Squeak default look

Doug Way dway at riskmetrics.com
Wed Apr 17 04:52:43 UTC 2002

(Replying to this private email on the list, since it seemed relevant...)

Martin Drautzburg wrote:

> Doug,
> ... I recently
> started a thead on the
> mailing list about a "designer look" for squeak. While there were some
> interesting replies,
> nobody seemed to like the idea of attracting graphics designers to
> invent a new sequeak
> look. Maybe tomorrow.

There was actually someone who posted on the Squeak-Foundation list 
awhile ago about offering graphic design help (from his group), so the 
possibility is there.  Implementing an arbitrary look created by a 
graphic designer may not be easy, though.  (To make this simple you need 
something like "skins", but that's overkill in many ways, which I think 
you agreed with earlier.)

Perhaps the best way to use graphic designers would just be to get 
recommendations on choosing between various alternatives, and maybe 
designing some limited things such as icons.

> My concern was, that many who download squeak do immediately get biased
> to looking at
> an unfinished developer's toy. When they try to climb the learning curve
> they will see this
> assumption confirmed and give up quickly. If the community growth
> roughly follows an
> exponential pattern the consequences in the long run can be severe.

Agreed, mostly.  Some care about this, and some do not.  But the people 
who do not care about this shouldn't mind if some work is done on it. ;)

> The things I wanted the most were:
> o use sans serif fonts for lists and title bars and menus. Serif fonts
> only look
>    good in blocked text.

Probably a good idea.  It is true in general that sans-serif is usually 
better for titles, menus, etc.  More fonts need to be available by 
default for this to be worth changing.  (i.e. Comic is the only 
sans-serif font available right now.)

> o let fonts be large enough, make larger fonts available

Agreed.  This should happen eventually.

> o don't use "comic" window decorations

By this do you mean the icons in the window title bar (the X, O, menu, 
etc.)  If so, then I agree.  Well actually, there's nothing wrong with 
them being a little bit whimsical, but they should at least have a more 
consistent look. (e.g. the "X" close button uses thicker lines than the 
full-screen button, which looks clunky.  And the "O" just looks lopsided 
and horrible. :) )

> o don't use the "stripes" title bar (it looks like a 3D bug)

I sort of agree that a solid color or something else might look better, 
although this is more a matter of taste.  The "stripes" title bar 
actually looks pretty good in 1-bit mode, which is possibly where it 
originated.  The stripes are probably not needed for the new 
alternativeWindowLook which doesn't work in 1-bit mode anyway.

> o don't use toyish window and background colors.

This one's definitely a matter of taste.  I think a lot of Squeakers 
like having different colors for each type of window so that it's 
visually easy to quickly spot a certain window in a group.

Also, there are a few gray/white windows such as Workspaces, which 
demonstrate that it is possible to have a more neutral look if desired. 
;)  Perhaps the Window Colors dialog should be added to the titlebar 
menu for all windows so that it's easier to figure out how to set window 
colors. (or maybe not, that menu is more for items specific to a window 

(Another side issue is the window background color, originally Andreas' 
alternativeWindowLook had a white background for all windows but had 
colored borders, which I liked a bit more, since having a colored 
background is redundant if the titlebar & borders are already colored. 
Text on a white background is a bit easier on the eyes for me.  Perhaps 
this should be added as a preference.)

> I had tweaked my squeak in the following way:
> o Install the new look (this is also from you right ?)
> o Set all windows colors to white
> o Stop "rounding window corners" and "menu color from world"
> o Install Accufonts and change fonts
> o Change the background color (to a gradient)
> Do you think it will be possible to put things like these into the
> mainstream, so you get a
> decent (albeit not exactly a "designer") look for novice users without
> any twaeking ?

Improvements to the look will periodically go into the main release.  (For example,

look back at Squeak 2.8, there are already a number of look improvements

in the current 3.2gamma relative to that.)  Agreement on improvements can

be a trickier issue. :)  Some of the tweaks you

mention are a matter of taste... for example, Apple's OS X "Aqua" look
uses rounded window corners, and is considered good-looking by many.

- Doug Way
   dway at riskmetrics.com

(p.s. On a mostly unrelated note, I'm using Netscape 6.2 on OS X to 
write this message, and the (plain-text) text editor is horribly 
bug-ridden, probably the worst I've ever seen.  Anyone else dealt with 
this thing?  The Netscape mailer is pretty decent otherwise, good for 
browsing email (IMAP).  I assume the text editor is 
cross-platform/non-native, since all of the other widgets seem to be 
non-native, kind of like Squeak.  So you'd think it wouldn't be that 
buggy, since Windows/Unix/etc folk would also be using it regularly. 
But Squeak's text editor is much more reliable, oddly enough. :) )

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