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    Main menu and Start button

     
     

    Skinning Start button

    Aston Shell's Main Menu is made as a plug-in. Thus, most configuration changes should be done by editing the MenuEX plug-in's properties.

    Start button's skins are set separately in Aston Options>Taskbar>Start Button menu. Main menu skins can be set in Aston Options>Plug-ins>Main menu with skins & icons>Setup plug-in.

    So generally you'll have to create the following images:

    • Star button's normal, highlighted and pressed state skins
    • Main menu footer, header and 2 element images (normal and highlighted) plus a separator image.
    • Additional glass skins for menu elements.

    As you can see, Start button has three states. No one forces you to make them all, but creating all three images can greatly improve your Theme's look and feel.

    Note: all these 3 images must be of the same size.
    Note: from Aston 1.9.2 version on you can replace these images with an ANK object. Just compile the corresponding ANK file and set it as normal state skin.

    When using ANKs, Start button looks even better than ever. You can make some really interesting stuff with it.

    ANKs on Start button
    ANK frame list from Smanic's "My corona" Start button mockup.

    Start button can have transparent areas. This way you'll be able to see the default Taskbar skin through it. Just remember, that Start button is always centered vertically.
    Still, in most cases transparency is redundant.

    Main Menu

    All the Main menu skin images, excluding separator must have the same height (and the same width is preferable as well). Separator's height can be either larger or smaller. No kind of transparency for the Main menu is supported. You can only adjust global transparency of the whole menu.

    Note: for Main menu skins you can also replace ordinary bitmaps with 3PICs so that users would be able to adjust its width without distortions.

    Aston Main Menu
    Main Menu from Dmitry Prosvirnin's "Aston Desktop 1.9.1" Theme. This is a classic Main Menu skin for Aston 1.9.1 Themes.

    Be careful, when selecting the size of Main Menu items: too large buttons can make your Theme look bloated. At the same time, too small buttons will bring you to navigation troubles. Dmitry Prosvirnin (the designer of Gladiators Software) has found a cute solution in his "Regeneration" Theme. He used menu items with a small height. That helped him to make a small menu where all the items are perfectly visible:

    Compact Main Menu
    Dmitry Prosvirnin's compact menu

    Surely, no icons can be displayed in such a way, but you can "fix" this disadvantage by using the minimum height of menu items set to 16px. This won't enlarge your menu a lot, but will make it look prettier.

    Note: Try to avoid using bloated menus with big items and control the size (dimentions) of your images.

    With the implementation of footer element, 3PIC support and glass for Main Menu elements you're mostly limited by your imagination and Menu's rectangular form:

    My Corona by Smanic
    Fragment of "My Corona" Theme mockup by Smanic: it uses most of new features of Aston 1.9.2

     
         
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