• Open Source e-Learning
Kunkel, Matthias [mkunkel] - 28. Jun 2014, 14:49

New Icons for ILIAS

Since the early versions of ILIAS 3, a lot of new features and improvements of ILIAS have been made. But the icons that are used in ILIAS are still the same. Most of them belong to the Nuvola iconset which has been designed in 2004 for KDE. But ten years of software development later it becomes more and more difficult to find suitable icons for new features. Also the trends in icon design have changed back to flat iconsets. But the main impulse to rethink the iconset is the growing use of ILIAS on mobile devices.
The Nuvola iconset has been created by Italian designer David Vignoni for desktop environments like KDE and GNOME and is published under the GPL LGPL. Nuvola icons are colourful with a glossy and slight three-dimensional look. They gave a bit of colour to the low-key screen design of ILIAS 3. The Nuvola iconset contains a huge variety of icons. Some icons were combined to new icons, e.g. the icons for the the pool object types use the folder icon and the icon of the related object they belong to ( test, survey, media objects).
But sometimes Nuvola did not offered the right icon and it was necessary to create a new one that looked like Nuvola but did not belong to the iconset, e.g. test object or wiki. The narrowness of the iconset became more and more evident in the last versions when icons for new features were needed like Data Collection or Bibliographic List.
Developing a proper iconset for ILIAS would not only have the advantage to get icons that really fit to the object type they are representing. We would also have a designer that could easily create new icons in the future. And such an ILIAS iconset could be developed in a way that colours can easily be changed to adopt the icons to a spefic CI of a company or organisation.
An additional request for a new iconset was responsiveness. The current Nuvola iconset comes as png files which are not scalable. These png files appear blurry, especially on mobile devices. This is why more and more applications for both desktop and mobile use are switching to svn files. If a new iconset already consists of svn files, there would also be no more need to offer each icon in different sizes for the different usages, e.g. 32x32 px for the headline, 22x22 px in object lists and 16x16 px in the Explorer.
New icons on Add New Item list
Based on these requirements, a new iconset for ILIAS has been developed by graphic designer Carolin Wanner since beginning of the year 2014. A presentation of the underlying concept for this iconset and a brief selection of icons was given at the ILIAS development conference in March 2014 in Münster. Funding for concept and design of the new iconset is offered by the ILIAS open source e-Learning society.
Some of the new icons are only slight modifications of existing ones. Some re-use the iconography of a known Nuvola icon and present it in a different way. Others make a clear cut and use a new symbol. For example, the icon for the Repository has been changed from a closed yellow box to a classical temple - a symbol often used to represent a library or university building. Together with the new iconset Carolin Wanner has created a colour scheme for the ILIAS icons, too.
Colour scheme for new iconset
The discussion of the new icons, its presentation and iconography, is still open and changes are still possible. More information about the new iconset and its concept can be found in the feature wiki, page Design Revision. Comments can be made on the page itself. A first stable version of the new iconset is announced for ILIAS version 4.5.

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