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Making a Complete Theme -- How to get Started?

Discuss application theming and theme development.
GiT
 
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Post Posted September 24th, 2013, 12:42 pm

I want to make a complete theme for Firefox based of its default theme.

However, the docs on mdn for complete themes are quite outdated and do not work with the latest versions of Firefox.

how should I go about making a complete theme?

patrickjdempsey

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Post Posted September 24th, 2013, 2:05 pm

I would honestly wait until they finish the Australis interface, and probably a few more versions after that for them to get the kinks out. The final parts of Australis havn't even landed on Nightly yet, so this is going to be awhile.

That mdn documentation is 4 years out of date and there have been several major changes since this was published:

For one, the communicator skin isn't needed for themes.

Secondly, all of the components were bundled together in a file called omni.ja, which is a ZIP file but it requires new versions of either 7zip or WinRAR to open. You have to dig through the folders in here to find the /skin/ folders containing the actual theme elements.

Thirdly, recently they scrambled the components again and split off /browser/ into it's own subfolder with it's own omni.ja... (this one does not require a special program to unzip) just to make things good an confusing.

Also, even back when this tutorial was last edited, .XPI files where used for Extensions and .JAR files were used for Themes... so I'm not sure why it's talking about using .XPI.
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GiT
 
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Post Posted September 24th, 2013, 2:50 pm

Oh wow. Well my plan was to make the regular theme for whatever version of firefox ships with Australis. (Well not everything, mainly just the tabs.)

patrickjdempsey wrote: Thirdly, recently they scrambled the components again and split off /browser/ into it's own subfolder with it's own omni.ja... (this one does not require a special program to unzip) just to make things good an confusing.


It has its own omni.ja? Where do I find that?

patrickjdempsey

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Post Posted September 24th, 2013, 2:57 pm

It should be in the browser folder.

Building a WHOLE theme just to replace the tabs sounds like some serious overkill and a real update nightmare. It's far too early in the game to know what exactly will be needed to revert the tabs but it's possible that a simple userStyle or a basic extension will be sufficient.

Also there will be some Themes still being maintained which will never use these weird tab styles. Have you looked at some of the full Themes available?
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GiT
 
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Post Posted September 24th, 2013, 3:02 pm

Okay.

Thank you very much patrickjdempsey! I have looked all over to learn about complete themes, but all I could find was out of date.

It is sad how little Complete themes are around now-a-days. It seams rather neglected now. There were only about 5 people in the #themedev channel on mozilla's irc as compared to about 100 or so in #extdev. :/

patrickjdempsey

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Post Posted September 24th, 2013, 3:20 pm

I doubt you'll get any direct support from anyone at Mozilla about building themes... they are content to push them out to pasture and force them to die.

I know for a fact there's not going to be anything that's 100% up-to-date of how to build a theme from A-Z because even when I started years ago most of it was already out-of-date stuff from eaarllly Firefox days. You really have to kind of piece it all together. The best place to start is really to open up a currently-maintained theme and compare that with the default /skin/ folders and see what they are doing to put it all together. There are dozens of threads here on compatibility stuff as well as several authors who maintain changelogs here that you won't find anywhere else on the web.

There was a time when Firefox shipped with a virtually identical default theme structure to how a 3rd party theme has to be structured, but it's been many years now, and it's only gotten more and more confusing.
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GiT
 
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Post Posted September 24th, 2013, 5:19 pm

Oh Firefox, where has your glory gone?

I still really like Firefox and prefer it over any other browser, but a lot of its customizability seams to be disappearing.

patrickjdempsey

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Post Posted September 24th, 2013, 7:42 pm

GiT wrote:Oh Firefox, where has your glory gone?


... to SeaMonkey. ;) I've been seriously contemplating an extension to make SeaMonkey a little more like Firefox and it changes less often than Firefox so I'm surprised there aren't more themes for it.
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Frank Lion

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Post Posted September 25th, 2013, 3:58 pm

patrickjdempsey wrote:...so I'm surprised there aren't more themes for it.

It was offered, but the SM users seem a pretty conservative lot, at least around here years back, and prefer their defaults.

In view of the sheer amount of effort required at our end to do this for what was not even our daily browser, the idea was dropped.
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patrickjdempsey

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Post Posted September 25th, 2013, 4:08 pm

Yeah, I started work on a SM theme a few years ago but at that time the default was packaged in a way that you couldn't just skin the navigator without also skinning mail and composer, which I had no intention of using and testing. I haven't dug into it again recently to see if that situation is better or worse now.
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aaron

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Post Posted September 27th, 2013, 6:57 am

I quit using my own themes on Firefox a 18-24 months ago because I had trouble finding time to maintain them. I've been using Google Chrome for the last 6 months and have no need to go back to Firefox or to theme the interface for Chrome.

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