Appearances aren’t deceptive!

A few years ago I wrote about an interesting design theory that didn’t fit with the ideas of the time. It was about the separation of the presentation content and functionality in a web project. In Tractis, we followed this path from the start, which allowed us to layer the design well. For example, we separate the work of the programmers from that of the designers and those who manage the content. This allows us a higher degree of application personalization and customization than with similar applications.


Us mere mortals that don’t understand design patterns or methodologies can admire and enjoy the end result: Appearances (account required). Alter the colors of the application or change our logo for yours in two clicks.

So there you have it – in Tractis we’ve implemented the ability to change the application appearance using a simple form. It’s pretty easy to do and works well, with a few limitations. The basic idea is that anybody, with a small program that captures colors (for example Colorschemer [see online version]) can capture the colors of their branding or corresponding website and switch them using the Tractis user interface. But it’s not just that, you can also upload your logo (of certain dimensions) to put the icing on the cake. You can mix a lot of colors on the screen but the idea, and my recommendation, is that you use a few colors and based on those, construct a finished design. The application also allows you to change a specific value, for example, there’s no need to fill in all the fields in the form to see your changes – you can change all the greens at a stroke by only changing the relevant fields. In the case where you’ve modified a lot and you don’t want to record the values, we’ve left you a button to undo the changes.

In the near future, we really want you to be able to upload your own CSS, your rules, your colors (10 or 50), your images – instantly customize any part of the ‘look’ of the application. To accomplish this, we’re working hard to study and to set up the foundations of the application which you will see is now no small thing.

This is promising and I really love it! There are limitations, but in my tests I made many color schemes that were not bad but were not production-ready. I invite you all to do screen captures with your color combinations and try the new functionality.

This was one of the most fun programming tasks in Tractis, I loved doing it but, for the moment, I’ll take a break to do another major change to the application and make an application that’s a pleasure to use for work and to do business.

By Diego Lafuente
Saved in: Announcements, Design, Tractis | No comments » | 2 February 2007

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