Archive for the 'Productivity' Category

Best-practice discussion: How do you wireframe?

Friday, November 7th, 2008

Hi everyone! I’m just going to throw a question at you and hope this can turn into a good discussion that everyone will benefit from. Of course, this isn’t entirely altruistic: I myself am looking for some suggestions that will help with designing a complex CMS.

How do you go about wireframing a design beforehand?

Which apps do you use? What methods do you apply? Pencil on paper? Prototyping in Fireworks/Illustrator? Old-school table-cell copy&pasting in Dreamweaver? Or do you prefer to do a quick sketch and then jump right into Photoshop? Do you create complex work flow charts and study use-cases? Share your best practices!

Any good links you may have on the topic are appreciated as well.

Dropbox Review: Easy Backup, Sync and Sharing

Wednesday, March 26th, 2008

Dropbox claims to be a very easy to use system to backup your files, sync them across several computers and share them with friends. I’ve had the pleasure of testing the beta and I can say it does achieve exactly that.

Dropbox: Easy Secure Backup, Sync and Sharing The thing that makes Dropbox so much easier than other systems is that there is no learning curve and no special handling required: just drop your files in a destined folder on your harddrive and the files are automatically uploaded to the Dropbox servers. Hook up another computer to your Dropbox and it’ll automatically download the files and sync them when you change them. The system comes along with a powerful web interface that not only offers access to your files from any web browser, but also lets you retrieve older versions of a file, or accidentally deleted files. Dropbox should feel very familiar to those who use SVN in their workflow, except that you don’t need to manually check-in and check-out files to keep them synced. A helpful feature is that before uploading an updated file, it will compare and check and only upload those bits of the file that were actually changed, saving a lot of bandwidth. Luckily, you aren’t confronted with any of the technicalities, it just “does stuff” and works and you don’t need to care.

Setup was surprisingly quick and painless. My only grief are the sometimes very slow upload rates (30kb/s when it could be much higher), but I suppose this will be improved during the beta phase. Also, I recommend that you don’t create and edit new files within your Dropbox folder, as its automatic upload does not have a delay and will start uploading before you’ve even given the file a name.

All in all I’m quite satisfied with Dropbox and I feel it will be something I’ll use regularly. Its ease of use guarantees that it won’t require your full attention or slowdowns to your workflow, making it one of those little tools you just won’t want to miss.

Check out the Dropbox screencast here and go sign up for a beta if you’re interested.

GridIron Flow: File Management for Busy Designers

Monday, February 11th, 2008

GridIron Flow
GridIron Software (known for their render software Nucleo Pro for After Effects) are developing a very promising new product: Flow, a work flow management application for designers. “Oh great, like I have time for that”, you might be thinking. It’s true, most of us just want to create and not worry about organization (personally, I hate tagging files), and really, who has the time? And this is exactly where Flow promises to help: you don’t need to change anything about your current work methods. Flow runs in the background and monitors everything you do in creative applications (especially Adobe tools), doing everything automatically and invisibly without a single interaction on your side needed. It knows which files belong to a project, from which files you copied assets to other files and the implications on a project if you change (or delete) a file, what fonts are needed, etc. It does automatic versioning (like Apple’s Time Machine). It even lets you easily create packages of all the files necessary to pass them on to third parties with ease. Their guided tour explains all of this in more detail, I suggest having a look.

Watch Out For The Design Police

Wednesday, January 16th, 2008

Here Come The Design Police
Bring bad design to justice with the help of your friendly neighborhood design police.

DebugBar 5: New CSS Debugging for IE

Friday, November 23rd, 2007

DebugBar 5Ever since the releases of the Web Developer and Firebug extensions in Firefox, things in the world of CSS and HTML work have become a lot easier. Sadly, a lot of what will work in almost all browsers still massively messes up in Internet Explorer. Knowing a few things about IE like hasLayout helps a lot, but sometimes even those fixes don’t work and you’re left trying out every conceivable hack known to man. Wouldn’t it be great to have something like Firebug in IE? Apparently Jean-Fabrice Rabaute thought so too, so he’s releasing DebugBar 5. Someone give this man a cigar.

“A List Apart” Surveys 33,000 Web Workers

Thursday, October 18th, 2007

A List Apart Survey“In April 2007, A List Apart and An Event Apart conducted a survey of people who make websites. Close to 33,000 web professionals answered the survey’s 37 questions, providing the first data ever collected on the business of web design and development as practiced in the U.S. and worldwide.” Get the survey results here.

So, You’re Out of Ideas, eh?

Thursday, August 16th, 2007

Idea GeneratorNo problem, try the TDB Special Projects Idea Generator on for size. Hooray for randomness. This two-liner looked silly next to the thumbnail, but there’s really nothing else to say, so I’m filling this up with random text. Excuse me, I’m off to create an “exclusive shrinking apparatus”. Oh yes I am.

10 Ways To Improve Your Visualization Skills

Tuesday, July 10th, 2007

The world works in funny ways. I was just fighting with a creativity problem when my friend told me that he was, by chance, writing about this very issue:

There are innumerable creative aids, and most of them require an ability to visualize. Some people aren’t good at visualizing, so imagining different colors or objects can become a daunting task. Forget about trying to visualize how a room should be arranged; that’s next to impossible.

Sound familiar? Excommunicate.Net offers up 10 ways to help you improve your visualization skills with a few established and a few very unconventional methods.

Ubuntu Studio & Free Open Source Software Alternatives for Photoshop, Illustrator and Co.

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

Ubuntu Studio
If you’re into Linux or open source software in general, or just can’t afford the expensive professional applications, you may want to have a look at Ubuntu Studio, an offspring of the increasingly popular Linux distro Ubuntu, targeted towards creative professionals and enthusiasts, be that designers, film producers or audio specialists. Ubuntu Studio comes with an array of applications striving to offer free alternatives to the expensive industry standards. While I can’t speak on the quality of said applications as I haven’t tried them, I think Ubuntu Studio is a good endeavor that’s worth looking into.

If you prefer to stick with your OS of choice, you might like to bookmark this list of free and open source software for Windows and Mac.

Last but not least, I’d like to point you to a great article by Shahid Shah on open source alternatives to Adobe’s Creative Suite. Shahid has taken the time to “trawl through the World Wide Web to find out how everyone can benefit from Open Source to build up their own studio and compete against Adobe Creative Suite”. Good links in there.

Step-and-Repeat Technique in Photoshop

Monday, June 18th, 2007

Step-and-Repeat in Photoshop
Really quick one here: Pete Bauer at Planet Photoshop shows us a little technique called “step-and-repeat“. It’s quickly learned and can save you some time while creating repetitious patterns, such as bricks, footsteps, a clock face and the likes.
(Thanks, photoshop-weblog)


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