- Skin (computing)
Software which is capable of having a skin applied is referred to as being skinnable, and the process of writing or applying such a skin is known as skinning. Applying a skin changes a piece of software's
look and feel— some skins merely make the program more aesthetically pleasing, but others can rearrange elements of the interface, potentially making the program easier to use. Although often used simply as a synonym for "skin", the term "theme" normally refers to less-complex customisations, such as a set of icons and matching colour scheme for an operating system— notably, this is how the term was used in association with Windows 95and Microsoft Plus!for Windows 95.
Common skinnable applications
Probably the most popular customised skins are for
Of course, it is also possible to change the standard interface. Some platforms have inbuilt support for this, including most using the
X Window System. For those that do not, there are usually programs that can add this functionality, like WindowBlindsfor Microsoft Windowsand ShapeShifterfor Mac OS X.
Skinning is typically implemented with a
Model-view-controllerarchitecture, which allows for a flexible structure in which the interface is independent from and indirectly linked to application functionality, so the GUI can be easily customized. This allows the user to select or design a different skin at will, and also allows for more deep changes in the position and function of the interface elements.
Pros and cons
The benefit of skinning in user interfaces is disputed. While some find it useful or pleasant to be able to change the appearance of software they use, a changed appearance can complicate
technical supportand training. A user interface that has been extensively customized by one person may appear totally unfamiliar to another person who knows the same software under a different appearance. It is often said by usabilitypractitioners that this flexibility "requires the user to be an expert interaction designer" in order to tailor the software for best use.
Many websites are also skinnable, particularly those which provide some
socialcapabilities. Again, some sites offer skins that make primarily cosmetic changes, while some — such as H2G2— allow major changes to the layout of pages. As with standalone software interfaces, this is facilitated by the underlying technology of the website — the use of XMLand XSLT, for instance, facilitates major changes of layout, while CSS can be used to easily produce different visual styles.
* [http://themes.belchfire.net/index.php?dlcategory=1 Belchfire] – skins for the
Windows XPuser interface
* [http://www.customize.org Customize.org] – general skinning site online since 1998
deviantART– [http://skins.deviantart.com/ Skins & Themes Gallery]
* [http://www.invisionpower.fr/ Invision Power France] – skins for
Invision Power Board
* [http://realone.real.com/?subsection=skins A RealNetworks site] for
* [http://www.simmerspaintshop.com/ Simmers Paintshop] – creating skins for
flight simulators and computer games
Skinbase– [http://www.skinbase.org skins and wallpapers]
* [http://www.skinnables.org skinnables.org] – catalogue of freeware skinnable applications
* [http://www.skinning.net/ Skinning.net] – a skinning forum
* [http://www.skinz.org Skinz.org] – a skin & graphics site
* [http://www.winamp.com/skins/ A Winamp site] for
WinCustomize– [http://www.wincustomize.com skins for the Windows user interface]
* [http://www.winmodify.net WinModify.com] – windows modification site
* [http://skins.birdline.gr/index.html Birdline] – Samplitude skins
Content management system theme archives
* [http://www.aphexthemes.com/ Aphex Themes] – themes live preview for
* [http://foxtheme.com/ FoxTheme.com] – themes for
Wordpress, Joomla!, DrupalCMS
* [http://themeartists.com/ ThemeArtists.com] – themes for Drupal CMS
* [http://themegarden.org/drupal50/ Themegarden.org] – themes live preview for Drupal CMS
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