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Re: GNUstep Icons and look proposal

From: Nicolas Roard
Subject: Re: GNUstep Icons and look proposal
Date: Wed, 18 Aug 2004 15:25:44 +0100

Le 18 août 04, à 09:28, Riccardo a écrit :

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..

Well, it's not exactly that. Imagine a developer who doesn't know GNUstep/ObjC, and barely have any idea if it's good or not. He looks at some screenshots, and its conclusion is "well, if they don't took the time to have nice looking application, this thing is surely not really worth it". Moreover, he could also think that he wants good-looking applications with a modern look and he could think that GNUstep can't provides that. Our first movement is always to look at the "exterior". After, well, you could want to go deeper or not in the subject, whatever the look. But it's not surprising that most
people forms first opinions by the look.
Myself, I started to be interested in GNUstep because I really liked the NeXTSTEP UI :-) (well, and I also knew that the dev environment was touted as very good..)

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.

well, our own icons are not really nice, yes.

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.

In fact, I really like the NeXT UI, you know :) (but with a brighter gray, though) But I think it's also important to provides other looks (if only for attracting people). The goal in fact is not to provides _one_ new theme, but to provide the mechanisms to create themes. I think it's important to have for example a Windows theme (for GNUstep/Windows) or even a MacOSX theme (for GNUstep/OSX ^_^) ...

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...

I generally agree, but we should also think about the look.

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.

Well, obviously we would like to have free icons -- it's not because it will be done by a profesionnal that the icons won't be free after that (frankly, I think that's something we could agree with the graphist, moreover if he knows about free software or have already participated in it -- as long as he is payed, I don't think he will disagree, we are not a company, but a FSF project).

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

Sure. Rules are here to be broken, sometimes ;-)
But theses guidelines seems sensible (at least to me), and obviously, it would then be better to follow them if possible. I am myself in the wrong with the icon I used for waiho :) but if (when?) I issue a new version, I will try to have a new icon.

- 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 :(

yes, and that's exactly what we would like to improve.

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.)

Yes, that's already possible and it should be helped by the existence of the IconKit.

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...

Well, we can't force developers anyway -- if they want icons that jump out of the lines,.. The only thing we can do is to provide clean icons by default, plus clean graphical elements, and guidelines.

- 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...

eh :) it's ok.

- 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.

yes, but that's not as easy :)

Also probably the guidelines need to be reviewed by many people. But the start is good.

thanks. We would really like to have opinions about them..

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

that's the purpose of the guidelines (and the purpose of the standard set of icons..)

thanks for the comments,

Nicolas Roard
"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."
 -Arthur C. Clarke

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