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Theming Vista: Working together with the community


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#1 The Skins Factory

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Posted 06 May 2008 - 02:36 AM

As you might of guessed, The Skins Factory has all ready looked into patching Vista in memory, applying icons including live folders, and some of the other aspects of skinning Vista.

The verdict: All very doable.

The hard part will be creating the actual .msstyles themes. In the past we've been able to rely on the hard work done by TGT Soft who created a skin builder for XP. Things have changed. So we had an idea...


The hardest part of theming Vista is the hex. Themers like UKIntel and others have done a great service mapping out certain elements and if you look at the themes being put out here at WinMatrix and deviantART, themers are all doing different things. So here's what we propose to all you Vista themers:

We're going to code and create a Vista msstyle Variant Property Editor. Basically it will display and allow a user to edit certain properties that are encoded in the hex data of an msstyles' Variant/Normal resource. Rather than requiring a user to painstakingly find the associated address and modify the contents, this utility will parse out 'known' properties from the resource and permit them to be edited and saved. Known properties will be defined in a human readable xml file which will permit users to add their own definitions and extend the features of the product. We think this will take on a life of its own and become a valuable resource.

We see this utility not being open source, but it would be a freely available utility. Maybe Jatin would even pin this thread and we can host the new builds here at WM. Each property definition could have an associated 'credit' value, that would display the name or alias of the person responsible for adding it, thus encouraging users to add their own property definitions and make them available for everyone.

The utility would take about 4 weeks to code (we're footing the bill) and then we would release it to the community. If i get enough positive response from theme artists we'll sanction it to be built by our coders. We'll input all the known properties that have been documented on the web and get the ball rolling. I think together, we can make theming Vista a little easier. It seems like a win-win for everyone... we'll have an easier time theming Vista for Hyperdesk and the casual themers will have an easier time creating and releasing their themes to the world.

So what do you think?

#2 manbearpig16

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Posted 06 May 2008 - 11:57 AM

sounds great!

but the trouble is if you hex the start menu margins, it makes it nearly impossible to find other values to edit

can you compensate for that?

Edited by manbearpig16, 06 May 2008 - 12:25 PM.


#3 Jatin

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Posted 06 May 2008 - 12:01 PM

This is what the skinning community needs most. I hope that here the skinners would come up with something useful.

@The Skins Factory
The thread is pinned and you have unlimited storage space here for hosting the new builds as attachments.

#4 Lord Devrexster

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Posted 06 May 2008 - 01:06 PM

Plz forgive me if what I am going to say doesn't make sense , as I am not a skinner ...

Well , my proposal is can something be done to make the window-borders or the taskbar display animations . What I am saying can be easily found if u open a news channel on t.v and they are showing the headlines . The window-kind of things that contain the news generally have some animations like we see with macromedia flash going on "in" them ... u got what I saying ... ?? :huh:

I am not at all a skinner , but I may start into it soon . But since u already are so experienced so I ask whether this is possible .

Well if its not possible , then I may perhaps look into doing a separate app to bring this functionality . But if its possible the .msstyles way then it wud be awesome :woot:

And why I think its possible is becoz I can see similar thing in the progress bars of various .msstyles of vista . So why not the window borders or taskbar ??

#5 Another_User

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Posted 06 May 2008 - 01:29 PM

Sounds perfect!!! :jump:

#6 ritesh

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Posted 06 May 2008 - 01:50 PM

yes this would be really great.. I have done a little theming work and its very difficult to deal with all the hex and applying them every time to find the correct code... making themes using resource hacker is a also a ti,e taking process... if there is any way to make something like stylexp for vista, it would be really great and reduce half the time in making a new theme.... :yes:

I have a opinion if you are doing such a hard work then you may consider of making vista theme (a new theme engine) having a different extension with more advance features like some animations as window blind provides... ;)

#7 iJesse

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Posted 06 May 2008 - 03:01 PM

I honestly think it would be a dream come true for every skinner out there! It would become every skinners main tool. I am really hoping that it happens!

#8 The Skins Factory

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Posted 06 May 2008 - 03:43 PM

sounds great!

but the trouble is if you hex the start menu margins, it makes it nearly impossible to find other values to edit

can you compensate for that?



A reply from our coder, Graeme:
"here's what I understand what he's suggesting: say the hex file is a huge book with 10's of thousands of pages with no page numbers so that any time you want to find a particular page you need to count off each page from the start 'till you get to it. each page represents a theme property that we want to change, tho some properties are multiple pages and some are variable numbers of pages, it's the properties that are variable numbers of pages (variable size) that can throw off the counts, since if I change a property and change its size, then I change the location of all the properties that follow it. For example: page 10 contains a variable size definition of a margin - originally it is 2 pages long. page 20 contains a size definition of a font, only one page long. When I change the value of the margin and its size change to 3 pages long, then the font is now located on page 21. Make sense? In other words, we can compensate for it, as long as we know the changes that have been made already. Which we will."

I just spoke to Graeme, who's our lead coder on Hyperdesk and he'll sign up on here and be around. He'll be the one coding the utility. I've green lit the project. :-)

Edited by The Skins Factory, 06 May 2008 - 03:50 PM.


#9 Johnnyboy

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Posted 06 May 2008 - 06:22 PM

I haven't even tried to make a Vista msstyle because all the steps involved in the skinning like editing the resources in Resource Hacker, using the Alpha Image Converter, and then the hex editing seem quite painful to me. After the release of the Vista visual style builder many users like me would start making msstyles for Vista. :)

Edited by Johnnyboy, 06 May 2008 - 06:30 PM.


#10 ThunderROM

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Posted 06 May 2008 - 06:41 PM

if there is any way to make something like stylexp for vista, it would be really great and reduce half the time in making a new theme

Correction: "something like StyleBuilder for Vista" ;)

#11 manbearpig16

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Posted 06 May 2008 - 07:08 PM


sounds great!

but the trouble is if you hex the start menu margins, it makes it nearly impossible to find other values to edit

can you compensate for that?



A reply from our coder, Graeme:
"here's what I understand what he's suggesting: say the hex file is a huge book with 10's of thousands of pages with no page numbers so that any time you want to find a particular page you need to count off each page from the start 'till you get to it. each page represents a theme property that we want to change, tho some properties are multiple pages and some are variable numbers of pages, it's the properties that are variable numbers of pages (variable size) that can throw off the counts, since if I change a property and change its size, then I change the location of all the properties that follow it. For example: page 10 contains a variable size definition of a margin - originally it is 2 pages long. page 20 contains a size definition of a font, only one page long. When I change the value of the margin and its size change to 3 pages long, then the font is now located on page 21. Make sense? In other words, we can compensate for it, as long as we know the changes that have been made already. Which we will."

I just spoke to Graeme, who's our lead coder on Hyperdesk and he'll sign up on here and be around. He'll be the one coding the utility. I've green lit the project. :-)


thx for the reply, feels cool to help suggest some features of a program :)

please take a look here http://psycob.devian...argins-62703459

as you can see you dont overwrite many values, you have to insert most of them

this in turn moves ALL the values from there normal places in the variant

its nearly impossible to do any further hex editing as all the locations are actually different things, and the actual values you want to edit are somewhere else

hope i explained well enough

Edited by manbearpig16, 06 May 2008 - 07:11 PM.


#12 RickSOLET

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Posted 06 May 2008 - 10:09 PM

I like the interface of SkinStudio more than that of StyleBuilder, but this WindowBlinds skin creator can't export skins in the MSStyles format. :(

I'm hoping for something similar for the MSStyles users.

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#13 Freka

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Posted 06 May 2008 - 10:14 PM

Sounds great! Hope that there is someone out there that can help.

#14 UK.Intel

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Posted 07 May 2008 - 07:17 AM

Some Very good Ideas here. You have my attention and my support. Id be happy to get involved with this.

Lets make the Doable, Done!

Regards

UK.Intel

#15 M.Sudoku

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Posted 07 May 2008 - 08:26 PM

Sounds great, looking forward to the release..

#16 The Skins Factory

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Posted 08 May 2008 - 08:42 PM

So just a quick update on how this is going to go...

We're getting ready for launch, once we launch we'll:

1. Work on the Hyperdesk version for Vista

2. Work on the utility.

We have 2 coders so we'll split their time up between the 2 projects.

#17 RickSOLET

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Posted 09 May 2008 - 07:29 AM

I'll be waiting for the release :D

#18 iJesse

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Posted 09 May 2008 - 01:20 PM

as will I!!!!!

#19 Liskiller

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Posted 10 May 2008 - 06:48 PM

Can't wait to give it a try. I still have UK Intel's tutorial in my bookmarks for making Vista visual styles in future. :D

#20 Chanster

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Posted 10 May 2008 - 08:10 PM

This will be a dream come true. Thank you Skins Factory!

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