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Rainmeter 2.3 takes desktop customisation to a new level

25 June 2012, Nick Peers

Open-source desktop customisation tool Rainmeter 2.3 has been released, boasting a number of major changes. Rainmeter allows Windows users to customise their desktop well beyond the options provided by the OS using a range of “skins”, which can be downloaded from other sites or created from scratch by the user.

Version 2.3’s headline new feature is a new, improved Rainmeter Skin Package system, which will simplify the process of distributing new user-created skins to others.

Users wishing to install new themes, skins or custom plugins in Rainmeter 2.3 will find there’s a new standalone Rainmeter Skin Packager application from the Manage menu for switching between them. It’s also where skin developers should head to package up their own customised skins for sharing with others via sites like deviantART.com and Customize.org, which will in future only accept uploads of skins created using the new .rmskin packaging system.

Rainmeters can be used to perform advanced customization of Windows

Other related improvements includes a new @Resources folder within skins for storing, using and distributing images, fonts, sounds and add-ons – an improvement Rainmeter says will both simplify the skin development process and make it more reliable.

Rainmeter 2.3 also sees a simplified installer that reduces installation to just a few clicks, despite continuing to support both 32-bit/64-bit builds and portable/normal installations. Users will also find the About dialog box provides more information about the currently running skin, which will help both developers and end users track down potential problems they encounter.

Rainmeter’s localization has also been extended and improved to cover 35 languages, while the program itself is designed to better interact with the Windows User Account Control dialogs, plus work more reliably across multi-user setups.

Most other changes will appeal to skin developers, such as a more efficient and resource-friendly RecycleManager plug-in, new OnCloseAction setting for taking actions when a skin is closed and improvements to the String meter options to simplify horizontal and vertical alignment. The developer environment for custom plugins has also been virtually rewritten to provide an easier, more stable API approach, while existing standard plugins can now also support dynamic variables in the measures.

Rainmeter 2.3 is a free, open-source download for both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows XP or later, including the forthcoming Windows 8 release.

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