I haven’t posted anything in a long time an that’s because I have tons of work to do for the university like this hand made perspective drawing of the Mies van Der Rohe’s pavilion in Barcelona:

The Perpective Drawing

Mies van der Rohe Pavilion

I don’t know why are we made to do it by hand but still feel it’s better that way. Yesterday I have scheduled an estimate date of the next New Wave release too. See more info here.

I decided that I need something fresh and new to update the theme with so I started a little experiment to see what’s going to happen and here’s the result so far:

Brainstorm

The basic ideas is to free more space by removing some of the borders thus implying the feeling of lightness. What do you think?

Apply button

I have managed to make a small update to the configurator. It now allows you to apply the changes  to the theme you are editing  if it’s your current one or save it if it’s not. Other noticable change is the selective enable/disable behaviour of the Save/Apply and Revert buttons. Please note that if you save a modified version of the theme and press Revert then Save/Apply would still be enabled because the Revert button restores to the first loaded state of the theme. Other minor changes are clean up of warning messages in the terminal and fixed layout of the settings’ titles.

Oh and I almost forgot ;) – you can download the binary and source package here.

With a lot of regret I have to say that Robert Staudinger the creator of the CSS Theme Engine has confirmed in an email, that he has been employed in one of the biggest companies in the world, and he is unable to work on the engine anymore: “Life is getting in the way …”

Thorsten Wilms and I had some hopes for this engine but unfortunately we cannot do the job of Robert on the programming side. As I wrote we had started a svg template and even Thorsten managed to complete it a month ago, with only thing left – to translate it into css language. It’s a pity that this wonderful WIP has been terminated for undefined interval of time. If there are any news on the topic be sure I’ll write about them.

I had a vast summer break and it was a long time, before I managed to work on New Wave again. There were a lot of bugs to fix with the Karmic release. Finally I was able to find time and polish the usability of the theme even further: the eye strain levels are even lower and I can confirm with confidence, that the end-user may use it for long time even without breaks and it will still provide a comfortable environment for the eyes. Read more in the readme file of the theme pack. The latest version could be downloaded from GnomeLook or Launchpad.

Other notable change is the updated New Wave Configurator 0.2 that is available for installation in Debian package in the New Wave Theme Pack or as a separate download from Launchpad. The start window has been reworked to give accent on the Edit function and provides more intuitive theme selection through priorities:

The Pick Dialog

The Pick Dialog

There is a little info button which I let you to discover more about. You can still edit themes in root directories. A new feature is the ability to load the old format 0.8.1 themes and convert them to work with some of the new features of the program. On the other hand, the new theme format allows you to do complex operation in just  two mouse clicks. What I’m talking about is changing of panel themes (the appearance of the panel which includes: colors, images, fonts, and entry styles) to a different ones from a drop down list:

The main window of NWC 0.2

The main window

New feature too is the appearance of the selection box in Nautilus. That is when you select more than one files with mouse drag. The most useful new feature though, is the ability to restore themes to their default settings even when you can’t revert (fresh start of configurator). With that new option you should never worry about what you modify because you can restore your themes to the default sate very easy: File > Restore …

The best thing about the program distribution is that it is now available in deb installer (thanks to my friend Andrew Starr-Bochicchio) and the menu entry is located under Applications > System Tools > New Wave Config :

Menu Entry

Menu Entry

I hope you enjoy this new release of the theme.

As a theme creator it is very important for me (and other designers) to fully understand what I’m doing by designing themes. Is creation related more to art or to science and engineering? First of let’s see what is User Interface (UI):

“The user interface (also known as human computer interface or man-machine interface (MMI)) is the aggregate of means by which people—the users—interact with the system—a particular machine, device, computer program or other complex tool. The user interface provides means of:

* Input, allowing the users to manipulate a system
* Output, allowing the system to indicate the effects of the users’ manipulation.”

Source: Wikipedia

Usual desktop today. Preview of the theme New Wave 0.8.2

Thus a good interface is the one that accepts a wide range of data and presents the output results in the best possible (usable, discoverable) way. Let’s focus on one of the types of the UI – the Graphical UI or GUI, because it is most popular one. Just for reference you could check out the ZUI – Zooming interface of AHEAD (use mouse scroll and pressed left button to navigate).

Back on topic: If the GUIs were designed entirely by engineers (a.k.a programmers) then the results would be super logical, looking complicated and described by technical terms, that no one else would understand. A good example is GUIs for GNU/ Linux at their birth in the early 1990 to 2000 because GNU/ Linux is mainly a OS developed by engineers in their free time and working for powerful companies on the other hand. Things started to change, when GNU/ Linux had become mature enough for some designers to join the community of FOSS. Then they started to make good backgrounds, decent looking themes and most importantly – got in touch with the developers and started making requests for a better,  more understandable words and UI layouts. This is the time to say that without the programmer the designer can do nothing more than mock-ups (only imagine a tool like Peridot is widely adopted – then the designer can do it almost on its own).

Still, developers are not always capable of fixing everything in the current GUIs like Gnome 2.xx series. I found this when I started making my theme. There were a lot of places where everything is hardcoded, (written in the code of the program) and could not be changed externally by a theme for example. What I mean is that if you want to theme (skin) the text boxes with transparent areas, you can’t because it is drawn in such a way by the system. That could be only fixed by major overhaul, such as entirely rewritten system to allow this – that would be the all new Gnome 3.xx I hope.

That said I think GUIs could not be made by designers nor programmers alone. Interfaces should be a combined effort of both to achieve usable, aesthetic and fast interaction between the man and the machine. We are in the time when there are enough good programmers and good designers in the FOSS world, and the next generation UI should not be too far away. What do you think?

Recently I’ve been using exclusively the features of LaunchPad to manage my next release of the theme pack. I created two blueprints and linked several bugs to the milestone of the next release and one more to the karmic polish milestone. I have specified release dates but if all the features planned are ready and tested earlier I might release it before the official release date. On the other hand if there is even one unresolved issue the release will be delayed until further notice. If you think I have missed something, you can add your own blueprint and I’ll review it shortly. All ideas and brainstorm are welcomed.

As summer break will soon be over I’ll be more active on the theme and the new CSS engine sides. Work on the Pioneer SVG theme is on my to-do list for this year. Expect some more news in the near future.

I had a long thought and I decided that I will change the license of the New Wave Theme Pack from CC  Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike to the more permissive one of CC Attribution Share-Alike so that people can freely make business out of it. The change will be fact with the next release of the theme pack, or more precisely its 0.8.2 version. The first draft of the attribution I will probably use:

You are free to do with the New Wave Theme Pack what you wish as long as you mention the author name,  nickname in brackets after the name and a web link to the original content. In case you make money from the New Wave Theme Pack, I (the author) would very much appreciate but not enforce you, to send me a small donation of your choice at my paypal account: ankere [at] gmail [dot] com

This change in license is my gift to the community because I have become an architecture student and I’m very happy about that. That would also allow easy integration and better acceptance in the FOSS world.

Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike

While I was browsing the web, I came across one very interesting video at the blog of MadsRH. I think that these tendencies could be very interesting in the aspect of computer development – imagine a single person in 2050 that has the whole “power” of humankind only for his needs! Now Imagine 4 billion such people!. On the other hand it is a bit frightening because of our children and the way, they interact with nature and other humans is going to be lost in the Internet and apps such as  facebook. So enough talk – here’s the video:

Shortly after the release of the New Wave Configurator people started to ask for some changes and updates to this program. Here is a list of the things that need to be changed and some others that I think you would benefit from:

  • Be able to change the color of panels. I will limit this to a dozen preselected colors and thus make sure it looks ok when each one is selected.
  • Use special theme for OpenOffice (fixed menubar or with dark menus?) and leave Firefox use the provided skin rather than that ugly patch.
  • Make all the program stuff archived as a .deb package for easy installation and place an entry under Application > Accessories.
  • Allow the user to revert to the original themes. But determining these would be rather difficult, as there will be many New Wave versions and even user customized files that are different from the defaults. So for example if I provide some default rc files with one version of the Configurator, they will soon become obsolete with the next release of the theme. Or what if there are different versions in /usr/share/themes~ and in /.themes? actually not so difficult. I will use default settings hardcoded in the app and change them per major (or anchor) versions e.g. 0.8 and 0.9 if there is such need at all.

I would appreciate every feedback regarding these proposals and especially for the last one so do not hesitate to leave a comment ;)

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