Hmm wow, almost a year since I've been here.
Suppose I've done most of my blogging elsewhere and forgot about poor widdle DevArt.
Life can throw you some punches, that's for sure...
Hmm, what was I doing here *scratches head* ...ah yes talking about Trillian and skinning it.
Well it's been over two years I think since the announcement that Trillian Astra (Trillian v4) was being created.
Yeah, kind of an extremely long time... so much so that I left doing things for Trillian, did other things and then when I came back was shocked to find out it still was in developement.
No doubt, that shocks many people. Though I'm now back on board with what is going on with it, and I must say, it is quite a good update to what I was using before (their previous version).
There is so much new stuff in it, that probably doesn't need to be in it for my uses but as a global entity, with a global market, and many people with different needs and wants, I think it should satisfy the majority.
Kind of hard to explain how good it is if you haven't used it. Probably best thing to do is take their lastest available publically released version and amplify that ten fold.
Skinning for it isn't an easy task. Was never an easy task in the beginning and now seems to have become ten times harder and ten times more needed to be skinned.
Though things are being broken down into parts, like sounds effects and emoticons and icons etc. One can create these parts of a skin seperately and interchange them with other skins. Which is good, great for the user who may like a skin and not it's icons etc. But that said, still a big task upon its own.
So I'm learning / re-learning the XML language for the skinning. Skinning Trillian from scratch isn't just a matter of graphics, it's also coding XML files up. That's literally thousands of lines of coding. That is, if you want to skin from scratch. You could just take someone elses work and reshuffle the graphics they are using to make your own though. That's the easy way and of course the way they dub as Stixe. Stixe is basically using their existing code structure and replacing the graphics. Which there is nothing wrong with doing. But creating something from scratch, means no only flexing your creative graphical muscles, but drowning the brain in coding.
Yep, I'm attempting to relearn all that stuff and expand the knowledge into the new stuff they have put in. Some of you may remember my Frequency skin for Trillian, well the vast majority want it back and working on the latest Trillian, so that'll be the first goal; Frequency II. Once I understand and become more fluent with the new coding etc, I do plan on revamping the older skins such as Giger and thus, Giger II will be born. Before that I do have a few other concepts in mind.
You can view some of the concepts here:forums.ceruleanstudios.com/sho…
Which includes a Diablo 3 skin, an Ipod/Iphone type iTrillian skin etc.
I spoke of them allowing things to be broken into parts, well I have released for the new Trillian a Frequency II sound pack which is in that skinning forum I linked to as well as an emoticon pack. I'll probably use those packs within any skins I create, though maybe different sound packs for the skin theme. ...yet they do take so long to create so being able to re-use the packs you previous create for previous skins should aid in creating skins faster.
There used to be a skin viewer for Trillian; what it did was allowed you to display your code you created without loading Trillian with it (since 9outta10 times, Trillian will crash with an incomplete skin). So the Skin Viewer for skinners of Trillian was vital.
Unfortunately, the developers haven't updated the Skin Viewer, which is most frustrating because it was such an aid to see if your coding was working properly. Without it, at some points of coding, one just bangs ones head against the wall and prays to find any coding errors.
So far, as mentioned above I have some packs and concept art done, and though I have begun the Frequency II skin, it is FAR from being able to be used. I don't know how long Trillian Astra is going to remain in alpha testing, behind closed private doors, and as much as people want it now, I kind of hope it remains behind closed doors until I figure out how to skin it properly. lol. What I want to do is document the entire process of skinning it as to become a tutorial for future skinners of it. Though the fear is the tutorial if done, may become null and void upon future versions which is evident in previous releases. You build a skin, make a tutorial, then on next release it doesn't work. The devs kind of are trying to not make that happen too much in future versions though. I pray that is the case.
Another good thing about the new stuff, skinning related, is that we don't have to region coding. This will cut a hell of a lot of coding and time out of skinning.
What is region coding? Or rather, was... Well you take a picture, none-square, the parts you want to be transparent would be let's say, purple. All that purple stuff YOU would have to literally CODE into the XML file. It wouldn't read it and automatically do it for you. It was a nightmare to create non square windows.
But now, you can create a transparent image, have the program read that, dispay it, and even allow alpha bleeds to get a nice smooth rounded edge. They've also allowed stacking of images etc, so you could literally stack a slice of transparent glass on top of another background image. Which is fantastic ~ only thing is, I need to learn how to code it. >_<
Only disappointment I can see with the new Trillian Astra is that it doesn't support Skype. I wish it did. Maybe it will if I keep on the developers backs? I dunno. I can only pray.
There are still bugs to be ironed out, which they seem to be doing. All in all, I think it'll rock once released.
If you need to know more about Trillian Astra, you can visit: www.trillianastra.com
Well I think that's good enough for an update about what's happening.
Talk to you soon.
Md aka Maz aka Marcdaniel.