Visual Styles - Conformity vs User Control

I have read posts that mention the position of GPS regarding styling/customization of DO as it relates to Windows themes (and visual styles, not the same thing btw). And I do understand the goal of offering a system wide "theme" to have apps look the same, hopefully act the same, etc..

Here is a bit of feedback which I offer "for your consideration" (to GPS and the powers that be)....
For most users, a consistent theme they select once and all apps conform to is a "feature" and preferrable to spending countless hours/days/etc creating a custom appearance for your workstation.
Those are also the users who are satisfied with Windows (aka File) Explorer.
And usually not people who make their living at the keyboard.

I spent a year testing every file manager out there before I came here. And none of them came even close to the power and functionality of DO. I spent the next year trying to learn just a tiny bit about what is available in DO. That was in the early single-digit versions. CLEARLY this wasn't a tool for casual (or home) users. Although the default/simple setup and configuration - AND appearance - worked just FINE for those users, who wouldn't even need or want to build their own theme.

But people like me who write code 12-18 hours a day and manage multiple large projects with countless thousands of files, folders, network locations - a good chunk of that day is spend in DO making sure our files are organized EXACTLY the way we want, so we can put our fingers on any file, any time, and know where it lives. Other than the IDEs and development tools I use, there is NO other app I spend more time in, than DO.

And like my IDEs, text editor, email and a few other apps - it's imperative that my workstation LOOKS and FEELS EXACTLY the way -I- want it, with colors that don't offend me or give me headaches, and BEHAVIORS that don't piss me off or hurt my productivity.

Look I have NO problem if GPS wants to set defaults for appearance/behaviors, and give all kinds of warnings about altering those defaults. But to put the vast number of options in front of me that DO does, which purport to allow me to achieve that goal, and THEN come out and say you don't want DO to ever side-step the Windows global theme - well - this is just IM[not]HO - that is a huge mistake. And the issue is WHO controls my computer and my software? If I can't make my computer AND all the software look, feel, and behave exactly as I want it - then my job turns from great to suck very fast.

And consider why so many MANY people are coming to HATE Microsoft for Windows 10 - it's because MS now controls their computer. It's why I dumped ALL my Win10 systems and returned to Win7-64. And it's why the DO betas concern me, and reading posts about conforming to the Windows theme instead of allowing the user full control - disturbs me.

Leave conformity to the casual users who are happy with default settings.
But if you start restricting the power users, nobody wins. And really, why even bother putting all those options in the app if the real goal is enforce conformity? Just ship it as a 100% Windows theme based app and be done with it.

I hope someone there reads this and gives is some serious consideration. I've been with DO a lotta years, but my experience in the past couple of years with Windows 10 (and other software) has convinced me that I'd rather go without something than to let others decide how my computer looks, feels and behaves.

David Invenio

We provide a lot of options to override the system theme if you want to do that.

If you want additional ones, please let us know with a short list of what they are.

I know at times it may not come across as loudly as i would like - but I remain a huge long-time supporter of DO, regardless of my criticisms! :slight_smile: I still recommend it to everyone I know, programmer or not. And I do agree that DO does provide a LOT of options, or preferences. And years back it was the clear leader in that area. But these days it's a different ballgame and apps such as the Atom text editor, as well as even Visual Code (by Microsoft!), just to name a couple apps out of MANY (all based on the Electron framework) that are providing a level of UI control (both appearance and behavior) to the power-user while still providing sensible defaults to the casual and home user. They use technologies like CSS, Javascript & HTML - to allow the user to control almost every aspect of the UI - overriding the O/S theme/visual-style as THEY deem appropriate.

So here's my initial short list - but it can really all be summarized by my 2 consistent criticisms of DO:
1- Not providing enough control, ie; overriding both O/S theme/visual-style but also the DO defaults"
2- Not organizing the vast number of options, or preferences, in a more logical/intuitive manner.


  • override visual style on an item(property) by item basis (meaning UI element basis)
  • all options/preferences in a single location
    (the TreeView, as an example, has options/prefs/properties located in at LEAST 4 sections of the Preferences window - as do most other elements of the UI - instead of providing an object-oriented, and thus more logical & intuitive approach - this is an area where DO should have evolved over the years instead of becoming overly bulky/complex)
  • node height / node padding
  • allow glyphs to be visible always

Location Field

  • override visual style - ie; background/foreground color
  • all options/preferences in a single location

Search Field

  • override visual style - ie; background/foreground color
  • all options/preferences in a single location

MenuBar & ContextMenu

  • override visual style
  • all options/preferences in a single location


  • override visual style - ie; square tabs or rounded, no gradient
  • all options/preferences in a single location

UI Element "coupling" in Preferences

  • as the number of options grew over the years, many UI objects were coupled and use the SAME preferences/options - which makes control of the UI far more difficult as the coupling details are often not obvious - only by testing can the power-user figure out that more than 1 object is being controlled by a single preference setting - is it really necessary these days?

Is that short enough? It really all boils down to 2 items, but those apply to many areas of DO.

PS: As a footnote, these features are not the result of "Hey wouldn't it be cool if this were possible?" conversations with fellow geeks while enjoying happy hour far too thoroughly :wink: These are features that are available in many other apps available today, and which I make use of in other apps on a daily basis. And yes, some of my programmer friends have mentioned the same issues, however that is secondary to 1: seeing them in other apps so knowing they're possible (and appreciating the benefits control over the UI provides to power-users that spend far >8 hours a day using it!) and 2: seeing the trend in software, as our own profession, that is very clearly speeding down the path of greater and greater user control over their (forgive me here) "desktop experience". LOL

I hope this makes sense and that the ideas will be considered with a serious tone in upcoming builds of DO. Not many commercial apps have survived the test of time for as many years as DO has! But none have survived without evolving as the users needs evolved. I am very much looking forward to the future releases of DO, and continuing to keep it at the top of my "must have apps" list that I share with anyone who ever asks for my help with their computer! :slight_smile:

Kind Regards,

You can already override the colors on the location field, search field, menu bar and (most) context menus. We're already discussing some of that in the other thread you're asking about those things in.

Setting Preferences / Folder Tree / Appearance, Tree Style to either Lines or No Lines (i.e. anything except Visual Style) will mean the glyphs are always visible.

If you're seeing gradients on folder tabs, you can turn that off via Preferences / Miscellaneous / Advanced [Cosmetic]: gloss_and_gradients. The default is to match the style of the OS you are using: Windows 7 gets gradients and rounded corners, while Windows 10 gets flat backgrounds and square edges. If you want the Windows 10 style on Windows 7, you can override it there.

Preferences options tend to be organised around the things they apply to, unless something is a global option, and except for the colors and fonts options which are mostly kept together. (A few color options are outside of there, and we might move them in the future. That'd make sense.) There's no perfect way to organise Preferences since sometimes you go looking for, say, all the color options, and sometimes you go looking for all the folder tree options. The search field at the bottom helps a bit there.

Wait.... I think I'm using the wrong terms - when I say "location field" I don't mean a column in the file list, I mean the crumb-bar which I have on my toolbar, same with search.

Can those be changed? If so, how?

Re: preferences, definitely the search is a great help. But I do hope you give it a thorough review. I'm not trying to argue, but let's take an example - the folder treeview - there are 4 places in Display->Colors/Fonts that apply to that UI element, and ONLY that UI element. PLUS and entire section in prefs called Folder Tree->Appearance. See what I mean? I admit that I'm not a normal, wait, "average" user LOL but I tend to want to change ALL things about 1 element in one place. And I'm not even mentioning the stuff about Folders->Virtual Folders which really does directly relate to that treeview right? Again, just offering friendly advice.

That is the location field. I explained how when you asked here: Solarized theme? - #20 by Leo

No, it doesn't. It relates to how folders are displayed in the file display. As far as I can think, it does not affect the treeview at all.

A lot of settings related to more than one thing, so they can't "all be in one place", unless the same setting is in multiple places, which can be more confusing.

Someone might want to configure all their colors at once (quite likely). Someone might want to configure everything to do with the treeview at once, including its colors. It can't be perfect. That's life. (And yes, there are a couple of color settings that aren't with the others. We may move those over in the future.)

I don't have anything else to add on this topic.

Roger that. I'll drop this.
(apologies for my mistake re; virtual folders, I was confused and had to re-read my original post which is about all I really needed to say)