How To: Get your new skin out to the masses.
So, you just finished coding and jpegging all those files and have a skin that you want to release to the masses. What's the best way to do this?
1. Make sure your skin works.
Go to every menu item, every screen, click on everything to make sure it behaves the way you want it to.
2. Clean up unused items in the skin folder.
Make sure there aren't any unused images or other files that are unnecessary. This helps keep the download file size low.
Enforcer has a nice utility called RR Skin Checker which helps make sure everything is referenced correctly.
3. Include any special files such as fonts.
If you have a cool custom font that isn't a standard windows font, copy it into your skin folder (or provide a separate download link for it) along with any other special files like a custom exectbl.ini, etc. Without these files, other users are just going to have issues, and your skin thread will be flooded with their posts.
If you use changeable backgrounds, set a default background by opening the skin.ini and changing it to read:
where XXYYZZ is the hex name for the color (FFFFFF is white, 000000 is black.) This way your skin will open on EVERY computer, and won't be dependent on a specific background.
4. Name the skin (if you haven't already.)
Name it anything you want, but I recommend using the search tool on this subforum to find out if someone else has used that name before.
Also check google to make sure you aren't infringing on any trademarks or copyrights. (Centrafuse™, for example is owned by flux media, and the name is trademarked to them as well as all images from their Front End.)
Repeat step 1 to make sure everything is still working.
5. Package it up.
Now that you have your skin folder all nice and clean, everything works, and it's ready to go, it's time to compress the folder for easy downloading.
There are a few different packagers (archivers) out there, here's the two most popular:
RARLabs WinRAR archiver - outputs to a .rar file.
WinZip by Corel - outputs to a .zip file.
I personally use WinRAR since it's free and easy to use.
5a. Compress it correctly.
In WinRAR there is a wizard to create a new archive. It's pretty easy to use, and self-explanatory. However as a convenience to those that will download your skin, when it asks to select the files to archive, rather than just selecting the skin folder, I expand the folder, then select all (CTRL+A) the files in the folder. That way the archive looks like this:
~My Cool Skin
~--all my supporting skin files
This way users can download the archived file to their "c:\Program Files\Road Runner\skins\" folder and extract it from there.
~My Cool Skin
~--My Cool Skin
~----all my supporting skin files
I don't know how many times I've downloaded a skin just to find out I have to go into the skin folder and move all the files up one folder for the skin to work. It's not a big deal, but it is an extra unnecessary step. WinZIP works in a similar way.
6. Upload the file
There are a lot of free file upload sites, and each skinner will have their own preference. Here's a few suggestions:
- This forum's download server - needs to be approved first, so files don't show up immediately.
- your own website (I use Office Live, and I have a file size limit of 10 MB per file, but some sites have larger hosting limits.)
- Google Search "Free File Hosting" or "Free File Upload" or similar search terms.
You may want to upload to multiple sites to prevent downtime issues.
>>Skinners - if you have had good luck with a certain free host, post on this thread the link and I will update the above list.<<
7. Create a thread here (if you haven't already done so.)
Start a new thread under the RR Skins subforum.
For the thread title, include the name of your skin, and if applicable the version number and last date of update. This will allow people who use your skin to know if updates exist or not.
Post some screen shots of the skin so we all know what it looks like, some descriptions of what it's capable of, and any other information we should know about the skin.
8. Have it added to the List of Available Skins
To do this:
9. Add it to your signature
Originally Posted by ThunderStick
Add the link to your skin thread to your signature so that it's visible to anyone that views your posts. See mine below for an example.
10. Keep your thread up to date
If you change features for your skin, add functionality, fix bugs, etc. you'll want to upload these new changes to your skin thread so those of us that use the skin can have these features as well.
Most users will delete the old version download link so anyone visiting the thread is downloading the most current version, some will leave the old versions available in case there are issues with the new versions.
Posting a changelog or update history will allow users to see what new features have been added or bugs fixed in the newest update.
Using this process will help ensure your skin will be successful and that it's available to the most users.