[proposal] Theme Package Format - (was: Metatheme spec)

Stephan Arts stephan at xfce.org
Mon Jul 2 07:59:44 PDT 2007


I have previously tried to explain my idea about a uniform packaging
scheme for themes. I used to call it MetaThemes, but that led to some
confusion with themeing methods and the metatheme project[0].

The idea was to have a single package that includes several themes.
Themes for Gtk+, metacity, sawfish, xfwm4, Qt, Kwin,
KDE-Theme-manager, icons and perhaps even sounds. Something to bring
artists and users together, to allow artists to create a collection of
themes building a certain look and users can install that same
collection at the touch of a button to get the look the artist

Another problem some of us might have encountered before are legal
issues. You want to modify a theme and perhaps publish the results but
you fail to remember who was the original author, or under what
license the theme has been provided to you.
By storing extra information regarding the author, the license and
perhaps even the version and release-date from each theme-component
this might be not so much of a problem in the future.

A lot of times themes are revised. Much like with writing a computer
program, designing a theme is an ongoing process. By incorporating
version-numbers inside the package users can distinguish individual
releases with bugfixes and such from the package they already

As Thomas Wood already pointed out[1], gnome already has something similar.
The format of the gnome-theme-package is described on a wiki[2].
Unfortunately though, this format does not seem to be very flexible
when it comes to introducing new themes. This could impose a problem
since people are known to replace the default windowmanager of gnome
and xfce. When someone wants to make a theme-package, he should be
allowed to add a theme for those alternative components too (like
sawfish and openbox for example).

Thus, the the format should be flexible enough to be
component-independent. Quite a challenge. When I first started this
discussion on the xfce4-dev mailinglist, I wrote a little spec to get
the discussion started, a paper where ppl could shoot at[3]. Although,
I did not know that the XdgBaseDir spec[4] is not that widely
implemented and I assumed that the theme-location would be
XDG_DATA_DIR/themes, something which until this day for most apps
still is ~/.themes .

I would like you to take a look at the spec[3], and give some feedback :-).


Stephan Arts

[0] http://www.metatheme.org/
[1] http://mail.gnome.org/archives/gnome-themes-list/2007-June/msg00005.html
[2] http://wiki.xfce.org/gnome-theme-package
[3] http://mocha.foo-projects.org/~stephan/meta-themes-spec.html
[4] http://standards.freedesktop.org/basedir-spec/basedir-spec-latest.html

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