10.06.2000, GSE 0.3

Welcome to the first release of Karstenīs Gigabar Skin Editor.

This release was coded in two days and only briefly tested on my machine. It works nice for me, but I have no idea whether it works correctly on other computers. So donīt blame me in any case.

You are free to use this program free of charge, but you use it on your own risk. I am not responsible for any damages it may cause.

I appreciate any comments.

If you find this program extraordinary useful, please be nice and send me your programs or other useful things in exchange.

You can contact me by email at mailto:seiferl@uni-muenster.de.


What ist Gigabar?

Gigabar is an extremely powerful tool for Windows CE. You can find it at http://www.gigabar.com , and its FREE!

Gigabar is a replacement for the Windows CE taskbar. A nice feature is that the design of the new bar is defined by skins. The following image shows the appearance of a skin on a Windows CE P/PC. You see (from left to right) buttons for the Windows Start Menu, the keyboard, help, cancel and OK (some of these buttons may be disabled). Following the buttons Gigabar shows the icons of any active tasks (here a small folder symbol). At the right hand side, special icons are shown: they are in fact little programs that monitor the battery, memory or time. The appearence of these icons cannot be changed by the user (however, you may decide which of them are shown).

What are skins?

A skin is a GIF image in a special format. The following image shows a skin GIF file:

For Gigabar skins, there are mainly 2 areas in the skin GIF image:

At the left hand side, there are the images of the 5 Gigabar buttons (OK, Cancel, Help, Windows, Keyboard). In the upper left corner there are a few pixels that look like noise in the image, but the color of these pixels control how the Gigabar is displayed.

The right hand part of the skin GIF file contains a blank image that will be used as the underlying bar image. Gigabar displays any buttons, icons etc. on top of this bar image.

Any user of Gigabar can create skins and copy it to the mobile device. However, the special format of the skin GIF files causes some inconvenience, because the special pixels in the upper left corner and the images that will be used as buttons must be pasted into the GIF image at exactly the right position.


What does Karstenīs Gigabar Skin Editor?

Well, it composes the skin GIF files for you and takes care of the special pixels, correct positions of the button images etc. It runs on your desktop PC, donīt try to use it on your mobile device!

I think the user interface is quite clear and the steps to create your own skins are straightforward, but here is a short step-by-step introduction:

0. GSE composes the skin GIF files, but it does not really create them. It only collects and composes existing images for the 5 buttons (Windows Start Menu, Keyboard, Help, Cancel and OK), and the Gigabar background. So these images should be already somewhere on your harddisk. Find them elsewhere, or paint your own, using your favourite graphics program.

Here are the required images used in the example:

The 5 button images:

and the Gigabar image (here itīs a very simple one):

1. Install the program: create a folder of your choice and copy all files in the archive into this folder.

2. Start the program:

3. If you want to start a completely new skin from the scratch, skip the next step.

4. If you want to modify an existing skin, press the Load button, and select a valid skin file. Caution: the application does NOT check whether the file you loaded is in fact a valid skin file! If you are already a Gigabar user, you have received a numer of skins with your package. You may find additional skins on the Gigabar homepage at http://www.gigabar.com . Gigabar skin files are always in GIF format and always 320 x 26 pixels large.

The skin is displayed in the small window below the main window:

The appearence of the bar as it will be displayed on your mobile device is shown at the lower end in the main window, right above the buttons.

5. Select the special colors that will be used by Gigabar to control how the bar image is composed:

a) the transparent color: any pixel in the skin that is of that color will be not be displayed - the transparent color will be replaced by the underlying color.

b) Gigabar background: this color will replace the transparent color in the displayed bar.

c) Buttonface: the 5 special buttons may have a color that is shown below the buttonīs image. You may set this color to the transparent color in order to let the bar image shine through, or to he Gigabar color to have the button images shown on top of the Gigabar color.

d) Gigabar button highlight color: if not set to transparent color, Gigabar color or button face color, the buttons will be displayed with a left and upper frame in this color.

e) Gigabar button shadow color: if not set to transparent color, Gigabar color or button face color, the buttons will be displayed with a right and lower frame in this color.

Note that the preview does not work with button colors (c...e).

f) The text color that will be used to display the name of the active task (preview does not show this option).

g) The text color of the time and date icon (far right).

Donīt be surprised that the colors you define will be modified by GSE. It may happen, for example, if you select red as the transparent color, that GSE sets it to a shade of gray or brown. The reason is that GIF files (and the skin files are GIFs) contain only 256 colors, and GSE sets your choice to a similar color that is already contained in the GIF. This leads sometimes to unforeseen and unwanted effects, and you may have to try a few colors until you are satisfied. Sorry for that inconvenience, but is inevitable (maybe Iīll find a work-around sometimes).

The bar displayed in the lower end of the main window, right above the buttons, tries to simulate the appearence of the ready bar on your mobile device. Buttons, special icons and time and date icon are shown more or less as they will appear on the P/PC. Ths feature gives you full control of how your skin evolves:

6. Select images for your buttons (Windows Start Menu, Keyboard, Help, Cancel and OK). Press the small buttons above the bar preview, and select button images for each (or only some) of the buttons. The button images must be either bitmaps or GIF files and must be 16 x 16 pixels large. If you want the button image to be displayed on a trasnparent background (i.e., let the underlying bar shine through), the background of your button images should be of the same color as the transparent color.

Again, the bar preview simulates your bar skin.

7. Select a nice image to be used as the bar, by clicking the bar preview image. This step is optional, but makes most of the fun. You may use any image you like as long as it is a bitmap or GIF file and its size is 240 x 26 pixels. If the selcted image contains the transparet color, the bar will replace the transparent color by the defined gigabar color.

Example: I want that my girlfriendīs eyes look at me, and create a 240 * 26 image of her eyes:

The Gigabar (preview) will look like this:

Steps 5, 6 and 7 may be exchanged, repeated or mixed.

The best way to learn is to try. Have fun!

Finally, donīt forget to save your skin when you are ready! Press the Save button at the lower end.

It would be nice if you read the text in the About dialog at least once...

Finally, let me ask you for a favour: if you use my program a lot, if you think it is really useful for you, or if you even earn money with the skins you create (you wonīt do that, would you?), please consider whether you may have some programs I might like. E.g., software companies are welcome to send free copies of their products... ;-)

Thatīs it, now itīs your turn...


This page is maintained by

Karsten Seiferlin mailto:seiferl@uni-muenster.de

Last update: 11 june 2000