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QotD: Theming

Question: Do you like and use theming?

My Answer: No and no. I find that most third-party themes suck, and that the ones that I like are close enough to my regular appearance that it's not worth the instability, memory overhead, or speed hit often found in themers. As a software developer, I won't install a theming application, and as a user I don't like wondering after every crash if some APE was causing "monkey business" to cause the crash (regardless of how safe Unsanity or others says their hacks may be).

You are encouraged to answer the Question of the Day for yourself in the comments or on your blog.

14 Responses to "QotD: Theming"

  1. I don't care for themes either, but you know better than to say a bunch of pixmaps will cause slowdowns, or memory overhead. The only instability you'll see with a theme is either the theme installer or if you update the OS with a theme in place.

    Maybe Unsanity's new thingamabob will change this calculus, but up to now, they're nothing but a bunch of pixmaps and icons.

  2. Uhm, Josh, a bunch of pixmaps can cause slowdowns and they certainly use memory (as does the APE itself). I've seen instability in all sorts of areas with themes and with APEs, and "updating the OS" shouldn't really matter. So, uhm, no?

  3. It's okay. The only theme that I actually liked though made OS X look like NeXT. Occasionally I'll flip an app into bushed, but for the most part I don't monkey with things.

  4. Pixmaps cannot cause slowdowns etc as they are the SAME SIZE as the original graphics. Maybe Unsanity has changed this, but to replace elements of Extras.rsrc (etc) the new graphics and such have to be the same dimensions. I'm not sure if any compression is involved (even if it was, I would hope the system caches uncompressed images). So in essence, every new pixmap in a theme is the same dimensions, same bit depth, and thus takes the same memory and same processing as the original pixmaps. I really challenge you to refute this (maybe I'll learn something new about themes).

    As for instability, yes, APEs can cause it. Many theme installers have had problems, and OS updates with themes have always been tricky. That's the price these people pay for themes.

  5. Unsanity's new theme changer is the best of breed right now. There is nothing wrong with changing themes, I've been doing it with ThemeChanger for awhile now and haven't had a single problem. The previous themers actually replaced the existing graphic files of the OS and caused ZERO overhead issues. I haven't had a chance to use Unsanity ShapeShifter yet but it does not replace the current Aqua graphic files, it just tells the application where to find a different set. Again, I don't see any overhead here that is any different than the OS telling an application where to find the current Panther graphic files.

  6. There is overhead. And the first rule of application development is, "if it works on my machine, it should work on yours" applies here as well in that - well it's not and won't hold true!

    There can be problems. But Jeffery is right. There is no replacing of files. However there is overhead. There is more code loaded into memory (latent - but there)...however there should not be a performance hit save for application launching.

  7. People Sure to Buy? Charge a Lot!

    I use three 'haxies' because they change things in OS X that bother me. I use them because they're seamless and work correctly and do what I need them to...

  8. We're talking about different things. Legacy themes (installed via replacing Extras.rsrc and such) had no overhead of any kind, and the only stability problems came when the theme installers borked or a system update didn't like the modifications.

    With ShapeShifter, we have almost the exact opposite. There will undoubtedly be some overhead involved since it's switching things on the fly, but since it does not modify system files, OS upgrades should work just fine.

  9. I can't imagine that the added overhead caused by ShapeShifter would be enough to cause a significant flux in performanc (except while launching an application but that's simply the nature of APE, as Vinay stated).

    However, I myself find no need to change the look and feel of OS X's UI. One of the many reasons I switched from a PC to Mac in the first place was X's aesthetic appeal. I mean, the last thing I want to do is make OS X look like XP... *shudder*

  10. Yeah, I agree. No need to change it. However, I still am interested in seeing what new types of themes we can see. There were a lof of good Kaleidoscope themes. Maybe they'll get ported, who knows...

    I am interested in seeing the can of worms this opens. I'm in it for the murder an mayhem!

  11. Actually there is a slowdown caused by Shape Shifter (not by replacing system files the old way) in that it reenables dynamic calculation of shadows for windows to bypass shadows hard-coded for the standard window shapes (since these might change with applied themes). This slowdown is most noticeable when you resize windows. Just try it, resize a blank TextEdit window before and after applying a theme with Shape Shifter.

  12. New Skins

    From nslog(): Question: Do you like and use theming? My answer: Nope, I never have and never will with my...

  13. The Price Of Theming

    Erik’s Question Of The Day yesterday was “Do you like and use theming?”. In a nutshell, yes. Way back in the OS 8/9 days I used a program called Kaleidoscope to perform theme changing duties. I’d even go so far...

  14. what aaron says is true, and it reminds me of an interesting situation that happened with Kaleidoscope. greg's code actually becam faster at drawing windows than the system. i'm not sure if APE overrides the drawing functions completely, but if so, then there is the potential for shapeshifter to become faster than the OS. and, i have to say that i would place a bet on slava before a lot of other coders out there, he deserves some props.