EQWatcher Evolution > Skin Development > Introduction

An EQWatcher skin is just like your own skin.  Your skin covers up your insides and makes you look good, and EQWatcher skins cover up the insides and can make it look good too.  Skins can have their own features, and likewise can leave features out.  They can look and feel completely different.

It helps a lot to know that skins are very flexible, and the buttons can be used to perform tasks that EQWatcher users might not otherwise know how to do.  Skins can be linked together to perform as a multi-skin system.  Controls can open web pages or documentation files, or execute EQWatcher commands (aliases for addons).  Skins are not required to be any particular size, or even have any particular controls -- although EQWatcher will only recognize a limited number of control names.  It won't break when EQWatcher is updated, unlike when the EQ interface changes.  It's a very neat system.

The two most basic parts of the skin system are A) pictures, and B) skin definition files.  Both are incredibly simple. 

You can view the pictures used by the default skin in the skins\default directory.  The window itself is made of 3 different pictures: eqwatcher.gif, eqwatcher over.gif, eqwatcher selected.gif, as well as a "mask" eqwatcher mask.gif.  The mask is to define which parts of the window are solid -- black means solid, and white would mean transparent.  Since transparency only works on Windows 2000 and XP (and newer), it's not used by the default skin.  You are more than welcome to use transparency.  All of the pictures are exactly the same size, with the controls in exactly the same location, except each has different colors for the controls to show different states.  The "over" state is for when the mouse is on that control, and the "selected" state is for when the control has input focus, is checked, or the control is pressed down (by mouse click, etc).  A few other pictures are there for slider thumbs and edit box carets (the blinky thing).  There are other ways to arrange the pictures (you could have a separate set of pictures for each type of control, etc), but this is the simplest and easiest way to make a skin.

The rest of the skin documentation will focus on defining the skin based on your picture files.