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
Intel is an American multinational corporation and technology company headquartered in Santa Clara, California, in the Silicon Valley. It is the world's second largest and second highest valued semiconductor chip maker based on revenue after being overtaken by Samsung, and is the inventor of the x86 series of microprocessors, the processors found in most personal computers (PCs). Intel supplies processors for computer system manufacturers such as Apple, Lenovo, HP, and Dell. Intel also manufactu...
Darktrace is the world's leading AI company for cyber security. Created by mathematicians from the University of Cambridge, Darktrace's Enterprise Immune System is the first non-consumer application of machine learning to work at scale, across all network types, from physical, virtualized, and cloud, through to IoT and industrial control systems. Installed as a self-configuring cyber defense platform, Darktrace continuously learns what is ‘normal' for all devices and users, updating its understa...
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...
Apptio fuels digital business transformation. Technology leaders use Apptio's machine learning to analyze and plan their technology spend so they can invest in products that increase the speed of business and deliver innovation. With Apptio, they translate raw costs, utilization, and billing data into business-centric views that help their organization optimize spending, plan strategically, and drive digital strategy that funds growth of the business. Technology leaders can gather instant recomm...
OpsRamp is an enterprise IT operation platform provided by US-based OpsRamp, Inc. It provides SaaS services through support for increasingly complex cloud and hybrid computing environments from system operation to service management. The OpsRamp platform is a SaaS-based, multi-tenant solution that enables enterprise IT organizations and cloud service providers like JBS the flexibility and control they need to manage and monitor today's hybrid, multi-cloud infrastructure, applications, and wor...
The Master of Science in Artificial Intelligence (MSAI) provides a comprehensive framework of theory and practice in the emerging field of AI. The program delivers the foundational knowledge needed to explore both key contextual areas and complex technical applications of AI systems. Curriculum incorporates elements of data science, robotics, and machine learning-enabling you to pursue a holistic and interdisciplinary course of study while preparing for a position in AI research, operations, ...
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...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Raju Shreewastava, founder of Big Data Trunk, provided a fun and simple way to introduce Machine Leaning to anyone and everyone. He solved a machine learning problem and demonstrated an easy way to be able to do machine learning without even coding. Raju Shreewastava is the founder of Big Data Trunk (www.BigDataTrunk.com), a Big Data Training and consulting firm with offices in the United States. He previously led the data warehouse/business intelligence and Bi...
The Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) is a non-profit organization that provides business support services to companies expanding to Japan. With the support of JETRO's dedicated staff, clients can incorporate their business; receive visa, immigration, and HR support; find dedicated office space; identify local government subsidies; get tailored market studies; and more.
Tapping into blockchain revolution early enough translates into a substantial business competitiveness advantage. Codete comprehensively develops custom, blockchain-based business solutions, founded on the most advanced cryptographic innovations, and striking a balance point between complexity of the technologies used in quickly-changing stack building, business impact, and cost-effectiveness. Codete researches and provides business consultancy in the field of single most thrilling innovative te...