Xion Audio Player

Xion Skin Submission Guidelines - The Draft

General Discussion about Xion Audio Player

Postby logokas » February 2nd, 2013, 10:50 am

Hello everyone. Your friendly neighborhood loudmouth here.

Today, I'm here to talk about the rather poor state our Skin Database is. It is littered with nonfunctional, hideous, and confusing submissions that seem to serve no purpose.

I have discussed this with Cliff, and we both agreed that this needs to be managed properly. So while he dealt with the management side of things, I have come up with something different.

Bear in mind that this is not complete, and I request the community here weigh in on all parts of this draft, so that we may come up with a revised and complete set of rules that everyone find acceptable. I also need some help with defining the special cases more, as I'm probably not mentioning many.

With that said, i present to you the first draft of the Xion Skin Submission Guidelines:
Code: Select All Code
Xion Skin Submission Guidelines

The purpose of these guidelines is to ensure that a minimum skin quality is maintained in Xion's Skin Database. Once in effect, they will be the baseline by which new skin submissions will be judged agains't. Special cases and conditions apply, detailed at the end of this document.

The guidelines are as follows:

1. A submitted skin should contain at minimum the following elements
   -Play, Stop, Previous and Next buttons
   -Track title
   -Track time
   -Volume object
   
2. Elements in the skin that have practical functions should be visible and recognizable at first glance
   -Buttons must have symbols that convey their purpose
   -Labels should be present on any sliders
   -All functional elements should show a clear outline of the effective area, if they do not stand out from the base of the skin itself
   
3. All submissions, regardless of size, style, purpose, should contain at least one element that makes the skin moveable. This element should not be a part of the skin that already has a function attached to it, such as a Play button.

4. When submitting the skin, the preview that will be displayed on the website should show the skin in a clear environment, so that the background used to showcase the skin is not mistaken as part of the skin, or used to obscure the design of the skin itself.

5. To be politically correct, as usual, skins must not contain offensive material.

If a submission does not meet these requirements, the skin may be declined and sent back for a revision by the author.

When a skin is declined, the author will be notified, and the detailed result of the assessment of the skin will be given, along with steps required to properly meet the requirements to publish the skin. The author will then have 30 days to submit a revision of the skin. If this date is passed, the submission is purged from the system, immediately, and a new skin submission must be lodged to begin the process again. This must be followed correctly to avoid duplicates.

Special cases:

There are some categories, such as the Minimalist, where some of these requirements cannot apply without defeating the purpose of the skin. Because of this, submissions to these categories can ignore some of the guidelines, and will still be accepted as valid.
Last edited by logokas on February 12th, 2013, 12:20 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Cliff Cawley » February 2nd, 2013, 2:58 pm

I've finished all the code for this (and fixed a few things along the way, such as skin author avatars not showing) so we're good to go.

I'll give it a week for feedback on this guideline, after which we'll go live with it.

Cliff :)
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Postby SLoB » February 2nd, 2013, 10:07 pm

Raising the bar on skins is a must, we're not living in the 90's anymore!!! If your skin is not up to scratch it will get moderated!
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Postby logokas » February 2nd, 2013, 10:16 pm

It's not so much raising the bar as it is setting a minimum that should be adhered to, so that we have a clean selection of skins to choose from.
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Postby SLoB » February 2nd, 2013, 11:43 pm

Well yea, but overall it should raise the bar, some of the so-called recent skins have just been like dishwater.
It will mean skinners need to up their game and deliver something others can use.
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Postby logokas » February 3rd, 2013, 12:17 am

Yes, that is the purpose of these guidelines.

However, i feel they're not too fleshed out. What do you think, SLoB, what needs adding?
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Postby SLoB » February 3rd, 2013, 1:31 am

I think the cbuttons need further clarification such as pause button needed but may not necessarily need a stop button?
Overall the functionality should be such that the skin is usable, the problem we still face is skins that have all this but still look sucky lol. (I think skins like that may deserve to be put in another category such as tacky (or could be better)).
Where do we draw the line if a skin like this has loads of functionality but still looks like crap? Everyone has to start somewhere so I'm not knocking them too much, however those kinds of skins should remain on their owners own drives and put them down to learning rather than distributing them out to the masses.

We deffo need some kind of list though as a template so when we return skins that need more work we can show from the list what needs to be fixed before it's allowed to be released. (Would it be fair to add in "a pleasing look" to this list so skins I wouldn't wish on my granny have to be reworked? ;) )
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Postby logokas » February 3rd, 2013, 11:51 am

Unfortunately, we can't just throw out bad looking skins, because that would defeat the purpose of having a rating system. I suppose we could look into pruning skins that have an unusually low rating, but that, too, is probably going too much out of our way. And forcing them all into an 'ugly' category is borderline offensive. deviantART doesn't differentiate their users, why should we?

As for the matter of buttons, the stop button is indispensible. Pause can be linked together with the play button, but stop, i feel, is absolutely required, it serves the baseline of function. Pause is a convenience.
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Postby Cliff Cawley » February 3rd, 2013, 12:35 pm

Apple have an interesting point in one of their submission guidelines for the App Store and it goes as follows:

If your App looks like it was cobbled together in a few days, or you're trying to get your first practice App into the store to impress your friends, please brace yourself for rejection. We have lots of serious developers who don't want their quality Apps to be surrounded by amateur hour.


Perhaps the Xion site will be the holy grail of skins. You can have your skin up on deviantART but to have it on the Xion site is extra special.

Thoughts?
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Postby regener8ed » February 3rd, 2013, 1:01 pm

i think there are 2 sides to this coin. the whole point of bothering to give people the flexibility to change the interface on your application is to let them create what pleases them. while i try to keep other end users in mind for most things, sometimes there are liberties i might choose to take as an artist by deciding when form trumps function.
as the owner of your site, you certainly have the right to decide what to accept, but i would caution that implementing rules could also have unintended consequences such as stifling the interest of beginners and actually damage interest in xion skinning instead of elevating it.
i'm not trying to promote one decision or another here, and i'm cool with things either way, i'm only pointing out that each has its own set of benefits and problems. if i have any advice to give regarding the actual guidelines, i'd recommend keeping things as generic and non-specific as possible (the quote from Apple is a good example; don't call out what specific features are required.) i would also recommend highlighting the fact that there are other places (such as devart) that welcome any submissions but the standards for xion's library make posting here a bit more exclusive. (put a positive spin on it)
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Postby logokas » February 3rd, 2013, 3:34 pm

The problem with Apple is that ambiguity is their way of just having a final say of 'We don't want this, get out', without actually having to define the problem at all.

There are some things that simply aren't acceptable in a media player skin. If you just take a picture of some actor/model/person and make some bodyparts buttons with no lables, no functional visuals, I cannot accept that as a media player skin, it just isn't. Sure if you wanna muck about with the system, go ahead, but as an actual skin, it is pretty much worthless, and has no place here.

If the result of this stifles the creativity of inadequate quality authors, I personally see no problem. You don't get your burger half cooked and missing ingredients, either, why should a skin be any different?

I do agree however that some elements are more liquid than others, and in the case of the minimalist category, there's things that simply do not apply, such as showing the track title/time. In a minimalist skin there simply is no room for them. Thus, when submitted to that category, some of these guidelines will be ignored when deciding.
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Postby SLoB » February 3rd, 2013, 9:22 pm

Also talking of categories, should we be able to change the category a skinner chooses?
I think when it comes to moderating skins we should be able to flag one as needing input from a few skin moderators, those borderline ones where 2 heads are better than 1.

Then we also have the other windows, playlist, eq, library etc.. I have purposely avoided skinning any of those yet as functionality I would like has been missing.

Also such things as visible area versus actual area for overlays on buttons, texts etc... as we most of us know, sometimes it's necessary to add blend another 1% white/color layer to an icon or something in order to get the whole area clickable.

Yea logokas, you mentioned Apples' ambiguity and I for one hate ambiguity. Hence also mentioning the multiple moderation in case one moderator feels a skin is on the borderline and wants a second opinion.
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Postby logokas » February 3rd, 2013, 10:00 pm

Second opinion is easy to acquire, because all skin moderators will see all the skins requiring review. All you gotta do is ask them to take a look and see what they think. Either one can then approve or reject it.

I was also toying with the idea of having a few flags attached to skins based on what files are found in the container during upload. i.e. have icons shown for what is skinned, and what isn't, such as the player, equalizer, playlist, and so on and so forth.

A Quality Skin badge is also something I have been keeping somewhere at the back of my head.
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Postby SLoB » February 3rd, 2013, 10:23 pm

We had the skin badges at SkinConsortium more to denote what type of skin it was than anything but we should also have moderator rating similar to how Winamp does it. Of course if we are moderating the skin to be put up on the Xion skin list then an appropriate rating would also help.
Also a skin shouldn't necessarily be marked down if it hasn't skinned the eq, pl, lib etc... The main skin should be "THE" marking point only? and bonuses for other windows skinned, should we mention the other windows when reviewing? Should we have a list of what IS skinned in a skin? simple tick list of windows.
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Postby Cliff Cawley » February 4th, 2013, 12:11 am

SLoB Wrote:Also talking of categories, should we be able to change the category a skinner chooses?
I think when it comes to moderating skins we should be able to flag one as needing input from a few skin moderators, those borderline ones where 2 heads are better than 1.


Hey SLoB, this is already done.

When we approve a skin, it displays a list of all the checked categories. You can at your discretion as a Skin Moderator, tick or untick whichever ones you need to before submitting the approval.

Cliff :)
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