Skinning HowTo/Increase the transparency of unfocused Chat windows

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This HowTo is written for version: 1.20 Viewer and higher.

Intro

The transparent effect of the Local Chat and IM windows involves the interaction of several color values including: FocusBackgroundColor, DefaultBackgroundColor, ChatHistoryBgColor. This ChatHistoryBgColor is referenced in the files floater_chat_history.xml and floater_instant_message.xml in a few text_editor widgets.... the color is laid on top of the floater's own background color.

In the UI look of version 1.20, the greatest concern has been paid to legibility of the text on a dark background; thus even when the floater is unfocused, the chosen colors have sharp enough contrast to keep the chat text comfortably readable. However there is a tradeoff with the opacity of that floater when it becomes unfocused. (In previous versions, the floater would become much more transparent - ie see the world behind it.)

You may prefer to see more of the world through an unfocused Chat window. The following modification will accomplish that-- however, note that it does make grey (passive) text in window to be harder to read against the fainter background! (ie text like timestamps)

HowTo

Set a new value of ChatHistoryBgColor in the XML

In folder \SecondLife\skins\[SKINNAME]

(Note: In a Release Candidate version, the folder referenced here is instead \SecondLifeReleaseCandidate\skins\[SKINNAME]\, where [SKINNAME] is the particular viewer skin: 'default' or 'silver')

colors_base.xml
Do not change anything in this file! This is the file which has the base entry for ChatHistoryBgColor: <ChatHistoryBgColor value="0, 30, 80, 200" />


Step 1. colors.xml

In this file (which will override the above values), paste the following as an entry between the <settings></settings> tags. This specifies a lower Opacity (or "Alpha") value of 128 instead of 200:

   <ChatHistoryBgColor value="0, 30, 80, 128" />

Step 2. Save the file colors.xml, and relaunch the SL viewer

To undo this color if you change your mind

  1. Open colors.xml as above, and delete the entry you made <ChatHistoryBgColor value="0, 30, 80, 128" />
  2. Save the file colors.xml, and relaunch the SL viewer