One of the big visual changes just happened in KDE 4, the
transition of kdelibs to the Oxygen Icon set. This transition is
still in progress, and it includes a massive icon naming scheme
change that affects thousands of files. But, the Oxygen artwork
project much is more than just an icon set, it's a unified way to do
artwork for KDE 4. SVG an essential part of Oxygen, so many
applications that are now capable of SVG display are also using
Oxygen styled artwork. Read on for more...
Please keep in mind that the artwork I am showing today is a
work in progress, but shows things that have already made
their way into KDE's SVN as the new default. Oxygen will be the
default art scheme throughout KDE 4, but many of the elements can
still use some tweaking. If you have constructive feedback on any
of the artwork demonstrated today, the Oxygen team would be happy to
hear about it in the comments. :)
Back on the first of January, I wrote an article showing some SVG
widgets making their way into KDE, thanks in part to Qt's new SVG
capabilities. Some of the artwork shown in that article was
placeholders that were produced by the Oxygen team. Since then,
there have been improvements to much of those graphics, but the
really big visual change that just happened is the inclusion of the
new Oxygen Iconset into the KDE libraries as the new defaults.
Oxygen is a far reaching project, and extends well beyond icons.
They have a sort of unofficial tagline: "a breath of fresh air for
your desktop", which encompasses the look and feel of the whole KDE
environment. They are a team of developers and artists that are
dedicated to making things look beautiful. And not just shiny
effects either, they are ensuring that KDE has a unified, easy to
recognize interface. For example, icons that end up in toolbars all
have the same shadows below them to give them a consistent look.
Colour palettes have been created for the artwork to ensure that
icons don't clash with one another, and yet are still easily
recognizable. All of the icon sources are SVG files create using
Inkscape (and other SVG capable programs), and having the sources
available makes it easier to make simple tweaks to the SVG files.
We also now have an official icon naming scheme for KDE 4.
Previous versions of KDE grew the naming scheme organically as KDE
evolved, so it was somewhat random in many places. The Oxygen team
was responsible for developing parts of this naming scheme, but they
did so as part of freedesktop.org so that there is less confusion
about icon schemes between Gnome and KDE (and other environments) in
So, rather than just talk about Oxygen, I have some screenshots
to show the icons in action.
Below is a screenshot of Dolphin showing Oxygen icons, and a shot
of Konqueror (from KDE 3.5.6) showing the same folder. Many of
these mimetypes also have previews available for them, when previews
You'll notice in the Dolphin shot that there are still a few old
icons sticking around, even though the Oxygen iconset includes
replacements to those icons. One of the biggest changes that
happens are part of the Oxygen transition is that many icons got
renamed. Old code may be referring to the old icon names, rather
than the newly corrected Oxygen names -- when the crystal SVG icons
are removed from kdelibs, it will become more apparent which names
are affected. For those who like the old icons better, they will
also get renamed, and be offered as an icon-theme within the KDE
As the Oxygen Icons have now been made the default, you will be
seeing them in all future articles in the Road to KDE 4 series, and
should get a better appreciation of how complete this artwork is.
Of course some icons still have room for tweaking, which is easy
thanks to using SVG sources. I'm not providing the screenshots of
the whole iconset in this article as you can find them in websvn or by
building KDE 4 yourself. The next snapshots of KDE 4 will of course include the new icons as they are now considered the default.
But, like I said, Oxygen isn't just about the icons. There are a
lot of other places within KDE where the Oxygen artwork is popping
up. Here is a shot of KDE 4's new logout dialog.
One of the biggest advantages to using Oxygen artwork in various
locations throughout KDE is that it is (mostly) resolution
independent. Which means, certain applications can be made to scale
to any size you want, and it will still look good. So, for
instance, if you are playing KBounce (from KDE Games), and you want
it to be big or small, it just adjusts the size for you.
So while KDE 4 is not a true, resolution independent desktop, and
this isn't necessarily a goal for KDE at this time, some KDE
components do now operate on a resolution independent basis.
There is another two elements of Oxygen currently in development,
that are not yet complete. These are the Oxygen Widget Style, and
the Oxygen KWin Decoration. These have not yet been made the
defaults for KDE 4 as they are not yet far enough along. But owing
to the fact that it has not yet become the default for KDE, I'll
decline to show it off just yet. Just bear in mind that the Oxygen
Icons and related artwork are just a few elements of the Oxygen
project. The Oxygen team is making a lot of progress on the Style
and Windeco, but this whole project is an enormous amount of
There are also other visual elements of KDE 4 underway that do
not directly involve the Oxygen team, but will work together with
them when required. These are things like KWin's composite branch,
or the Plasma Workspace theming capabilities.
For those that are interested in helping KDE out through
artwork, you should visit #kde-artists on irc.kde.org and get in
contact with some of the artists there. They are quite friendly,
and take constructive feedback from artists and non-artists
Individual KDE projects are also looking for artists: Recently,
Carsten Niehaus of Kalzium put out a request
for some help producing some kid-friendly icons to represent the
elements of the periodic table in an optional kid-friendly layout.
Anyone up to the task should visit the #kalzium irc channel.
Also, the Amarok project has recently informed me that they are
in need of some artwork for their upcoming 1.4.6 release (for KDE
3.5.x) which doesn't need to be Oxygen styled, as Oxygen is intended
for KDE 4. Join the #amarok irc channel if you're interested, and
talk to 'markey'.
Editorial aside: I'm glad that so many people are showing
interest in KDE 4's development, but please try to provide
constructive feedback to help improve KDE 4. Many of the developers
read the comments on the dot and implement things that users request
if they are well-reasoned. For example, Peter Penz implemented the
Tree View in Dolphin, and Rafael Fernández López made changes to the
Job Progress Manager based on your constructive feedback. Your
feedback is very welcome, but as last week's article has shown, when
the comments get out of hand, it becomes harder to sift through them
for the constructive ones. On the flip side, that article
absolutely demolished the previous dot.kde.org comment records.
Hopefully we can break those records again one day as the interest
in KDE 4 grows. Until next week...