Sep 5, 2011

Time To Renew Your Midlet's Icon

All Nokia platforms have received updates to its launcher icons recently. The common element introduced with the new iconography is the surround background shape. That means that the new icons for Nokia provided applications do not have pointy corners anymore. I guess the sharp pointy corners do reach out to human psyche and remind us of sharp dangerous objects, thus they feel unfriendly to many. If you have applications that are published on Ovi Store, I think this may just be a good time to renew them. Otherwise, the pointy corners of your icon may just stand out.

To make it as easy as possible for you, the good folks in Nokia design have prepared detailed guidelines for creating icons that matches the new surround iconography. I strongly recommend reading through the material. It covers Series 40, Symbian and MeeGo devices and also provides Adobe Illustrator (AI) and Adobe Photoshop (PSD) templates to get you started.

You will quickly notice that the guidelines recommend using 43x43 PNG images on Series 40 and 96x96 SVGT images for Symbian phones. One may think that two different icons would require two versions of the Java application. Thanks to some magic with JAD attributes, you can bundle multiple icons into a single application JAR file.

Java applications on Symbian have supported SVGT icons for a long time, you can read from the Scalable icon support document the details of how this works.  In short, in your JAD file you specify the Symbian SVGT icon name in Nokia-Scalable-Icon-MIDlet-1 attribute whereas the Series 40 PNG icon is defined in MIDlet-1 attribute. On Symbian devices where Nokia-Scalable-Icon-Midlet- attribute is supported, the SVGT icon will be used. Since Series 40 does not support the Nokia-Scalable-Icon-Midlet-  attribute, it will be ignored and the PNG icon specified on the standard Midlet- attribute will be used

The resulting JAD file should have entries similiar to these.

MIDlet-1: HelloWorldMIDlet, /series40_icon_43_43.png, example.hello.HelloWorldMIDlet Nokia-Scalable-Icon-MIDlet-1: /symbian_icon_96_96.svg

If you lack the Adobe photoshop/illustrator skills, there is also an online tool that you can use to convert your existing icon. Tool generates a SVG file which you can use directly on Symbian devices . Using a tool like the inkscape, you can convert the same SVG file to PNG for Series 40 devices. Although the resulting icon is OK for Series 40 use, the result may not be as favorable for Symbian devices. This is because the tool embeds our original icon into the SVG file, which may be somewhat unscallable.  For best results using a pure SVG icon is recommended.