TUTORIAL & REVIEW: free, EXCELLENT theme editor tool, ThemeGenCE

My well-known Theme Bible is, now, three years old and, therefore, a bit outdated when it comes to comparing the third-party theme creator tools. Therefore, I found it necessary to quickly review all the new tools, particularly Benoît Thonnart’s free(!) and (still) excellent ThemeGenCE, which, incidentally, has become the winner in last year’s Best Software Awards in the Utilities / Theme Creation/Management category. Note that, while it’s certainly outdated, you will still want to read my old Theme Bible. Note that the first half of it is pretty technical but is pretty much needed if you want to understand the official documentation coming with ThemeGenCE. (Benoît Thonnart’s manual even links to my Theme Bible just at the beginning.)

As, unlike the other apps, this theme creator, while it’s really-really powerful, isn’t very intuitive and the docs are pretty technical (again, they depend on my old Theme Bible, which itself is pretty technical), I found it necessary to write an easy-to-follow tutorials for newcomers. This application is really worth checking out if you’re into making themes: it’s WAY better, more powerful and up-to-date than any other free solutions out there and even kicks the back of some of the commercial, expensive ones.

1. download ThemeGenCEEnglish.zip from the homepage; decompress in somewhere. Run ThemeGenCE.exe.

2. by default, ThemeGenCE will default to VGA (640*480) output. If you have a QVGA (320*240) or a square-screen (both 240*240 and 480*480; 320*320 – see for example the Samsung i780 – is promised for the near future, so is W(Q)VGA) one, click Options to the right of Theme Format:

Upon the first start of ThemeGenCE, the mouse cursor will automatically be placed there so all you need to do is just left-clicking twice (first, to close the initial dialog box asking you to set image parameters and, second, to click Options).

In the new dialog, just click the output format you need. For example, if you want to create a QVGA theme, click QVGA as shown in the following shot:

Then, click Validate at the bottom. Now, the (changed) output format, QVGA, will be shown in the main GUI too:

(Compare this section to that of the first screenshot above!)

3. click the Mona Lisa button, , (the fifth button on the top) to enter the image handler dialog. It’s here that you’ll need to import the image you’d like to place in the output file and do the necessary transforms on it before saving.

4. select the image in the next dialog coming up:

It’ll be shown in the forthcoming editor window. Don’t be afraid of it: it’s much simpler than one might at first think.

First, if you absolutely don’t want to change any parameters but export the image and create a TSK file, you can click the Save Today Image, , icon (the fourth at the top) right away. Then, you’ll still need to click the “Start” radio button in the Image Build group in the right:

and click the Save Today Image icon again. Now, you can close the dialog window by using the cross or the “Back to main form”,, icon.

5. Now, the Create the theme on PC icon (the fourth icon on the toolbar), , becomes active; just click it to save your stuff. Note that you may want to give it a new name (instead of the default “Theme”) and a new internal name (default: nothing) before doing so in the lower left area of the dialog:

The saving directory will be the same as ThemeGenCE.exe by default; as you can see, you can change it too. Now, just copy your TSK file to \Windows, \My Documents or the root of a storage card on your PDA and off you go: it becomes selectable.

Also note that you can change the interface colors before saving the image. To do this, go to the third tab of the large dialog on the left and click the colors you’d like to change.

To change the WM5+ basehue (see THIS for more info), you’ll need to change to the WM5 tab (to the right of the Colors tab); in here, you can change the base hue of the entire system:

Click the WM5 button (the cursor hovers above it in the previous shot) and just select the color you want. Again, click Validate at the bottom to make the changes.

Note that this was just a quick intro to this app. It’s capable of VERY-VERY cool image transformations available in the Effect Options group (just under the already-introduced “Image to Build” group where you needed to click “Start”) in the image editor (the one coming up with the Mona Lisa icon): in addition to basic image adjusting, cropping, flipping, mirroring, rotating, etc. operations, advanced patterns, hatching, radial blur, radial zoom operations are also possible. Just click the six tabs in there to see these advanced features. Also note that you’ll need to enable them by checking the checkboxes as is shown in for example the next shot:

Also, you can import existing TSK files and modify the colors, the images etc. in them – and, then, export them again. Finally, if your phone is connected to your desktop computer, you can easily, directly deploy (and directly import) the TSK files to / from there, making it unnecessary for you to manually copy TSK files between the desktop and the PDA.

There’re some other tutorials HERE and HERE. Now that you know the basics of using the app, you’ll surely understand them too.

ThemeGenCE

Thanks Werner !

Yes ! My first reference when I began to write ThemeGenCE was the famous and really technical Theme Bible from Werner Ruotsalainen, better known as Menneisyys.

It was the beginning of writing more than 50 000 lines of code ! Thanks Werner !

But the thing of which I am the more proud in this program is all the interface when connected to ActiveSync : find all themes on the PDA, get one from the PDA for editing, saving a new theme on the PDA from ThemeGenCE... and more ...

But who have seen these things ? Because PDA must be connected when using ThemeGenCE. And who reads the help file which is in the zip file of the program. This helpfile, with ".chm" extension must be located in the same folder as ThemeGenCE, so you can invoke contextual help by "right-clicking" on an item !

Thanks Werner for your help !

Soon Version 2.6 (this Week

Soon Version 2.6 (this Week End ?)

ThemeGenCE
Changes in version 2.6 :

• Modifications of all forms in the program to fit in a 1024 x 600 screen (hiding Taskbar). This seems to be Notebooks screen sizes actually.
Vicott Wong (http://mobisapienz.com/) suggests me this.
Maximal sizes for forms are now :
o Width : 880
o Height : 597

• ThemeGenCE now reads some exotic Themes (TSK) which contains for instance standards images with also specific images for VGA or QVGA format.

• Correction of minor bugs.

• Ability to build themes for WVGA and WQVGA :
 

  • stwater_240_400.gif
    stwater_400_240.gif
    tdywater_240_400.gif
    tdywater_400_240.gif

    For WVGA
    stwater_480_800.gif
    stwater_800_480.gif
    tdywater_480_800.gif
    tdywater_800_480.gif

For adapting ThemeGenCE for WVGA I have chosen these sizes which seem to be right even if user modifies while building Theme USeStartImage variable :

stwater_480_800.gif -> 480 x 748
stwater_800_480.gif -> 800 x 428
tdywater_480_800.gif -> 480 x 748
tdywater_800_480.gif -> 800 x 428

And half of these sizes for WQVGA.

But for now, without help on the NET, these kind of themes seem to be not recognized …

• And maybe other things that I have forgotten since I work on this version…

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