[GNC-dev] Gtk and themes

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[GNC-dev] Gtk and themes

Geert Janssens-4
Recently a big debate has started on Gtk circles on whether or not Gtk should
be themable. I know on this list we have discussed theming regularly in the
context of GnuCash.

So I thought to share this opinion piece by Thobias Bernard:
https://blogs.gnome.org/tbernard/2018/10/15/restyling-apps-at-scale/

It highlights several issues with this and I found it worth a read. Perhaps
others are interested as well.

Geert


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Re: [GNC-dev] Gtk and themes

cicko
Thanks a lot for the link, Geert.
Unfortunately, I think the root of the problem is this: "If given a choice
between customization and more, better apps, I’m confident the majority of
people would prefer the latter."

Well, I'm fairly confident that it is exactly the opposite. Just looking at
trends in mobile apps tells me that clearly the users want to customize the
apps to their preferences, mostly visual, rather than to have "more, better
app" (whatever that means). Also, the users clearly do not want more apps
that do more-or-less the same thing. Well, that just promises that the
debate on the topic will continue be going on, at least for a while. :)



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Re: [GNC-dev] Gtk and themes

Geert Janssens-4
Op vrijdag 19 oktober 2018 09:43:14 CEST schreef cicko:
> Thanks a lot for the link, Geert.
> Unfortunately, I think the root of the problem is this: "If given a choice
> between customization and more, better apps, I’m confident the majority of
> people would prefer the latter."
>
> Well, I'm fairly confident that it is exactly the opposite. Just looking at
> trends in mobile apps tells me that clearly the users want to customize the
> apps to their preferences, mostly visual, rather than to have "more, better
> app" (whatever that means).

Interestingly I'm not aware of visual styling customizations in any of the
mobile apps I use. They all seem to use the system's theme(s). I don't find
options anywhere related to, hmm, I'd like a different font for this menu item
or hide the label for that button, and oh, can the spacing between these two
fields be reduced a bit ?

> Also, the users clearly do not want more apps
> that do more-or-less the same thing. Well, that just promises that the
> debate on the topic will continue be going on, at least for a while. :)
>
I'm sure :)

The point I wanted to make by posting this article is really this:
If the gtk project itself (the projects responsible for consistent styling of
all applications using their toolkit) is considering custome theming too hard
and requiring more developer attention than they have available, how would you
expect GnuCash with a *much* smaller developer base to reasonably spend time
on it ?

We're only a small team with our hands full making GnuCash work well. That is
complex enough as it is. So if possible I prefer to keep the theming debate
out of GnuCash as much as possible. Put differently, GnuCash will be as
themable as the toolkit it is based on. For now our toolkit of choice is Gtk.
If we ever switch to a different toolkit in the future, the theming
capabilities of GnuCash may be better or worse.

Note that I'm talking about *theming* in here. Good design on the other hand
(what makes an application easy to use, yet powerful) is a whole different
matter and that I do care deeply about.

Geert


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Re: [GNC-dev] Gtk and themes

John Ralls-2


> On Oct 19, 2018, at 6:25 AM, Geert Janssens <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> Op vrijdag 19 oktober 2018 09:43:14 CEST schreef cicko:
>> Thanks a lot for the link, Geert.
>> Unfortunately, I think the root of the problem is this: "If given a choice
>> between customization and more, better apps, I’m confident the majority of
>> people would prefer the latter."
>>
>> Well, I'm fairly confident that it is exactly the opposite. Just looking at
>> trends in mobile apps tells me that clearly the users want to customize the
>> apps to their preferences, mostly visual, rather than to have "more, better
>> app" (whatever that means).
>
> Interestingly I'm not aware of visual styling customizations in any of the
> mobile apps I use. They all seem to use the system's theme(s). I don't find
> options anywhere related to, hmm, I'd like a different font for this menu item
> or hide the label for that button, and oh, can the spacing between these two
> fields be reduced a bit ?
>
>> Also, the users clearly do not want more apps
>> that do more-or-less the same thing. Well, that just promises that the
>> debate on the topic will continue be going on, at least for a while. :)
>>

I agree with Geert: There are no styling options on any of the Android apps I use. You get what you get. That’s pretty much also true of the Windows and MacOS apps that I use; what little theming is available is at the system level, and Microsoft has substantially *reduced* the user styling options in Win10 compared to Win7.

Regards,
John Ralls



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Re: [GNC-dev] Gtk and themes

cicko
In reply to this post by Geert Janssens-4
Geert Janssens-4 wrote

>> Well, I'm fairly confident that it is exactly the opposite. Just looking
>> at
>> trends in mobile apps tells me that clearly the users want to customize
>> the
>> apps to their preferences, mostly visual, rather than to have "more,
>> better
>> app" (whatever that means).
>
> Interestingly I'm not aware of visual styling customizations in any of the
> mobile apps I use. They all seem to use the system's theme(s). I don't
> find
> options anywhere related to, hmm, I'd like a different font for this menu
> item
> or hide the label for that button, and oh, can the spacing between these
> two
> fields be reduced a bit ?

Right. But choosing a different theme is a kind of visual customization, no?
Not to mention the icon packs, custom emojis, and what not. That, of course,
depends on the apps you use but I'm talking about a huge deal where I read
"visually pleasing" and "easy customization" in the description and move on.


Geert Janssens-4 wrote
> The point I wanted to make by posting this article is really this:

I think I get your point and actually agree with it, along with the point
the guy was making in that article. But I'm a developer and I've noticed
that my view is quite different to that of an average user.

My point, on the other hand, would be - the users want customizations and
that won't change anytime soon. And you can confirm that simply by
considering the amount of questions on this list referring to fonts,
spacing, colors, sizes, icons, etc.
Unfortunately.



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Re: [GNC-dev] Gtk and themes

GnuCash - Dev mailing list
In reply to this post by Geert Janssens-4
While it is true that many users on Gnucash lists bemoan the latest theme selections, I agree with Geert, John, and the blogger that the tendency is away from such individualization. I am reminded of the wonders of dot matrix printers way back when; there was an ecstatic enthusiasm for all the new font possibilities, and for a while, every document was a riot of different fonts. Eventually, most people decided to stick with just a few fonts and get on with life...

As for the article, I was more intrigued by the comment early on that designing user interfaces with css is more for the developer set than the user base. It seems like we haven't gotten that memo, despite the strong evidence of its accuracy. Expecting users to write css to change the appearance is doomed to failure.

David

On October 19, 2018, at 8:09 PM, cicko <[hidden email]> wrote:

Geert Janssens-4 wrote

>> Well, I'm fairly confident that it is exactly the opposite. Just looking
>> at
>> trends in mobile apps tells me that clearly the users want to customize
>> the
>> apps to their preferences, mostly visual, rather than to have "more,
>> better
>> app" (whatever that means).
>
> Interestingly I'm not aware of visual styling customizations in any of the
> mobile apps I use. They all seem to use the system's theme(s). I don't
> find
> options anywhere related to, hmm, I'd like a different font for this menu
> item
> or hide the label for that button, and oh, can the spacing between these
> two
> fields be reduced a bit ?

Right. But choosing a different theme is a kind of visual customization, no?
Not to mention the icon packs, custom emojis, and what not. That, of course,
depends on the apps you use but I'm talking about a huge deal where I read
"visually pleasing" and "easy customization" in the description and move on.


Geert Janssens-4 wrote
> The point I wanted to make by posting this article is really this:

I think I get your point and actually agree with it, along with the point
the guy was making in that article. But I'm a developer and I've noticed
that my view is quite different to that of an average user.

My point, on the other hand, would be - the users want customizations and
that won't change anytime soon. And you can confirm that simply by
considering the amount of questions on this list referring to fonts,
spacing, colors, sizes, icons, etc.
Unfortunately.



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Re: [GNC-dev] Gtk and themes

Adrien Monteleone-2
In reply to this post by cicko


> On Oct 19, 2018, at 9:38 AM, cicko <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
>
> My point, on the other hand, would be - the users want customizations and
> that won't change anytime soon. And you can confirm that simply by
> considering the amount of questions on this list referring to fonts,
> spacing, colors, sizes, icons, etc.
> Unfortunately.
>

A non-scientific recollection based on recent threads is that most of this is coming from the Windows base. There are some UI bugs I see asked about on Mac, and a few window sizing issues on linux, but most of the desire for visual changes is from people on Windows who liked the old GTK2 look and don’t like the GTK3 styling with respect to colors and especially padding. Maybe linux users can figure out how to use the gtk-inspector and learn enough CSS to make things work for them and we don’t hear anything. Maybe MacOS users are so used to not being able to change much of anything, they just accept the new look. (and some like me, prefer it with a few custom CSS tweaks) I don’t know if you can extrapolate the number of users *asking* for styling assistance on the Windows platform to what total percentage of downloads for that platform actually want customization, but I’d say the *need* is rather tiny. Overall, I’d hazard a rough guess that less than 10 users have been involved in such threads from the asking perspective.

Personally, I don’t think GnuCash needs to worry about theming other than to try to follow best practices and not introduce many, or any, custom widgets that can break via different desktop themes. Support a light and dark variant app theme that looks decent across Windows, Mac, Gnome & Ubuntu as that will cover 99%+ of the user base, with the GTK3 and CSS wiki pages for the fraction of 1% left out. Ideally, if someone could figure out how to run gtk-inspector on Windows, that might be helpful for those folks. In the meantime, making the app work correctly is certainly more important, as is re-working the code base to eventually facilitate a move to an MVC pattern that might facilitate easier visual customization, or at least more native platform integration to remove the occasion for the requests.

Regards,
Adrien
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Re: [GNC-dev] Gtk and themes

cicko
Adrien Monteleone-2 wrote
> In the meantime, making the app work correctly is certainly more
> important, as is re-working the code base to eventually facilitate a move
> to an MVC pattern that might facilitate easier visual customization, or at
> least more native platform integration to remove the occasion for the
> requests.

Well, I wholeheartedly agree on that one. Even just getting the data store
to be a clean relational database would help immensely in providing a solid
base for alternative UIs (like web, mobile, etc.).
For example, I'd be happy to experiment with NativeScript and create a basic
app that could post, or at least read, the transactions from the book on
both mobile platforms, or something along those lines, but I'm still
reluctant to generate any transactions from outside GnuCash.



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