So here is a new WindowBlinds-skinner, I worked on my first style for about 4 months called "Amiga3+", now the mods finally approved the upload and it's online:
.. and here's the story about me and this skin:
I'm 42 and into computers since 1987 (C64), "online" since 1988 or 1989. After the C64 I had a C128, Amiga 1000, Amiga 4000, switched to Windows 95, all the versions up to Vista, switched to Mac OS X (up to 10.6) and then back to Windows 7. Don't like the newer MacOS-Versions. I have Win 8 on a laptop, with classic-start-menu it's not that bad as Win 10. As an IT-admin I have to work with Win 10 sometimes and of course this is getting more. Personally however I hate that Win10, all of that ugliness and confusion. Every.little.thing. On the portable side, I currently have an iPhone (5S after 4S after 3G after whatever after Nokia Communicator and still cannot understand why nearly everyone wants smartphones so big or even bigger, the smaller the better for me), I also coded on Pocket Computers like the Sharp PC-E500 and the Psion Series 3(a), had those small Japanese Win 3.1/95 Palmtop-PCs (IBM PC110, Sony Vaio U50, imported directly from Japan) and a Windows Pocket-PC. My first programmable and app-loaded smartwatch was the Seiko Ruputer, afterwards I bought some chinese wrist-watch-phones, now I use a cheap Chinese Android smartwatch (with a full Android, not that wear-version). I have pen- or (mostly pen-based) touch-screens on my laptops and desktops since the 1990s (from a used Win 3.1 pen-convertible ordered in the mid-90s from the USA to Win 8 and also on the Mac, I haven't used a non-touch/pen-screen PC/Laptop for about 10 years now, but things are getting worse with every Windows version, but that's another story). So you could call me a power user. One of the first things, when I have a new soft- or hardware, is going through the settings to see what I can change, but this possibilites are getting less and less nowadays.
I hate all those new boring flat "modern" looks/UIs, I never liked 2D GUIs, not in the 80s, not in the 90s, not now. All those "modern" white backgrounds, all those confusing UI elements and websites with that big waste of space, missing colors, missing lines, missing borders around buttons or groups or sections, missing customizing options, missing or small flat scrollbars, I hate to scroll miles or have to make the window fullscreen instead of having everything at a glance like before, I hate all those programmers who think they want decide how my windows, buttons and scrollbars have to look, this is my PC and my decision! A window title bar is for managing and moving the window and there should be no place for save-buttons, menus or tabs. A scrollbar has to be visible clearly all the time, it has to be big enough to grip, it's visualizing the position and measures the quantity (those incorrect scrollbars were the thing I hated most about Win 3.1 by the way) and a scrollbar is incomplete without arrow buttons for fine scrolling (remember, I have no scrollwheel on my pens or finger nails )! Former intelligent and thoughtful UI guidelines are completely ignored nowadays. No, computing is not that fun anymore as it was once upon a time.
When I returned from MacOS to Windows 7, I installed the UXtheme-patcher and some nice styles (hadn't done this since XP, I liked Vista/Win7 and Mac OS until 10.6.8, but after all those years it's getting boring), about 3 styles I changed weekly. Despite the Gurus and memory problems the Amiga OS in the early 1990s was so great, so customizable and way ahead of Windows (and AmigaOS is still alive in a small active community, by the way, and the newest OS 4.1 seems completely skinnable - without any further hacks, directly built in!) and it never went out of my mind, even if I haven't booted my Amiga 4000 hardfile in UAE (Emulator) for years before I made this skin. I always looked for an Amiga-like Windows skin/style, however I never could find a style which really pleased me. So I finally decided to make my own!
I had two possibilities: Should I make a "real" (ms)style with the Vista/Windows-Style-Builder (VSB/WSB) or should I take the WindowBlinds-route? The first should be more compatible with programs, however maybe a bit more complex and the style wouldn't be compatible between Win7/8/10, so if I really really ever have to switch to Win10 or I want to use it on my Win8-laptop, I would have to redo it, as far as I understood. WindowBlinds is a bit cheaper, installable on enough PCs with one license, it seemed easier and maybe more things skinnable.
So I tested and bought WindowBlinds, tried some (really) nice styles and started with my own. Somewhere I read you should use the Diamond-Style as a start and change the images one by one. Well, not sure if this was the best idea, as there are many (WinXP?) sections invisible in SkinStudio, you would have to know the names and search them in the search field to be able to delete them. I gave up, so I still have some Diamond-style-files left in my style.
The next question was - where to start. I chose to build the window frames first. Which led right to another question: "per pixel" or "UIS2". According to SkinStudio, "UIS2 frames are more complicated, but more powerful". But per-pixel seemed more modern and I started the first border images with per-pixel. So, how can I put that resize-button in the right bottom corner .. impossible. A change to UIS2 required. Why the hell is the frame-image-format completely different in UIS2 now? And this inconsistency I had to learn many times in Skinstudio. Use the same BMP/TGA for another section? Mostly impossible, because there's always something different. Different image count or image order. I don't know if this is Microsofts fault or Stardocks, but it's really annoying. (And some other sections/images/settings are used in different ways in Windows, here it would be better to have two sections.) Then all the bugs in WindowBlinds and/or SkinStudio and/or Windows. False or missing descriptions in SkinStudio. Text colors and fonts defineable but not working, images misaligned or wrongly sized by one pixel here and there, false centering sometimes, some Win7/8-fonts being global instead of substyle-local, every second program using another kind of menu bar (even Microsoft did this, even with quite old office version) and why isn't it possible to change the edit/input field border or that one white background or etc.! Applying a theme always reduces the windows size, explorer windows aren't redrawn sometimes, why does SkinStudio hi-jack my F5 key and why on earth does Windowblinds/SkinStudio, which is for skinning windows, use their own windows style and not the one I want to have on ALL windows!
Ah, back to UIS2 and the titlebar buttons. My style has one button on the top left ("close window" on a standard Amiga OS) and one on the bottom right ("resize"). The bottom right has no working mouseover/press - state, at least not normally, somewhere it's working, think it was on MDI-windows. The top left sometimes doesn't work, mostly when activating my theme from another. Glad I found an old help file online for the UIS2 style files with some more titlebarbuttons-actions, without that I couldn't have done the buttons the way I like. Unable to choose that in SkinStudio, but added in the code-editor and working fine ("resize" and maybe another one). Ah yeah, and those annoying programmers again who chose to put their buttons in the title bar (MS Office) and other windows where my top left button is not drawn (IE). Sigh.
After some (literally) days of work I lost the semi-transparent menu blur (happend a second time later, not working in Win8+ anyway). Had to search for a long time in the style files what I changed since the last backup and it seemed it was the deleted taskbargroupmenu-section which needed to be back to blur the menus again, quite nonsense. I also haven't thought it would take so much time, I mean, I have no fancy graphics in my style, it looks quite simple compared to many other styles. Testing the style on my office PC or on my Win8-laptop or another Win10-laptop, with other programs, also revealed other problems, wrong colors, problems with color combination in some programs, problems with the fonts, why is this or that unskinnable on Win8, and in Win10 it's even less, oh what a mess, really, I can understand everyone who gave up Windows skinning. I thought I could install it on my old XP laptop as well, but my Windowblinds 10 version (& license) couldn't be installed onto XP and I cannot find an old version. No problem, there was a quite nice Amiga-style for XP and I don't use it often anyway.
More than 20 years go I created a script font on my Amiga, based on a nice girl's nice hand writing. However, it was a bitmap font and I never converted it to a Windows TTF. For my retro-skin I looked through many free script fonts, some I really liked but somehow it wouldn't feel authentic to me. So first I converted my old font to a bitmap TTF, which could only be used in one special size. Wasn't that bad but in the end I decided to remake/rescan/redraw the whole font in FontForge, never used that program before. Guess what, another very time-consuming task. The background bitmaps for the skin however are made new in GIMP, the logos were found free on the web, the boot-animation I recorded directly from the Amiga emulator. So yes, I chose Gimp to draw the skin. At work I did some test-images with Photoshop (CS5), but I never got used to photoshop. Not that GIMP would be more intuitive and it also has its flaws, but for Skinstudio it seems to have some advantages. Press 4 to have 800% zoom. Overwrite the once exported PNG/BMP again and again without any further dialogs. And so on.
So.. of course I'm quite satisfied with my skin, at least it's the best I could achieve with WindowBlinds to look the way I had in mind. I don't know, if it really was the right way to choose WindowBlinds instead of WindowsStyleBuilder, I don't know the other. It seems that some things aren't skinnable in WindowBlinds, but with the other one and vice versa. I have a few ideas for some other styles, but I don't know when I will have time for that, maybe next summer, because my real passion is skiing and travelling around Europe (100-130 days on ski all year round, I visited already over 500 ski resorts around Europe and I drive 40-50.000 km per year, in summer not only for skiing) and I always write reports about my travels (my blog in German: http://blog.inmontanis.info/ ), so not much time left for skinnig. (Last year I hoped I could continue to work on a T-scale model railway this summer/autumn - no, this skin took all my spare time.)
PS: the forums here are as confusing as SkinStudio. forums.stardock.com and forums.wincustomize.com seems to be sometimes the same, but then there are differences. Some boards are quite hidden and where should I post this story now, WindowBlinds (or the other WindowBlinds?), Skinning (or the other Skinning?), ...