Voting considered harmful (Was: Re: Echo Icon Theme in F10?)

Martin Sourada martin.sourada at
Tue Oct 14 20:05:07 UTC 2008

On Tue, 2008-10-14 at 14:33 -0400, Will Woods wrote:
> > Question:
> >   Why is Nodoka 'ok', and Echo not, in people's opinion?
> The obvious responses: First, Nodoka doesn't drastically change UI
> elements from their upstream defaults, or from other OSes. It's all
> immediately recognizable, but still unique. (The one real difference
> from upstream GNOME is the icon for the Maximize window button, which is
> similar to another prominent OS).

> Second, its scope is a lot smaller - there's a lot less artwork involved
> in Nodoka. So it's a lot easier to have the entire thing be internally
> consistent. There aren't differing gradients or color schemes in
> different places, for example.

> Finally, Nodoka theming is applied consistently to all UI elements in
> GTK+ apps. There's no question of "coverage".
Yeah. While in gtk-engine/theme we can cover almost anything with
not-so-much of work, in icon theme it's a tremendous work and a one that
will never ends.

> Echo, on the other hand, significantly changes the look of basic UI
> elements - the "save" icon, for example, is unrecognizable compared to
> the upstream version or other OSes. 
Err... we actually changed it on request since floppy's are outdated HDD
represents it better (and gnome icon themes uses HDD as well there),
unfortunately it was done in a time we weren't that much organised as we
are now and some details slipped our attention at that time.

> Further, it's not consistent. Icons change shape and perspective
> depending on size. Drop shadows vary in strength and size - sometimes
> they aren't used at all. Some things have strong borders, some don't. 
Some of it is true, some of it not. Shadows are missing only in the SVGs
that were done by Diana and exported in photoshop and we are continually
fixing that. Yeah, drop shadows vary especially between the "old set"
and "new set". We are consistent (hopefully) with new icons.

And for the perspective. Well, we get that complaint a lot. Let me
clarify what it's about in Echo. We have basically three different types
of perspectives (or they should be strictly speaking called
projections), which I believe is not the best way of things, but
considering the amount of icons already created, changing that would
basically mean to start all over again. So we at least try to be
consistent with what projections is used for what - and that's based on
icon context and icon size. The isometric one works good down to 22x22
so it's used for all the sizes from 22x22 and bigger. On the table works
on 32x32 and bigger and so it's used there. The rest is left for plain

Action icons are differentiated from other by having the "other"
perspective while the rest is consistent. Ideally you'd have tool bars
filled with icons using only one perspective (the one for actions icons,
though in that size plain 2D), but icons from other contexts are often
"misused" there. In 16x16 all icons are 100% consistent in that matter
(as long as they are created) - all have the same perspective - in
bigger sizes there should never be more than two different perspectives
used at the same size. Difference between different icon sizes does not
justify keeping the same perspective, even upstream does not that,
though they usually use only two types of perspectives - classic
perspective (IIRC they call it on the table) and flat (IIRC they call it
on the shelf).

> Honestly it's a bit of a mess.
A little bit...

> I don't have any problem with people wanting to maintain and improve a
> cool-looking set of icons. But I really don't think it's a good idea to
> make them the default Fedora icon set.
Luya proposed it as a future and I, as the main echo developer, joined
the efforts. I don't want to decide either way by myself though, that's
why I am bringing it up for consideration. I am perfectly fine if the
audience chose to not have it the default in Fedora and I would not
force it.

> The stated goal - having a consistent icon set between GNOME and KDE -
> hasn't been met. And Echo changes the icons for all your apps and all
> the toolbars in those apps, which is confusing to everyone coming from
> another OS, or another Linux distribution, or even an older version of
> Fedora.
The goal hasn't been met *yet*. But we'll get there in the future, after
all it's our goal ;-) If you are coming from other OS, it will confuse
you either way - be it Mac or Windows, they all have totally different
icon sets from ours. If you come from KDE to GNOME you'll get confused -
oxygen and gnome-icon-theme use the same perspectives (mostly) but
pretty often the metaphors are different. If you come from another Linux
distribution, you'd be surprised by echo, but having just different
perspective does make it confusing for you, as long as the metaphors
stay the same, which we try to achieve.

> I appreciate cool themes as much as the next guy, and I definitely think
> Echo should be packaged, used in themes, and shown off to the world. But
> making it the default seems like a UI disaster.
As I stated, I don't want to be the one to decide that and I'd like Art
and Desktop teams to decide.

> -w 
> (who tried to get his user-interface-designer wife to help work on
> Nodoka and received most of the critiques above)
I wonder, what critiques are you refering to? Save for the maximize
button in nodoka metacity, I haven't read a single negative word about
Nodoka in that mail - unless you mean that your wife commented on Echo
while you tried to persuade her to help work on Nodoka...

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