{Home} | {Up} Being Creative: The "SparseMatrix" Winamp skin
It really whips the llama's ass!

Winamp is a program for playing music on a PC -- MP3's, CD's etc, etc.  Skins are "zipped" collections of files (mostly bitmaps) that allow you to customize the program's appearance.  By default, it looks something like this:

Base skin

I decided to try to make one with a "paper" theme, to match this site.  Many hours into it, I thought of a little (3 by 4) font I'd made for a completely different project (a calendar application for the Palm Pilot, perhaps it'll show up here eventually) and decided to make a much simpler,  sparse  skin, based around it:

My SparseMatrix skin (main window)

Still quite a lot of work (there are other windows to skin) but it turned out reasonably well I think.  I describe it as "Sparse, semi-minimalist, peri-illegible & antithetical."  It's not quite minimalist because, for example, I did things like making the numbers in the mini-font 5 pixels high instead of 4 (my arguement is that the letters are made clearer by the context but digits lack that advantage).  It's nearly illegible (I find that you need a pretty good, crisp monitor to see things clearly).  It is almost the antithesis of complex designs like this (although they are very cool):

Zeus v2.0 anoxia skin

Here are a few more SparseMatrix images:

The Main, Equalizer and Playlist windows in full-size mode

...and in Windowshade mode

The minibrowser.

You can download it here.  It only got three stars and it hasn't had a lot of downloads :-)!

I learned a few hard lessons in doing this, my first skin.  Here are some useful points that the example doesn't mention.

Also, I downloaded a WinZip add-on that provides command-line support for zipping.  This let me write a .bat file to freshen the skin zip file then copy it to the .wsz file and install it -- made development must faster!