GSS theme competition.

Discussion in 'Ghost Security Suite (GSS)' started by f3x, Aug 2, 2006.

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  1. f3x

    f3x Registered Member

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    As we all know, GSS use curstom-skinned control.
    Some ppl like them, other prefer good-"old" winxp like control.
    I'd rather see them a strong point if they can be configured with a nice theme. Here's why i'll start a theme competition, hopping to see some creative mind ;)

    AS a first post, here is a rather conservative mix between the white and blue theme. I know it's possible to implement easily as it's the result of a screenshot and some fun with a hex editor.


    In the back of my mind i also have plan to make clearlook/office 12 like blue theme and a theme that use default windows color.

    --------------------------------
    Click on the immage to see a more high-ressoltion version
    Here's the complete black theme in comparison:
    https://www.wilderssecurity.com/showpost.php?p=803686&postcount=4
     

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  2. Jason_R0

    Jason_R0 Developer

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    Actually, I have updated the white theme to be a more standard greyish/default(ish) windows scheme. For the next alpha that is.

    Some beta testers have requested being able to configure a theme themselves too, but there are around 80? color selection choices. Which is quite a challenge. :)
     
  3. f3x

    f3x Registered Member

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    Just when i tougth the endless agony wait for next apha would be finished ... :p

    Then they must not be on this forum ? Never heard of that, but still a good idea.

    Common.. you are making your life more complicated in name of lazyness and copy/paste coding ;)

    They are like 4 or 5 Main color graphic group then you can overide one by one special case. This would let you define a nice looking theme in like 10-15 entry.

    80 entry eh ... so far i have found like 23 of them ... 57 to go !
     
  4. Jason_R0

    Jason_R0 Developer

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    There are color choices for lots of things, button text color in normal/hot/pressed state, background style choices for buttons, shape style choices, gradient colors for each 3 states, etc. When you consider there are about 3-5 different button types, and multiply that by all the items it is about 30 choices just for the buttons. Of course some of these are duplicates and not real different choices, but the possibility is there for them to be different, and in some cases they are.

    I probably under estimated the actual amount, there are about 40 or so actual different "elements" with varying amounts of input required, some require only 2, some up to 15.
     
  5. .....

    ..... Registered Member

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    It would be kinda cool if you could add a theme editor Jason, but i think the main focus should be security features, then other "value added" features.
     
  6. f3x

    f3x Registered Member

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    Hi Jason.
    I may have a different view of the problem as i come from the html world ;)

    However in such markup language, each element have both a unique id and a general class. Actually elements can inherit from multiplie classes.

    That is the system i proposed earlier.

    For general purpose, simplicity and extensibility one start by declaring general class "group" property. Then if one want one particular item to one color ... they are free to do so.
     
  7. Infinity

    Infinity Registered Member

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    I would hate to see something like a theme editor or an addation in Windows Xp-style to change homepages through RegDefend ..

    That would be asking for (IMHO) :

    "Jason, would it be possible that if you click on the registry entry in Control Panel (Networking * HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Internet explorer\Main) so that something would popup from OS itself on xp style possibility of that so called regentry double clicking .. ..

    my point it: it would become to bloated imho

    and your question regarding


    Exactly .. slick, robust, complete and lots of lots and features, of course with an option for a non interested user in all this control and popups .. like the future Parent-Child Process control .. this also can be setup in a wizard at boot .. something like A2 .. and a lot of others .. ;) with update funtion to paranoid rules, created on the forum (doesn't matter where exactly, maybe wiki?, special undertabs in your forum here or at website for registered user .. spyware rules that gets updated .. from the wizard or control panel ?

    Oh my god :D :D :D

    but it would be bloated and not needed,

    best wishes,
     
  8. Paranoid2000

    Paranoid2000 Registered Member

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    If AppDefend/RegDefend used "standard" Windows UI components then themes or skins would not be an issue - Windows' Display Properties provides plenty of choice with third party software like WindowBlinds offering thousands of themes.
     
  9. Jason_R0

    Jason_R0 Developer

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    I can understand that line of thinking. I will never have as many choices as something like WindowsBlinds does, so from an outside perspective it is easy to imagine that it would be better.

    However most of the code in my products relating to the windows elements are custom coded, and whatever is left which isn't 100% custom, is heavily modified. The reason for this is to reduce the memory consumption of the Windows elements and to increase the performance of them. That is one reason my software is so "compact". Most other developers resort to MFC if they were coding in C++ (the language GSS is coded in), or use some other "heavy set" language like Delphi/VB/whatever.

    I am becoming more heavily involved in interface design and ways to make it easier to use/look at, which is tied slightly into the color choices. I also like the default look to distinguish GSS from other applications and I will try to provide a range of themes to suit peoples system color tastes. I would never install something like WindowsBlinds because of the way it is designed (it can't be changed due to how Windows works) and it will always be slower/more memory intensive than not WindowsBlinds. That might not be an issue to some people who are willing to take the hit (or that can't notice it), but to myself and quite a lot of users it would be unacceptable.

    If you were really concerned about GSS's (and other GS products) lack of WindowsBlinds support you could tell them to add the windows classes that I use to their product. It wouldn't take them long at all, but I'm not sure that the results would be worth it (it would remove a lot of slight variation I have in the themes).
     
  10. f3x

    f3x Registered Member

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    I'm not sure about window classes, nor how windowblind work.

    However you seam to imply that wb inject a dll intoo all process (using appinit) and scan for window class then implement color modification ?

    Then can you code your custom windows class to have the name and similar structure (at leat on the wb related properties) that normal windows control ?
    So you still use custom control but wb dont know it and can apply theme ?

    ----------------------------------

    On another note .... as the GUI is now 100% optional and is only a matter of configuration ... maybe it's not that dramatic to use heavier standart windows class.
     
  11. Jason_R0

    Jason_R0 Developer

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    I haven't looked into WB for a while, but yes it would have to inject a DLL into each process that creates windows.

    You cannot create classes with the same names as something else. Of course I could unregister the standard classes and then see what magic would happen when the standard "open/save as" dialog comes up, or a messagebox with a button. :D

    Ideally WindowsBlinds would have a way for users to easily input other classes into it for it to control, I'm not sure about the featureset of WindowsBlinds to be sure.
     
  12. Paranoid2000

    Paranoid2000 Registered Member

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    Reducing resource utilisation is a worthy goal - but it becomes a double-edged sword if user choice is affected as a consequence. The problem with any "custom-look" application is that one is OK on a desktop, two is a crowd and more is an annoyance - a consistent look and feel across all applications is highly desireable and a key goal for any WIMP system be it Windows, Mac or Unix/BSD/Linux.
    There are ways to achieve a "distinct" appearance without totally diverging from the existing UI setup (like applying slightly different shades of existing system colours). Providing native themes can ameliorate the problem but it means more work on your part (though it may be more fun) and is unlikely to satisfy everyone. It also doesn't address compatibility issues with software that adds extra functions to Windows titlebars (WindowBlinds being just one example of this).
    Any "window-candy" software will certainly have a performance cost - but that cost for other users may well be outweighed by the benefits of a more customisable or better looking desktop and WindowBlinds themes can offer usability benefits like custom titlebar buttons (e.g. rollup and sticky window controls). This would also include utilities like UltraMon which could be indispensable for some.

    I would take an opposing view of discriminating against "non-standard" software that did not work with such utilities - having a "compatibility" option using standard UI elements would solve this and if this could be done (even if it meant higher memory usage when active) then that would certainly remove my objections on this.
    That's one approach - but from Stardock's perspective, would it be worthwhile to make this extra effort just for one program which is unlikely to benefit others? Shouldn't the buck here lie with your good self? ;)
     
  13. Jason_R0

    Jason_R0 Developer

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    I'm not so sure a "consistent" look for every application is something that is anywhere at all near *needed*. Look at websites, they are all different, and yet many of them are highly functional even if completely different. A GUI is a front to an application just like a website is the front to a company/product, etc.

    It isn't really possible to "go back to standard", because as I said, most of my code in regards to Windows elements is custom, simply because the standard stuff cannot do all that I require.

    My applications aren't the only ones which fail to work with WB or any other customizable software. The main reason that software started out was to increase the appeal of standard looking applications, something that as time went on, individual developers did themselves.

    As such the software which allows custimization SHOULD as a feature allow the users like yourself to specify the classes for it to intercept and change. I'm not sure how well that would work in actual practice, but it could work for a lot of custimized software I feel. It is definitely something that WB should include (in a plugin type architecture so people can easily share their efforts) if they were serious about their product in a way that you seem to be. :)

    It would only take about 5 minutes of work to see the windows class names I use and input them into a program. I can't do this from my end, as f3x suggested, because of the name limitations.
     
  14. Paranoid2000

    Paranoid2000 Registered Member

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    I wouldn't see website design as being comparable here - webpages don't have to co-exist on a desktop with other applications, they are framed within an application themselves (the browser) which conforms to the desktop theme selected by the user.
    It did seem a compromise measure, but if you say it's no-go it's no-go, though it seemed that the standard UI controls should cover everything the current App/RegDefend interface does. Thanks for considering it at least.
    True, but such software has been very much the exception and increasingly so with the inclusion of themes into Windows itself. Software that prompts frequently is also more intrusive if it has a "non-standard" UI - though some may argue this to be a benefit for a security application.
    Well WindowBlinds does allow customisation in terms of users being able to choose elements (e.g. scrollbars, titlebars, taskbar, etc) to skin. However having the option to specify the underlying window classes themselves would be of zero use to non-developers and would likely cause Stardock more hassle (in terms of user support queries) than benefit - from a support angle it makes more sense to be able to exclude "problem" applications altogether which WB also allows.
     
  15. f3x

    f3x Registered Member

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    Another "advantage" of standard component would be an easier way to take advantage of native GUI component of the OS. With Vista coming and Aerio, I'm pretty sure the visual quality of standard application will be raised.

    This is harder to do with custom. Eg using custom component, one could have made a GUI that look like yours in win95. Custom component don't evolve with OS.

    Another question I have is that I doubt of how less resource hungry will be custom components. When an application use a standard button, don't it get loaded once then all application can use this standard button? So even if standard button is more memory intensive that customs button it only get loaded once. When you have standard + custom there are two different class that get loaded in memory.

    The point is ... may it be possible that, once you consider GSS as part of a complex user environment, having custom class increase the number of object that need to be registered and then is more resource hungry that simply reusing what already exist ?

    Or may it be possible that the initial "loading" in memory, yes take more resources, but then each instance of the control take less resources, ending in less memory ?

    Finally don't custom gradient control take more memory than plain old button ;)?
    ---------------------------------

    On another note am I may have read somewhere that windows theme service was licensed from one of the major theme software like WB. Then one could disable theme service, use WB and it should not have to many impacts isn’t it?
     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2006
  16. Disciple

    Disciple Registered Member

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    Having read the previous 15 about making GSS more user friendly pertaining to custom skins, I have this to say about the subject¹.

    While the "Windows" environment is big on user customization, there is one thing none of you has taken in to consideration. Just how much time will you spend admiring your favorite skin or theme applied to GSS, once AD & RD has settled down after learning all of your programs needs? Think about that for a bit before answering. After a user has answered all of the permission alerts what else is there for GSS to tell you by opening the GUI? Now that the ability to not log permitted events is incorporated into GSS and we have the ability to apply permissions on 1 of three levels, there is less reason to open the GUI. For my self, and I dare say many others, once a security program, that is set to run every time your computer starts, proves itself (that it will preform as the vendor claims) then they are usually not opened on a regular basis. Naturally I preform periodic cleaning/removing of any programs that I have uninstalled, but other than that it is pretty much a set and forget.

    Performance is a completely different matter. With a program that I am going to have running each time my computer starts, I look for as small/light/minimal (what ever you want to name it) a memory/resource hit as possible. From what I have read here and on other forums most have that opinion. What constitutes excessive memory/resource use is purely subjective and varies between each users view of such.

    I think Jason provides programs that work as advertised, and do so with as minimal of a system impact as possible. They may not have the most flashy or customizable GUI, but the GUI is straight forward and gives the user all that is necessary to interact with the program. I think Jason's time is better spent on the actual inner workings of GSS and not on the fluff or eye candy of the GUI.

    ¹ This is somewhat of a rant and therefore reflects only my thoughts and feelings. Or as we say here in the USA, It's just my 2¢.
     
  17. f3x

    f3x Registered Member

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    Hi disciple ... I am quite neutral on the topic... i just wanted to inform myself about the do and don't of custom controls.

    I did took that in consideration ... and i actually like the look of gss.
    Each time windows start i have my gss open... I check if i have some module left disabled then i use the marvelous forum button that take me directly to wilders and this how my internet journy start off.

    To compliment your idea of little time passed in front of the GUI, i'll quote myself to say that the GUI is now less and less needed as it act only as a configuration windows and the popup are made by the driver.

    However i'll add an completely opposite point of view:
    Marketting.

    When ppl try to discover Appdefend without being immerged in HIPS world first (like in softpedia) they mostly care about screenshot and other user criticts. Often the difference between *home-made like* application and professional ones is professional graphism. You'll buy whatever make you feel at home, it may not be the perfect one, but it's the one that fit your need.
     
  18. Infinity

    Infinity Registered Member

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    immo GSS the way it was (the first beta let's call it ;)) before this new beta ... it looked already very very cool if you always have worked with PG or Tiny !

    and imho, it still is one of the very few programs with a very nice GUI ... and indeed, after two weeks to themes are of no importance anymore ...

    better to spend a few bucks on this beauty of a program:
    http://www.stardock.com/products/windowfx/

    that would make windows xp the most funny place on earth imho

    And sorry for OT ...

    best wishes to Jason!! keep it up!
     
  19. gottadoit

    gottadoit Security Expert

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    One thing that is worthy of consideration is your level of Paranoia (no pun intended P2k), applications like WindowBlinds inject themselves into your software in order to change the look and feel. I personally don't like the idea of increasing the attack surface of my security software to include extra dll's being present.

    In terms of look and feel, I have to agree with the view that it has a lot to do with how marketable a product is. It is very hard for a consumer to differentiate between different HIPS products because the main sources of information are from the companies that develop the software. This means that most people that purchase do so by the simple things, either by looking at the number of feature tickboxes a product has, by their impression of how easy it is to interact with the product, levels of support and overall cost

    It might be nice to be able to clone a colour theme and tinker with the colours so that they blend in with the desktop a little better, but I wouldn't want to do it at the expense of the core reason for having the software in the first place

    My 2c (or 2p if you prefer)
     
  20. AJohn

    AJohn Registered Member

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    Simple option to not use any skin and use Window's default view would make me happy.
     
  21. WSFuser

    WSFuser Registered Member

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    me too. The dark colors of ghostwall (or appdefend for that matter) highly contrast the tiger 2 theme i use for WindowBlinds.
     
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