posted by Metin Amiroff on Thu 20th May 2004 20:00 UTC

"Linux art, Page 3/3"
8. Could you share with us your opinions about SVG based graphics usage on desktops and slightly compare it to the raster based alternatives? What advantages/disadvantages does SVG provide?

Everaldo: The problem of SVG are the small size icons such as 16x16 and 22x22, very much used in KDE. As the re-dimensioning is automatic, it is hard to design an icon that look good in 128x128 or 64x64 that also looks good in 16x16. Unfortunately, I think that bitmap is still the best option in this case. Anyway, 80% of my icons are designed in vector format.

Jimmac: The biggest advantage for the artist is surely that the artwork is resolution independent, usable anywhere. It is also easier to reuse artwork elements.

For the user the icon can also hold metadata for assistive technologies such as speech synthesizers. SVG icons or parts can be generated. You can have an SVG template and insert an emblem or text within the icon with a script. You can modify colors of the icon fairly easily.

What is specific about SVG icons is that it only works well for simple artwork. If you start adding a lot of detail the performance hit can become apparent. All of the current themes in Gnome are pretty simple, so you can hear statements about SVG icons being as faster than png themes. It was just designed so. The theme needs to work well rasterized to 16x16 px and also scaled up to 128x128+. Vectors are definitely linked with a specific style or set of styles. Aiming for photo-realism using vectors would be a bit foolish.

9. What users can expect from their favorite desktops from graphics point of view in both short and long terms? How do you see the future Linux desktop art?

Everaldo: I think that KDE will pass through a great cleaning in interface design. I say this because this seems to be a tendency in desktops, just look at Mac OS X and Longhorn. Vectorial icons when implemented appropriately (nowadays it is hard to use 100% vectorial icons because of small icons in 16x16 pixels). They will give a great visual appeal to the system.

Jimmac: In Gnome, I am happy to see the pre-gnome2 artwork bite the dust finally. The style is now well defined and we don't plan to do anything drastic to it. There is a single repository for most of the icons so it is easier for me to manage the looks of the entire desktop instead of hunting for odd hacker-"artwork" in the hundreds of gnome projects. Some icons in gnome-icon-theme would benefit being scalable perhaps.

I hope in a not so distant future we will agree on and will be implementing a common file naming scheme for the icons so that icon themes work across desktop environments.

From the overall eye-candy and better usability I am holding my breath for the new X extensions promising hardware accelerated UI. At this point we are pretty static. For example for some people, never exposed to the concept of virtual desktops, it may be very confusing to see all their applications disappear once they hit that shortcut by chance or click the switcher applet. I saw people trying to launch new copy of the app thinking it crashed. Once they are told about the functionality, they fall in love with it. If we were able to fluently move/pan from one desktop to another, the user would be given a clear feedback of what's happening. And there is a lot of other places where animation would help make the interface more clear. *drool*And yeah, all those alpha transparency tricks ;).

10. Could you describe a perfect customizable desktop in terms of themes you are dreaming of? How do you think a perfect theme should be? Is it less or more different than themes available today?

Everaldo: Simple, clean, beautiful and intuitive. Ingolfur, the Lindows team and I are working together to make this dream true. Wait :-)

Jimmac: A perfect theme would encompass all the apps I can be running. Single place to change it, *plop* and my desktop looks consistent. The current situation is far away from that ideal. Eek, that reminds me we still don't have a GUI editor for gtkrc colors.

11. And finally, what would you advice for novice artists that want to get started in this area? Any hints for the artists that have skills but do not know how to get involved? Anything else you would like to add?

Everaldo: Well, my piece of advice to those who want to start is simple. Leave the computer behind for a while, take a piece of paper and a pencil and study designing. This is the greatest challenge of graphic software (open source or not), they are designed to be easy and intuitive. The hardest thing is to create the drawing and this is something that no software can do for you.

In conclusion, once more I would like to thank the community of user and developers of KDE for using my work and for supporting me. You have no idea how much this has been important for me. I also thank all Linux distros that are using Crystal in their projects. I really feel honored. Special thanks to Lindows team, you have been awesome! To my wife, Patricia, who always supports me in everything. To OS news, that is a wonderful site and offers a great service to all the community. Moreover, I thank God, for giving me the chance to do what I enjoy doing and be accepted.

Jimmac: Pick a free software project that you care about and for yourself try to make it as good looking as you would like it to be. Show it off to the project maintainers. They may like it as much as you do, perhaps giving you some feedback and before you know it, it's your project. And a big bullet point to your portfolio.

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