The future of theming - your thoughts


the next version of the the underlying component called GTK is now with us. Its called GTK-4. You will begin to see applications being built with this version of GTK.

What this means is that if you are using any themes (stylesheets in GNOME parlance) the apps will look very different from your current theme.

All GTK based themes in the future will need to be updated to support GTK-4.

The vast majority of GTK themes now available will not support GTK-4 immediately - and probably - will never be updated where some budding dev has dashed off a stylised version of an existing theme.
Those apps using GTK-4 will default to the Adwaita based theme.

Right now the only GTK-4 compatible themes that I’m aware of is Yaru, Adwaita and Plata. There may be others - please let me know.

Our default theme is called Pocillo - that does not have GTK-4 support (yet). Others in “Themes & Layouts” also may never be updated.

So what should be done. Well that’s the reason for raising this topic.

We could for instance “scrap” our default theme - and just use Yaru. Big disadvantage - Yaru has no Budgie support - also Adwaita does not have Budgie support.

We could use Plata … personal opinion - I don’t think it looks great (too dark).

We could put in the effort to add Budgie support to Yaru - shouldnt be too difficult. Disadvantage - we are using the default Ubuntu theme so it may cause confusion with our identify.

We could put the effort to reskin Yaru with Pocillo colours. Disadvantage - Yaru only comes in dark and normal variants - Pocillo has 6 different variants. Plus we need to regularly rebase the theme as Yaru is changed … we really need a dedicated new team member to make this happen.

We could spend effort to add GTK-4 capabilities to Pocillo - we really need a dedicated new team member to make this happen.


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Why do you see that as a disadvantage ?
Adding Budgie support to an already existing gtk4 theme sounds the safer way, especially Yaru since it’s maintained and developed by the « mother home distro ».

I know many won’t agree with what follows but I really think all ×buntu variants should stick to Ubuntu « style ». If all variants followed a same initial concept style, this may easierly add new « features » regarding theming for all ×buntu :

⋅ setting dominant, accentuation or secondary colors,
⋅ matching folders ( and some other icons ) to the dominant color,
⋅ refining light / dark / mixed style,
⋅ ensuring parity between gtk× and qt×/plasma styles…

In other words, any improvement made by one ×buntu could benefit the other ×buntu.

Then, later, in the long run, it would become easier for anyone to create new gtk4 themes from iterating on that sane and full featured Yaru base. But later.

Creating a brand new gtk4 theme looks like the wrong route here, as it would require much work only for theme. Yet for me Ubuntu Budgie’s identity is not its theme but its applets and versatility. I’d prefer UBudgie’s team to maintain and strengthen those already remarkable advantages.

What are the thoughts of Solus - the other mother home - regarding gtk4 ? I guess there they will sooner or later have to rely on a solid gtk4 theme on their own ? That could make 2 solid sources for Ubuntu Budgie, Yaru from Ubuntu and a potential gtk4-theme from Solus ?


So, personally, I wouldn’t mind if Ubuntu Budgie adopted the Yaru theme and made it compatible with Budgie. Yaru is a fine theme, and Ubuntu Budgie is, after all, part of the Ubuntu family. I don’t think Ubuntu Budgie could be accused of giving up its own identity if it chose Yaru as its default theme, because Budgie is so much more than just another theme. But since I am only a simple user, I cannot estimate how much work it would be to make Yaru compatible.

As you know by now from the topic Show us your Budgie Desktop, I have a certain preference for the Plata theme. This preference does not stem from the fact that I consider this theme to be the most beautiful of all themes, but because in my opinion it is the only one of the themes offered via Budgie Welcome that seems to work best with the Budgie Desktop. My personal gauge here is always how the particular theme handles Raven, especially its calendar. So, to give just one example, the week numbers and days of the week should always be correctly aligned horizontally. Of course, I know there are far more important things, but Raven is one of Budgie’s unique selling points, so it should also look good. I have no idea what Solus’ plans are in this regard, but since Plata is the default theme of Solus Budgie as far as I know, it would certainly be a good idea for Ubuntu Budgie to join forces with Solus in choosing the default theme.

Yes it makes sense. But Raven is a good and a bad example here as it’s specific to Solus. UbuntuBudgie brings many applets that should be themed accordingly and I suspect it’s harder than expected. And I rarely open Raven, lol.

I’m just very sad gtk4 might give a dead end to pixel-saver and global-menu…

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In my first post on this topic, I forgot to mention what I consider to be an important point, namely Flatpak support. Since in Budgie Welcome the installation of Flatpak is not only recommended but also made possible in a very user-friendly way by a one-click action, it would also make sense to choose a default theme that offers Flatpak support. With Shortwave, I currently only have one Flatpak programme in use, but it is a really fine thing that thanks to a theme like Plata, programmes like Shortwave are displayed in the same way as the rest of the installed programmes. In my opinion, a default theme with Flatpak support would be very much in line with the overall concept of Ubuntu Budgie.

Indeed - its certainly a key consideration. The flip-side here is that changes we specifically want may take weeks/months to be accepted - or not accepted at all. That’s is my chief concern - not having control of a key component of the look & feel of the distro means we cannot iterate and innovate quickly.

That is indeed a key advantage of using a Yaru base.

Remember - budgie-desktop v10.5.x will remain a GTK-3 based desktop - so no changes problems for the immediate future - applications are the key concern moving forward.

Don’t get me wrong - its a great theme - just not something I specifically like personally. The other worry I have looking at the commit history is a significant slow down with maintenance. The GTK-4 support hasn’t had much work for a considerable amount of time.

Those have issues anyway with “modern” GNOME apps that don’t use the traditional window decoration & menu approach. GTK-4 obviously will not improve matters. Largish projects I can’t see moving to GTK-4 for some considerable amount of time. Its new project and smaller projects that will move GTK-4 first.

Sure - that’s a desirable advantage of using established themes such as Yaru.

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Indeed, and also much needed for snap applications : whatever GTK4 theme should be available in all packages, deb, snap and flatpak. Which adds work to the task…

…and reinforce « my » idea : there should be a strong, polished, full featured and official Ubuntu theme any variant could make use of. And should use as default, since it would be easy to « re - build » with only « minor » changes ( mostly dominant colors in theme and icons ).

Not only gtk4, but in all « format », gtk + qt and else if matters.

Pure speculation of mine here : as gtk4 ( and Gnome40 ) are coming, I can’t see Canonical going on maintaining its own desktop environment BUT they might allocate some ( human ) ressources for a global theming / branding for all ×buntu variants instead ?

Correct - they have been downsizing the support for the desktop ever since Unity and that trend will continue. There is no real incentive for branding support other than upload/build effort hence the offload to an independent Yaru group.

Mmm… then how to convince Yaru group to build for the future of all ×buntu variants ? And to convince all ×buntu variants to work with Yaru group ? Another hard work task I guess…

There is a reason why the Ubuntu flavors have never used the Ubuntu branding other than logo variations. It would be interesting know what the gnome stack based flavors/distros are planing to do in and outside of the Ubuntu community. Purple brown and orange for all does not seem like a reasonable plan. I know there are 3rd party color variants of Yaru already.

Read carefully because that’s exactly not « my » plan. Even if I’d like all variants be by default « orange and purple » lol, the purpose is something else.

Have a base-theme, shell + icons. Add it ability for easily change dominant colors and matching folders colors ( see Mint, Elementary or Zorin approach and scripts like papirus-folder ). Make it all ×buntu-variants-proof ( panels, applets, dock and so on ).

Then you’d have only one upstream project « tool » to iterate from. Instead of many 3rd parties overlapping sources for theming your ×buntu’s. Most of the tools already exist, scattered through many ppa’s or sites, they should unite under one « canvas » or « template ».

I was not suggesting that’s what you wanted and that’s why I mentioned the third party variants. There were similar issues during the gnome 2 to 3 transition and not many customization options in the beginning . I agree with the idea of general base to work from. I liked the new branding colors for about a year back on Ubuntu 10.04 :grinning:

Sorry for my misunderstanding :upside_down_face: and I still remind some good things from 8.04~10.04 area too…

For a specific Yaru Budgie, it’s mostly a matter of taking the Yaru theme, a GTK theme with solid Budgie support, add the Budgie bit to Yaru, search for and replace colors to match those of Yaru.
As a base to work from, that shouldn’t be too hard to create, just a bit time-consuming.
Fortunately, it’s usually a recurring and limited set of colors. By replacing all instances of a color at once, there might be a way to do it fast.
Or am I missing something?

Since Ubuntu 21.04 will use Gnome 40 apps, time might be the essence, and having a lacklustre but consistent base is better than none.
Over time, this should solve itself out through motivated theme adapters and the choice will grow.

If the GNOME 40 apps have issues in 21.04 then its far too late to resolve now. As I mentioned - really this needs a dedicated new team member to handle this otherwise its a “when there is time”.

In terms of Yaru - adding Budgie support - maybe tweaking colours - certainly something I’m more interested in - but again - time & effort are the key factors here.

Yes, it might be too late.
It’s a shame though, because there’s no theme I hate more than Adwaita.

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I personally thought that it would have been great if an application could set secondary and primary colours by itself and the design of its theming would be handled by the theme, instead of all the colours. Can this ever happen?

Actually i spent most of the day (today) for checking that. I tried a lot of changing stuff in a theme and nothing happened. :smiley:
I’m a bit lost in the structure of that CSS file… so don’t know where to look.

That’s what i wanted to develop today :joy:
I’m just lost in that css structure…but this were also my thoughts.
If i knew where i need to check in the CSS file, than i could change it via Javascript (a hint for the development Team?! :smiley: :wink: ), then we could implement it as a default program or external (AppImage then).