Well, the subject of dark themes seems to have come up again in the NetBeans world recently, with Geertjan blogging about Stan Aubrecht’s dark theme for Nimbus. This looks great, though as you might have gathered from the look and feel of Praxis LIVE, I quite like dark look and feels! :-)
Unfortunately, the problem with Nimbus is it’s still not officially supported in NetBeans due to some EDT issues (though seems much more stable than the last time I tried it). Also, to quote from Geertjan’s blog, “In Stan’s words, this is a “poor man’s” solution. There are some area that would need more tweaking, e.g., the top bar in the Options window. But it would mean changing code in NetBeans. This new module just adjust a few UIManager constants.” Well, as I blogged about in the Dark arts of NetBeans hackery, it is possible with some devious hackery to alter things like the top bar of the Options window, and this is done in Praxis LIVE, so I thought I’d have a go at providing a plugin for this look and feel that could be used within the NetBeans IDE (or other platform application).
Praxis LIVE look & feel plugin
The resulting plugin(s) for NetBeans 7.2 can be downloaded from here. It seems to work OK, but should be treated as an experimental proof of concept! There are actually two plugins in the download,
- praxis.laf – this is the primary look & feel library, and is derived from the excellent NimROD look & feel by Nilo J. González, with a few bug fixes and some less
gaudycolourful icons. The code in this plugin is LGPL licensed.
- praxis.live.laf – this plugin provides the integration with the NetBeans platform UI and the variety of hacks mentioned earlier. A large chunk of code is derived from the Metal LAF integration in the platform, and so it is also under the GPL w/CPE license.
The source for these plugins is available in the core Praxis repository and Praxis LIVE repository respectively. The only difference between these NBM versions and the default Praxis LIVE build is a change in the manifest so they’re not hidden from the plugin manager (makes un-installing them a little easier! :-) ) NB. You may still need to select Show details in the Installed tab of the Plugin manager to un-install them.
Worth taking further?
Well, as mentioned above, these were primarily built just to see if they worked, and to add to the debate around dark themes for the IDE. I’m not sure whether they’re worth developing further (except as part of Praxis LIVE of course!). Feedback and thought about that would be welcomed.
There’s some room for improvement, too. I’ve tried to work around as many hard-coded colours from modules that are used in Praxis LIVE, but obviously IDE modules that are not included haven’t been factored in to this. These plugins also don’t benefit from most of the (primarily Faenza-based) monochrome icons used throughout Praxis LIVE.