Desktop Icon Theme Unification

Daniel Taylor DanTaylor at
Wed Jun 9 17:29:50 EEST 2004

On Wed, 2004-06-09 at 09:22 -0400, Rodney Dawes wrote:
> On Mër , 2004-06-02 at 16:15 +0200, Daniel Taylor wrote:
> > As far as I understand, what you are trying to do is keep the theme spec
> > mostly the same, with slight changes to make it work better with names
> > and fallbacks and such, correct?
> That is one thing I'm trying to do, yes. It is, however, separate from
> standardizing on the names of icons. The theme implementations should
> already be able to support an icon of any filename.

They do support icons of any name, but the list should be standardized
on, and inter-operate between desktops/applications (which I know you
are trying to do after reading below!)
> > If we are going to be changing a theme spec anyway, why not make it so
> > that all applications that allow different icons can be themed by the
> > same themes? That's the purpose of my theme conversion utilities (well,
> > at some point in the future). The way I see it is this:
> > We have Desktops -> Applications -> Widgets that can be themed (speaking
> > only of icons at the moment). Now, your file lists many of the icons
> > that can be themed in most applications today. We basically have the
> > file manager and panel icons (launchers for apps and such), and then
> > icons for programs like instant messengers, mail apps, media apps,
> > etc... Behind all of this is of course the widget theme, and most of the
> > Actions in your file describe those icons.
> > Why are we still thinking about theming desktops differently? GNOME,
> > KDE, XFCE, etc... should all use a single location for themes, and a
> > single standard for those themes. All applications should use it as well
> > (and will of course through the widget set they use). It should be easy
> > enough to make a theme that (theoretically) works for any widget set,
> > for any panel, for any file manager.
> Because nobody has agreed on standardized naming yet. That is exactly
> what I am trying to accomplish here with the list of proposed icon
> names that I sent.

Good point :)
I'm behind you all the way.
> > I want to develop a single theme and have it work in any system that
> > implements this standard (which should be everyone once GNOME and KDE
> > use it). If I'm completely wrong in thinking this, please tell me why!
> Right. So do the artists. Trying to maintain the same icons with all
> kinds of different names is a painful task at best. I just want the
> appropriate discussion and acceptance from other desktops before I go
> through and start changing Gnome to use it. I already certainly have
> the appropriate backing and acceptance there. :)

It sounds like a public meeting between GNOME/KDE/XFCE hackers and
themers is in order then to discuss these issues more. Is it possible?

On another point, while working on the theme conversion program we've
run into a bit of a snag (that's actually not too bad because we can
generate default theme files and overlay images on the fly). Themes for
GTK+ and xffm, for example, use files that specify icon names instead of
looking for standard icons in any directory. I had the idea that perhaps
GTK+ theming could be changed to where the icons/colors/engine are
chosen separately. It would be nice if the icons could be chosen from
any icon theme installed, the colors dynamically (with a nice default;
note that this has been done with editing files in a user's home
directory on the fly, but I am talking about a better solution), and
maybe some form of list of engines that can be used with the theme could
be made into the config file. That way only the default colors and
possible engines would be in gtkrc or whatever. This is just an idea,
and I haven't really thought about it much, so take it with a grain of
salt. For xffm I figured it should just be ported to use the standard
mimetypes from themes instead of specifying each type in a config file.
The other issue is that KDE uses specific icons for folders like
Documents, Music, Downloads, etc... (as does xffm I believe, or at least
an icon for and unreadable/unwritable directory). In my conversion
utilities it would be simple enough to specify an overlay for the
directory icon and have it generated on the fly. How were you planning
on approaching this? I believe emblems are the way to go, not static,
set images. I think GNOME did this right.
Daniel G. Taylor

Jabber ID: dan at

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