The big reason for DarkAudacity is to make the changes I wanted to see in Audacity®. Normally such changes, because they are so visible, would require agreement of the whole Audacity team.
Why DarkAudacity? There are three questions here:
A new dark theme is a more radical change than a new light theme. It's a bigger challenge. I wrote the original theming code in Audacity, and it fell down for darker Themes. Dark themes are a good workout for theming. I want eventually to make it easier for users to theme Audacity. For the new theming to work it had to be written to work for a dark theme, not just light. I also couldn't help noticing that dark themes are popular on audio visual applications.
Audacity has managed for years with a dated user interface. That has been to its disadvantage. Countless people must have started using Audacity, felt confused and overwhelmed by the interface and given up.
When you pay attention to the visual design you find yourself looking at user interaction with fresh eyes. Some of the easily solved inconsistencies and confusions become apparent. A visual design update invites an update that is more than skin deep and invites related changes that make the program far more satisfying to use.
I think in DarkAudacity I am making the visual design and usability better by moving some of the less vital features to less prominent positions. The design as a whole becomes cleaner and easier to use.
I also saw the need for video tutorials through working on the visual design. I now intend to have enough youTube video content that people can easily get started. DarkAudacity is about making Audacity easier and more fun to use.
Why not do this development of a new look directly as part of Audacity?
There are a couple of reasons:
These changes are very visible indeed, and within Audacity would need to be agreed by the community as a whole. You can get a sense of the road to such agreement from the page on current status of the features vis-a-vis Audacity. Every detail on the differences page would have been a lengthy online debate. It would have taken me much longer to get agreement. I wanted to get on with coding.
I wanted to do this in a lightweight way. DarkAudacity as an official part of Audacity would have required Linux and Mac versions, not just a Windows version. It would have required translation, not just an English version. The manual would have needed substantial updates too.
I've done DarkAudacity as a branch of mainstream Audacity. This gives me tremendous freedom to experiment whilst still getting the benefit of the main code. When I get the time I can add other experiments, and do those in a lightweight way too. I have several of those planned, such as an easier zooming in and out on the wave, and easier looping. DarkAudacity is an 'auteur' version of Audacity, where I am free to make the changes that I like. I hope you like these changes too.
Even if mainstream Audacity in time shows signs of accepting nearly all the changes from my DarkAudacity branch, I'll continue to innovate here. I can publish new ideas for interface here, some will be adopted and some won't. DarkAudacity should be seen as a tributary enriching the possibilities for Audacity, rather than as competition for Audacity.