On the Amiga, Workbench icons are stored to disk with no palette information at all. They are simply image data, and will use whatever palette your WB is currently configured to, so an icon will look totally different between each machine if each uses a different Workbench palette.

NewIcons is a completely new icon scheme. Icons are stored as tooltype data in the standard Amiga icon (.info files). That means, an icon can have both a standard image AND a NewIcon image at the same time. This means your icon will be visible no matter if the user has the Newicons system installed or not.

The main benefit of icons using the NewIcons format is that the icons have complete palette information stored within them. When such an icon is displayed, it gets dynamicaly remapped to look as good as possible on your system, either by using the existing pens, or by allocating new ones (under AmigaOS 3.0 and better). On a system with enough colors available on the Workbench, the icons will look EXACTLY as the icon author intended.

So, if you draw an American flag with the right colors, it means on any system the white and red stripes will still be white and red (or as close as possible if the screen doesn’t have enough available colors).

This all occurs seamlessly, and doesn’t interfere with the normal operation of your Workbench. When you run the NewIcons patch, the image data contained in the tooltypes is invisible, so it won’t interfere with the way that you normally configure programs with tooltypes.

The NewIcons package consists of three parts:

  1. The library. This library contains all the routines used to read, remap, and write newicons data. Third party developers can also directly use newicon images through this library.
  2. The executables. There’s an executable which will patch AmigaOS so it can transparently read, display, and write icons in the NewIcons format. There are also a set of tools to copy, create, or remove the newicon imageries.
  3. The icons. The NewIcons package comes with a standard set of isometric icons based on a 32-colors palette, but you are by no means limited to them – you could use any alternative iconset that uses the NewIcons format, with any color palette. Every icon can use a separate palette upto 256 colors.