Questions concerning theming and icons in 2.0

• Apr 1, 2014 - 10:05

Hi there!

First of all, thanks for the great features in 2.0 so far! I upgraded to Ubuntu 14.04 (Beta) recently and getting a 2.0 Nightly to work was as easy as installing a few Qt5 libraries.

The only thing that bothers me is the theming of MuseScore. While I understand the developers' reasoning behind having one single theme on all platforms, it seems to come down to a question of whether the icons on the toolbars will be visible or not.

I have used MuseScore 1.x on various operating systems, and I have never had any problems reading the monochrome icons. I fail to understand how this is a problem in 2.0.

I would therefore like to make the following suggestions and offer help if possible:

1. How about having the *option* to choose a native theme? Not have it by default, but just have the option if a user so chooses. It can even be slightly hidden if need be. I believe the Qt libraries do this theming for you and MuseScore developers can make use of that.

2. Have a few icons sets. I would be more than willing to help refine these if I can. While I am no icon/logo designer, I do know my way around Inkscape and I can do some graphic tasks with reasonable success. A variety of icon sets could be benificial.

I really enjoy using a great-looking piece of software, but it really gets to me if something looks out-of-place or non-native.

If I can be of any help, please ask me. I have a bit of time right now.



In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

That's exactly the thread I'm referring to.

While I understand Werner's need to make writing documentation easier, the fact is that the theme has almost nothing to do with that. I will help out with the documentation with pleasure, and have done so in the past. On top of that, his need seems rather subjective, while more theme options will please more users.

The only other objection to native themes seems to be the need for more icons, but beyond a light and dark icon set, which is already available, I see no need to have certain themes. If you look at LibreOffice's new Sifr icon set, which is also monochrome, it looks fine on a variety of Linux themes, as well as, and especially, Mac and WIndows. Again, I will help with the icon themes since I can do a set of graphics tasks with reasonable success.

I don't want to sound over-critical, and I really appreciate the developers' time and money that they have so selflessly poured into this project. I am just asking for an open mind on their side for users' opinions.

Thanks again for the great 2.0 so far, devs. I no longer use 1.3, but only have it as a backup just in case.

In reply to by etienne

If you take a look at this documentation for another Qt application that I use often, as well as being acquainted with the devs, you will see that they just use a generic theme (Clearlooks) for screenshots, and then give explanations for the difference between the Mac, Windows and Linux options. I find the documentation very comprehensive and easy to understand.

See an example here:

Hey Etienne,

Perhaps it won't do much, but can you share a screenshot on what you see on your Linux? Just to make sure we see the same.

Hey Etienne, I talked it through with Werner and Lasconic, and here is an official stand on this topic. It may not satisfy you, but this is the only way forward.


MuseScore does not support native theme for these reasons:
* Development resources: Specific widgets (e.g. voice buttons) are developed for MuseScore and they don’t work or are not implemented in native themes. There are no development resources to cover native themes. Using a native theme does not work out of the box.
* Documentation and support: Screenshots in documentation will be consistent across platforms. Overall having people using the same UI helps direct support efforts.
* Maintenance: MuseScore has control on the supported themes now while it doesn’t have control on native theme. If there is a bug in the theme, it’s easier to fix. If you encounter a bug, please report.

MuseScore does welcome improvement ideas or patches on the current supported themes.

In reply to by Thomas

On the attached screenshot, I have highlighted in pink the areas that include the icons. These areas are 22px high.

Some icons fill the area, some touch the bottom with a few pixels to spare at the top, and some are not centered well.

The Note Input, Metronome and Play buttons are examples of such icons that could easily be tweaked to fit into the toolbar well.

On top of that, I have taken the liberty of highlighting, in green, the area that is usable on at first in MuseScore - the score area. It is miniscule.

While I appreciate the work in MuseScore 2.0, and I revel in the amount of issues that I have had in the past that have been addressed, I would like to raise the question about UX - what will a beginner think/do?

I know I'm off-topic, but I really do want MuseScore to be the absolute best and first choice for all music professionals. At the moment, however, if you put it next to e.g. Sibelius, it does not look as polished or well-rounded, and I want to help.

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In reply to by Thomas

I'd love to, but I cannot program to save my life. I can only do a little HTML and CSS, if that helps.

I would be willing to draw icons in Inkscape, or do anything else you guys need - I use MuseScore all the time and would love to give back, but I struggle to find ways to be useful to the project.

In reply to by Thomas

Regarding 2.0, I am satisfied with the official answer. I don't see what is gained right now in supporting more themes.

In the future though, we might wish to consider whether supporting a "native" theme might be easier than developing and supporting additional themes of our own in in order to create a version of the interface that is more accessible for those with low vision. I assume anyhow that people with these issues have probably set certain things up OS-wide and they might expect applications to be able to take advantage of that. Whether we support native themes or develop our own low-vision theme, it is indeed extra development effort, but it may be something we need to deal with at some point as part of any accessibility efforts we undertake in the future. And of course, this an area where I do plan to devote some time and energy myself.

In reply to by Nicolas

The theme itself seems a bit busy and dated. It is based on KDE 4's theme, which is 6 years old now - about as old as Android and iOS, both of which have been updated drastically since they were released.

The great thing about native themes is that as the OS is updated and become more modern, so the application also looks more modern - compare MuseScore 1.3 on XP to it on Windows 8 - it looks new and modern on 8.

The 'busy' or skeumorphic elements are the gradients mostly, especially in the borders. On top of that, the toolbar "handles" which you use to move them around are very big and ugly.

I also think a lot of space is wasted and the interface is those mockups could be more efficient, useful and beautiful.

(I really believe that MuseScore has a bright future and I love it to bits, but when I show it to friends they say that when you use open-source software, you get what you pay for - you pay nothing, you get nothing nice. I disagree with them completely and point out Android and other open-source projects that they use daily, but then they go on to say that MuseScore (and LibreOffice for that matter) simply aren't as good as e.g. Sibelius.)

KDE themes such as Hex Lite ( or Aeri ( are modern, fresh and flat, and something similar could easily be included in MuseScore to have a nice, great-looking interface without using native controls.

In reply to by etienne

I sympathise with your idea on modern, fresh and flat design. To get to the design level you are talking about, MuseScore needs a full time designer to create a consistent modern design across platforms and devices (desktop, web, mobile). Unfortunately there are no financial resources yet to hire this designer but we do have the ambition to make this happen. One step at the time we'll get there.

In reply to by etienne

Hey Etienne, our thinking thus far has been: let's create one good theme and give it all our attention, love and focus, instead of making several half baked themes. We made huge progress already with the help of tinman, but as you justly identified, there is still work to do which is not trivial. The more we want to get the details right, the harder it will become. And we want to get the details right. That's our goal.

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