Welcome!

Adobe Flex Authors: Matthew Lobas, PR.com Newswire, Shelly Palmer, Kevin Benedict

Related Topics: Adobe Flex, ColdFusion

Adobe Flex: Article

Adobe Flex Interface Customization - Themes, Styles, Skins

The basics of themes, styles, and skins

One of the great things about Flex is that you get to spend most of your time working on the business logic and workflow, and less on the cosmetic aspect. This is because the Flex default's look-and-feel is great! The only problem of course is that most people won't spend much time customizing the look, resulting in many Flex apps looking the same. In Flex 1.5 many folks customized the color scheme, but few ventured into modifying the actual skins of the components.

 The designer approach would be to modify the graphical aspects of a theme, a laborious process of editing many items in various Flash source files ("FLAs") using the Flash Professional IDE.

The second approach let advanced Flex programmers create extremely customized interfaces; however this approach made it difficult for designers and developers to hand off the graphical "assets" of a project.

In Flex 2 things got a whole lot easier. In this article we'll look at the basics of changing the look-and-feel of your Flex application by introducing Flex Themes, Styles, and Skins.

Terminology
Before we get into it, let's quickly define what all the terms means.

Themes are simply a collection of style definitions, images (a k a graphical assets), and skins. Themes give you a lot of control and convenience in terms of how you package it all together and distribute it. You can distribute your theme as separate individual files, or ideally compile it into a theme SWC (commonly pronounced as "swick," a sort of JAR/ZIP-like archive format for Flash).

Styles are similar to the CSS you've been using for your Web applications. In fact, Flex's styles follow the CSS 2.0 syntax and support many of the common style properties that you're used to.

Although many of the visual components and controls support a variety of style properties that let you control fine-grain details like the corner radius of a button, fill gradients, and transparency. They're still based on a certain look; using skins you can completely alter the graphics and interface behavior.

Out of the Box
Out-of-the-box there are a couple of things you can do to easily change the look of your app. By default the Theme Flex uses is called Halo and it supports a style property called themeColor.

In HTML you can assign predefined colors like Red and Blue to certain CSS properties. Flex supports the same thing, but includes four interesting colors ready-to-use. They include:

  • haloBlue (the default)
  • haloOrange
  • haloGreen
  • haloSilver
To use them with the themeColor is pretty simple. To change it on an application-wide basis, modify your main Application tag to include this:

<mx:Application xmlns:mx="http://www.adobe.com/2006/mxml" themeColor="haloOrange">

You can also do this on a per-component instance basis as well. For example:

<mx:Button label="My Button" themeColor="haloGreen">

Now don't get too excited. The difference is rather subtle in that the most noticeable change is when you mouse over various components. In the case of the button it changes the outer highlight, and with the Datagrid (see the graphic below) it changes the Header column.

Imaga A

Fortunately there's a much more dramatic change that you can employ with the out-of-the-box themes. The themes that come with Flex 2 are:

  • Halo (the default, embedded in the framework.swc)
  • HaloClassic (haloclassic.swc)
  • Ice (Ice.css)
  • Institutional (Institutional.css)
  • Wooden (Wooden.css)
  • Smoke (Smoke.css)
You'll find the source of these files located under the <flex builder root>\Flex SDK 2\frameworks\themes directory. To make quick use of them:
  • Start off with a Project in Flex Builder 2 either by opening an existing one or creating a new one.
  • Using the mouse, right-click on the project folder, and select properties

    Image B

  • Select the Flex Compiler section
  • Under "Additional compiler arguments," append the -theme parameter located as the desired theme file. For example:

    -theme "C:\Program Files\Adobe\Flex Builder 2\Flex SDK 2\frameworks\themes\Smoke.css"

  • Now build and run the application

More Stories By Tariq Ahmed

Tariq Ahmed is the manager of product development at Amcom Computer Services, a former project lead at eBay, and host of www.cflex.net. He specializes in leveraging technology with process engineering to reduce operating costs while maximizing revenue potential. You can find him on the Web at www.dopejam.com.

Comments (6)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


IoT & Smart Cities Stories
The platform combines the strengths of Singtel's extensive, intelligent network capabilities with Microsoft's cloud expertise to create a unique solution that sets new standards for IoT applications," said Mr Diomedes Kastanis, Head of IoT at Singtel. "Our solution provides speed, transparency and flexibility, paving the way for a more pervasive use of IoT to accelerate enterprises' digitalisation efforts. AI-powered intelligent connectivity over Microsoft Azure will be the fastest connected pat...
There are many examples of disruption in consumer space – Uber disrupting the cab industry, Airbnb disrupting the hospitality industry and so on; but have you wondered who is disrupting support and operations? AISERA helps make businesses and customers successful by offering consumer-like user experience for support and operations. We have built the world’s first AI-driven IT / HR / Cloud / Customer Support and Operations solution.
Codete accelerates their clients growth through technological expertise and experience. Codite team works with organizations to meet the challenges that digitalization presents. Their clients include digital start-ups as well as established enterprises in the IT industry. To stay competitive in a highly innovative IT industry, strong R&D departments and bold spin-off initiatives is a must. Codete Data Science and Software Architects teams help corporate clients to stay up to date with the mod...
At CloudEXPO Silicon Valley, June 24-26, 2019, Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with expanded DevOpsSUMMIT and FinTechEXPO programs within the DXWorldEXPO agenda. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive over the long term. A total of 88% of Fortune 500 companies from a generation ago are now out of business. Only 12% still survive. Similar percentages are found throug...
Druva is the global leader in Cloud Data Protection and Management, delivering the industry's first data management-as-a-service solution that aggregates data from endpoints, servers and cloud applications and leverages the public cloud to offer a single pane of glass to enable data protection, governance and intelligence-dramatically increasing the availability and visibility of business critical information, while reducing the risk, cost and complexity of managing and protecting it. Druva's...
BMC has unmatched experience in IT management, supporting 92 of the Forbes Global 100, and earning recognition as an ITSM Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader for five years running. Our solutions offer speed, agility, and efficiency to tackle business challenges in the areas of service management, automation, operations, and the mainframe.
The Jevons Paradox suggests that when technological advances increase efficiency of a resource, it results in an overall increase in consumption. Writing on the increased use of coal as a result of technological improvements, 19th-century economist William Stanley Jevons found that these improvements led to the development of new ways to utilize coal. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Mark Thiele, Chief Strategy Officer for Apcera, compared the Jevons Paradox to modern-day enterprise IT, examin...
With 10 simultaneous tracks, keynotes, general sessions and targeted breakout classes, @CloudEXPO and DXWorldEXPO are two of the most important technology events of the year. Since its launch over eight years ago, @CloudEXPO and DXWorldEXPO have presented a rock star faculty as well as showcased hundreds of sponsors and exhibitors! In this blog post, we provide 7 tips on how, as part of our world-class faculty, you can deliver one of the most popular sessions at our events. But before reading...
DSR is a supplier of project management, consultancy services and IT solutions that increase effectiveness of a company's operations in the production sector. The company combines in-depth knowledge of international companies with expert knowledge utilising IT tools that support manufacturing and distribution processes. DSR ensures optimization and integration of internal processes which is necessary for companies to grow rapidly. The rapid growth is possible thanks, to specialized services an...
At CloudEXPO Silicon Valley, June 24-26, 2019, Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with expanded DevOpsSUMMIT and FinTechEXPO programs within the DXWorldEXPO agenda. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive over the long term. A total of 88% of Fortune 500 companies from a generation ago are now out of business. Only 12% still survive. Similar percentages are found throug...