LiteStep v. 0.24.6 documentation

written by the LiteStep Documentation Effort, August 2000

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How do I make a theme for LiteStep?
This page will not give you a detailed tutorial on creating your own themes, but rather point you in the right direction regarding formats etc.

If you are completely new to theme creation, then probably the best thing to do to begin with is to download some themes, and pick apart what the creator has done. Open up the main configuration file (Step.rc) in a text editor and read through it, maybe make a few changes to see what happens. Also refer to the documentation for any module the creator might have used to see what certain commands do or mean.

Theme Format
A basic theme format has been established that all theme creators should attempt to follow, as it makes installing and configuring a theme very easy for the end user.

The total theme should be held in one folder inside the Litestep\Themes Folder, and the name of this folder should reflect the name of the actual theme. Inside this folder there should be the following files:

Step.rc The Main configuration file for your theme.
Modules.ini The configuration file for any modules that still use it. If none of your themes modules use this file please include it anyway.
Images folder This Folder should contain all the graphic images used in your theme.
Modules folder Folder containing any Third-Party (non-core) Modules used in your theme.
Miscellaneous folder This Folder should contain anything else: skins, wallpaper, icons, shortcuts, etc.
Readme.txt This Text file should contain information on Theme installation on how to contact you if necessary.
You should package the following directory structure into your Theme's zip file.

 \My Theme Folder
Themes The Folder above your Theme Installation
My Theme Folder This Folder should reflect the name of your theme.
Step.RC This should be the Step.RC for your theme
Modules.ini This should be the Modules.ini for your theme
Readme.TXT This file should explain theme installation and maintenance
Images This Folder should contain graphics specific to your theme
This Folder should contain Third-Party Modules that are specific to your theme and a directory for the corresponding documentation. PLEASE include all documenation for your modules.

Note: You may want to set up seperate directories for each modules documentation to help users find the correct documentation.

Misc This folder is there so that you may include skins for other applications, .lnk files that are referenced in your theme, .ico files, etc.
Using this method, installation is as simple as copying the theme's Step.rc and Modules.ini into the main Litestep folder and recycling for users.
Making things easier for the Theme User
When a user installs your theme, it is very important that he/she will not have to trawl through the step.rc editing and altering until it works. It is impossible to make a theme you have created work perfectly for every user who chooses to try it, but there are some simple steps you can take to ensure configuration is as painless a process as possible.

Your step.rc should be as clearly laid out as possible, with any settings that the user has to edit/alter near the top so as to be easily found. Try to annotate the settings so a less experienced user will know what to do.

Also, include a simple Readme.txt file with clear installation instructions, theme creator contact information and steps to take if things do not go quite as planned during the installation process.

Using Environment Variables
Using environmental variables should be the only way you define paths in your theme. Near the top of your Step.rc file, (so as to be easily found by the user), you should set out definitions for any evars that might be required...

   text "C:\Windows.exe\Notepad.exe"
   browser "C:\Program Files\Internet Explorer\IExplore.exe"
   email "C:\Program Files\Outlook Express\msimn.exe"
   etc, etc.

A user can then easily alter the paths to his specific programs, or paste in his own settings from a premade text file. This will save having to alter any paths elsewhere in the Step.rc, beacuse any referance to these programs can now be made as $text$, $browser$ and $email$.

Please also take advantage of any pre-configured evars such as $startmenu$ and $programs$.

Shortcut Folders
Another simple thing you can do is to set up popup menu entries for the users shortcut folders...

   apps C:\Litestep\Apps
   cpanel C:\Litestep\CPanel
   games C:\Litestep\Games

   *Popup "User Shortcuts" Folder
   *Popup "Applications" "!DynamicFolder:$apps$"
   *Popup "Control Panel" "!DynamicFolder:$cpanel$"
   *Popup "Games" "!DynamicFolder:$games$"
   ...etc, etc...
   *Popup ~folder

The user can now keep one set of shortcut folders and have almost instant access to them by setting/altering the evar path.

Things to avoid
Please try and avoid doing the following things in your themes...

Using Positive numbers for X Y Configuration...
The possibility of your theme user haveing the exact same screen resolution as yourself is highly unlikely. To fix this please configure your themes using negative values so that it works on all resolutions.

Using full paths to point to applications...
The possibility of your theme user having the exact same programs installed as you is very remote. Use Enviornment Variables instead of hard coding your applications paths so the user can easily alter the paths to his/her programs.

Packaging the core files with your theme...
This makes the theme look messy and confusing when unpacked, takes up space on the server storing your theme and is just not required - the user will already have the core files installed. If you are using core files in your theme reference them from the \LiteStep\core Folder.

Using a badly-laid out Step.rc file...
Keep it clear and easy to edit if the user has to.

And finally, please adhere to the theme standard...
Keeping to the standard outlined on this page will remove any stress from installing and configuring themes.