[squeak-dev] Re: looks evolution

Ian Trudel ian.trudel at gmail.com
Sun Apr 25 04:02:05 UTC 2010

Hi Hannes and Steve,

Thanks for your feedback guys. I particularly appreciate your input,
Hannes. By the way, Steve, I am a big fan of your Laser Game tutorial.
It's great! Have you considered having your tutorial in Squeak
HelpSystem? :)

I absolutely think we should focus only on a simple one page
requirements at the moment, based on feedback from our community and
conversations with Andreas. Let's build a relationship with graphic
communities. We are likely to spend time on refining our knowledge,
documentation and UI as time goes by. Realistically, if only we get a
bunch of icons within the first 6 months, that would be really great.

The facelift Squeak has experienced is good and an improvement over
what we previously had. The main issue is pertaining to the fact that
the facelift is bringing Newspeak look-and-feel into Squeak. As far as
visual identity is concerned: it looks like Newspeak, then it is
Newspeak. This facelift buys us some time but we're going to lose our
identity overnight (at least in term of branding).

Your comment about Personas for Firefox is interesting because it
reminds me that Squeak is the Smalltalk for multimedia. Ironically,
perhaps, I am not sure graphic designers will be thrilled to use
Squeak. On the long run, we may have to provide some kind of Smalltalk
Starter Guide for Graphics. If they manage to use it and like it, then
we get more users and more graphics.

> Yes, we need to know where the graphic resources (images, icons, color
> definitions, border with definition etc) are located. Currently I have
> no idea where to look for this.

Extra > Standard Graphics Library contains some. The resources are
often encoded into methods but sometimes into dictionaries I think.
There is a resource manager but I am not sure how it works nor if it
is used at all. I know where some resources are but nowhere enough to
make a list. Besides, I have to work on my relationship with Morphic.
We need gurus to give us feedback.

Would Creative Common an acceptable license? Which other licenses
would be acceptable? (Board members, what do you think?)

> Yes, a list of priorities is an immediate need.

We should first consider what kind of priority facelifting should have
among the current priorities Squeak has (e.g. 4.2 roadmap). As I
wrote, the Newspeak look-and-feel buys us some time. At least time to
build a relationship with the graphic communities.

> myGreatTheme-backarrow.png   (this name consists of the theme name
> together with the resource name - just a start not something really
> worked out)

A small standard guide would be much needed, indeed. Provided that a
resource manager would handle resources, importing and exporting, that
could make it much easier.

> I think some more research has to be done to find out and document in
> a summary view what is already in the system.

Documentation is a major task by all means. I would rather favour
building a relationship with graphic designers. My understanding is
that beautiful concepts don't get far in our community if they are not
practical enough.

> I think there are graphic themes. Let's give it a try and do some more
> to find out what is lacking with the current schemes.

Would you care to elaborate? I would rather hope graphic designers
tell us about our shortcomings. Some of them are fine UI designers.

> I we should work on a list of action points
> - background chooser (done by Steve Wessels)
> - inventory of graphics

> - dig out things from the past and summarize what is useful for the
> future (entry point for example http://wiki.squeak.org/squeak/1114,
> Appearance / Themes / Skins - October 2006)

What would be our immediate gain in doing this? I suspect it won't
give us much. It also remains a documentation task. My point being we
should not burden ourselves in order to ensure the success of this
idea. However, we can provide new documentation based on our
requirements to be integrated. Digging is the work of archaeologists
and historians. It's long and boring and this won't get many of us

> - evaluation of current situation - what does the 'theme' mechanism in
> the preferences browser deliver? (see screenshot)

> - naming scheme for graphical elements of the user interface

I like that. Morphic is very confusing at times.

> - polishing the preferences browser
> - loader for UI-elements ('personas' idea from Firefox; maybe it is
> possible to tap into that - i.e. just use the 'personas')

By the way, would Toolbuilder be skinnable?

> There are several reasons I have not continued to keep the Skins project up
> to date:
>  1.  I actually like the existing look and feel.
>  2.  It surprises me there is core demand for this capability.  I have
> always thought of it as a "goodie" and more of a personal fun indulgance.  I
> may be wrong about this impression, of course.
>  3.  Bringing the Skins project up to date usually took about a weekend to
> do because the base Squeak design kept changing so much.  So the project
> would drift away with other personal Squeak projects taking priority -
> including a Laser Game tutorial rewrite I keep promising to complete.
> Mostly, I haven't kept Skins current because I like the existing look.  :)

Steve, I think it's the reason why Squeak has very slowly evolved
graphically. Many old timers were used to the look and like it,
perhaps ignoring a bit its flaws. It took a long time to get the
facelift we have now. In the spirit of rejuvenating the community with
new members, the look matters. Besides, in term of deployment,
skinning is a great feature — otherwise forever stuck to write custom
UI components.

JavaFX is an interesting case study because it understands building
UIs require different people (programmers, graphic designers, etc).
Business logic can be implemented in Java. JavaFX has a declarative
language for its UI, UI builder, and other support for graphic
designers. It's fairly easy to build good looking apps.

All the best,

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