I'm working on a couple of projects at the moment. One is collating tips and workarounds for SkinStudio, and the other is creating a thread that's very accessible and gives anybody that wants it, a focal point for practicing the mechanics of skinning...
I don't really know what I'm doing with SkinStudio yet, but I figure doing something is ... well doing something - and as long as I put some stuff out there and it's correct, then someone may gain from it. If it's wrong or could be done more effectively a different way, then there's the chance someone will post that information, in order that I and others can learn from my mistakes.
I've read a couple of times recently of skinners of differing levels of experience, who found for them, there was still some value in being able to look at the code that underlies SkinStudio, so with that in mind I took another look. Probably the best guide to demystifying this code is this slightly dated document: WindowBlinds Skinning Guide (.pdf). While SkinStudio is intended to save skinners from the challenges of using a text editor, everyday life experience tells me that at sometime or other a basic understanding of those things that underpin the tools we use, generally pays for itself, if only by instilling that extra feeling of confidence.
On the page numbered '12' in the 'Personality' section of the .pdf - under the heading 'The Frame,' is the section I've pasted in below:-
There's nothing wrong with how this is presented.
For the beginner though this is just a section of what is a multitude of information, intended to be taken one piece at a time.
...only it's natural to peek ahead - and want to understand it all at once.
So having taken a quick digital flip through the rest of the document and seeing not simply one set of descriptors repeated, but a seemingly endless variation on a theme - all of which if it's to be understood needs to be mentally decoded.
Its easy to see how quickly the guide becomes something that suggests that even to think of looking at the code, is a mountain better left for others to climb.
One of the more important things I learned as a young man, is that I don't need to have all the information in my head in order to make progress, I just need to know that I can understand the context in which information if given and where to find the keystone pieces. Then I know I can take it from there - albeit with a little trial and error, and at my own pace.
With that and my couple of projects in mind. I came back to this section recently. I thought it might be useful to translate the information on the page into a more visual interpretation, sidestepping the need to paint a mental picture.
As tends to be the case with me, what started off as a quick sketch, resulted in Photoshop being opened up to make the info a little more presentable, and before I knew it, it had become an illustrated poster of sorts.
The thumbnail should be clickable and open to a wallpaper sized version in your browser. It's not intended to be thought of as a wallpaper, I just made it available that way so that it was a more familiar format.
If the illustration has any use and I make no claims, it's hopefully to show how easily what can at first appear to be forbidding code, is turned into something that's really quite user friendly.
Finally then, if you are one of those people that have been put off skinning in the past after seeing that SkinStudio is built around code like this, between SkinStudio and the support that's available on the forum, you'll probably have little need to refer to how the underlying code is structured. If however you are interested, or the time comes when it's suggested to you that it might be useful to look at the code editor, you will at least have the benefit of knowing that it probably isn't quite as impenetrable as it may once have seemed.