Gnome's light-colored theme needs improvement

UI design is not something I have experience with, yet this assertion follows from two common-sense points: 1) Gnome (or any DE) should include a light-colored UI theme. That is, a theme with light background colors and darker foreground colors. Dark text on a light background is generally easier to read than vice versa. 2) UI color themes and motifs should be applied consistently. They should not generally mix light-on-dark (“dark”) motifs with dark-on-light (“light”) motifs. Optional exceptions are fine, e.g. terminal windows, but such exceptions should not be forced upon the user.

In other words, this is a feature request for a proper light-colored theme. Such a theme would have a light-colored ‘top bar’ (the topmost bar, whatever it’s called), window bars, activities overview, etc. Things like the activities overview should generally follow the rest of the theme rather than always presenting a dark UI. It’s a nuisance when a UI forces the reader switch from reading with a light background to a dark one, such as when opening the activities overview or when glancing at the very dark bar on top to read something.

A few other minor observations to consider, for what they’re worth. Large areas of pure white tend to be somewhat uncomfortable to look at. A very light gray color makes for a much nicer looking background in most contexts than pure white. Translucency is fine but should be adjusted for value so that text has sufficient contrast. That’s all I can think of for now. I haven’t tried the latest version of Gnome but from the screenshots it apparently still features a “frankentheme”, as it were. I’ve found it impossible to get used to.

1 Like

I fully agree, but as far as I know, there is work on the light-theme for one of the next versions of Gnome. So I hope, this will be addressed in the near future.

1 Like

I gave it a try but didn’t get very far. Apparently themes are defined via .css files. While I’ve never used css, the syntax seemed reasonably straightforward, and writing up such a theme would probably have been no great challenge if only I knew the names of the values I wanted to change. I eventually figured out the name corresponding to the top bar’s background color, but not the name I needed to use to adjust the foreground text color. Surely all this must be documented somewhere, but after an hour or so spent searching and on trial/error, I didn’t find much.

There are many other things I could nitpick. For instance, suppose one wants to add a launcher to the dock with a custom command. Last I remember, this required writing up a .desktop file manually. Barbaric. It would also be nice if the top bar were customizable in the same vein as gnome 2. (for instance, I’d like to add something like the old workspace switcher) In general a DE should make reasonable provisions for customization and not go out of its way to hide technical details, features or options from the user. For example, there’s no earthly reason a file manager should not display a full path to the CWD somewhere, preferably in an editable form. I’m not just picking on Gnome per se, it seems like lots of operating systems follow this trend. There is no reason a user should receive an error message that only says “something went wrong”. That’s even more cryptic than a stack trace. Likewise, it seems like many UIs use abstract-looking icons instead of simple text labels for icons and buttons, which is often unhelpful. One could hardly call all this a “UI philosophy” or a “design paradigm”, it’s just obvious. But I digress. For now, it would be nice just to have an attractive and consistent UI theme.

P.S. This is somewhat a tangent, but I get the sense that the trend of “dumbing down” UI designs is far more favorable to commercial software and interests rather than the user’s interests or of foss. Ancillary to branding, trademarks, and vendor familiarity (perhaps a “soft vendor lock-in”), as it were, rather than utility with respect to the end user. There’s no reason FOSS needs to imitate it.