mime-type icons, a proposal

Ryan Gammon rgammon at real.com
Sat Oct 2 01:53:24 EEST 2004

Alexander Larsson wrote:

>On Wed, 2004-09-29 at 11:03 -0700, Ryan Gammon wrote:
>>>>It looks to me like the mac actually will change document icons based 
>>>>on the explicitly specified user preference, and even goes beyond this.
>I'm not sure what to think about this.
>On one side, it *does* give you better hints on what will happen when
>you click on it. But on the other hand its very app-centric, which some
>people think is wors, and it sometimes makes it hard to tell what sort
>of file it is. (For instance, the real icon doesn't have the "mp3" text
>on it, so you probably can't tell it appart from a wav or realaudio
>These are essentially two different approaches, app-centric and
>document-type-centric. I think we'll find it hard to reach consensus on
>one of them on this list. So perhaps we should make the system allow
>both somehow and leave this up to the desktops?

I agree.

IMO, our problem is that what we have right now in hicolor is basically 
an app-centric model that doesn't work due to file name conflicts.

If a desktop environment decides it wants to be "document centric", it 
should be saying that apps can't influence icons, even by putting them 
in hicolor. Fallback icons installed by an app are inherently app-specific.

If the desktop environment decides to be "app-centric", it should go all 
the way and provide an icon conflict resolution system that can figure 
out the appropriate icon.

Document-centric ui's are going to be fine for the main popular apps -- 
those apps can work with the theme & distro providers to make sure their 
icons are covered with the theme/distro.

The distribution's problem is going to be with the thousands of small 
apps that use some non-distro-recognized file format. The creators of 
all those small apps are going to be annoyed when their only option for 
branding their app's document icons are either:
- getting stuck with a generic distro icon
- negotiating with the theme/distro to get their icon included (tough on 
the app vendor and the distro)

I think the app-centric way of doing things is going to end up being the 
most popular and generally workable, but just because something's going 
to be popular, it doesn't mean that the spec has to dictate it.

As far as Real is concerned, I'd say we're covered in both a truely 
document-centric situation (distributions will create theme-integrated 
icons for Real types), and in an app-centric one (as seen on the mac, 
our fallback icons get used).

Ryan Gammon
rgammon at real.com
Developer for Helix Player

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