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Themes and their abuse.

Daring Fireball is picking at the Aqua v Brushed Metal scab again.

As a Mac user, I can’t say how strongly I agree with this. Safari should be Aqua, and it’s just insane that it’s not.

That said, as a Windows developer, I’m pretty envious that there are only two themes to have to try and live with. Add to that he fact that the development tools allow you to fully implement them and life in Mac-land looks even better.

‘Cause in the Windows world, life just isn’t like that. Take windows XP for example. It has a theming engine and if you write your application sensibly, you can give your application a full on XP look and feel. You can even do this with ancient tools such as VB 6 which predate XP.

So far so groovey.

Unfortuately Microsoft can’t bring itself to use it’s own themes. Every new eddition Office brings a new theme to the table that is at odds with the platform it’s running on. And it’s not just Office, tools as niche as the new versions of Visual Studio have the Office XP look.

Apart from the glaring visual inconsistency, the real problem with these custom themes is that every windows programmer out there seems to feel duty bound to ape them, despite the fact that MS doesn’t see fit to provide them with the tools to do it.

So we have a market for 3rd party custom controls that ape the latest and greatest Office, and they are almost universally rubbish.

As a developer I can either stick with the standard that is well supported in the development tools and look “out of date” or I can aquire or write some ropey Office XP-alike interface and have it not quite work right.

Genius.

Makes me wish all I had to do is flip a coin and see if comes down Aqua or Brushed Metal.

update:
Ha, I spoke too soon, things are just the same in the Mac world. I just started using DVD-Studio Pro for the first time, or I’d have known this. That said, I still wish I was a Mac developer!

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