XnView MP & theme

Ideas for improvements and requests for new features in XnView MP

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JohnFredC
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Re: XnView MP & theme

Post by JohnFredC » Mon Nov 08, 2010 3:33 pm

IMO the appearance of a software tool should enhance (or at the very least not impair) the utility of the software for its chosen task domain. If one role of the tool is to adjust/edit photographs, then in that interaction mode, at least, the UI should be chromatically neutral.

There are essentially two flavors of chromatically neutral UIs:

1.) The "dark" approach has been employed by almost all so-called "professional" software (Aperture, Lightroom, et al) for several years now. I remember when Lightwave (3d modeler) switched to a dark theme many, many years ago, how attractive and functional it was compared to the M$ UI designs. Apparently other developers thought so as well. One benefit to professionals for the dark themes currently popular is their chromatic neutrality. In particular, adjustments for photographic color/exposure are more accurately compared/estimated in chromatically neutral UIs. One might think of the benefit as the "gray card" or "zone" effect... in deference to the neutral-gray exposure-reference cards employed by professional photographers everywhere.

2.) The "light" approach originated in the distant past of DOS graphics programs and is currently championed primarily by Picasa and a few others. It is also a chromatic-neutral UI, but is not (what I refer to as) "gamma" neutral, in that the predominance of white surfaces displayed by the UI tend to suppress/compete-with photo light/dark balances. Images tend to look duller and less colorful in contrast to the white. From personal experience I tend to slightly over-contrast and over-saturate images edited in Picasa.

Conversely, if the interface is too dark ("black"), then gamma-neutrality is compromised as well and the user might tend to under-contrast/under-saturate images...

My opinions:
  • • As long as the default theme is attractive, chromatically neutral (see above), AND (very important) MP exposes a UI surface control for changing the theme, it seems to me that a default theme ("dark" or "light") should be chosen based on the anticipated audience for the software.

    • I would also opt for a "gamma" neutral theme (not too dark, not too light).

    • Perhaps if MP looks like Picasa by default ("light"), then professionals may not give it a chance (since, of course, no "professionals" would ever use a free tool like Picasa ha ha). This is somewhat likely, IMO. OTOH the public at large might be more easily attracted.

    • If MP looks like Lightroom by default ("dark"), then the "common" man may be intimidated, thinking (by association) that MP is a professional tool and too hard to use. I think this is less likely to occur, however.

    • If the user employs an MP install program (Setup), then it is a simple matter for the setup routine to provide several different themes (light, dark, medium, colorful) to chose from. This would be the best approach.
For a default (ie. "native" appearance) IMO MP should call to mind professional software instead of so-called "popular" software. I vote for a medium dark, chromatically- and gamma- neutral default appearance.
John

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Re: XnView MP & theme

Post by oops66 » Tue Nov 09, 2010 5:00 pm

JohnFredC wrote:...For a default (ie. "native" appearance) IMO MP should call to mind professional software instead of so-called "popular" software. I vote for a medium dark, chromatically- and gamma- neutral default appearance.
+1 I agree
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Re: XnView MP & theme

Post by XnTriq » Sat Nov 20, 2010 8:00 pm

Almost three years have passed since a user's request sent me on a Google safari exploring the prevalence of dark UIs in the wild. To this day, not all dark interfaces are created equal — examples ranging from pitch black to light gray.

Reality check 2010: Is there a “gold standard”?

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Re: XnView MP & theme

Post by JohnFredC » Sat Nov 20, 2010 8:34 pm

John

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Re: XnView MP & theme

Post by UrbanCoyote » Sun Nov 21, 2010 4:49 am

Yes. Maya is *the* standard. :D

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Re: XnView MP & theme

Post by thibaud » Sun Nov 21, 2010 6:29 pm

and a few others commonly used in the cg/film industry:

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Re: XnView MP & theme

Post by XnTriq » Sun Nov 21, 2010 11:00 pm

About.com: Graphics Software (What's New in Photoshop Elements 7 » [url=http://graphicssoft.about.com/od/pselements/ss/PSE7whatsnew_2.htm]Adjustable Workspace Brightness[/url] wrote:
  • Image
    Brightness slider for adjusting the workspace background color.
Photoshop Elements 6 brought a new dark workspace which many users, including myself, found difficult to read. Many of us were hoping a fix for this would come in a free patch for version 6. Instead, it has been introduced as a new feature in the user preferences for version 7.

This new option provides a slider to adjust the user interface brightness to a gray tone that is comfortable to you. In addition, you can adjust the grid brightness for the Organizer separately. Even at its brightest setting, the workspace is still shades of gray. In other words, it won't go to stark white with black text. Personally, I found it most readable on the darkest setting, which seemed to provide the most contrast between menus and text.
Apparently several other Adobe products besides Photoshop Elements come equipped with a “user interface brightness slider”.
XnTriq wrote:[...] reading bright text on dark background for a prolonged period of time puts a lot of strain on my eyes.

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Re: XnView MP & theme

Post by JohnFredC » Mon Nov 22, 2010 1:39 am

That AutoPano forum link (previous post) brought to mind something someone said to me back in about 1980. We were working with GL (predecessor to Open GL) and Fortran to create a data-driven charting environment for an economics publication of the University of FL: lots of coding. At that time we were employing green-on-black 327x IBM monitors and typing like crazy... many hours a day.

Looking over my co-worker's shoulder one day I could hardly read the screen, the brightness was turned down so far. His response to my inquiry was: "Did you ever think you would stare at a bare light bulb to make your living, all day, every day?"

It had never occurred to me to equate CRTs with light bulbs, but now I think he was right, having learned the hard way that bright, high-contrast displays lead quickly to visual fatigue.

XnView should be flexible enough for someone to crank the daylights out of the interface if they want to, but I much prefer the subdued grays and low contrasts of the interfaces referenced in the above posts. Much easier on the eyes and less fatiguing.
John

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Re: XnView MP & theme

Post by budz45 » Mon Nov 22, 2010 9:41 am

JohnFredC wrote:At that time we were employing green-on-black 327x IBM monitors and typing like crazy... many hours a day.
The memories eh, you must have some fine memories; things have changed indeed. I'm only aged in my twenties but still lived to see the final years of those monochrome monitor (green and black) computers back in the mid-90s. Just to comment.
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JohnFredC
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Re: XnView MP & theme

Post by JohnFredC » Mon Nov 22, 2010 12:05 pm

Hi Budz45

Oh, the good old days... NOT! 8)
budz45 wrote:things have changed indeed
Actually my point was things haven't changed, really. Still looking at light bulbs here, though they call them LEDs and whatnot, now. :wink:
John

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budz45
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Re: XnView MP & theme

Post by budz45 » Mon Nov 22, 2010 1:09 pm

JohnFredC wrote:Hi Budz45

Oh, the good old days... NOT! 8)
:? I meant about something else...sorry
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Re: XnView MP & theme

Post by JohnFredC » Tue Dec 07, 2010 8:29 pm

In the new MP version 0.32, there is a "dark" theme available in View->Style. If you choose this theme, two QT style files are placed in the MP home folder. (Thank you Pierre!).

The primary style file is quite large and confusing, but I have been working my way through it, trying to tone down (or up!) the new dark theme (which I think is very much too dark! :? ).

Here are my results so far:

Image

My main purpose was to try to simplify the display. I removed superfluous borders and lowered the contrast between adjacent elements. Notice particularly the "Mini" toolbar, the splitters, and the scrollbars.

So far I haven't found a way to simplify the tab stuff in the Category/Folder tabbed thing... there are at least two unnecessary lines there that I haven't been able to identify. And what controls the colors of the inactive tabs?

This activity has been quite arduous and if any of you attempt the same, you will discover several "illogical" relationships between controls. I used a text editor... if anyone knows of a good QSS stylesheet editor please speak up!

Also, it would help enormously if there was a reference to which controls map to which QT widgets. I haven't been able to find many of the dialog elements in the style sheet.

A final note... it doesn't make sense to me to separate the thumbs design or the Preview background (for instance), from the theme.
John

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Re: XnView MP & theme

Post by xnview » Wed Dec 08, 2010 9:48 am

JohnFredC wrote: A final note... it doesn't make sense to me to separate the thumbs design or the Preview background (for instance), from the theme.
Yes, but common users don't want to edit theme. So here i don't know how to make...
Checkbox 'use default'?
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Re: XnView MP & theme

Post by UrbanCoyote » Wed Dec 08, 2010 11:01 am

I think if there are three choices? Windows standard, medium grey, dark???

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Re: XnView MP & theme

Post by oops66 » Wed Dec 08, 2010 11:12 am

UrbanCoyote wrote:I think if there are three choices? Windows standard, medium grey, dark???
Good idea !
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