Fwd: state of the icon theme

William Jon McCann william.jon.mccann at gmail.com
Sun Oct 19 14:06:02 UTC 2008


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Jakub Steiner <jimmac at novell.com>
Date: Sat, Oct 18, 2008 at 2:03 PM
Subject: state of the icon theme
To: desktop-devel-list at gnome.org
Cc: Tango Artists List <Tango-artists at lists.freedesktop.org>

After chatting with Jon McCann on IRC the other day it came up people
are confused about the icon theme situation. Turns out there may be
designers who would like to contribute icon artwork upstream, but aren't
sure what project exactly.

As most of the people involved in the Tango project are also heavily
involved with the gnome-art project, it's perhaps hard to see why both
projects exist.

The Tango project is about defining the 'neutral' common ground in terms
of icon style. It aims to provide guidelines to any free software
developer as to how to style their application icons. A side project is
the icon naming spec [2] defining the core desktop icon set in terms of
naming and metaphors. Tango's aim _isn't_ creation of an
all-encompassing icon theme that everybody should use.

Tango-icon-theme was the first implementation of the style guidelines
and has actually made writing the guidelines possible. Sadly its
existence made many people think Tango project is about creating this
icon theme. The original plan was that this base desktop theme would be
used by the two main desktop environments KDE and GNOME. That sadly
didn't happen. On top of that, the CCBYSA license chosen for the theme
also prevented derived icons to be shipped with GPLed projects and some
distributions even refused to ship the standalone theme. Thus for the
GNOME project some of us continued to apply the Tango style to the
existing gnome-icon-theme.

Recently Novell has agreed to put all the assets from the old
tango-icon-theme into public domain to allow the creation of what we
call the tango-icon-library[3]. Along with the style guidelines these
assets will help 3rd party developers to create their icon artwork and
help spread the adoption of the style. Tango artists have worked with
many upstream projects to have their icon artwork follow the style
guidelines in the past. We have projects like Pidgin, GIMP, GNOME,
Firefox, Scribus following the style. Sadly KDE project chose not to
follow the guidelines when creating their base icon theme Oxygen, but
their style is not that far away, especially taking into account the
future enhancements to the style I'll talk about.

There has been some criticism of the Tango style to be outdated and
non-modern. While I certainly don't identify with that, we have
experimented with adding a high resolution variant of the icons. No
style guideline has been written yet, but it's essentially a highly
detailed, almost photo-realistic look for high density displays and some
other special cases. We are at a point where this style can be somewhat
described and put into the Tango style guidelines as an optional size.

Just like with the original tango-icon-theme, to iterate the final style
for the high resolution icons, we have created and been working on an
icon theme codenamed Mango [4]. This theme is currently developed in a
git repository on freedesktop, but with the past experience I think this
should become the next iteration of the GNOME desktop base icon theme
and move to gnome svn/infrastructure rather than aiming to make this a
common/fallback/hicolor theme [5].

So to answer the original question -- if you're a designer looking to
work on upstream projects -- to minimize the duplicity of work we're
doing -- pick any free software project that is in need of icon art and
make sure it follows the Tango style guidelines. GNOME is one of such
projects and the new icon theme will need a lot of work in the area of
high resolution alternatives. We would surely welcome any help from
experienced designers who actually do exist in free software companies
as I have recently found out.

Discussions about the style should be happening on the tango-artists
mailing list [6], matters around the gnome-icon-theme should be
discussed on the gnome-themes list [7].

I hope this summary makes up for the long "radio silence".

[1] http://tango.freedesktop.org/Tango_Icon_Theme_Guidelines
[2] http://standards.freedesktop.org/icon-naming-spec/icon-naming-spec-latest.html
[3] http://cgit.freedesktop.org/tango/tango-icon-library/
[4] http://cgit.freedesktop.org/tango/tango-icon-theme/
[5] We need to discuss this with KDE/Oxygen people
[6] http://lists.freedesktop.org/mailman/listinfo/tango-artists
[7] http://mail.gnome.org/mailman/listinfo/gnome-themes-list

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