new colors for mimetypes

Breeze icons need you: new colors and shapes for mimetypes

In recent days Andreas, Gnastyle and me worked a lot to improve Breeze mimetype icons.

The changes could be categorized as shapes and colors. Andreas and Gnastyle worked on shapes and I polished them and added new colors. Here you can see a preview of the icons I propose. The colors are mainly from Breeze palette from Ken and hacked a bit. The idea is to recognize icons also by colors.

new colors for mimetypes

The points we (Andreas, Gnastyle and me) disagree are shape for executable files and icons for Office Open XML (MS Office 2007+ default formats):

Mimetype options

I think that the most important thing is to make clear what is a file and what an application or anything else. That’s why my executable icons still look like files. Gnastyle thinks it’s more important to easily recognize the executable files in a folder with a lot of source files. I think my executable icon is enough recognizable and that you can always sort files by type in Dolphin and show them in groups, so it’s easy to find executables when needed.

About OOXML icons, I think we shouldn’t use Microsoft Office logos because:
1. we could have license issues update: they are copyrighted so we are not able to include them in Breeze
2. OOXML formats are not MS Office specific, IIRC Europen Union commissioned Microsoft to define them and they are currently used by other office suites like Libreoffice, the one we mostly use on GNU/Linux

Since these are big changes on icons KDE uses, I want to know thoughts from the community specially from people involved in products that use them, like Plasma team. I need to know:
1. if you like the direction for colors
2. about the executable files
3. about OOXML icons

It would be appreciated if everyone interested will subscribe visual-design mailing list and reply to the thread I’m going to start there.


Comments (Markdown supported):

  1. andreas_k

    Due to licence issue I will remove the ms office icons, but I will add new ones and everybody will know instantly this file was made with word. Doc files are made with word everything else is an import/export.

    1. Doc, xls and ppt can be made with Libreoffice, Openoffice, WPS Office, Google Doc, Quickoffice, OfficeSuite and others I suppose. There is no reason to make clear it’s a format originally created by Microsoft in my opinion.

      1. And with .ai files (from Adobe Illustrator) we are not referring to Adobe products. With .psd files yes, and there is anyway a mistake, that logo isn’t for Photoshop and it could be copyrighted.

      2. Therese formats are not 100% equivalent for anything but a trivial test. I see that as a reason to make it clear. MSOOXML is MS’ own format explicitly referring Windows OS, Windows fonts, and such, even requiring Windows fonts to render 100% accurately.

  2. Vishal Rao

    Why not use the KDE forum where you can post updates and images samples easier for people to search and comment than asking people to sign up to a new mailing list where it would be hard to show updated icons etc.

    I think there are already threads and inputs from users in VDG section of the KDE forum, so adding this topic there would seem to get more participation.

    As for my opinion, I think the icons are pretty much fine (those from you, AlexL) look to me.

    1. Because I think Forums are mainly for users and to connect users and developers. I already have users feedbacks. What I want is confirmation from who is involved more into development. Because in KDE who makes the work decide. If I developed Plasma I’d like VDG or others will ask both me and users on forums.

      1. VDG uses the Forums. I’ve been using forums for questions like yours.

        1. I don’t care about what VDG does, nor what others in general do. I do what I think is better and I already replied with the reason for posting on Planet. Btw Jens, who created the VDG, encouraged me to post. So I really don’t know what this complain is about. I should start to write post about politics here, since also when you post about KDE products you get complaints.

  3. JMS Martins

    I think that the proposed icons do not pass the “16×16 test”. The size used in this webpage is misleading: they are very nice artwork, it is true. But take for instance txt, js, sh, and use them, say in a Dolphin window configured to show details at 16×16: all the inner derail is lost, whatever is there is not recognizable. Take opml: it passes the test. Not as good, iso or video or htm.

    “I think that the most important thing is to make clear what is a file and what an application or anything else.” You’re right, but you stop shy of the second step: distinguishing the several types of documents.

    Please take 15 minutes to examine the old “oxygen” set and try to understand why people like them, and analyze their versatility: they perform well from 16×16 up to 128×128 or higher, some of them have some little changes at the smaller sizes, but they are always recognizable.

    To sum up, I would say these icons are nice for android and smartphones but not for computers. I think it is feasible to have icon sets good for both, and that the general concept that you propose is a good approach, if you improve them and make them pass that “16×16 test”.

    1. These are 64px, the 32px will be similar and 16px and 22px will be symbols as it is now. The change is only about shapes and colors as I wrote.

  4. Friedrich

    Thank all of you for good work on the visuals, I very much enjoy the design work you do here.

    My 2 cents:

    Nothing sticks into my eyes, for the rest I usually get used to colors, so would be fine with that draft, seems to follow a style 🙂
    (I am not color-blind, do you run also explicit tests onv visually-impaired people?)

    As developer I prefer the document style for “executables” in the file manager and elsewhere where such files are managed as files (organizing them or editing them). He, they are called “files” for a reason.
    In program launching/running enviroments (workspace shell, commandline, process overview) I would prefer a more executable-like style.
    Issue is of course that some people use the file manager as program launch environment.
    If you count selfish opinions: ++document-style 🙂

    OOXML & Co:
    File formats (and thus their visual identity) ideally should be independent of the currently commonly used products for creating or consuming those file in those formats.. Because it confuses people who use a different product than the one associated in the file symbol, runs the chance of being outdated if a new product takes over users (e.g. OO->LO) or if the product changes logo/style. Also does it influence the market in some way, as the currently selected product is “advertized” all the time, e.g. a Chrome logo on HTML file ions would be unfair to Mozilla 😉
    E.g. OOXML and ODF should not be bound to MSO or LO, KML should not be bound to Google Earth, etc.

    Most presentations are done in landscape mode. Would it make sense to make the icons for presentation file formats landscape as well, similar to the ones for movies and pictures? He, in the end a presentation is just a movie with a very small number of pictures-per-second 😉

    1. I often use Dolphin to launch apps but… I only use .desktop files 😉 binary are usually hidden somewhere.
      I totally agree with you and love how you write it. About presentations you are right too, but in this case I think is better to preserve the association to other office formats than respect the logic.

  5. Adrián Chaves (Gallaecio)

    I was initially going to say that executables should not look like files, because they are not to be opened with an application, but executed. However, then I though of script files written in languages like Python, Ruby, PHP or Perl. If those can look like files, machine-language executables do too.

    About the Office Open XML icons, I think that it is important that their icon is clearly different from those of the native format. How you do that is up to you. The Microsoft icons in those examples may not be used due to copyright, but the Microsoft icon itself can be used (see the copyright notice in The fact that the format is used by other solutions is, in my opinion no excuse; or are you removing the Debian logo from .deb files because of Ubuntu using .deb files as well?

    I do wonder whether native format icons should include something resembling the icon or be plain, logo-less icons.

  6. Sergio

    More sql format lacking…

    1. This is just a preview, or do you mean in the current Breeze theme?
      Also, can you name your favorites db formats?

  7. jpalacios

    Please, i encorauge you to read this thread:
    Lately, I’m seeing a lot of prototypes about changes on icons that don’t address that huge usability issue.
    If something is cooking in this area, better to not make the same mistakes again and again.

    1. I quickly read the discussion, I wasn’t aware of that, thanks.
      Anyway let me say that your idea of design is wrong, as for many people: design of icons and user interfaces include usability. The main point of designing UIs is usability. I’d say the only one. Nothing more. Does this means design isn’t about beauty? Generally not. That’s art, not design. Because:

      design != look


      designer != artist

      (^ I’m seriously think to print a t-shirt with this sentence)

      1. jpalacios

        I’m sorry, but i don’t see what (or where i stated) is that wrong idea of design you pointed me that i have.
        I wrote that post long time ago and i don’t remember everything in detail. Probably, some approaches that i wrote cannot be applied anymore, as breeze icon theme has evolved since then.
        Yeah, I already know the things about usability and desing that you wrote, althought some of them cannot be applied for everyone that design an UI (or a part of it). Keep in mind that not everyone has knowledge about the basics of usability. That’s the problem. Someone without that knowledge are going to make wrong decissions, again, related to usability, in his work.

        1. You stated the original author of Breeze doesn’t know usability but it’s not criticism to him as designer. That is impossible. An icon designer have to care about usability. There is a sort of double meaning of the word “design” in English it seems. The meaning I know is not about look. Look is part of the design only in certain products. But generally the design’s subject depends on the function of the product. For example, software design is not about graphical UIs. Also a cli software or a library is “designed”. When someone designs an icon his/her work is good if the icon works well as icon. Not if it looks pretty. In that discussion you probably meant ” artists” instead of “designer”. But this is very common, that’s why I mentioned a double meaning of “design”.

          1. jpalacios

            “You stated the original author of Breeze doesn’t know usability…”
            No, i didn’t. Please, read the whole thread again. Maybe Uri knowed the basics of usability, or he is an UI expert, i don’t know and i don’t care anymore, but he made the mistake of focus the whole design in only one user profile (and it’s a really good design for that specific user profile), and the other people involved in this project couldn’t spotted that mistake, either by (again) mistake or by lack of knowledge in usability in UI design. Therefore, as result of that mistake (again: to focus the design in only one user profile), there were an usability problem for the user profile that i expose, and is still there.

            I wish that everything that i wanted to express in that thread is more clear now.

            And i want to repeat again: when i point to a design flaw, i don’t pretend to insult the people involved in that design. I just pretend to focus the attention on that particular flaw so it can be fixed in the most effective way. That’s all.

            For my part, I have already spent too much time on this issue, so i leave it in your hands and i wish you luck in your future projects.


  8. Ian Alexander

    On the whole I like how the icon set is evolving! My thoughts on the executable icons — Something about the way the gear icon is a different size/shape from the rest of the icons is a little jarring. I prefer the way that Alex’s proposal keeps with the general size/shape of the other icons, although I wouldn’t view it as necessary to keep with the “piece of paper with a dog-eared corner with an icon in it” approach that the other icons take, since I also see value in creating a clear visual distinction between files and executables. A group of interlocking gears that makes or approximates a rectangle shape could look cool? IDK?

    OOXML is nominally an open format but let’s be real, it’s MS Office’s format, and the only use for it on Linux is compatibility with MS Office. I feel like giving OOXML files a similar icon to ODF files will be confusing, since in my experience Libreoffice/Openoffice still have plenty of compatibility problems with OOXML. I like the suggestion to find an option whereby it’s visually clearly associated with Office/distinct from ODF, but in a way that doesn’t infringe copyrights.

  9. tony_538

    Looks great! I’m of the opinion that the torrent icon should be green and have a uncapitalized t. Would certainly be easy to recognize than a water drop. The cd in the iso icon on the other hand could maybe be colored blue (just the cd, not the whole icon.

    If you’re looking for ideas regarding the office icons, keep the colors somewhat the same (brighter is no problem) and make a capital letter of the program, (W for word) that should be more than enough I think. Also great kudos for asking others input!

    1. Why green? And don’t you think ‘t’ is too much generic? I’m thinking about an arrow like download.

      1. tony_538

        Well, I thought green as all torrent icons I’ve seen until now were green, and either had a t or a version of the bittorrent icon. Buta download arrow would also do the trick. Thanks for the reply!

  10. RASQ

    Looks great. I’d like to see the square icons used more. The icons shaped like a piece of paper make sense for documents and text files, but not so much for .blend, .torrent, .iso & binaries. I think it would make sense to use the more generic square icons for those.

  11. Simon Lees

    The svg and torrent icons still need some work. Personally I need to strain a Little to make out the symbols in the middle, maybe make them a darker grey like some of the others. Other then that they work well.

  12. Сковорода Никита

    Um. Why is *.js «</>»? That should be *.xml, I think.

    1. And what for js?

      1. Anonymous


        1. It will be a 22px icon, so I will go for { }

  13. Dennis

    I see that for many file types only one color (black / white depending on file background color) is used. For these icons those that are of similar shape (rectangular for example) are harder to distinguish on first sight (take icon for .qml and .ods for example). It’s the combination single color and similar looking shape that bothers me. Is there any restricting or enforcing rule that forbids using multiple colors for icons? Cmake icon has multiple colors.

    Some icons like pdf, epub, video and archive icons have a different dimension or missing the top-left triangle.

    1. Pdf, epub and archive haven’t the folds because you can fold a book and a box.
      About QML and ODS, I doubt someone have them in the same folder.

  14. Dennis

    Torrent file icon

    Please use hxxp://
    cutehamster.gif if possible 😉

  15. Dennis

    office icons: Swap out the letters ‘w x p’ and combine their icons, the form next to the letter which are half covered, with the LO icon versions.

  16. Dennis

    Now you have the look of both.

  17. Dennis

    Executables: put the gear (gnastyle) in the icon preferred by alex (swap the exclamation mark with the gear

  18. Dennis

    or use the center icon (window frame with nothing in it), probably scales better for 16×16 then.

    By the way, somehow the blog did not accept my posting as a whole so that I ad to break it down in several pieces. Something seems to be wrong with the backend, I get redirected to the blog home after posting the comment without it being actually posted.

    1. I have to moderate comments because 90% of comments I receive is spam. And I don’t want to pay for spam protection.

  19. LxFx

    I think they look way better than the preview we got a few days back. Consistent folds on top. Enough color to avoid repeats. Images aren’t squares anymore. I love it! I would have been happier with fewer icons and thus fewer colors (1 archive icon, 1 image icon) but it’s hard to complain about this now.
    Some small comments:
    ZIP, DEB and APK have the zipper in different places. I suppose to give the logos some room. What about RAR and GZ? Do they follow the ZIP style? Any possibility in making them even more consistent? All zippers on the side or something?
    I like Alex’s executables and OOXML types.
    PDF and EPUB do not have the fold because they are books and not files? Looks like an exception to the rule above, but I think they look fine.
    Love the ISO icon when comparing it to the disc (ring) from before.
    The torrent icon, is this the one from Flud? Or is there another metaphor behind the raindrop?
    Anyway, good job! Looking forward to seeing them on my desktop!

    1. Archives without symbol have the zip in the middle. There isn’t a fold on pdf, epub and archives because you can fold a book and a box. The torrent files have a drop before I touched them. I simply improved the drop. You can already try these icons, clone breeze-icons git repo. I already updated 1/3 of the mimetypes.

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