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WYSIWYG editor for Rainmeter - RainDesigner Project

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nakamoto0
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Re: RainDesigner Project - WYSIWYG editor for Rainmeter

nakamoto0 » March 6th, 2018, 4:54 am

Active Colors wrote:Why is the theme creating window has the pixel number? If I am making my themes and skins adoptable to the screen size what is your offer here? It already starts to confuse users implying that themes can be created only for the fixed screen size. I don't want to see deviantart or forum full of same themes for different screen sizes.

Yes! This is why I create the RainDesigner and also create another project RainmeterDesktop. My goal is that Theme author don't need care of the end users screen size, just create theme with one size, and the Theme will auto fit all of screen size of users.
I will upload demo soon ;-)
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jsmorley
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Re: RainDesigner Project - WYSIWYG editor for Rainmeter

jsmorley » March 6th, 2018, 2:42 pm

I have to tell you that I am skeptical to the point of hostility to this entire idea. While I understand and appreciate the intent, as Rainmeter can be a bit of a lift for a new user who wants to create or edit their own skins, this is almost certain to be something that I personally consider pointless and harmful to both our users and Rainmeter in general. While your time is yours to waste, that is exactly what will happen.

Why do I say that?

It's a bad idea

You simply can't create a WYSIWYG interface for creating Rainmeter skins that isn't crap. It's not a matter of how clever a programmer you are, it's that Rainmeter is not paint-by-numbers. The entire idea of Rainmeter is that we provide you with a canvas and some paints, and you use them to create something that pleases you.

Any tool that purports to allow users to just drag and drop measures and meters into a skin will by the nature of things at best allow for cookie-cutter creation of some standard skins. No matter how many options you provide for changing various attributes of measures and meters, you will simply never, ever, ever be able to even get in the ballpark of what is possible.

The end-result is users who have learned nothing about how to really craft their own creations using Rainmeter. We will have sacrificed everything that makes Rainmeter what it is on the altar of "easy to use". You can play music with a Fender Stratocaster, and you can play music with a radio. It's hard to learn to play a guitar, and easy to turn on the radio. Of course, what you play on the radio is nice, but it's in no way "yours". Rainmeter is the Fender Stratocaster. We have no interest in it being the radio.

All that will result is a million cookie-cutter skins, with some different colors and put on a different desktop wallpaper, and that just makes me sad, and to be honest, mad...

It can't work

As I mentioned you can't possibly get even close to all the ways the features and functionality of Rainmeter can be used to create skins. I don't know what the percentage is, but even if you get 80% of the way there, which you won't, that's terrible in my view. That just leave users in ignorance about all the other clever things they can do. Sure, they can figure it out on their own, as they have to do today, but they won't. The will be seduced by the idea that it can be easy to create Rainmeter skins, and never know what they are missing.

This tool will ALWAYS be out-of-date. Rainmeter is changing all the time, we are constantly adding and improving on what you can do with it. Unless you intend to make a career out of maintaining this tool, it will pretty much always be missing some new functionality, or using some old out-of-date approach to something.

You WILL grow tired of this effort, or have other priorities, and this tool will quickly and inevitably become a completely out-of-date orphan, that is of no use to anyone at all.

Conclusion

Again, I understand and appreciate the idea behind this. However, it's not in the best interests of anybody. Not for "users", who don't need it, not for "authors", who won't want it, and not for the Rainmeter project or the Rainmeter community. I consider it harmful.

We spend a great deal of effort making "using" Rainmeter as easy as we can, and are always open to new ideas. We spend a great deal of effort making "authoring" Rainmeter as powerful and flexible as we can, and are always open to new ideas. But make no mistake, efforts to reverse this, and make "authoring" easy, is a waste of time. There may be ways to add some help for authors. I could see a purely text editor that provides some helpful auto-complete features, or a way to highlight some keyword and pop-up some "help" of some kind, but I am absolutely certain that any kind of "skin creation tool" is a doomed, unwanted, unneeded, waste of time.

The best help for skin authors is good documentation, good example skins, and helpful folks here on the forums. I'm always open to help with improving the first two, and certainly strongly encourage the last.

This is my personal opinion, and I understand and accept that there will be those who disagree. I'm not trying to be disagreeable or unhelpful. On the contrary, I'm simply telling you that you are not the first person with this idea. There have been quite a few, and the result is ALWAYS the same. They come in with their hair on fire and full of piss and vinegar, post a few prototype screenshots, then get into the meat of it and realize that they have just taken on the Manhattan Project. That even if they do commit the enormous time and effort, it can never end up with anything that is actually of any use to skin authors. My intent is to warn you of that.
SCR
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Re: RainDesigner Project - WYSIWYG editor for Rainmeter

SCR » March 6th, 2018, 6:55 pm

I won't quote the entire post by JS Morley to say >> Well Said and I completely agree.
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nakamoto0
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Re: RainDesigner Project - WYSIWYG editor for Rainmeter

nakamoto0 » March 7th, 2018, 5:05 am

Rainmeter should be better, at least it should be more popular than it is now, because we limit what it can do and what it can not do.This stop many new users to use it more easily.
Without a reliable visual editor has also raised the threshold of create awesome Rainmeter skin .
Rainmeter is not just for people who can write code, many designers have good-ideas but do not understand the code, and they have the right to use Rainmeter to create their own favorite skin.
Do not impose your own opinions on others, just because you do not need it, do not represent the majority of others do not need it.
You do not need a radio, but many people need it,and you also can not stop others need a radio.

Of course, we had seen that Rainmeter's usability is keep improve. E.g at before the skin package were even zip-formatted and needed to be manually unzipped. Now that you have the ability to double-click the skin to auto install skins, this is a Great Iprovement,Very good user experience, and the visual editor does the same.

I want to say is that DO NOT Limit ourselves,and DO NOT Limit Rainmeter, anything is possible,just keep going.


jsmorley wrote:I have to tell you that I am skeptical to the point of hostility to this entire idea. While I understand and appreciate the intent, as Rainmeter can be a bit of a lift for a new user who wants to create or edit their own skins, this is almost certain to be something that I personally consider pointless and harmful to both our users and Rainmeter in general. While your time is yours to waste, that is exactly what will happen.

Why do I say that?

It's a bad idea

You simply can't create a WYSIWYG interface for creating Rainmeter skins that isn't crap. It's not a matter of how clever a programmer you are, it's that Rainmeter is not paint-by-numbers. The entire idea of Rainmeter is that we provide you with a canvas and some paints, and you use them to create something that pleases you.

Any tool that purports to allow users to just drag and drop measures and meters into a skin will by the nature of things at best allow for cookie-cutter creation of some standard skins. No matter how many options you provide for changing various attributes of measures and meters, you will simply never, ever, ever be able to even get in the ballpark of what is possible.

The end-result is users who have learned nothing about how to really craft their own creations using Rainmeter. We will have sacrificed everything that makes Rainmeter what it is on the altar of "easy to use". You can play music with a Fender Stratocaster, and you can play music with a radio. It's hard to learn to play a guitar, and easy to turn on the radio. Of course, what you play on the radio is nice, but it's in no way "yours". Rainmeter is the Fender Stratocaster. We have no interest in it being the radio.

All that will result is a million cookie-cutter skins, with some different colors and put on a different desktop wallpaper, and that just makes me sad, and to be honest, mad...

It can't work

As I mentioned you can't possibly get even close to all the ways the features and functionality of Rainmeter can be used to create skins. I don't know what the percentage is, but even if you get 80% of the way there, which you won't, that's terrible in my view. That just leave users in ignorance about all the other clever things they can do. Sure, they can figure it out on their own, as they have to do today, but they won't. The will be seduced by the idea that it can be easy to create Rainmeter skins, and never know what they are missing.

This tool will ALWAYS be out-of-date. Rainmeter is changing all the time, we are constantly adding and improving on what you can do with it. Unless you intend to make a career out of maintaining this tool, it will pretty much always be missing some new functionality, or using some old out-of-date approach to something.

You WILL grow tired of this effort, or have other priorities, and this tool will quickly and inevitably become a completely out-of-date orphan, that is of no use to anyone at all.

Conclusion

Again, I understand and appreciate the idea behind this. However, it's not in the best interests of anybody. Not for "users", who don't need it, not for "authors", who won't want it, and not for the Rainmeter project or the Rainmeter community. I consider it harmful.

We spend a great deal of effort making "using" Rainmeter as easy as we can, and are always open to new ideas. We spend a great deal of effort making "authoring" Rainmeter as powerful and flexible as we can, and are always open to new ideas. But make no mistake, efforts to reverse this, and make "authoring" easy, is a waste of time. There may be ways to add some help for authors. I could see a purely text editor that provides some helpful auto-complete features, or a way to highlight some keyword and pop-up some "help" of some kind, but I am absolutely certain that any kind of "skin creation tool" is a doomed, unwanted, unneeded, waste of time.

The best help for skin authors is good documentation, good example skins, and helpful folks here on the forums. I'm always open to help with improving the first two, and certainly strongly encourage the last.

This is my personal opinion, and I understand and accept that there will be those who disagree. I'm not trying to be disagreeable or unhelpful. On the contrary, I'm simply telling you that you are not the first person with this idea. There have been quite a few, and the result is ALWAYS the same. They come in with their hair on fire and full of piss and vinegar, post a few prototype screenshots, then get into the meat of it and realize that they have just taken on the Manhattan Project. That even if they do commit the enormous time and effort, it can never end up with anything that is actually of any use to skin authors. My intent is to warn you of that.
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CyberTheWorm
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Re: RainDesigner Project - WYSIWYG editor for Rainmeter

CyberTheWorm » March 7th, 2018, 6:30 am

nakamoto0 wrote:Rainmeter should be better, at least it should be more popular than it is now, because we limit what it can do and what it can not do.This stop many new users to use it more easily.
Without a reliable visual editor has also raised the threshold of create awesome Rainmeter skin .
I would actually be interested to see if the visual editor can create a very simple skin like this.
Capture.PNG
It uses shapes, images, round lines, strings and several formulas.
My code is only 159 lines including 21 blank lines for ease of reading and 2 different image files.

I don't see a visual editor being able to do this
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jsmorley
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Re: RainDesigner Project - WYSIWYG editor for Rainmeter

jsmorley » March 7th, 2018, 12:25 pm

CyberTheWorm wrote: I don't see a visual editor being able to do this
Of course not, what you will get is 10,000 identical digital clocks, with different colors and a different font, and a different Anime character image.

Basically 10,000 more of these:

https://www.deviantart.com/customization/skins/sysmonitor/rainmeter/newest/?q=TheWolfBunny

I think nakamoto has made my point. The idea here is not to provide a tool that helps authors create the kind of clever, beautiful, useful skins we see all the time, to give them a hand doing that, but simply to lower the bar in order to make Rainmeter "more popular". It's removing creativity, flexibility, and any sense of accomplishment, and simply creating a factory for stamping out cookie-cutter variants of the same few skins. It's the worst idea in the world. It's of no value, and helps nobody. Rainmeter has become "popular" because of what it is and what you can do with it. I am always eager to improve the ways you can be creative with it, and that may well add to more popularity. However, I'm in no way interested in making it into "paint-by-numbers" on the altar of popularity.

There is a reason why using things like the Shape meter are complicated. It's not because we didn't take a lot of time and trouble to make it as logical and easy to understand as we could, we did. It's because the very idea of Rainmeter is to provide the kinds of tools that unleash your creativity, and the only way to make Shape any easier was to make it less capable. We will never, ever do that. It's not what Rainmeter is all about.

I've said my piece and I see no reason to fight a protracted philosophical battle that has no right or wrong conclusion. Certainly everything I've said is strictly my opinion, and others may disagree. Doesn't matter really, this entire thing will never actually happen, it never does. You know why? Because it can't, and shouldn't, be done.

nakamoto, I don't mean any of this as a personal attack on you. I understand entirely that your intentions are good. I understand the concept that "if we make this easier, it will be more accessible, and thus more popular". In my view however, you can only make it "easier" by sacrificing, or avoiding, everything that is good about Rainmeter. I'm perfectly fine with you, but I hate this entire idea like poison. You have to do what you have to do though, nobody here works for me.
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nakamoto0
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Re: RainDesigner Project - WYSIWYG editor for Rainmeter

nakamoto0 » March 7th, 2018, 1:49 pm

Of course we can do this with visual designer easily, I am sure.
The whole process is very simple, I describe the steps:
1. Dag a Bitmap Meter to the design area, select the watch's background image
2. Dag a Time Measure to the design area
3. Drag three String Meters to the design area, select the "Time" as their "Measure" and set their Text for the month, week, etc.
4. Drag the three shapes as the watch's handler, select the "Time" as their "Measure" , and set their “angle” values to hours, minutes, seconds

click run, the skin on your desktop. finished.

I have developed the 1,2,3.
the 4 is under development.

This will be a very simple drag-and-drop operation and the skin author will be free to create his own skins without having to learn how to write the codes.
My point is not that we can more easily create more such simple skins, My Point is that it allows skin author stop wasting time on this meaningless repetitive code work and instead focus on their own ideas and designs.


CyberTheWorm wrote:I would actually be interested to see if the visual editor can create a very simple skin like this.Capture.PNG

It uses shapes, images, round lines, strings and several formulas.
My code is only 159 lines including 21 blank lines for ease of reading and 2 different image files.

I don't see a visual editor being able to do this
Last edited by nakamoto0 on March 7th, 2018, 2:00 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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nakamoto0
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Re: RainDesigner Project - WYSIWYG editor for Rainmeter

nakamoto0 » March 7th, 2018, 1:56 pm

Thank you jsmorley, you are my respected developer,If without you there would be no such Great Rainmeter , but I hope to follow my heart to do something I like.

My point is not that we can more easily create more such simple skins, My Point is that it allows skin author stop wasting time on this meaningless repetitive code work and instead focus on their own ideas and designs.

I do not want to talk about the Command line and Windows GUI which is better,
and I do not want to discuss the Notepad and VisualStuido IDE which is better.
I just follow my heart to do what I think right.
I will continue work on it and will upload operation video and Demo to here when I finished. Thanks all :D

jsmorley wrote:Of course not, what you will get is 10,000 identical digital clocks, with different colors and a different font, and a different Anime character image.

Basically 10,000 more of these:

https://www.deviantart.com/customization/skins/sysmonitor/rainmeter/newest/?q=TheWolfBunny

I think nakamoto has made my point. The idea here is not to provide a tool that helps authors create the kind of clever, beautiful, useful skins we see all the time, to give them a hand doing that, but simply to lower the bar in order to make Rainmeter "more popular". It's removing creativity, flexibility, and any sense of accomplishment, and simply creating a factory for stamping out cookie-cutter variants of the same few skins. It's the worst idea in the world. It's of no value, and helps nobody. Rainmeter has become "popular" because of what it is and what you can do with it. I am always eager to improve the ways you can be creative with it, and that may well add to more popularity. However, I'm in no way interested in making it into "paint-by-numbers" on the altar of popularity.

There is a reason why using things like the Shape meter are complicated. It's not because we didn't take a lot of time and trouble to make it as logical and easy to understand as we could, we did. It's because the very idea of Rainmeter is to provide the kinds of tools that unleash your creativity, and the only way to make Shape any easier was to make it less capable. We will never, ever do that. It's not what Rainmeter is all about.

I've said my piece and I see no reason to fight a protracted philosophical battle that has no right or wrong conclusion. Certainly everything I've said is strictly my opinion, and others may disagree. Doesn't matter really, this entire thing will never actually happen, it never does. You know why? Because it can't, and shouldn't, be done.

nakamoto, I don't mean any of this as a personal attack on you. I understand entirely that your intentions are good. I understand the concept that "if we make this easier, it will be more accessible, and thus more popular". In my view however, you can only make it "easier" by sacrificing, or avoiding, everything that is good about Rainmeter. I'm perfectly fine with you, but I hate this entire idea like poison. You have to do what you have to do though, nobody here works for me.
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Re: RainDesigner Project - WYSIWYG editor for Rainmeter

tjhrulz » March 7th, 2018, 6:59 pm

Alright my turn to give my 2 cents and I think you all are overlooking a key thing here, what features do a WYSIWYG provide to a normal user?

A normal user has no interest in doing anything more than simple modifications to skins they are not going to spend a large amount of time creating something from scratch, they are just gonna go download something that already looks cool and maybe edit some settings to their liking. A skin dev would quickly have no use for this as it would become a hassle to have to deal with as their skins will either become too interconnected for this to really work or it is just simply a glorified option setter.

If someone wants to get into making Rainmeter skins downloading an existing skins and editing it to figure out how it works and looking at the docs is a great place to start. I will admit the documentation could be better for beginners (And video tutorial would be nice) but I don't think it is too hard for even someone with no programming experience to get into Rainmeter. https://docs.rainmeter.net/manual/getting-started/customizing/

Also something like this would further amplify the problem we have with skin devs not knowing about some awesome community made plugins out there (And new features in the plugins as they will inevitably end up more up to date then this editor no matter how antop of updating it you are)


Off the top of my head here are some things users and skin devs might find useful to implement into Rainmeter:
Users:
  • A nice way to download, update, and browse skins (However we are somewhat against this because we are not in the business of telling you what you should download or not)
  • A unified way to edit simple settings exposed by skins so devs don't have to write a settings menu
  • A better tutorial to get started writing skins (I have toyed with the idea of making a youtube series about this but don't have time)
  • A way to have Rainmeter stop skins when occluded or a program is fullscreen so people can use more CPU/GPU intense skins without worrying about it affecting performance
  • Virtual desktop support (This really does not matter but I want to add it so I put it on this list because I think it is cool ;-) )
Devs:
  • Maybe having an option where Rainmeter will auto reload a skin on a file save to make editing skins more instant
  • An easier way to find community made plugins as well as a unified place to find documentation for them
  • An easier way to repackage an existing skin and update your users (although there is some debate on this)
  • A better tutorial to getting into making plugins (This has gotten better but I would like to make a youtube series about this, especially the debugging part)
  • Maybe a better way to find some of the great lua scripts that have been made and instructions on how to use them
  • Or as jsmorley said something like ReSharper for Rainmeter skins that helps insert snippets and guide best practices without having to leave the text editor.
  • Easier ways to have the whole skin scale for the resolution of the screen

PS. In response to the Rainmeter should be more popular it was back when windows PCs/desktop customizing was more popular. Also there is a reason why Rainmeter still exists and nothing else does (Wallpaper Engine does not count) and I would argue because it was
  • 1. Easy enough for users to download something that does what they want and tweak it to have the look they want (See honeycomb and Cleartext setups)
    2. Powerful that someone can make really anything they want (And plenty of examples and already made plugins and scripts to prevent having to remake the wheel) with a good curve for being able to do more and more extreme things.
    3. We can't make doing the complex very well easy but we can always be here to lend and hand to those who need it and I think we have a great community for this.
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nakamoto0
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Re: RainDesigner Project - WYSIWYG editor for Rainmeter

nakamoto0 » September 17th, 2018, 10:22 am

Update Snapshot

Image

Add Meter: String,Bitmap
Add Measure: Time,Weather

Project page on DA: https://www.deviantart.com/nakamoto0/art/WYSIWYG-Visual-editor-for-Rainmeter-RainDesigner-730498605