Skins (Common Elements for Editor)
Skins gives you a substantial amount of control over how the editors in Midi Quest are displayed without having to work in Panel Edit mode.
So how do the skins work? Essentially, this dialog allows you to substitute your own bitmap graphics for existing graphic objects in the Editors. You can also specify your own font and color map.
Remember, there can only be one Skin active at a time and it is applied to all open editors. If you want to give specific characteristics to a specific editor, you will need to use the Panel Editor to apply a custom skin to a particular editor..
Skin Select is a drop-down list box which displays a list of all of the available skins. To select a skin, simply pick it from the list. This will automatically fill in all of the parameters in the dialog to match the settings of the newly selected skin.
To set the newly selected skin as the default skin to be used by the Editors, click the Apply button. Any Editors that are currently open are automatically reconfigured to use the new settings.
Bitmaps and Bitmap Select
The settings that will have the greatest effect over the display of the editors are the bitmap assignments. In total, you can assign 208 different bitmaps however, a small number of these will have a substantial effect on the display of the editors while many will have almost no effect.
So how does bitmap substitution work? In Panel Edit, there are 3 different graphic structures which you can add to Editors to enhance their look. In order of frequency of use they are: borders, filled rectangles, and unfilled rectangles. Border are unfilled rectangles which are attached to a specific parameter and move when that parameter is moved. Both forms of rectangles are placed in an absolute position in the editor.
Here, we have divided these structures into horizontal, vertical and large options. This allows you to define a different bitmap for long, thin vertical structures vs long thin horizontal ones.
In addition to the frames, you can also specify bitmaps that are used for envelope backgrounds, horizontal levers, vertical levels, and knobs. This adds up to 13 categories.
Midi Quest allows 16 different colors to be defined and used so you can have a black border, a blue border, a red border and so on. So 13 categories with 16 different colors means 208 bitmaps in total.
In addition, each bitmap has a "Tiled" parameter. When this option is checked, the selected bitmap is tiled or replicated enough times to fill the required space. When the option is not checked then a single copy of the bitmap is stretched so that it fills the space. If you choose the tiled option, you will need to ensure that the selected bitmap looks good beside multiple copies of itself. When stretching, the concern is that the stretched bitmap looks good within the editor.
Lets do a quick example:
Using the example, you can now substitute any bitmap you wish for a specific combination of graphic structure (eg Borders Vert) and color (eg. Black). You can either type in the file name yourself or drag and drop the file from Explorer. To save the new skin you have created, type in a name for the skin under "Skin Select" and press the "Save" button.
Now, you may say, 208 graphics is a lot of graphics, and it is. But as previously mentioned, many of these combinations are never used so you can leave them blank. Sound Quest made the decision to offer the maximum amount of flexibility when designing the dialog.
While getting started, keep in mind that the following bitmaps will have the most effect on the visual display of most editors. Once you get the hang of working with these, you can expand to the less commonly used ones where necessary:
Bitmap Select: BordersVert Bitmap Color: Black
Bitmap Select: Borders Large Bitmap Color: Black
Bitmap Select: Filled Rect Horz Bitmap Color: all colors, notably: Red, Blue, Green, Cyan and Magenta
Again, you must remember that the skins are intended to allow you to change the overall feel and appearance of the editors. If you want absolute control, you will need to use the Panel Editor to place bitmaps in the particular locations you would like them.
For controls that use the standard display configuration in the Panel Editor (regular color = black, edited color = red), it is possible to define the background of the parameter.
If you select "Bitmap" then you should enter the name of the bitmap you wish to use as the background for the parameter gadget. You can either type the file name in directly or use the "Browse" button to make the selection. Check "Tiled" to drag multiple copies of the bitmap into the control. If unchecked, the bitmap will be stretched to fit the control.
If you select "Color", press the "Color" button to use the color dialog to select a color to use as a background.
If you select "Original" then the original Midi Quest v7 display style is used
If you select "Background" then the control does not have a background itself and draws the control over the imagery behind the control]
For editable parameters that use the standard display configuration in the Panel Editor (regular color = black, edited color = red), it is possible to define the standard and edited colors.
If you select "Color", press the "Std Color" and "Edit Color" buttons to select the colors which will be used to display parameters in their edited and unedited states.
If you select "Original" then the original v7 display style is used (black on white / red on white)
You will find the default skin that ships with Midi Quest v8 specifies a standard color of cyan and an edited color of yellow.
The entire background of an editor can be specified in one of two ways.
You can check "Display Background" and provide the name of the bitmap (.bmp) to use as the background.
Alternately, you can place a bitmap in the directory containing the instrument support files. For example, the 01W support files are found in the Instr\01W directory. In this case, the file name but be the same as the editor file name but with the .bmp extension. For example, the Combi editor has a file name of "Combi.sqt". To supply your own bitmap, you should use "Combi.bmp" as the name of the bitmap.
In either case, the bitmap is used to fill the entire window background. if the bitmap is smaller than the editor, the bitmap will be tiled (replicated a sufficient number of times so as to fill the window display).
The borders setting selects whether the original border graphics are used or whether bitmap substitution is used, when specified.
"Original" specifies the use of the standard frame
"Bitmap" specifies that bitmaps be substituted if they are defined in the bitmaps section of the dialog
The envelopes in Editors can be drawn in one of two ways. The "Original" style is to draw the envelope as a simple line with grab boxes. When "Bitmap" is selected and a bitmap is specified in the Envelope section of the Bitmaps section of the dialog, then the envelope is drawn in a filled form. This is the default for v9.0.
This section specifies the bitmaps to use with horizontal and vertical sliders.
The left column supports Vertical Sliders with three bitmaps specifying the knob image, the image to use in space above the knob and image for space below the know. Frequently these two images will be identical. The "Tiled" option specifies whether the bitmaps will be drawn tiled or as a single stretched image.
The right column specifies the same parameters for horizontal sliders.
There are two parameters are used to specify the on and off states of Toggle controls
Midi Quest supports 8 different fonts which can be used within the editor. Not all controls allow font selection but for those that do, you are able to select from the following fonts:
Param Font: the default font to display text based controls (eg numeric, string list, etc)
Label Font: the default font to display text controls. These controls act as labels for editable controls.
Title Font: the default font to use to designate sections of an editor (eg "Oscillator" for the oscillator parameters)
Custom Font 1 - 5: there are five additional custom fonts which are used to handle special display requirements
This button opens a color definition dialog which allows you to define each of the 16 colors for the editors. This dialog has its own page. Click here to reach it.
The current skin definition is saved under the name entered in "Skin Select". If a skin of that name already exists, you are prompted before it is overwritten.
The skin selected in "Skin Select" is deleted.
The current skin definition is saved as the active skin to be used by all editors. Any currently open editor is automatically redrawn using the new skin. The only exception is the defined font. A change in font only comes into effect as new editors are opened.
When a skin a loaded for editing, a backup is automatically created. To return to the original skin, just click the Restore button.
Press the OK button to close the dialog
How Midi Quest Finds Skin Bitmaps
For any location in the Midi Quest Skins dialog, you have two choices for how you can enter file names. You can use a complete file path designation such as "c:\MyBitmapFiles\Sound Quest\Bitmap.bmp". In this case, the program look to this specific location to find the specified bitmap. This method is fine if you are planning on just using the skins yourself.
If you are planning on distributing your skins, we strongly recommend that you use relative file locations. In this case, your bitmaps should be placed in the MQBmp directory or in any directory you care to create below MQBmp. In this case, you just enter the bitmap's file name if the file is in MQBmp or the directories and file name if the file is in a subdirectory. In this case, Midi Quest will automatically add the necessary path information to find and load the file.
For example, if Midi Quest was installed in "c:\Program Files\Sound Quest\Midi Quest" and you entered the file name "Neon\Blue.bmp", Midi Quest would look for your file in:
c:\Program Files\Sound Quest\Midi Quest\MQBmp\Neon\Blue.bmp"
This method is useful for distribution because, regardless of where Midi Quest is installed, as long as the files are placed in a subdirectory of MQBmp, the program will be able to find them.
Storage of Skins Information
All Skins settings are stored in the main program directory with the file name "MQ SKINS.ini". If you wish to edit this file in its raw form, you can open it into any text editor and make whatever changes you wish.
So what does all of this work result in? Well, you can have editors that look just like the editors in Midi Quest v7.0:
Or you can add bitmap backgrounds for an editor which looks like this:
or you can remap the colors to a set that you prefer:
or select something completely different
Using the skins you can replace all of the bitmaps used by Midi Quest to create your own custom and unique editors. If you have any creations you would like to share with the world, please contact Sound Quest. We intend to build a collection of layouts which can be downloaded from our web site.