If you're an msstyles author you may want to read it.
Monday, December 27, 2004 by Adam Najmanowicz | Discussion: ConversionsVery important: Recoloring/converting or altering icons or skins does not change the original author's copyright, nor does it make such skin yours! If you recolor/convert or alter a skin or icon that has not been made by yourself you may not upload or share the modified skin or icon without the original author's permission.
Working on enhancing the porting filter in the most recent months I've been working with various msstyles authors (and a lot of them either ported or allowed to port their msstyles). And almost always the first question that arises is - "What's the point? I can use Windows XP built in theming after all. What does it give me to release my style as a WindowBlinds skin?"
- WindowBlinds skins non-theme aware programs so all of Windows would have the style, not just theme aware ones.
- Users can mix and match toolbar and progress animations with it (yes there are other ways to do this but nothing as easy as WindowBlinds).
- You can change its color easily on the fly.
- For most people, it'll run significantly (i.e. noticeably) faster. Hardware acceleration!
- You can assign other mouse button operations to the title bar.
- You can easily add buttons that enhance the theme's functionality.
- You can apply advanced recoloring to it with SkinStudio.
- With minimum effort you can enable dropdown menus skinning after conversion.
- Setting SkinStudio use "maximum quality" option during conversion will make your menu bar skinned as it was a toolbar.
- Ability to integrate the skin with the font (the font is installed automatically as the skin is used). It comes with the skin in one WBA (WindowBlinds zipped skin) so there is no risk the theme will look weird if user forgets to install the font or just skip reading the readme where you advise him/her to.
- Ability to associate the skin with the toolbar icons so that they are automatically applied once you start using the skin. Same with Animations if the msstyles contains them as well. No need for them to use Additional programs as Y'Z toolbar or replace system files.
- User can set the Visual Style to be used for a single app while having another one fot the whole system.
- Users do not have to hack the dlls vital to their system systems functioning. This may not be important for you, but believe me it has raised concern more than once among our customers. That was why actually we decided to make the MSStyles converter. Our customers liked some of the msstyles but didn't want to hack their system files.
- On my ssytem (though you may have either confirm or an feel differently) WindowBlinds is more stable than Msstyles. Actually changing msstyles (And I'm changing both of them a lot) kills an application running on my system at least once a 4 changes of a theme. Will it be Firefox(a lot), my Bluetooth stack (more seldom) or my programing IDE(really, really popular at dying). It practically does not happen to WindowBlinds any longer. And being an msstyles author you most probably know very well what I'm talking about.
- There is no way you could make an Msstyle that a company like Nintendo, nVidia (or here), Marvel, ATI or Microsoft (or here) would pay you for. Those are just the few themes off a top of my head, but WindowBlinds skinners are making paid themes on a daily basis. The reason why you cannot sell your MSstyle to them is that there is no way for the user to apply the theme in a legitimate way. No - a hack is not legitimate even if some companies sell them). I'm sure you're in it for fun and not for money. That's cool, but making a few bucks now and then doing what you love is really nice, isn't it?
That's just 15 reasons that I think of first when someone asks me "Why WindowBlinds". If you're still undecided just download SkinStudio and you should be able to just double click on your .msstyles file (make sure you unzip it to a directory first) and have it imported in. SkinStudio is a free download that will not expire on you and will allow you to convert msstyles to WindowBlinds and edit your themes indefinitely!
Be aware that even though it's still not perfect (especially the Free version is rather old) there will be a new SkinStudio release right after the New Year (Jan 2005) that will significantly improve upon what it does now. Object Desktop subscribers may already enjoy some of the improvements. More to come!
I used elements of Brad's post from Neowin in my article - thanks for the inspiration Brad.
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