Editing Rainmeter skins the nice way

5 min read

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MerlinTheRed's avatar
Editing and creating Rainmeter skins can be a daunting task. You have to remember the names of lots of options and what values you can assign to them, you have to keep track of your variables, possibly distributed over multiple files, and between all that you have to make sure you get the syntax right. If you have been using the standard Windows Notepad to edit your skin files, it was probably a painful experience.

It does not have to be like this! There is a lot a good editor can do to make editing skins easier, so you can spend more time thinking about what your measures and meters should do, and less time thinking about wether it is called ValueReminder or ValueRemainder. In my opinion, Sublime Text 2 (www.sublimetext.com/ ) does the best job of this. It is a commercial editor that costs $70 but can be evaluated free of charge for an unlimited amount of time. The only drawback of not paying is that you get a small popup window every so often when you are saving a file. It doesn't happen often enough to be annoying though, so don't worry.

Out of the box, Sublime Text 2 opens multiple files in tabs and sports a sidebar that shows all your open files. You can also create projects, which store your open files and show files and folders belonging to the project in the sidebar for easy access without going to Windows Explorer. This is especially handy for organizing your work on a skin. Just create a project with the current skin's folder and you have instant access to all the files from the sidebar. Plus you can switch between projects quickly and work on several different skins. The project will remember the state of the UI and all the open files, so you can continue right where you left off.

Some of the most powerful features of Sublime Text 2 include the following:

    You can have a look at a video presentation of these features on the Sublime Text 2 homepage www.sublimetext.com/ . These features alone make Sublime Text 2 a good choice for editing Rainmeter skins, but it really begins to shine when you combine it with the vast amount of extension packages out there. Sublime Text 2 allows every user to expand its abilities by scripting. There are a large amount of packages available that expand the humble text editors capabilities. These range from highlighting matching brackets to allowing you to upload things to the web straight from the editor. You can have a look at all those different packages and how to install them here: sublime.wbond.net/

    What I want to focus on here is the Rainmeter package, which I created myself after finding out about Sublime Text 2 and its awesome capabilities. You can check out a detailed description here: merlinthered.github.io/sublime… . This package makes Sublime Text 2 the perfect editor for Rainmeter skins. Let me briefly go over the features here:

    Syntax Highlighting

    Rainmeter uses the INI format with lots of predefined options and some special syntax. Syntax highlighting colors different words and symbols according to their meaning, making it far easier to make sense of all that code. The Rainmeter package provides multiple color schemes to choose from, or you can make your own.

    Code Completion

    The package expands Sublime Text's autocomplete functionality by adding autocompletion for all the options and bangs, as well as some of the predefined values and global variables. Sublime Text does a clever matching on those words, so that you don't have to type them all. For example, you can just type cuco and hit enter to get #CURRENTCONFIG#. This saves a lot of time and brain effort, because you don't need to remember the exact spelling of all those options and variables any more.

    Additionally, there are a few predefined snippets for measures and meters. Those are invoked by names starting with "t". For example, if you want to create a new image meter, typetimage and hit enter. A basic skeleton for an image meter will by inserted at the cursor position and you can press TAB to cycle through the different fields and fill them in.

    Other Features

    There are a number of other features that make your life easier. These include refreshing Rainmeter or the skin you're currently working on via keyboard shortcut, folding sections of code away so you only see what you need to see, selecting a color from a color chooser dialog and directly inserting it as a hex-code into the skin, quickly creating a new skin and more. Take a look at the packages' website to learn more: merlinthered.github.io/sublime…

    All these little things make working on Rainmeter skins way easier and more fun, which is what it's all about, so download Sublime Text 2, install the Rainmeter package and get skinning!

    If you notice any problems with the package, don't hesitate to contact me or submit a bug report.


    If all thes code completion popup thingies are annoying you and you don't want to see that window reminding you to purchase a license all the time, you can also use Notepad++ to edit Rainmeter skins. It's a powerful replacement for Notepad and has its own possibilities of extending the functionality. Poiru created the plugin RainLexer for it, which adds syntax highlighting and keyborad shortcuts for refreshing Rainmeter or the current skin. Take a look at it here: rainmeter.net/forum/viewtopic.…
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    thanks wor the tips ,Ah for the days when we just point and click and the object is there on the desktop where we placed it.
    till then I'll take all the help i can get. With Rainmeters new release i've had more problems betting it to just run on my system to edit a working skin.
    My hat's off to all you wonderful people that keep the fires of learning burning within me  . I Will get this right before it kills me.
    Thks agian