Introduction to Skinning
Messenger Plus! Live - Skinning Documentation
Welcome to the documentation of the Messenger Plus! Live skinning
system. This technical documentation is intended to be read by skin
developers. Whether it is to make your first skin or to get more information
on a given skinning subject, you've
come to the right place!
A technology you should be familiar with before you can create full
featured Messenger Plus! skins is
XML stands for eXtensible Markup Language and looks like HTML. It is
basically a way to define data in text form. If you've never worked with XML
before, you'll quickly see how straightforward it can be. A lot of tutorials can be found
on the internet and despite the fact that XML can be typed in any text editor,
it is highly recommended that you get a good XML editor that will be able to
validate your syntax. The Messenger Plus! Live skinning system makes extensive
use of XML in the SkinInfo configuration
file (the main file used to define the properties of a skin) and Messenger's own
Windows Definition files use a very similar syntax.
The structure of SkinInfo is defined in what's called an XML
Schema file. Even if this file is also text based, schema files are meant to be read in graphic form; do not try to read its XML
data as this would make your task more difficult than it should be. A
very good XML editor capable of perfectly rendering XML Schema files is
Altova (the Standard Edition is available as a free trial).
Aside from the technology, what you mostly need is the will
to learn how to work with the system. Skinning is something that anybody with
ideas and average computer knowledge can do but you'll need to be patient and
willing to put time into your project if you want something good to come out of
documentation includes explanation pages, references, examples, ... use them! If you don't feel easy about
skinning, just take it one step at a time, spend time in the various
topics/examples available, and stick to reproducing what you see while bringing
your own small modifications to existing skin code. Your first lesson awaits you
in what's a skin in Messenger Plus!.
If you need help about anything related to skinning, feel free to visit the official
Messenger Plus! forum.
Please remember to search if somebody posted a similar question before you and
if the answer was already given: you'll get your answer faster and it will save
us some time to help other members. Also, if you become a more advanced skin
developer with time, we
would appreciate if you could help on the forum and answer people's questions
when you know the answer :).
Last update: January 31th, 2011
Documented version: Messenger Plus! 5.00
Latest update available at