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Color Management in KDE

Colors are in important part of KDE and are an important tool to make
a good looking desktop. Colors can also be a burden, especially for
people with visual impairments.

The goal of color management is to take full advantage of colors while
reducing the disadvantages of color use to a minimum.

Color Schemes
=============

Color Management is based around the concept of color schemes.
A color scheme defines colors for different elements in the
UI. The most important factor for the readability of a UI is the
contrast between foreground and background colors. Colors in a color
scheme are therefor grouped in pairs which define the foreground and
background color for a UI element. When composing a color scheme care
should be taken to use sufficiently contrasting colors for fore- and
background in the same group. When using colors in applications, care
should be taken never to mix foreground colors from one group with
background colors from another group: they do not necasserily have any
contrast at all which can lead to a completely unreadable UI.

Color schemes are supported by Qt (see QColorGroup) and can be
configured on a KDE wide basis from the Control Panel. The settings
are stored in the global KDE configuration file under the "General"
setting. The KApplication class takes care that the configured
settings are passed on to Qt. Application developers can just use the
values provided by QColorGroup.

There are three major color categories:

General
=======
The colors in this group are used when no particular other group is
relevant.

QColorGroup...: ColorRole::Background, background()
KDE config key: background
Control Center: i18n("Window Background")
Description...: General background color
Example use...: Background of dialogs

QColorGroup...: ColorRole::Foreground, foreground()
KDE config key: foreground
Control Center: i18n("Window Text")
Description...: General foreground color
Example use...: Text in dialogs

Text Areas
==========
The colors in this group are used where the user can type text. it is
also used for lists from which the user can choose.

QColorGroup...: ColorRole::Base, base()
KDE config key: windowBackground
Control Center: i18n("Standard background")
Description...: Background color for text areas.
Example use...: Background in a word-processor.

QColorGroup...: ColorRole::Text, text()
KDE config key: windowForeground
Control Center: i18n("Standard text")
Description...: Text color for text areas.
Example use...: Text in a word-processor.

QColorGroup...: ColorRole::Highlight, highlight()
KDE config key: selectBackground
Control Center: i18n("Select background")
Description...: Background color for selected text.
Example use...: In a selection list.

QColorGroup...: ColorRole::HighlightedText, highlightedText()
KDE config key: selectForeground
Control Center: i18n("Select text")
Description...: Text color for selected text.
Example use...: In a selection list.

"Base" and "Text" should have high contrast as well as "Highlight" and
"HighlightedText". In addition, "Highlight"/"HighlightedText" and
"Base"/"Text" are supposed to be sufficiently different to get a clear
indication of what is selected and what is not.

Buttons
=======
The colors used in this category are used for buttons in the broad
sense, including e.g.scrollbars, menubars and
popup-menus.

QColorGroup...: ColorRole::Button, button()
KDE config key: buttonBackground
Control Center: i18n("Button background")
Description...: Background color for buttons.
Example use...: Background color of the OK button in a messagebox.

QColorGroup...: ColorRole::ButtonText, buttonText()
KDE config key: buttonForeground
Control Center: i18n("Button text")
Description...: Color for text on buttons.
Example use...: Color of the OK text on a button in a messagebox.


In addition to the above colors a number of derived colors are
defined.They are all darker of lighter version of "Background".

QColorGroup...: ColorRole::Shadow, shadow()
Description...: Used for shadow effects.(Very dark)

QColorGroup...: ColorRold::BrightText, brightText()
Description...: Used for text on pushed pushbuttons

QColorGroup...: ColorRole::Light, light()
Description...: Lighter than "Button"

QColorGroup...: ColorRole::Midlight, midlight()
Description...: Between "Button" and "Light"

QColorGroup...: ColorRole::Dark, dark()
Description...: Darker than "Button"

QColorGroup...: ColorRole::Mid, mid()
Description...: Between "Button" and "Dark"

Well Behaved Aplications
========================

Applications should never hardcode colors but always default to the
colors from the users color scheme. This ensures consistency among
applications on the desktop. It also ensures that all applications
are equally readable.

An application may offer the user an option to change the color of
certain aspects of the application. It should be noted that an
application specific color setting can cause unexpected results when
the user changes its color scheme. The application specific color may
look ugly in combination with other color schemes or the resulting UI
may even become unreadable. Therefor applications specific colors
should be used with care.