[REBOL] Re: Skinning Thought
From: greggirwin:starband at: 8-Oct-2001 21:11
<< One worry I have with skins is what will happen if a script is written
that uses most of View's default settings, but changes just a few of
them. Now, if the user is using their own default skin, that script
is going to over-ride a few of the skin's settings and the result will
most likely look awful. We need to prevent this from happening in
some way. >>
Excellent point! Now, I have an opinion on this and I'd love to hear what
others think as well.
My view is this: You can't prevent it. (That's the short version. The
looooong version follows.)
People, especially software developers :), will munge things up in a million
different ways, sometimes intentionally, sometimes accidentally. What I see
as being valuable, if we can do it before REBOL explodes in a big way and UI
splinter groups form, is to figure out how to make it easy to do things "the
right way". Of course, we don't know what "the right way" is at this point,
and there may be more than one path to Heaven (and surely many more paths to
In my experience, software related and otherwise, I've come to the
conclusion that most (but not all) people will do things in what they
perceive to be the easiest way possible, even if they know it to be "the
wrong way". The trick, then, is to make it easier to do things the right way
and people will naturally follow suit. This applies to everything, not just
skinning. You still won't get perfection, though, and you just have to live
Two polar views:
1) Be completely controlling so they have no choice.
2) Be infinitely flexible so they can do whatever they want.
If you are in control, you have to provide everything they may ever want to
implement. If you don't, they'll go around you to extend the system in ways
you didn't intend. Being all things to all people just isn't feasible, and
will make for a large, complex framework. It also stifles creativity.
If you let them do anything they want, they have more work to do and you'll
end up with a hodge-podge of UI idioms and styles, which is bad for users.
People waste time reinventing many wheels.
Moderation, it appears, is the key. Provide a clear path that covers most
situations and make it easy to extend things in a way that is consistent
with the core you provide.
In the context of REBOL, we're not just talking about skinning static
applications, which is hard enough, we're talking about skinning
applications that may be highly dynamic. Not only from the perspective of
configurability, but also the little things like displaying different images
for a button on mouse-over or mouse-down events. For example, you could
choose between three images (up, over, down) or you could choose between 1
and 3 combinations of effect facets applied to a single image. There is a
distinction between style functionality and application functionality which
must be addressed.
Other things that require consideration are accessibility and
limited/extended I/O device capabilities.
Are we better off trying to define a set of guidelines about how people
should implement skins, deal with global skin settings, override things
locally, and that kind of thing (i.e. write a spec) or do we follow what RT
has done and provide a "starting point", however extensive it may be?
Etienne, Frank, and DocKimbel appear to have the most experience in this
area. Maybe they could provide some advice for the rest of us.
I wish I had some great answers for all these questions, but maybe we just
have to struggle through some bad ideas before we find some good ones.
Fortunately, we can look at the various OS approaches and learn from some of
their mistakes as well as their successes.