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Re: GNUstep Icons and look proposal

From: Riccardo
Subject: Re: GNUstep Icons and look proposal
Date: Wed, 18 Aug 2004 10:28:58 +0200


first of all I want to say I greatly appreciate the effort you put into this, even if my later comments may seem a bit negative.

On Wednesday, August 18, 2004, at 01:51 AM, Quentin Mathé wrote:

How something look is important if you want people to use it. That's also true for GNUstep, even if GNUstep is a programming framework. Most people and programmers will just have a quick look on some screenshots and just think that it looks old and "therefore" *is* an old, deprecated technology. Even if we know they are "wrong", it's just the human nature, and is totally understandable. If we want to attract more developers, then improving the look of GNUstep is something we should try to do.
Unfortunately it is so, lately looks and eye-candy have grown in importance. I strongly disagree with most, but that is not a point. We need to attract users... You say we need developers, my small little opinion is that if a developer stops at the looks, then well, he isn't a real developer... but we are starting to get polemic..

Icons are one of the very important key in how a program looks. And frankly, the current icons set in GNUstep is not very sexy and looks old (by the way, it has nothing to do with the "NeXT theme" -- most NeXT icons are relatively beautiful even by today's standards :)
Hmm, our own icons don't look very next-ish at all often and also they look like a mix.

We could want to change the look of GNUstep apps (eg, themes), but one thing that needs to be changed in the first place is the icons set, because icons are comparatively much harder to do than the themes support (eh, looks at http://www.roard.com/screenshots/screenshot_theme37.png for what's coming on soon..).
Personally I don't like it, but I see that others could like it.

Sadly for us, we are a bunch of programmers, not graphists. Most of us are not very good at icons design, and the few of us that are not too bad do not have much free time left anyway. We could try to rip already existing icons (for
This is a problem. Indeed.
You may have noticed that "PRICE" and "Stepulator" are without an icon. This is really because I miss one and I don't know how to draw one myself. And please mind that I am a decently skilled artist (although Icon design requires always extra skills) but the prooblem starts even with the idea that needs to be represented. For stepulator it might be easier, for PRICE not. And also as you say, I prefer to spend my free time coding apps than designing icons.

Not because I think icons are not important in the overall GNUstep user experience, on the contrary. But I feel that at the current status of GNUstep time is still better spent in coding...

As much as we would have prefered to have free icons, it doesn't seem to be possible, and waiting for a nice graphist doing all our works doesn't seem to work either. On the other hand, if we pay somebody for this work, we will be sure to have our icons.
I feel that having real "free" icons would be better.
On the other side, if the artwork goes into "LGPL" then at the end there is nothing wrong with it.

But first we need to have some guidelines -- we want to have coherence as much as possible to provide a smooth user experience, and as anyway the icons (in general, hopefully not the "standard icon set") will be created by different persons, we need guidelines to have some basic control. That's why we wrote a first proposal of theses guidelines, available on http://www.quentinmathe.com/gnustep/documentation/UI/icons/ . Obviously we would like to have opinions and suggestions about it.
You have done a lot of work there and I only skimmed through some of the sections.

I see that some guidelines are restrictive, like

This rule has been broken a lot of times. Think about firefox, iCab and, surprisingly, a lot of browsers.

YOu may say that many designs Icons wrong, but what I am trying to say is that those guidelines apply easily to common stuff like "sytem tools" or "common applications" (like word, photoshop, email client). But for other applications it gets very difficult

- We consider that improving the current look of GNUstep UI will help tremendously to attract people - We consider that one of the most important part of this work is the creation of new, modern-looking icons
I would like to split this.

For "standard" gnustep I'd like next-ish icons, homogeneous and possibly well designed. This is not currently the case :(

If you want to do themes, then among them you can put the icons you want (preferably by following the same guidelines and by giving the same "object" a different look, so to make it less confusing.)

One of the reasons why I prefer GNUstep (and CDE for the other side) to other environments is still its clean, little intrusive design. This is even half-true for Aqua. Many of the original apple icons are quite well designed, even if in a completely different context. WHile many applications have Icons that jump out of the lines...

- We propose to pay a graphist for theses icons and share the bill among us. It should be possible to use Adam Fedor's paypal account for example.
I feel so poor...

- We propose an Icon's guidelines document to help keeping consistency
The idea is very good. I t would be nice if this guide could have ideas on "how to make it nextish" or "how to make it <insert your theme here>" if you ever want to maintain officially some themes. Also probably the guidelines need to be reviewed by many people. But the start is good.

Also the icons of the various applications matter a lot, they should be consistent with the look...

Keep on the work,


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