We need better design tools
December 12, 2008
I stumbled upon an old blog entry today, authored by the visually adept Cabel Sasser, on the topic of Apple’s Next Generation Themes. This is an old entry, dating back to January of 2007, but it made me realize something:
The art of Java Look and Feel design is currently in the stone ages.
Tools for designing Java Look and Feels, or even designing simple widget skins are all but non-existent. Designing good looking widgets currently means one of two things:
- Draw your graphics in an image editing program (like Fireworks), thus shutting the door on resolution independence.
- Draw your graphics in Java 2D, an ever so painful process for complex art.
Cabel’s entry was posted in response to a patent filed by Apple describing resolution independent theme creation. Here’s a look at one of the not-so-great images submitted with the patent, which I’d be willing to bet was taken from the real implementation:
Seeing this tool makes me feel clumsy and inefficient – like I’m trying to paint a portrait by dotting paint onto a canvas with a sewing needle. Java2D has exacting precession, but doesn’t let me see the bigger picture when I’m writing it. We need a design tool like this in Java, and then I remembered…
Such a tool is in it’s fledging state under the auspices of Jasper Potts. The tool, which was used to create the resolution independent Nimbus Look and Feel, is exactly what we need (not to mention that it’s gorgeous):
Jasper, we need this tool!