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DigitalRamen ThemePark Tutorial

Part 3 - previewing your theme

So now you know how to work with graphics in ThemePark quickly and easily. When you get right down to it, that's the whole point, so there isn't much left for me to teach. There's only one thing that still needs to be mentioned - viewing your changes.

Hit the Preview button in the ThemePark toolbar, or Theme menu > Theme Preview > Display and Update Preview Windows. This opens two applications, Theme Preview (Carbon) and Theme Preview (Cocoa). Remember inactive and clear states? That's just one example of how carbon and cocoa applications use different elements and resources in different ways, which is why they get their own previes.

The differences aren't huge, but it's a good idea to look for things like resources that might be stretched in one preview app while tiled in the other. Some resources, such as the scrollbar ghost appearance, are only used in Carbon. Others might only be used in Cocoa. This tutorial is only an overview of ThemePark, so I'm not going to get into explaining the various quirks of each resource. Just keep an eye open and you'll be fine.

That said, there is one major failing of Theme Preview to keep in mind. Theme Preview does not take advantage of any of ShapeShifter's special features. This means the preview will not show custom text colors, the background and texture in the metal window preview might look completely wrong, assorted transparencies can have odd effects, and in general things might just be a bit off. This isn't to say that Theme Preview isn't worth using - it's great for quickly checking out some changes to a button or something like that. But you should always do extensive testing with the theme actually applied to your system before releasing it to the public. Remember, to export your theme for use with ShapeShifter, File Menu > Export Theme > For ShapeShifter.

And that's about it! There's a lot left to know about ThemePark, but this tutorial will get you digging around and importing your own resources in no time. I might write a longer tutorial detailing individual resources some time in the future, but really there isn't anything you can't learn just by experimenting. Resize an element, play with its transparency, and see what happens!


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