In this post I’ll take you through a step-by-step guide on how I use Dropbox and ASTRO File Manager to move images from my laptop to my phone, and quickly iterate designs in Sweeter Home.
- Graphics program (I use Photoshop; try The GIMP for a free alternative, or the excellent Pixelmator for cheap on Mac)
- A Dropbox account (free) and Dropbox installed on your Mac or Windows machine
- The Dropbox Android app
- ASTRO (or any other file manager; I prefer ASTRO because it remembers which directory you’re in)
On your computer
Dropbox lets you set a directory to sync to the cloud automatically. Inside the Dropbox directory create a folder called “Sweeter Home”. Within this folder create another folder with your new theme name; we’ll call ours “Dropbox Dock”.
Using the grid templates I’ve provided here we’ll knock up a quick dock in Photoshop. This is just a dock image with buttons to represent common image use in Sweeter Home. Download the PSD file here if you want to make edits or just have a closer look.
Before we export the image to PNG, we want to crop the image down to the grid size as shown below. This makes the image easier to manage in Sweeter Home; we don’t need a full screen’s worth of blank space.
Export the dock image: in Photoshop File > Save for Web & Devices and set to PNG-24. Save the output to /Dropbox/Sweeter Home/Dropbox Dock. Name it dock1.png. Your sync icon will show that dropbox is syncing and will show a green tick when done.
On your phone
On your phone open Dropbox and login. Navigate to Sweeter Home > Dropbox Dock and you should now see your dock graphic listed there. Long-press it and choose “download”. (Tip: in Dropbox hit the menu button > Settings, then scroll down and check “Show file-status icon”. This gives you a visual indicator of each file in the directory that are now copied to your local storage).
Hit the home button to return to Sweeter Home (don’t back out with the back button; hitting home leaves Dropbox in the same directory for us to return to later).
Edit your theme
Now let’s edit our theme and add the dock image. Hit the menu button then Edit Theme. Hit the menu button again then More then New Theme. Click Yes to confirm. Now long-press your screen and choose New (or menu button then New). Choose Picture from the list.
Drag your Image block to the bottom of the screen and size it as below (note that the image defaults to your current background).
Now long press the block and choose Edit.
Note: any time you edit a block it’s always good practice to rename the block immediately. As you build more complex themes it pays to have everything named clearly while editing.
Click the Title field and name it “Dock”. Change the Positioning field to Distort to fit block (this helps the image scale better if people use your theme on lower screen resolutions). Change the Layer level to 2.
Now let’s choose the image for this block. Press Choose Image. Now press Image Source and change this to Internal Device Picture. Next, press Local Picture then press the Choose Image button.
Android will present a list of apps you can choose to complete this action; we’re going to use ASTRO. In the ASTRO popup, navigate to /sdcard/Dropbox/Sweeter Home/Dropbox Dock. There’s our dock image. Press it.
Now back out to the homescreen.
Boom. There’s our dock!
Now, I’ve changed my mind and I think I’d prefer to have the phone button on the left, and the email button on the right. I’ll make that change in Photoshop and export the PNG again. IMPORTANT: you must iterate the name of the image file, so here I’m going to call it dock2.png.
Open Dropbox on your phone. It should still be in the Dropbox Dock directory. Hit the menu button and then Refresh and you’ll see dock2.png. Long-press dock2.png and download it.
Press the home button and let’s edit our image block again. Press Choose Image, then press the field showing the URI to the current local image (something like file:///sdcard/dropbox…), then press the Choose Image button. Choose ASTRO to complete the action and you should be back in the Dropbox Dock directory on your SD Card, only this time dock2.png is there. Press that sucker! Now back out to your homescreen. Taa-daa! Your dock image is updated with phone on the left and email on the right!
You can repeat these steps over and over to quickly iterate images as you build your theme. It’s often important to me to get things pixel perfect, and if a shadow is too dark, or a line is 1 pixel out, I like to spend the time to make those things right. It’s not uncommon for me to have multiple instances of a graphic as I get things just right. Using Dropbox and ASTRO on a WiFi connection I can quickly move images to my SD card without ever having to use a USB cable or go through the painful mount/unmount process.
In Part 2 of this tutorial we’ll make the buttons active using Custom Trays and a Springboard.