Finishing your Theme
Stop and think
Before you grab your Theme and submit it somewhere, stop and think if everything you have done is done correctly. As practice shows, all Themes require some testing before distributing. Here we'll give you some hints on what you should pay your attention to:
- System colors
- You may include a custom color scheme into your Aston Theme. If so, make sure that
- Current color scheme really matches your Theme.
- It's tuned correctly. I.e it doesn't have green window headers with brown text on it.
- If possible, use one of the predefined color schemes or slightly modify it: this would help you to avoide various troubles.
- Aston 1.9.2 doesn't let you include auto-applying system icons into the Theme. This is done due to many reasons but you may still provide a separate icon pack, which can be attached through the Theme Wizard.
- If so, make sure you've included all the needful icons and your pack has no "alien" icons included by accident; remove such icons, if necessary.
- If including cursors, make sure your cursor scheme is intact
(check Control panel>Mouse>Pointers).
- You may also include a CursorXP set of cursors which may look better than system ones.
- Check if you have properly set the size of a Toolbar cell in Aston Setup>Left (Right) Toolsbar>Toolbar element size. Do it for both Toolbars!
- Make sure the caption has a proper width: not larger than a single Toolbar element
- Finally, check if all the elements are on their proper places and are not displaced: just browse through all three levels of Toolbar items in Aston and check if there're visual gliteches you've missed.
- Make sure all the plug-ins you wanted to skin are skinned properly.
- Disable all the plug-ins which are not parts of the Theme.
- Desktop elements
- Once again check the look of your Desktop elements, especially ANKs as they are often
distorted due to incorrectly defined frame lists.
- Remove all the garbage like temporarily set links, useless graphical elements, etc...
- Mark all the Desktop elements intended to be parts of your Theme as Themes element in Aston Options>Desktop>(richt-click an element)>Properties or by setting this option individually
- Locking Desktop elements not intended to be displaced is also a very good idea ;)
- Transparency issues
- Check if your transparent elements look neat and there're no "slightly-visible" dirt in the background, no alien pixels and so on.
- Check this twice for elements with "magic pink": they cause visual glitches very often: even a single pink pixel can spoil the whole Theme.
- Check if you have followed the hints in the transparency chapter: this will save you lots of nerves ;)
- Resolution-related bugs
- The only real way to check if your Theme works fine under all the supported resolutions is checking it under all these resolutions manually.
- Even if your Theme is to be used under a single possible resolution make sure at least it doesn't look crippled under close resolutions.
- If your Theme supports dual-monitor mode, it's a good idea to check this "live" :)
Make sure you haven't included any third-party material you don't have permission to use
into the Theme. It might be an AltDesk skin, a set of icons, cursors or just some graphics.
Now just try working a bit with your Theme: using it as the only Theme for at least a week or two helps to eliminate most bugs and also gives you ideas about making the Theme even better.
When finished, check everyting thrice as you've most probably missed something.
Assembling the Theme
Starting from the version 1.9.2 on, Aston creates compiled Themes in ATZ format which are not supported by the previous versions of the program. Taking into account that one gets a lifetime license for the program there's no real need to use previous versions anyway ;)
Compiled Themes are created by Theme Wizard but anyway you can edit the content of ATZ files using any modern compression tool.
In order to compile a new Aston Theme follow the steps below:
- Make sure the Theme is finished and contains no errors.
- Make sure you're running a ready to use Theme i.e. with all the unnecessary stuff removed or disabled.
- Run Theme Wizard and click the Save Theme button.
- Fill the necessary fields:
- Theme's Name - your Theme's name, which will be displayed in Theme Wizard.
- Designer - your name (if it's you who has made the Theme).
- Contact - contact e-mail or URL. Leave this field void if you don't want to share this info.
- Resolution - Theme's resolution. You may select either the current resolution or All resolutions for universal Themes, supporting a wide range or resolutions.
- Description - your Theme's brief description. Don't write novels there: only the necessary information.
- Click Next and set two checks:
Click Next once again and select the plug-ins you wish to be turned on at user's machine when he applies your Theme. In most cases the default options are correct. Click Next once again (we hope you're not tired of clicking it yet ;)).
Now you must add custom fonts to the Theme.
- System colors - to include system colors. Remove the check if you're using a standard color set.
- System cursors - to include a set of cursors. Uncheck this option if you're not using a custom cursor set, made specially for this Theme. Click the Cursors button to change the current cursor scheme.
This means real custom fonts, so take all Arials, Tahomas and other Couriers away from the list.
In fact, this dialog is only useful if you're using special fonts like "space" or something else which is hardly present on the end user's machine.
Click Next and choose to include or exclude AltDesk skin (surely, if only it's yours and made to match the Theme). Next.
Final step: select a preview picture for your Theme. The image size must be 300x225 pixels (if you have a different display aspect ratio, use 300 as the horizontal value when resampling). The easiest way to make a preview is making a screenshot of your Theme with an empty Desktop and then downsampling it to the required size. You may choose not to set any shot at all, but in this case the Theme might look less attractive in Theme Wizard.
Press Next for the last time. That's it. If everything has gone OK, your Theme is now located in the Themes subdirectory of Aston.
If you just need to add one more resolution to your Theme, change the screen resolution to the required one and follow the same steps as described above, but at Step 2 when Theme Wizard asks if you wish to replace the Theme or merge it with the previous one, select Merge Themes (add new resolution). That's all. The new resolution will be added to the Theme.