Here's how to customize Gboard using Rboard Theme Creator and Patcher

Here’s how to customize Gboard using Rboard Theme Creator and Patcher

In the never-ending customizable world of Android, hobbyists and modders alike are on a constant journey to make our devices better match our personalities. We like to tweak anything and everything we can get our hands on, whether it be a new wallpaper, the hottest new icon pack, or a fully customized theme. This is the reason why many users prefer Gboard as their keyboard app, as you can mod the stock UI using custom themes via projects like Rboard Theme Manager.

Although Google offers a plethora of themes for Gboard out of the box, there exists a whole community out there for homebrew themes and other mods for the keyboard app. However, customizing an existing theme package or creating a custom theme from scratch isn’t a straightforward job. To fill the void, two veteran Gboard themers — XDA Senior Member RKBD and XDA Member DerTyp7214 — have come up with a pair of apps: Rboard Theme Creator and Rboard Patcher.

  • Rboard Theme Creator lets you create rudimentary Gboard themes.
  • Using Rboard Patcher, you can further edit different aspects of the themes.
  • The customized themes can be applied via Rboard Theme Manager.
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    Internal structure of a Gboard theme

    In the Gboard theming scene, a themepack can be identified by its “.pack” extension. Essentially, the file is a collection of image assets, style sheets, and metadata – all compressed under a special container format.

    Since most of the theming components are unencrypted, one can also write additional patches to mod specific portions of a theme on the fly. The patches are usually distributed as ZIP files.

    How to create a Gboard theme using Rboard Theme Creator

    The Rboard Theme Creator is a lightweight Android app that allows anyone to create a basic Gboard theme right on their phone. You don’t even need access to a PC to compile the themepack, as the app takes care of everything for you.

    In order to design your own Gboard theme, do the following:

  • Install the app from the aforementioned Google Play Store link.
  • Open the app and locate the rotating dial for color selection.
    Rboard Theme Creator
  • Next, select the coloring scheme (e.g. Dark or Monet) and the corresponding UI component (e.g. AMOLED or Tertiary Accent). The app lets you try out every possible combination.
  • Now adjust the color dials until you get your desired themed UI in the preview section.
  • To save your custom created theme, tap on the Share icon at the lower left corner, choose the file picker, and save it after giving it a suitable name and author information.
  • Alternatively, you can directly transfer the newly created theme to Rboard Patcher (if installed) for further editing. To do so, tap on the Add theme button and follow the wizard.

    For any app developers that read this, Rboard Theme Creator is completely open source. You are free to explore the code, submit new patches, or compile the app yourself.

    Rboard Theme Creator GitHub Repository

    Notably, the developer also hosts a web version of the app, which could be handy for designing Gboard themes from your PC/Mac.

    How to patch a Gboard theme using Rboard Patcher

    Rboard Patcher is a versatile tool for Gboard theming. To start, the app lets you customize the base theme package (*.pack) produced by the Rboard Theme Creator app. Moreover, you can also edit existing community-made themes and mod different aspects of them using the publicly hosted theme patches. The patcher has yet to support third-party patch repos, but the feature is expected to land soon.

    Here’s how you can customize any Rboard-compatible theme through Rboard Patcher:

  • Install the app from the aforementioned Google Play Store link.
  • Open the app and open a valid Gboard theme *.pack file using the file picker.
  • For instance, you can point the app to a themepack produced by Rboard Theme Creator.
  • Rboard Patcher will fetch the publicly hosted theme patches and list them categorically.
    Rboard Patcher
  • Tap the ones you want to apply (e.g. a font or a rounded icon).
  • To save the customized theme, tap on the Share icon at the lower left corner, choose the file picker, and save it after giving it a suitable name and author information.
  • In case you want to immediately prepare the customized theme for flashing via Rboard Theme Manager, you can do so by tapping on the Add to Manager button and follow the wizard. Of course you need to have the Rboard Theme Manager app installed on your device beforehand, otherwise the option won’t work. Moreover, you need root access to install the themes.

    Rboard Patcher is open source as well, which means you are welcome to fiddle with the codebase. In case you want to try out the bleeding edge builds without compiling the app on your own, opt for the continuous integration releases.

    Rboard Patcher GitHub Repository

    Conclusion

    That’s all there is to it. As you can see, creating custom themes for Gboard is not that hard, especially when you can utilize the awesome tools offered by the Rboard community. How much granular you get with Gboard theming is entirely up to you, but if you are not satisfied with Google’s offerings, then building your desired theme from scratch is the best thing to do.

    Do you regularly customize your keyboard app with different mods, or is such theming not of interest to you? Let us know in the comments section below.

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