icon : Java Glossary

The CurrCon Java Applet displays prices on this web page converted with today’s exchange rates into your local international currency, e.g. Euros, US dollars, Canadian dollars, British Pounds, Indian Rupees… CurrCon requires an up-to-date browser and Java version 1.8, preferably 1.8.0_131. If you can’t see the prices in your local currency, Troubleshoot. Use Firefox for best results.

Introduction Rant
Icons Used on Mindprod.com Generating Button Images
User Configurable Icons Free CMP Icons
Editing Icons Icon Extraction
Icon XP/Icon Lover Heading Maker
Tips Links


Small bit-map pictures, in Java, in the form of *.png and *.gif files and in Windows, in the form of *.ico files. Java does not directly support animated gifs, though some people have written animated *.gif viewer code. Java stores its icons in C:\Program Files\java\jre1.8.0_131\ \lib\resources.jar. For the best look, you need to get all your icons from the same source, or the same artist in the same style. This is considerably more expensive than creating a patchwork as I have done scavenging icons off the web. Windows *.ico files contain several different resolutions. You can create them from individual images with IconLover. Java does not support them. Apple’s equivalent to *.ico file are *.icns files.

Icons used to intentify posters on forums are called avatars. Avatars can be registered centrally so you don’t have to set them up on every forum. When you do that, they are called gravatars.

Icons Used on Mindprod.com

User Configurable Icons

Programs should be designed with user-configurable icons the way Opera is. There should be a central library of icons that artists can contribute to. There needs to be a tool where you can specify the icons you need and it finds some icon sets that cover them. Eventually icons may become an international language that could be used to communicate anything visually much the way Ameslan can be used by deaf speakers to communicate internationally. Icons need to be treated more like fonts, where the user’s preference is paramount. Home stereo equipment is easier to use because of icon standardisation. The same needs to happen for computer programs. However, computers also offer user configurability, so that the user can decide what icon he wants to use for what function in all applications. This requires standard icon names.

With the advent of hover help (aka tooltips), it is much less important that you can glean the secret meaning of an icon just by looking at it. What is more important is that you can tell it apart from the other icons with just a glance. Icons should be bold and clear, not fussy little portrait miniatures. People with less acute eyesight need simpler icons. An example of poor icons is Funduc Search/Replace where every icon looks like pair of binoculars unless you stare at it closely. For examples of good icons look at some of the award-winning Opera button sets.

The other problem with icons is aesthetic. If you design icons in isolation, then lump them together on the screen, they will look like the equivalent of a ransom note. They need some unifying themes. Professional artists know how to get the right balance.

Most icons are only 32 × 32 bits. You must use a considerable amount of anti-aliasing in your designs to get clear looking images.

I am quite astonished that very few companies have created a corporate icon to represent themselves compactly in web references on other people’s sites. I suggest that every company should create a corporate icon, in 16 × 16, 24 × 24, 32 × 32, 64 × 64 and 128 × 128 format, a corporate logo in 128 × 48, 256 × 48 and 384 × 48 format and a corporate banner in 400 × 40 and 468 × 60 format and post them on their website for others to use in sending them business. By providing icons in these standard sizes, the logos of other companies will nicely line up when displayed with the logos of other companies. There is less need to standardize on formats or colour depth. It is easy enough to convert the logos to the same colour depth and recording format. Now where is that round TUIT in need to create such logos for myself?

There also needs to be a scheme to automatically propagate new versions of the logos.

There are three theories of icon design:

  1. They are miniature realistic pictures from which you should be able to distinguish completely the meaning without any hoverhelp or documentation.
  2. They are buttons that can have totally abstract symbols on them. Their main function is to provide functionality in minimal screen real estate. You mainly want them easily distinguishable without close study. You should be able to hit them almost with peripheral vision. Colour-coded blobs would do just fine.
  3. They are artistic decoration for the application.
Now with PLAF it should be possible to ship apps configurable to optimise for any combination of the three design concerns.

You can test your icon designs for the visually challenged by seeing if you can tell them apart reading them from across the room. They can contain detail, but the detail must not be significant. Such icons are more efficient for people with normal vision too, though they may not look quite as elegant.

I find grouping icons helps a lot rather than just placing them in long rows or blocks.

Editing Icons

*.ico files in Windows have a peculiar format that allows you to pack several variants of the icon in the same file. You need specialised editor programs to edit them. One comes bundled with Microsoft Visual C, but it comes without instructions. It keep changing colours on you unexpectedly, with no easy way to control transparency. They typically contain 16x16, 24x24, 32x32, 64 × 64 and 128 × 128 format all packed into one *.ico file. Sometimes one or more of the resolutions are left out.

Icon designers are overly fond of blue. This means the icons are hard to tell apart in small sizes. You can either modify the colours, or replace them entirely with icons you find with Google image search. Just right click properties on the shorcut to replace the *.ico file.

Icon XP/Icon Lover

Icon XP Icon XP is only $33.00 USD It can do anti-alias smoothing, smooth scaling, spline curves, alpha channel. It works on *.ico, *.gif *.jpg and *.png images both square and rectangular. It has the usual paint functions. Its main weakness is converting high colour to 256 colours. It does not know how to do the octree algorithm to select the optimal set of colours. Once you place something it is fixed. It does not maintain the entire image as a set of movable vector objects. The undo tends to jump back a great many steps. You get a great improvement in your icons just by loading them, converting to 32-bit alpha channel and clicking smooth, and perhaps adding a drop shadow.

It is missing a useful simple feature, the ability resize to 50%. You must calculate the image size width and height yourself. To use the smoothing function, you must turn on high-colour and alpha-channel. It does not seem to have a way to reduce the colour depth and maintain alpha-channel transparency. The more I used it, the more I liked it. I own a copy.


Axialis makes an icon editor for $70.00 USD . That is for the full corporate version. The personal version for  $40.00 USD may not be used by companies and has some features removed.

Axialis supports formats from 16 × 16 up to 256x256, allowing you to pack multiple versions of the icon in the same file. Axialis also lets you control transparency along with colour. This lets you create transparent icon has blend nicely int backgrounds of any colour. It lets you export icons as transparent png files so you can use them in Java or HTML (Hypertext Markup Language). The most magical thing it does is the way it resizes. The resized images look very sharp because they are anti-aliased. Axialis uses automatically computed blended colours to give the illusion of finer resolution than is really there. See my moose icon in many resolutions done by taking a *.gif and feeding it to Axialis without any touch up. You can also get it to compute drop shadows to give the icons that soft XP look. It is specialised for icons. You can’t even edit images. It will generate all the smaller layers automatically if you create the big image. It does not have any of the special effects of Photo Shop or Paint Shop Pro. It has a library of image objects, you can combine to create icons. It creates install bundles so you can sell collections of your icons. It does not let you resize a document by percentage, but at least it will optionally maintain the aspect ratio. For such as expensive slick-looking program, it is missing features you would expect such as:

I has a huge number of control buttons, but when you get down to it, the program does not do much.



Common mistakes people make in designing icons include:

Generating Button Images

CMP (Canadian Mind Products) Free Icons

I commissioned the Aha-Soft artists to create the following 6 icons. They come in sizes from 16 × 16 to 256 × 256 in both png and ico format. You may download the entire suite of sizes and formats and use them as you please.

Icons You May Use Freely On Your Own Website and in Your Own Applications
128 × 128
Download Purpose Description
Java Web Start download JWS (Java Web Start)
Java Web Start
a winged coffee bean being launched by a spring. It suggests whimsically launching the Java app into the air, like launching a rocket. You might use the icon for the .jnlp extension. I use this icon to represent Java Web Start
JDK download JDK (Java Development Kit)
Oracle’s public domain Duke character dressed as a full-figured carpenter carrying a tool kit containing a saw. You might use the icon for the .java extension. I use this icon to represent the JDK .
JRE download JRE (Java Runtime Environment)
Oracle’s public domain Duke character as a runner, stripped down and lean, to suggest the bare essentials needed to run Java applications. He is wearing a yellow jersey, suggestive of the yellow jersey worn by the front runner in la Tour de France bicycle race. You might use the icon for the .class extension. I use this icon to represent the JRE .
woodpecker download woodpecker Woodpecker. I am not sure what precise species this one is supposed to be. It looks a bit like a golden fronted woodpecker. The image was only intended to represent a generic woodpecker. Check out whatbird.com search for excellent bird illustrations to help you identify species. I use this icon to represent  unmaintainable code.
If builders built buildings the way programmers write programs, then the first woodpecker that came along would destroy civilization.
~ Weinberg’s Second Law (1933-10-27 age:84)
blue whale download blue whale This is a blue whale, the largest animal that ever existed. I use this icon to represent animal rights.
Swing download tire swing I use this icon to represent Swing GUI Components.
giraffe download giraffe I use this icon to represent browsers.

Icon Extraction

There are various programs that will extract icons from Windows exe and dll files. Unfortunately, they don’t usually let you modify or replace the icons. Further, they can only extract the ico format resources, not the png, gif, jpg, svg and other icon formats.

heading maker

100 free file extension icons
123RF: free and pay stock photos, require you have an email account with a famous provider
123rf: stock images, some free if sign agreement
777icons.com: sell icons individually. SH suffix means version with shadow
aaICO : simple free png editor. Does not support ico
Adobe icons
Aha-Soft: ready, singleton and custom icons
Apple on human inferface and icon design
Ascending/Descending sort icons
Axialis icon sets
Axialis: advanced icon editor
Bartelme: custom iOS and Mac icons
Blog icons
Blumenthal’s Button and Menu Utility
book icons
Boxed Art Icons
ButtonGenerator.com: some free
Buuf icons
Buzzard KDE icons
Chameleon icons: you can configure the colours
Chemistry icons
clear icons: free in GNUGNU sense
clip art
Clker free icons
clker: free, huge collection of misc icons you won’t find elsewhere, birds, animals, tools, variable quality
Coffee Cup misc Icons
Creating Microsoft icons
credit card icons
Deviant Art: glossy, trendy
DreamsTime: cheap images and icons
Dry Icons: free with backlinks, spare, modern looking
Easter icons
email icons
fancy buttons
Featurepics: images and clipart $1 each
FindIcons: free, cutesy
Flag icons: free 2600 images, 5 sizes, 2 variants
Flat Icon: free, must give credit
folder icons
Fotolia: commericial stock photos and useful icons
free check mark and X icons
free Christmas icons: 3D
free Christmas icons: kitschy
free Google Icons
Free social icons
FreeIconsWeb: appeal to girls
Game icons: free
Gnome icons: free, good quality
Google icons: free
Graphic Leftovers: pay stock photos
Halloween Social Networking Superheroes: free
iClipArt: pay images in jpg, gif, png and vector formats
IcoFX: free icon editor
Icon Experience: including extensive jars/coffee beans and other Java specific icons
Icon Lover: extracts, edits, converts, organises icons
Icon Ripper: to extract icons from *.exe and *.dll files
IconArchive computer hardware icons
IconFinder: large collection of good-quality free icons with excellent search engine to help you find images
Icons-Land Flags Vector Icons
Icons-Land Map Markers
Icons-Land Vista Elements Icon Set
Icons-Land Vista Style Arrow Icon Set
Icons-Land Vista Style Elements Icon Set
Icons-Land Vista Style Multimedia Icon Set
Icons-Land Vista Style People Icons Set
IconShock animals: high quality, $100
IconShock: *.ico, *.bmp, *.png, *.gif: concrete objects
Iconspedia: free whimsical icons
IconXP: icon paint program
Imfreeware: free icons, some 3D, including fat arrows
iStockPhoto: stock photos and vector icons at low cost
Java code to extract icon from Windows exe
JideSoft Icons
KDE-look icons
Keyboard icons: free
legend: icons used on the mindprod.com website
Leopard: free, mimics Mac Leopard
list of icon sites
manual anti-aliasing icons with Gimp
Mouserunner glossy icons
Mouserunner: free glossy icons, zodiac, DVDsDVDs, buttons
My Cool Button: icon generator
OpenClipArt: SVGSVG generated
Oracles’s BLAF icon collection
PaintShop Pro
Pinvoke: some free some pay
Piscdong 3D icons
Rokey icons for various file types
Ruby icons: free, red
Semi-custom Corporate Logos
SlideGeeks: icons
SoftIcons: 3D style, free with backlink
SoftwarePearls: wave your mouse over the pearls logo
Sourceforge icon collection
system tray
Tango Project icons: free, crisp
the Gimp drawing program
Umut Pulat pastel set of 415 icons
Webring for free icon sites
Wikimedia Commons: icons
Wikimedia Commons: Paintpot icons, large collection of good quality free Vista style, png and svg format
Wikimedia Commons: symbols
Window 8 design elements free PSDPSD file
Windows ico format
WowWiki SVG icons
WpClipArt: large collection of public domain icons

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