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Old 02-03-2016, 09:45 AM   #1
White Tie
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Default 2. Common tweaks to a REAPER theme

Have you found a theme you like, but feel there is something not quite to your preference? A little tweak that would get it just right? Understandably, you don't really want to learn everything there is to know about theming just to achieve what might be a simple goal.

The reality is that the tweak you seek might, indeed, be very simple to achieve. It might, however, be complex or even impossible. The objective of this thread is to present those tweaks that are both commonly requested and also most easily achieved.

Before we get to the tweaks, however, please consider this:

Ask someone else to do it

Without the theming community, there would be no themes. Many themes are tweaks of other themes. There are a lot of good people here who might find it a trivial amount of effort to do what you want; the person who made the theme you want to tweak might even show interest in doing it. If you can clearly state what you want, why you want it, post in an agreeable manner and say please, maybe you'll get lucky. Be Nice.

Required knowledge : Unpacking a theme

In all likelihood, your theme is packed as a '.ReaperThemeZip' file, which Reaper can use directly. This is just a '.zip' file which has had its extension renamed. To tweak the theme, you are going to want to unpack it. All your active themes live in a folder. Find this folder by selecting 'Options > Show REAPER resource path in explorer/finder...' and opening the 'ColorThemes' folder.
  1. Find the '.ReaperThemeZip' theme file.
  2. Change its extension to '.ReaperTheme.Zip'
  3. Unzip it.

What you have unzipped should be : A theme file (.'ReaperTheme' extension) and a resource folder with, most likely, the name of the theme. These parts together are an unpacked Reaper theme. Please note that they should both be in the root ColorThemes folder, if your zip program has put them in a new folder then move them into the root.

If you would like a walkthrough of these steps, follow all but the last part of the helper in 'Step 1 : Open the rtconfig.txt file' here.

If Reaper finds a packed theme and an unpacked theme with the same name, you'll only see one theme in the theme selector. Choose it and what you'll see will be the unpacked theme, which Reaper will prioritise. Note : Some themes, such as the default themes, change name when they are unpacked.

An unpacked .ReaperTheme file can also reference a packed .ReaperThemeZip file as its resource folder, which can get... confusing This is most likely to happen if you use the 'Theme development/tweaker' on a packed theme file. Lets ignore that!

Required knowledge : Refreshing the theme

If you've made changes to any theme files using external tools, you need to tell Reaper to refresh the theme. This is done by changing to a different theme, and then back again. Use the shortcuts Ctrl+Alt+PGDOWN (switch to next theme) and then Ctrl+Alt+PGUP (switch to previous theme).
(If you do a lot of theme work, you may want to make a custom action containing these two commands, and assign it to a shortcut and/or toolbar button.)


Tweak : Changing colors and fonts

The most basic features of a Reaper theme reside in its .ReaperTheme file. This is just a text file; you can open it and edit it with a text editor. Open it now and have a look, see that its nothing scary or clever, though it isn't very user friendly. To help with that, Reaper provides two built-in tools to help you find which of those inscrutable entries you want to edit, and to make editing them easy.

That file determines colors and fonts used in many parts of Reaper. Note, however:
  • Some parts cannot be themed.
  • Some parts share font or color definitions with other parts, and occasionally in uneditable combinations that may limit you.
  • More advanced theming functions may have overridden fonts and colours set here, or covered them with image files, in the Track panels, Mixer panels and the Transport bar.

Finding the color element you want to change

Select 'Actions > Show action list...'. Check that the Section drop down in the top right is set to 'Main'. In the Filter box type 'Theme Development'. You should see two entries; double click on the first: 'Theme Development: Show theme element finder'.

The first drop down in the Theme element finder will highlight the areas set by each color assigment. Select the first entry, then use the down arrow key to scroll through the assignments. Take note of the name of the area you want to change.

Editing the file

Reaper's built-in editor for the .ReaperTheme file of a theme is found using the action list as described above. Double click the second entry: 'Theme Development: Show theme tweak/configuration window'. Here you can launch your OS's colour editor or font selector to edit each of the .ReaperTheme file's entries.

For more advanced themes, don't forget to check out the 'WALTER font' entries. With a little trial and error you may find the theme maker has used these to set fonts in key areas on the Track panels, Mixer panels and/or Transport Bar.

I would advise against messing with the 'Image resource path' setting at the bottom, for now.

Tweak : Making meter colours editable

As described above, advanced theming functions can override colors that you might otherwise easily tweak using the theme tweak/configuration window. You will often find this is the case on modern themes, because it uses an image that gives the theme maker deeper control over all conditions of the meter colors. However, if you disable that image then the control of the colors will revert to the old form.

Open the resource folder that was extracted when you unpacked the .ReaperThemeZip file. Find the following files:
If you corrupt the special file names of any of these images, they will be disabled. Try renaming the vertical strip image to:
Refresh the theme, and the vertical meter strips will have reverted, and you will be able to edit the colors using the theme tweak/configuration window.

This approach will also work with other images that override color definitions, such as panel backgrounds.

Tweak : Editing the Default_5.0 Theme

The default theme for REAPER 5 has been designed to be more easily edited by you, the user. I have done this by controlling some sections of the theme's complex underlying WALTER script using a system of macros that I call 'Flow'.

Flow responds to the most common requests that I hear from users - to be able to decide the order in which interface elements are hidden when a panel is shrunk, and the size of elements - without learning WALTER. With Flow, you can do just that merely by changing a few clearly labelled numbers in a text file.

I have provided a walk through on how to achieve this HERE.


Please do share suggestions for tweaks that are often requested and easily achieved that you think might fit well into this sticky.
The House of White Tie

Last edited by White Tie; 09-26-2016 at 06:59 AM.
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