not much in visual aspect, but still includes fixes and updates. Here is a screenshot of one of zoncolor themes in Unity anyway :)


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I hope you enjoy and thank you for your support.

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PS: Still, sorry for my English :)
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