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[Groan] I thought all the unpleasantness about my cogwheel logo was over and done with five years ago. [Sigh] Let's put it this way: I'm a lot older than 12, I'm satisfied with what I've done here (I think it's a successful logo which fulfils all its purposes and requirements), and I did the work for free and released it in source form for the community to use, in the hopes that doing so would do some good. It's inevitable that some people will loathe what I've done, because it's impossible to satisfy everyone, but (despite what some have said) it's good quality work which was done in good faith for the benefit of everyone. I'd really appreciate it if we could now just let the logo continue to do its job, which is to represent RISC OS in all of its versions (including the forthcoming open one). It's been doing that job for the last six years or so, apparently to most people's satisfaction (if not, perhaps, joy).

For the record, since people seem unsure about what design work I've done for the 'core companies' and what I haven't, here's a quick summary.

RISCOS Ltd: the cogwheel logo (and its associated variations) and a bit of icon work for Select (filetype icons etc.). I'm not a fan of the RISC OS 4 icon style, so I don't generally say much about the RO4 system icons I contributed, but there are several of my icons in Select/Adjust. I also, of course, designed all aspects of Foundation RISC User, and in the early days I also put together a few magazine adverts (the gold-textured ones that usually advertised FRU as well). That's it, though. I've had nothing to do with the wider RISCOS Ltd Web site or its corporate logo. I believe that they were all done by Paul Middleton himself (certainly the RO4 cube was), though I could be wrong. As it happens, I did design a new corporate logo for RISCOS Ltd back when I designed the cogwheel, but Paul mustn't have liked it because it's never been used (except occasionally by me, in more recent issues of FRU). It was basically just the words "RISCOS Ltd" in Gill Sans with the cogwheel replacing the O in the centre of the text. I thought it was clean and well balanced, though probably not terribly exciting.

Castle: for Castle I designed all the RISC OS 5 icons (and Iyonix users will be aware that all the system-level file icons, for filetypes like Obey, Data etc., incorporate a small cogwheel logo, just as they do in RO Select). I did not have anything to do with the Iyonix name or blue jellybean logo (that was presented to me as the branding from the outset), though I did produce a realistic recreation of it in ArtWorks for use in my further design work (as the original was just a hi-res bitmap). I also designed the new Acorn C/C++ icons and the icons that appear on Castle's 32-bit software database pages to categorise applications that appear there. Beyond that, though, I've had nothing to do with Castle's Web site either.

RISC OS Open Ltd: I haven't done anything for ROOL as yet. I'm not responsible for their multicoloured cogwheel-like logo, and I wasn't even consulted about it (which I found slightly regrettable, but never mind). However, I've indicated that I'd be very happy to work with them if they'd like me to. I'm obviously keen, for example, to see them continue to use the work I've done for the RISC OS 5 icons in future versions. I designed the RO5 icons from the outset to be capable of taking advantage of alpha-blending (which is already available in RO4/6, of course) to produce proper soft shadows. (They're also vector-based and hence scalable, if that ever becomes more of an issue.)

In response to a few of the points in this thread:

I've been accused of plagiarising the KDE logo in the past. All I can say is that any similarities are purely coincidental. At the time I designed my cogwheel, I'd never even seen the KDE logo; had anyone pointed it out to me while I was designing the RISC OS cogwheel, I may have made some changes. However, the aims and inspirations for my cogwheel are well documented in articles that are available online, and represent the sum total of the influences. As for being a 'bad copy' of the KDE logo, well, that's personal opinion once again. It's not a copy at all, and actually my cogwheel could be said to be better balanced and more realistic than the partial one that appears in the KDE logo. (The KDE logo also falls into the trap of having letters associated with it, rather than being a stand-alone, purely graphical design.)

Is there a full "RISC OS" logo that includes the cogwheel and the word "RISC OS"? Yes, there is, despite the fact that people here are saying that there isn't. An article from FRU, complete with the ArtWorks versions of all cogwheel variants, used to be hosted on www.riscos.org, but appears to have been removed now, which is a pity. However, the original article, taken from FRU 7, is still online in RISCOS Ltd's FRU Online site. I am no longer able to update this site, and it seems to have become a bit mangled since I last touched it, with the result that some graphics are broken. However, the article is mostly intact, as are the downloads. Here's a direct link:


The various cogwheel logos are available here in Draw and ArtWorks formats, as are some RISC OS Web buttons. (Of course, they're also on FRU CDs and DVDs, including more Web buttons in later editions; I also did an IYONIX Web button.) You'll find not only the single cogwheel logo, but also square and diamond permutation logos, and lots of variants that include the name "RISC OS" in some way.

I guess it would be a good idea to host these archives somewhere more prominent, especially now that the ones on www.riscos.org have vanished. If anyone wants to do this (Drobe staff?), please email me.

There's also a quick summary of what the cogwheel logo is all about on the Select site here:


...but it's just a restatement of some of the stuff in the longer article with the associated graphics archives. Its appearance on the Select site also gave the erroneous early impression that the cogwheel was intended to apply only to Select.

(Sawadee: no, the teeth of the cogwheel do not represent anything individually. However, the fact that there are eight of them is significant, in that putting together four into the square-logo version used in RO Adjust makes 32 in total. '32 bits out of four 8-bit components' is the concept here, though it's a very subtle one. The above article explains all the ideas of this kind that went into the concept.)

Anyway, the bottom line is that the cogwheel is intended to represent RISC OS in all its versions, and it has actually succeeded in becoming established as such. It was designed (at the suggestion of Justin Fletcher, incidentally, who claimed to like the solution I came up with very much) precisely with the intention of devising something universal that could be used instead of logos that were either no longer appropriate (Acorn nut) or OS- or machine-specific. Having finally achieved that aim, the very last thing we need now is to throw it all away and start again, just because a few people don't like it much. Lots of people don't like the Windows logo (I'm not keen myself), but that doesn't mean that Microsoft should discard it.

That's not to say that it can't be tweaked and titivated, though (note how MS has made its flag-logo 'glow' for Windows Vista). That's one good reason why the RISC OS cogwheel is plain and simple: it's *intentionally* a universal, bare bones design, so that it can be used in as many different ways as possible. Basically, it's little more than a shape. People who complain that it's too boring and simple are missing the point. That's what a good, successful logo should be, because that's how you make them as adaptible as possible. Once you've got the basic design established, you can do things with it.

Indeed, I've made it a little more fancy myself at times. In one or more of the old RISCOS Ltd adverts that I designed (they appeared in Acorn User and elsewhere), I had a big version of this cogwheel in the centre of the page, and it was 'shaded' internally by a stripey effect that blended from octagonal in the middle to circular at the outside (ends of the teeth) and made the design look more visually interesting. As a matter of fact, this version of the logo is actually used (at a small size) on the Iyonix, in one specific instance: the high-definition version of the 'switcher' icon (i.e. the logo that appears in the Task Manager's Info window alongside the name RISC OS, and in system error windows). By 'high definition' I mean the 68x68-pixel icon that appears in XEig=0, YEig=0 screen modes. You can't see the stripes in this version (there still isn't enough resolution for that), but it does give the logo a bit of shading and makes it less flat. More could be done, of course.

The only really key thing is to make sure that you *don't* alter the basic shape. This is why I'm a little disappointed with the ROOL logo. It looks pretty, and you can see what inspired it, but it's a new shape which means that it's not actually the RISC OS cogwheel logo. Of course, if they just want to use it as their own corporate logo then that's fine; I just hope that it doesn't get imposed on future versions of RISC OS itself, as then we'd be back to having unhelpful OS-specific variations of the logo, which is the problematic situation that the cogwheel was designed to solve.

As a general point, although I clearly don't share thegman's opinion of my work, I do agree with his basic point about amateurish appearances and RISC OS. For what it's worth, it's precisely this kind of thing I had in mind when I set out to design the RISC OS 5 icon set (as explained in another old article that can be found online if you hunt). I was very conscious of the extremely amateurish look of RISC OS itself (i.e. the RISC OS 4 icons), not to mention many RISC OS sites, and my RISC OS 5 work was carried out with the hope of making RISC OS itself look more serious and professional. (Again, I feel that I achieved my various aims with the RO5 icons, but there are certainly users who disagree, so please let us *not* open up that debate again as well. Apart from anything else, I've suffered enough over all that already.)

Remember, too, that design is not just about achieving a set of aims; it's also about pleasing the client. The RISC OS cogwheel was what RISCOS Ltd wanted at the time (or at least Justin Fletcher; I'm not sure about Paul's opinion). The RISC OS 5 icons were what Castle was looking for (basically; there were quite dramatically opposing viewpoints within the company, but I tried to satisfy everyone as best I could). R-Comp has had various pieces of design work from me in the past (mainly for software user interfaces), and they have ranged from e.g. the very quirky and colourful (some may say gaudy) Grapevine to the very RISC OS 5-like (i.e. standard OS look) Messenger Pro, DataPower, HTMLEdit Studio etc. (latest versions of these). In doing a design, one has to (a) define the requirements and potential uses of the artwork, (b) target the medium and its needs, and (c) take the client's specific requirements into account and try to satisfy them.

Anyway, to get back to the point, I agree that the level of presentation of RISC OS as a whole could be a lot better. I've tried to do my bit to contribute positively to the situation, and I'm willing to do more if asked. I'm happy to continue to design icons for people, and I'm also potentially willing to design Web sites, too. I haven't had all that many approaches, so maybe either people don't generally care for what I've done or there isn't enough money going around to justify expenditure on interface graphics and Web sites. I've actually been quite open to doing things for nothing in the past, but now that I'm a student again I'd be a little more keen to be paid for my time.

Whoever does the job, though (as a general point), I do agree that it's a good idea to employ someone who's at least vaguely professional, and whose work is a known quantity, to come up with new Web site designs and the like, as the RISC OS world could certainly present a more professional image. But, on the other hand, it could certainly be argued that this problem is something that has plagued the RISC OS world for its entire life. I remember lobbying about lack of presentational quality in the young life of RISC OS (early 90s). The design work I did for RISC OS 5 was actually the fulfilment of a long-standing dream that I'd been harbouring for maybe ten years.

 is a RISC OS UserRichardHallas on 04/03/07 12:43AM
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