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But It’s Ugly!

One of the complaints commonly leveled at GNUstep is that it looks ugly. The main reason is that GNUstep uses the NeXT color scheme by default. The monitors included with NeXT machines were always of very high quality, and were always carefully calibrated. Most PC monitors, in contrast, are not calibrated at all, and have the gamma set far too low. This results in the NeXT color scheme looking too dark.

Other issues involve the shape of the widgets. While the designs looked very good in the late 1980s, they now look slightly dated. In spite of this fashion issue, they’re still very usable. For those wanting a newer look, one recent addition to GNUstep is the Cameleon theme engine, which allows more up-to-date looks to be created. The Nesedah theme, for example, looks modern and professional, and has evolved over several rounds of usability reviews.

Another thing that can take some getting used to with GNUstep applications is the menu. In any GNUstep application, the main menu floats in the upper-left corner of the screen. It can also be invoked by right-clicking. This is quite a good plan from a usability perspective, since the corners of the screen are very easy to hit, but is likely to be unfamiliar to many users. The addition of the WildMenus bundle can turn this into a horizontal menu bar of the kind familiar to Mac OS users.

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