Weird and wonderful visual styling of applications

Hi list

(Disclaimer: I'm completely clueless, so all of this may well be
bullshit - put me right!)

I've noticed that more and more apps are departing from stock styling
and implementing some more "adventurous" visual appearances,
particularly when it comes to tree views. See the new tree view in
Rhythmbox and Gossip (grey headings, twister on right hand side), and
compare it to Evolution's (bold headings, style which is re-used for
folders with unread items, and twisters on left).

As much as I applaud any effort to depart from uninspired default
styling, if we want visual wow, we should try to make it happen in a
consistent fashion, and then maybe we can make it look even better!

Personally I view the current methods as being akin to using the FONT
tag in HTML all over the place.

I have no idea how this is tackled on other OS's, but I suspect that
Windows and Mac OS have the reusable means to do things like the fancy
button layouts and styling in iTunes, Quicktime and Windows Media
Player. I do, however, recognise that this is difficult to find the
right balance between generic but completely themeable, and specific but

In the specific case of RB, Gossip and Evolution, it seems that people
want to prettify treeviews for this kind of thing, assigning specific
visual style to elements that hold different meaning (e.g. first level
heading, second level heading, etc.). Perhaps we should come up with a
way to do this, so that all apps look consistent.

Maybe it's a case of us using the wrong tool for the job. Personally
I've always viewed a basic TreeView as being used for visually modelling
a tree of similar items - a hierarchy of folders, email threads, etc.
Maybe it would be a good idea to subclass it to make it easier to do
these kind of "bundle all of our stuff into a tree-like UI" jobs, so
that we can have sexy and consistent structural headings.

Alex Jones

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