Saturday, September 2, 2006

Update on Ia Ora

So, last thursday, I spend a lot of time with Helene, our graphist, reviewing various comments we got on initial version of Ia Ora (including those on my previous post, thanks to everybody who contributed) and checking all the small glitches we found ourselves. After more coding and a little fighting with gtkrc matching, I did version 1.0.6 on Friday on cooker, which will be available in Mandriva Linux 2007.0 RC, scheduled for next week.

A little summary of the comments we got and changes we did for 1.0.6 (compared to 1.0.3, last version I blog about) :

  • we replaced cross with a check for checkbutton, since they are more common. But if you prefer cross, you can still get it, by setting use_cross=TRUE as parameter of ia_ora gtk2 engine

  • I renamed Ia Ora Yellow to Ia Ora Orange. It was supposed to be called Ia Ora Orange but I forgot about it, remembering our earlier internal discussions, when I did the initial commit.

  • metacity window border has been increased from 1 to 3 pixels : it is much easier to grab, without changing too much initial design. Border is now using two colors, giving slight blurry sense, which is, IMHO, nice (even if it wasn't part of the original design). Changing border size also fixed metacity issue when using Alt-Tab

  • also on metacity part, we changed text color for unfocused windows (more gray) and text shadow for focused window (better readability)

  • I workarounded GTK bug 346751 (which can only be seen on some locales) in Ia Ora, allowing correct colors in treeview

  • sliders have been improved a lot : we didn't increase their size (it would clutter the design) BUT we improved mouseover/prelight (which was way too subtle, probably causing people to complain about bad usability about sliders)

  • progressbar design has been improved too : trough background is now the same as widget background (I used the wrong color) and full part of progress bar is now longer using white scaling mark but colored one, fixing readibility for text displayed in progressbar

  • for free, orange and gray themes, check and radiobuttons are now longer drawn in colors but in gray, for better readibility. Old behaviour is still here, using black_check=FALSE as a ia_ora engine parameter. Feel free to comment about this change, if you feel they are readable enough or not.

  • spinbutton size has been reduced to use an even size (needed for correct arrow position) and arrow positions have been fixed

  • colors used for points in handler are now correct (I used the wrong one)

  • I workaround color usage for Evolution, since bg[ACTIVE] and base[ACTIVE] are used, which is causing odd rendering with default values

  • text highlight has been fixed for Combobox for blue theme

  • selected text color for the various themes has been changed for better readability

  • radio and check button position has been fixed compared to text position

So, results are visible here (old version is visible here). Now, we are waiting for your comments !

Edit: after popular demands,here are some thumbnails of latest version of Ia Ora, click on them for full version :


  1. Comment from Reinout van Schouwen:

    I like the new improvements! Especially the thicker window borders are better. What still seems to be missing is the focus ring around text elements. Otherwise, nice work :)

  2. Comment from David Crick:

    Orange is MUCH better

    Black still looks good

    light blue still doesn't look right - maybe needs to be a bit darker?

    Looking at dark blue again, maybe this now looks TOO dark?? (but only very slightly).

  3. Comment from David Crick:

    Oh, something that's been bugging me ever since that new penguin graphic
    was introduced: the lower circle (underneath the actual eye shape) looks
    more like the poor thing's got bags under its eyes from not getting enough
    sleep! I think the "swosh" needs to be connected more at boths ends to
    maybe touch (or very nearly *almost* touch) the eye shape.

  4. Comment from peter:

    I actually think I like all four. The penguin's eyes just look highlighted to me -- not baggy.

    I really like the orange, if feels nice and warm. But the black/gray theme would be better for the office/enterprise and blue would be my second-choice, fits-anywhere choice.


  5. Comment from José Moreira:

    Very nice themes! I like the orange and gray themes the most.

    Maybe gradient's beginnig color could be made slightly darker in gray theme, to be more in line with the orange and light blue ones.

    Also I see a few problems in the dark blue theme:

    - Bars in scroll bars too dark in the edges (beginning/end of bar's gradient); gradient is too dark and not very perceptible to the eye. In the other themes, specially light blue and orange, the bar gradient is easier to notice and nicer on the eye.

    - (related to previous) Bars in scrollbars are indistinguishable from scroll bar's line border, again because of bar's darkness. In all the other themes scrollbar's line border can be told apart from scrollbar's bar.

    - (surely related to previous two) Sliders's button or throw (I don't know its name) is too dark, making it look like a single plain color and almost hiding the nice circle in its center; again the gradient used is too dark in the edges (beginnin/end). In light blue and orange themes the slider button looks good, easy to tell there is a gradient, and circle can be noticed.

    - Overall theme color is a dark purple rather than dark blue. Subjetive objection, I know, but many people here in Spain dislike this color because it's associated with 1st of november, defunct's day, and generally with death -it's used in flower's ribbons in burials. Maybe a navy blue (but lighter, not almost black) would do a better color (again just my taste).

    Aside from that, very good themes. Your work is truly appreciated!

  6. Comment from Frederik:

    I agree with most things everything said here. Sometimes i'm wondering if the scrollbars in io ora blue are not a bit too dark (reminds me of the discussion of clearlooks vs. clarious scrollbars). Anyway, one question: are the wallpapers in the screenshot already packages in cooker? I would like to try them (they look great!), but I haven't found them yet.

  7. About dark blue, I don't find it that dark (remember, those are screenshots, you don't get mouseover on widgets ;) and it is also both a matter of taste and screen calibration. Funny thing about dark blue vs dark purple : this is definitively a calibration monitor issue : on some screen, this palette looks purple, on other, blue (it has always been the case with our Mandriva blue btw).

    Something I forgot to say is that ALL four themes are using the exact same gradient code : we are just changing the color palette and anybody is free to create his own derivative theme : you only need to provide ia ora engine with gray and "blue" (ie colored) palette et "voila" :)

    Bar is scrollbar not being distinguisable is wanted (if I'm understanding what you are writing correctly) because we want theme to be smooth, to reduce UI clutter.

    About slider : there is no gradient anymore (I used one in the first version but it wasn't supposed to be there), but only two colors. Center doesn't need to be that visible (it is much more with mouseover, which is when it is really needed).

    If wallpapers are not in cooker yet, they will be integrated this week (for RC1).

    Oh, and of course, all four themes will be available in all products, we are just changing the default theme, based on the installed product.

    Thanks you for all your comments.

  8. Comment from José Moreira:

    You are right about dark blue and what I see as dark purple: now in artificial light the color seems more blue, but this evening on day light it looked to me like purple.

    I believe the main "culprit" is the light part of the gradient (for example the upper half of window's title bar in the screenshot); it's those colors that make it purplish in my monitor. The dark blue in it has barely a tint of purple. But yes, you are right that different monitors make things look different. I should try adjusting my average samsung monitor (a 793 DF with tube, a wonderful thingy :-)

    And yes the slider has two colors, not a full gradient, I was incorrect. Anyway I still find hard to appreciate both colors in the dark blue theme, and would like to see its center circle more without the mouse over it. But it's just a minor thing of mine, of course your design decisions are what rules. Seems like I still remember Nexstep and its UI with circles in scrollbars (hmm, I'm growing old if I remember these things :-)

    Thanks for your clarifications, as I said the four themes are great. Waiting for the release of the new mandriva to use it!

  9. Comment from FACORAT Fabrice:

    Great, however i just have a comment to do. it's about the check.
    IMHO it's better to have the check in color instead of grey. It's more beautiful, add more color to the widget. Last but not least, grey give me the impression that this is disabled ... Indeed I guess we could have checkbox entries checked but disabled ( no input/modification allowed ). and in this case having the check in color when the entry is enabled ( allow input/modification ) and grey when disabled is better.

    Just my 2cents

  10. Comment from jvic:

    I think the drop down button on comboboxes looks more beautiful/modern when it's smaller, like it is on Clearlooks (

  11. Comment from F for Fragging:

    Sorry, but I don't like it all. I really can't stand the background color, which is a combination of darker grey and blue, it would be better if the grey would be without the blueish tint. The colored scrollbars are annoying and distracting, Clearlooks stopped with the colored scrollbars for a reason. The gradient in the title bar seems a bit overdone to me, and it doesn't match with the buttons minimize/enlarge/close. Why even spend time on a new theme when the default for GNOME - Clearlooks - looks good enough?

  12. Comment from jvic:

    I think background would be better without the blueish tint too.

  13. Comment from Fred’s blog » Blog Archive » 2.16, Mona:

    [...] Mandriva Linux 2007.0 Release Candidate 1 (codename Mona) is also available. It already contains GNOME 2.16.0 and a lot of improvements, such as parallel initscripts (allowing even faster booting than before), our new Ia Ora theme (I already talked about it before, and I want to thank everybody who gave us their input, it helped us a lot) and for people want want 3D effects on their desktop (I’m not a fan of this, but whatever , it is shipping with both Xgl and AIGLX with automatic configuration, based on your graphic cards. [...]