[Draft discussion] Theme / skin support

I’m with you here. There are a couple of screens which can feel quite jarringly bright. I think we could potentially split this off into two feature requests (one for darker piano roll and one for darker arranger). It’s likely that the changes that would be needed to ensure good contrast with overlayed objects would vary between these two contexts so it seems sensible for them to be separate.


I suggest we go for a request for themes / skins. Once it is possible to create a Bitwig skin, then offering dark mode, light mode, grey mode, psy-trance mode :sweat_smile:… should be trivial. There seem to be some pieces needed already in place:

I haven’t gone through the KVR discussions but there are a bunch about themes/skins.

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Sure, skins would be better. I just mentioned only dark one because it seems to me as the most important and I believe it’s the easiest to implement (but I might be wrong).
Yes, this feature has been discussed on kvr, Facebook, Reddit and a lot of people support it, I was surprised I haven’t found it here.

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I’m not a software developer, but I believe that to offer Dark Mode, the Bitwig team would need to go more than half way to implement the skinning features required. The default.theme file mentioned in the Reddit post above should work, different values in a .theme file would need to change the colors of the UI, and a setting should allow users to select between Default and Dark.

Once they are there, allowing users to add and select other .theme files doesn’t sound like a lot of extra work.

“Theme / skin support” is also a feature request that may interest more voters. :slight_smile:

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Sounds reasonable. I’m not sure how everything works here - will it be ok if I’ll edit this theme title?

I have edited the title (permissions to change titles are a bit restrictive with newcomers in general, nothing personal). :slight_smile:

I have also moved this topic to #drafts and I have added the common template. People can vote this request already now (yourself included). funky, you can edit the description to get this request ready for #features .

PS: you already got my vote. :slight_smile:

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great, thank you!
I’ll edit description today a bit later.

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Ok, I haven’t found a way to edit description (I’m not sure if I’m doing something wrong, but actually it seems like I can’t do that), so here’s a description text, just in case.

The interface of Bitwig is pretty good, but we all have our own needs and the appearance of the interface is important because we stare at the screen for hours.
For example, I have long dreamed of dark skin, because my eyes get tired of Bitwig faster compared to other DAWs.
But some have different needs, so the idea of several different skins, or, ideally, the ability to create your own looks more versatile. This way everyone can get a skin that better fits their needs.
In our time, this possibility exists in one form or another in the majority of DAWs. It would be great to finally get it in Bitwig.

My fault! Now you (and anyone else) should be able to edit the description.

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Great, thanks! :grinning:

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(We need to use the template for consistency across all feature requests.)

Is it clear which parameters are “skinnable”? I mean, what are the different elements that skin creators could customize?

I have added to the description the table that is posted on the Reddit link above.

Seven votes here and a history of discussions elsewhere. @funky or anyone else, do you want to volunteer a bit of time to complete this description, please?

Hi, I don’t think I’ll ever have time and possibility to do anything, sorry. So you guys just do whatever you feel right or just delete it or whatever.

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Question to the room: which DAWs would you say excel on theme / skin support and could be taken as example? Links welcome.

I just want to compile a bit more of information and then get this request ready for #features .

12 votes, and still it would be great to get some help here. Personally, I don’t know about other DAWs and (honestly) I don’t care much about themes on a DAW myself. But this is the most voted draft, so I’ll try to help. :slight_smile:

I asked my browser engine, and the first results showed two things:

  1. The term “theme” seems to be used by everyone, less so “skin”. For clarity, I suggest we stick to “themes”.
  2. DAWs mentioned among the first results: #reaper (with an apparent difference in quantity and quality of results) #ableton-live #reason #cakewalk , even #LMMS.

Therefore, this feature seems to be relative commonplace across DAWs. It will be easier to make the case here. I’ll check the Reaper documentation another day unless someone is faster than me at improving the description. :slight_smile:

EDIT: Reaper documentation is… too much for me before any morning tea. I thought Ableton Live docs would save the day, but unless it is hidden somewhere, theme developers seem to be left on their XML own. The first impression I am getting is that DAW developers enable theming by showing the themable elements to theme creators and by giving users an option to install a new theme but that’s it, then everyone is on their own. Probably this would fit the Bitwig’s team (brand-heavy) philosohy anyway.

OK, my bad. I really need to get this draft done (even if I personally have zero motivation for this feature) :smirk: to honor the 16 votes this request has.

Something that I wonder is how do the settings “Midtones” and “Black level” help achieve a “Drak mode”. To me Bitwig already looks pretty dark, and I haven’t played with these settings.

Hi guys

I want to add to this a little bit, I’m copying my post from the bitwig KVR forum. Let me know your thoughts:

I’m someone trying to make the move from FL Studio to bitwig. I loved BW. Very forward thinking and relatively easy to use but although the UI ‘looks’ nice at first glance, I couldn’t really connect to it and decided to not make the move yet because of that reason. The UI to me feels very clunky compared to FL.

What I mean by that is: It feels like there is a ‘delay’ everytime you need to do something, anything. Whether adding a midi note, editing note parameters, moving faders, playing a sample from the browser… etc… i hate that. It’s works against my brain and makes it frustrating. FL in that regard is superior and very fluid.

Also, over time the colors start to get tiring. I hate how the midi notes look, kind of like they ‘dont stick’. They’re hard to extend or shorten if you’re a bit zoomed out. The clips in the arrangement have an awful ‘look-feel’ to them and once the project gets busy, it’s hard to discern tracks in the arrangement window because they’re identified by a very small and thin color code to the left of the header.

The ability that we can’t change to a darker theme is also a bit off-putting to me.

  • I would suggest a little bit more fluidity in the UI. No delays when clicking on sample in the browser till we hear it. and pretty much that slow feel with mouse clicking in BW to be faster and without any discernible lag. If you haven’t used FL before, give the trial a shot and see what I mean.

  • Ability to have a dark theme and more decent looking midi clips and midi notes. Either make the whole UI flat or to make the clips and notes ‘pop’ a little bit more and have more of a 3D look to them. Honestly when I add notes and midi/audio clips in BW it’s the weirdest and most unnatural looking out of all DAWs. Also I could say there isn’t an nice differentiation between the borders of a midi/audio clip for example and the background of the arrangement window. Same with notes and the piano roll. Having the options to have the clips background in the arrangement to be transparent could be a nice break from all those bold colors.

  • An option for a one-window browser could be good too. I can’t get used to this one.

  • A better visual way of identifying tracks in the arrangement as this little color identifier on the header makes it hard to identify tracks when the project becomes busy.

  • Ability to custom set track heights in the arrangement or at least multiple different sizes. The option to switch it off now makes notes and waveforms in the clips totally disappear which I would believe makes it useless for most people. Scaling backwards is important too. 100% scale at HD feels a bit large to me. I need more space.

Please let me know if anyone else feels the same. To make it short, it has the most unnatural look and feel (feel as in controlling the DAW with a mouse) out of all DAWs I used and is the main reason why I haven’t made the move yet.

Would love to know the thoughts of others.


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Hi @Dan_CF, welcome! Thank you for your comments. There are different topics mixed here, let’s go through them, starting with the ones related to skin support – the rest need to find other venues if you want to discuss them. #brainstorm is a good place to start, one topic at a time.

The colors and color schema of the clips can be changed (right-click). What elements of the UI would you like to see in different colors?

Have you tried different combinations of contrast? See Settings > Contrast > Midtones / Black level.

This sentence is very subjective as it is now. I don’t think I understand what you mean. Is this caused by elements that could be addressed by a skin?

Also subjective. Can you suggest improvements that (ideally) a skin could handle?

Preferences here are subjective too. I wonder whether the skin/theme engine could allow defining flatness vs 3D (like CSS supports 3D buttons).

I guess the question is, when we talk about skins, are we talking only about colors or also about shapes of UI elements? I bet that going beyond colors complicates things way more.

I don’t know whether this helps, but you can paint the tracks with the same color as the background, or choose colors that have little contrast with the background.

About transparency in clips, see also Visible Gridlines Behind Clips.

For #brainstorm or new #drafts (separately):

(I’ll note that in my system I feel Bitwig responsive, without a sense of delay.)

Separate discussion.

Separate discussion.

OK, but bear in mind that this is subjective. DAWs weren’t found in nature before humans invented them, and this defines how “natural” any of them is. :slight_smile: I’m skipping other comments about something being nice or not, for the same reason.

Different discussion. See (perhaps) Global search for browser.

Different discussion.

Different discussion. There is a related topic that was archived due to inactivity: Mixed track heights. If anyone wants to work on this request, just ask.