Happy 2020 everyone! Hopefully this year we manage to get restore the monthly update blog posts.
Since the last update, the sporaic updates were small corrections to fix minor bugs. But while everyone was having fun and relaxing during the holidays, we found time to finally upgrade our metacity themes! This effectively unifies all of the codebase under a common arc-derived rock-solid foundation.
Not only does it simplifies maintenance, it also brings support to all the new bling Metacity 3 brought to the table (think Xfce-like window actions, like pinning, shading/unshading windows...). This also opens the possibility to add themes for themes that otherwise wouldn't bave had that chance. Right now, we're planning on adding metacity themes to Solaris 8-11.4, Human and Windows 1.0/2.0.
We also revised all Cinnamon themes. While merging everything under one codebase was not the idea, we managed to patch in some corrections that finally bring the Cinnamon 4.x series under the "supported" desktops category. We apologize for taking 2 years to finally add support for the newest features Cinnamon put on the table with Linux Mint 19.1. While Gnome support was the main target for 2019, it's not acceptable to ignore a platform to prioritize another.
Another priority this year is MATE optimization. We haven't fully tested the themes under MATE, and we expect some bugs to show up. We plan on having those squashed by the end of February.
Finally, Xfce support will also be under testing to harmonize the experience among the platforms as much as possible.
On the creative side, we have nothing planned, and frankly, it's good to stop creating to watch over previous creations. We also doubt we're going to see a new theme soon.
Thank you to those of you reading this and thank you for keeping up with us.
This month has just begun and we already have news for you!
We also plan on dropping the 'b00merang' prefix of the custom themes. For example, b00merang Glass would simply be renamed 'Glass'. We first have to fix some logistics of renaming the source code repositories, but that should happen sooner than later. Also added new navigation options for the website: by year and by manufacturer.
More to come
You did not know you needed it until you got it! Windows 2.0 comes with calculator and reversi! No more boring lunch breaks!
It's time for our monthly update post.
9 new themes joined the lineup. The Azurra maintenance model means some complexity for some kind of updates, but otherwise provides a quick and easy way to generate and maintain A TON of themes without much user input.
This month saw a huge update cycle for all themes, including some reworks and enhancements that are not that apparent to the user, but facilitate the developer's life a whole lot.
For next month, we have two or three themes in the pipeline and probably some more updates. We will also aim to publish all our themes on OpenDesktop for a consistent download experience.
We have made some updates to our website. Some layout, coloring and small content updates as well.
We still have to update some pictures and links, and have yet to publish some themes on OpenDesktop
When we first started creating themes, in 2015, GTK was on version 3.14, Ubuntu users were complaining about overlay scrollbars and Windows 10 was just released. At the time, the biggest themes were Numix, Arc and Ambiance variations. To edit a theme, it was enough to change a few colors, redefine some widgets in the CSS file and everything was ready. In fact, the first release of the Windows 10 theme was just a recolour of a Numix variant, flat unity.
In early 2016 GNOME 3.20 was released, and with it big changes. CSS was generated using SASS, the default Adwaita theme had an enormous ruleset and it broke backwards compatibility with earlier themes. At this time, we had generated quite a few themes and as we planned the porting process, we saw some themes would be left behind because porting them all was a big task for a small part-time team. It took 2 years to fully port all themes and the results were not pretty. Some early ports were acceptable but maintaining SASS-generated code was not easy, as that meant lots of redundant or unnecessary rules.
At this point, I started thinking of a way to reuse code and generate it using a custom built tool, as I didn't fully understood SASS at the moment. As I like fancy acronyms, I named that tool MTAC (Modular Theme Architecture and Compiler) and had a version for GTK 3.18 and another for 3.20. It worked by pasting together snippets of CSS, allowing for code reusability. However, there was no dynamic loading and code collections were full of symlinks for it to work.
TDK (Theme Development Kit) was supposed to replace MTAC by using SASS and removing the need for symlinks, but it never materialised.
Fast forward to mid-2018: most themes are 3.20+ compatible but with inconsistencies across all of them which are patchable but require too much time to correct across all themes. And with new themes planned and in development, things were about to get worse.
At this time, I was developing a theme using SCSS (B00merang Flat was supposed to, but didn't deliver). Work was complete around October and code separation was done by December. Code separation was the process of separating from the main file all code that was going to be reusable. 2019 was spent porting the themes to this new tool and making adjustments and enhancements along the way.
We have some pretty exciting plans for Azurra, which may one day result in you doing a unique theme completely from scratch and from a GUI application. Who knows!
Today, the B00merang Project releases a major piece in our build infrastructure. The Azurra framework, which has been improved for the past few months is going open-source under the GPL v3. It is available on Github for public usage.
For now, it's still in alpha, missing documentation and a definitive set of scripts (the current ones are hotfixes written on the spot), but we will continue to gradually improve it as time goes on.
Impovements to the upstream Azurra framework have been merged with our themes code. This brings:
We also added and updated a few themes:
We expect to release the following soon:
We will update the website and download pages in the coming weeks to the newest versions available.
We hope you enjoy our themes as much as we enjoy creating them!
What is this Azurra framework you might ask? It's our in-house development pack to easily create and maintain themes using SCSS. Now everything's ported, but there's a lot of optimisations to do, so we'll attack thos next.
We also added a couple of themes:
- Windows Phone 8.1 Dark
- Windows 10 Acrylic (previously Mobile)
- Windows 7 (previously Se7en, now has a GTK theme)
So university isn't so bad after all.
The theme we were charged woth making has been shipped, and we recycled the SCSS framework we developped to bring some much needed updates to our theme lineup. As of today, the following themes have been ported to the Azurra framework:
What's new is that the SCSS aspect allows for dynamic linking between themes. For example, all XP themes could share the same file for theming a widget (ex. buttons).
When all themes will have been migrated, we're planning on creating a tool for easy theme creation (kind of like oomox).
Themes will be updated on opendesktop.org, but we're going to revamp the website soon after.
There has been some changes in the direction the project will now be taking.
Also, our lead developer leaves for university, and we're uncertain of his capacity to continue development. Our other developers have also taken their distances from the project. It's not looking good, but we'll try our best to keep this amazing project (at least) up and (hopefully) running.
Thanks to all of you for your support.