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The State of Mac Themeing

So what’s up with themes on the Mac? Seems that we’ve all but forgot about them. Who’s to blame? Or are we just expecting to much?

A few years ago a program called Shapeshifter was released and it changed the way we themed Mac OS X. It was now safe and easy. Soon after everyone seemed to jump on the theme bandwagon. Many themes were released and themes from Max Themes and Swizcore Studios were some of the hottest around. So what happened?

Today, MacThemes.net, the authority on Mac theming, is almost completely quite, except for the forums. There seems to be very few theme releases and it makes me wonder if the interest is still there. Is it getting to hard? Is it pointless? What happened to all the themers?

I guess there are a few areas that could be harming themes on the Mac.

1) Shapeshifter
This is a great application, however it’s still limited. It had a hard time theming programs from Mozilla (Firefox & Thunderbird) and can’t seem to get every application on board. Who want’s to install a theme that renders an application almost unusable?

2) Apple
Lets face it. Apple doesn’t make the OS that easy to theme. Thus causing headaches for the themers and the Shapeshifter people. If the OS was unified, maybe this would be a lot easier.

3) Themepark
Great application, however quite overwhelming. A themer has to create many many graphics to just get a theme close to complete. With three sizes of everything, the program needs to auto-resize the bigger graphics into the smaller versions to help speed up the process. A good themer probably spends months in this program and still won’t get all the pieces.

4) Themers
Lets face it, with all that work, we’re lazy or don’t have the time. I say we because I used to theme a little. I no longer have the time anymore though. I suppose if this process wasn’t so time consuming, more themes would be born.

5) The Public
Where’s the love? Someone spends days or weeks on a theme just to have horrible feedback. I’ve seen it many times before. Those who don’t theme seem to think that it’s easy to theme and some people are just plain mean. If you don’t give constructive criticism or positive feedback, why would the themer keep creating?

I guess there is no one area that is holding up the theming process. It’s being hindered by more than one area and it’s sad to see themers quitting. However, I’m sure that they’d all jump back on the themeing bandwagon if ThemePark was updated to make it easier or Shapeshifter figured out how to get everything themed.

I don’t think theming on the Mac is dead, it’s just slowed way down and is in need of a pick-me-up.

9 Responses

  1. kidmidnight says:

    Windows needs to be themed because it it butt ugly. OSX? Not so much. Most people are happy with the look.

  2. benton John says:

    Yup,
    Mac owners tend to be fetishistic and I Love my themes. All these Programs you have mentioned are great but it is overwelming to begin. The theming community is Great and supportive, but , yes, Apple doesn’t make it easy….Toobad…

  3. You left out one thing. Along with the difficulty of creating themes, Apple has set a _very_ high standard with Aqua and Graphite, its hard to match their clean and elegant style.

  4. Justin says:

    Actually I’m extremely happy with the current ShapeShifter – if you want to really check out themes that match Apple’s UI folks, grab Somatic @ dlanham.com and Niqu @ vanillasoap.com. These two themes are the best, most tasteful ones around!

  5. S says:

    I don’t add stuff to my mac that messes w/ my system files, etc. Sure, themes are fun, but I thnk the decline is twofold: 1. if it ain’t broke… and 2. people may have had experience w/ themeing causing conflicts w/in their system folders in the past. I mean you could write a perfect theme, and apple will do a .1 securtiy patch and all of a sudden your mighty mouse stops working…. Ok I know that’s unlikely, but you know what I mean, wierd random stuff can happen when you start messing w/ your sys files.

  6. Alain O'Dea says:

    Response to S:

    Mac OS X has a much much better process for extension than Mac OS 9 and below had. Themes should technically be able to be installed in the user’s Library folder like Internet Plug-ins, Fonts, and Dashboard Widgets. As long as you have auto-login turned off and a backup account you should always be able to correct any problems that arise by removing the extensions. This is the approach theme frameworks should be taking. If they don’t I won’t even give them a second look. I have too much important work on my Mac to lose it.

  7. bandmassa says:

    Themes are cool, I guess, but with Apple’s designs always being so lickable, why would you bother?

  8. wfro says:

    Being savvy enough to theme my computer, and artsy-fartsy enough to want to do it, I find that installing a theme, right now, is probably too intimidating for the average user. Really, themes need apper totally safe, usable, and 1-click; whether they are or not right now is a matter for debate, but the feel is too technical for most folks.

    However, what keeps me from theming is the grating blandness of almost all the themes available. OSX and Aqua are all right, I guess, but I’m not married to them like many Mac users. It seems that most themes, though, are either dull retreats into flat grey plus one other color or they’re all black, silver and green with little rivets everywhere. Aqua was designed by a bunch of professional designers who were paid well for their work and given lots of structured feedback.

    Theme writers are attempting to one-up apple either by being as “tasteful” as they are, or they’re forging their own path and creating themes which look cool for a while, but lack lasting juice. For theming to get big, we need some serious aethetic thinkers to get into it and bring some cool new ideas.

  9. Deeds says:

    If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. I think a lot of people feel the same way I do. Apple’s GUI is so clean and aesthetically pleasing, I’ve never felt the need to theme it.

    That’s my 2ยข

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