Publicious Links: The Sick Edition

Man, I am sick of being sick. Like half of Boston, I’ve been coughing for two weeks straight, day and night. I’ve been more concerned with breathing than blogging. I think I have a touch of the ol’ H1N1. Or perhaps the 0C0M0Y100K Plague. I keep thinking it’s got to go away soon. Though I have insurance, my “health” plan is sucktacularly rigged by some evil geniuses to discourage folks from seeking treatment, lest we risk getting slammed with massive medical bills should anything serious happen. It’s like a reverse lottery, where you buy a ticket each time you see a doctor. This is exactly what happened last year when I cracked my head. Thus, we have a strict “severed limb” policy in our household. Anything less is referred to as a “boo-boo” or “the sniffles.” On the upside, I have perfected the recipe for a Delsymtini.

delsymtini

Enjoy the links, and remember to wash your hands after each click. 😉

Smashing Magazine has a Back to Scchool list of 40 Illustrator tutorials, some of which are mind bogglingly photo realistic.

SitePoint has a nice little tutorial on filling shapes with text in Photoshop.

Colorburned has a downloadable set of “57 tape” brushes.

Photoshopstar has a tutorial on making wooden applique effects in Photoshop.

CSSCreme has a bevy of cool Photoshop tutorials worth checking out.

Adobe made waves recently by purchasing the Web analytics firm Omniture for $1.8 billion. Either this was a savvy, bold move to the social media future, or a colossal overpaying blunder. Depends on who you ask.

Want a sneak peek into Flash CS5? Check out Flashmagazine’s report from Flash on the Beach 09.

Back in the glorious 90s, the vector world was divided between the Illustrator Hatfields and the FreeHand McCoys. Then one day, Adobe arranged itself a shotgun marriage to Macromedia and sent Cousin FreeHand off to live in the hills.  But it turns out reports of FreeHand’s death have been somewhat exaggerated. FreeFreeHand.org is a community site devoted to what some folks still believe is the best vector illustration app ever. And yes, they’ve found it works in Snow Leopard.

Vector-Art has a fun little collection of free recording studio design elements, like cassette tapes, microphones, etc.

I’ve been neglecting my InDesignSecrets duties lately, but here are a couple of little posts that may be “new to you.” Pasteboard Notes and Type OFF a Path.

Speaking of InDesign Secrets, Steve Werner has posted info on Creating eBooks in InDesign, a topic that will only grow more important now that Print est mort. I have my own Publicious take on creating eBooks in InDesign, though Steve’s may have a wee bit more useful info. 😉

Brushes, brushes, who’s got the brushes? Designrfix has what they claim to be the Ultimate Resource list for Photoshop Brushes. From the looks, they may be right.

GraphicsArtsOnline has a piece about a product called PageZephyr, which can extract content from Quark and InDesign files for re-purposing in ebooks etc.

Last, because you can never, ever get too much InDesign, here are links to every update ever, from 1.0 to 6.0.4 in Mac and Windows flavors.. Collect ’em all kids.

Till next time, have a nice …cough…gasp…wheeze…gurgle…thud.

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Publicious Links: You’re Hurting My Old Eyes Edition

For the next few days I’ll be at the Flash on Tap conference in Boston, listening to the best Flash developers, and feeling very old. As I sat in the Papervision and Flash to iPhone seminars, I was surrounded by kids with mohawks, wearing their underwear on the outside, nodding in rhythm to the jargon. Meanwhile, I felt something like this old guy that my daughter drew.

plish-hurtingmyeyes

Since you probably can’t read the words, here’s the transcript:

Kid: “You are weird!”

Old Man: “You’re too young! You’re hurting my eyes!”

That is how she thinks of kids vs. adults. Their youth shines like a beacon. Looking directly at it gives us pain. In some ways, she might be right. So I’m going to SuperCuts for a mowhawk, and putting my undewear on the outside, and posting some of the good links I’ve come across recently:

Papervision is a real time 3D engine for Flash. It’s the means for developers to create the virtual worlds for us to move around in Flash apps.

Took a class today on ActionScript 3. Very good. Totally over my head. But that’s OK. If you never get out of your comfort zone, you could relax yourself into oblivion. Here’s the instructor’s companion Web site.

VectorTuts+ offers 15 Great Resources for Learning Adobe InDesign. I’ll try not to be too upset that Publicious didn’t make the list, since InDesign Secrets is at the top.

Is a Photoshop backlash brewing? The NY Times has an article on some magazines making news by declining to ‘shop their models. In Europe, there is a movement afoot to force something like warning labels on published Photoshopped images. Sort of a “Truth in Pixels” law. As always, Photoshop Disasters is required viewing.

This week Adobe released a new feature on Acrobat.com, Presentations, which you use to make…presentations. Apparently they’re either out of application names, or they’re trying to corner the market on Obvious. It’s pretty neat. Try it out. Between this and Keynote, there will be no excuse to use PowerPoint(less) going forward.

I Love Design is a site owned by Quark (hey, remember them?) offering downloads, templates, job listings (UK), blogs, and a gallery of things to look at.

Adobe also released an update to Camera RAW, with support for new cameras.

Also on Adobe Labs (not Acrobat labs), is info about a curious thing called Story. It’s a collaborative script-writing tool. Unfortunately, it’s not available yet. Still, when I finally take a crack at one of the screenplays I have rotting in my brain, I may check it out. Maybe I’ll pitch InDesign on Vacation to Spielberg. Too bad I couldn’t show it to him. YouTube took it down because of the Go-Go’s music in the background. Sigh. I’m sure Jane Wiedlan would’ve loved it.

Finally, you don’t have to hate your InDesign documents to want to punch, rip, and burn them. Just check out my latest entry in the InDesign Eye Candy series: Punch-outs, Stickers, and Rips.

Oh, I think I just broke a hip! My eyes!

The Last Tip You’ll Ever Need

Tips, tricks, techniques, and tutorials. The four T’s that comprise so much of what I read and write about publishing tech on the Web. If you want/love/need/crave information about Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, Acrobat, and Quark, then what I’m about to share with you is the last tip you’ll ever need. Or it’s the neverending tip. Actually, it’s a million tips in one. Ready? Check out Gurus Unleashed. That’s it. Underwhelming? Not at all. Gurus Unleashed, the brainchild of Pariah S. Burke (author of Mastering InDesign CS3 for Print Design and Production), collects tips, tricks, techniques, and tutorials from around the web and delivers them right to your inbox, RSS reader, or Twitter feed. You don’t have to seek out the tips; they find you. Here’s tiny sample from my Twitter feed:

plish-gurutwit

The daily tide of knowledge is nearly overwhelming. Last Friday I got 27 tweets from Gurus Unleashed. Every one a tempting morsel. It’s like that scene from I Love Lucy in the candy factory.

And the Twiter feed is only the 5 most recent posts each hour. The RSS feed has the whole enchilada. The links keep coming faster than you can click ’em. Pretty soon you’re stuffing them in your pockets, under your hat, and down your shirt. Sometimes you just read the titles and sigh, knowing you’ll never have the time or the brain capacity to take it all in. Dang, the Internet is big. At least thanks to Pariah and Gurus Unleashed (over 7000 articles and counting), you don’t have to spend as much time seeking out publishing tips. You just have to try to figure out how to cope with the massive avalanche of goodies rolling past.

A Blog About Nothing

Tonight was the 10th anniversary of the last episode of Seinfeld (and coincidentally, the last call for Mr. Francis Albert Sinatra). I always got a kick out seeing the Mac in the background of Seinfeld’s apartment, and how he silently “upgraded” each year to Apple’s latest and greatest. In the final season, Jerry even had one of those crazy 20th Anniversary Macs.

Continue reading

Cookbook 2.0 Is Served

Time again to peek in on our cookbook project and see if it’s baked yet. You know they say you lose 10° every time you open the oven door. So does that mean if I opened it enough times, I could turn the oven into a freezer? Just wondering.

We left off last time with

  • decent-looking code, thanks to a bunch of Find/Replaces
  • inspiration from the design of Epicurious.com
  • the ability to harvest CSS code with the help of the Web Developer Add-on for Firefox

So what’s left is to put together a CSS file, point the HTML at it, and see what we get.

Continue reading

Family Cookbook: Can I Borrow A Cup of CSS?

Still a few things left to do before our cookbook project is cooked.

First thing is to get some Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) to give the cookbook some personality on the Web. As you probably guessed from the fact I’m using a canned WordPress theme, I’m not a web designer. But I want to be one when I grow up. I’ve read my share about CSS and played around with it, but never actually used it to build myself a real live website. The last public website that I built was with Adobe PageMill, and I think about 5 people saw it. I did make another with GoLive, but didn’t use CSS.

So I need some inspiration. Something to sweeten up the content. I’ll check some recipe websites and see if I can borrow any good presentation ideas from them. It’s like going to your neighbor and borrowing a cup of sugar. No need to be obscure, so I’ll check some sites like allrecipes.com, epicurious.com and foodtv.com.

Here’s an example from epicurious, which I’m sure is packed with wholesome nutrients, the Devil Dog Cake.

So, if I wanted to ape this style, how do I go about figuring it out?

I know of one indispensable tool for this job, and that is The Web Developer Add-on for Firefox by Chris Pederick. It is an absolute-must-have-go-get-it-now-you-won’t-regret-it kind of thing. If you are trying to learn web design this add-on is priceless, and incredibly it is free. By itself it is reason enough to use Firefox. The Web Developer Add-on allows you to reverse engineer a web page, by isolating every piece of the page, showing the code that styles it, letting you play with it, and save it. To quote Peter Griffin, it’s “friggin’ sweet.”

Saying all that, now I feel shamed into donating something to Chris. Maybe I’ll buy him something off his Amazon wishlist. I’ve got my eye on a Radiohead CD.

Loading the Web Developer Add-on in Firefox gives you twelve menus’ worth of choices to dissect and analyze every aspect of a page. Not surprisingly, we’re most interested in the CSS menu for now.

Choosing View CSS gives you a window with expandable listings of all the CSS a page uses.

With Show Style Information you hover over elements and they become outlined and you get a bread crumb trail showing you exactly where you are in the page model, including class and id info.

If you click, you get a new window pane with all the all the declarations that are making the selected object look the way it does.

And if you really want to play, or if you just like asking “what if” questions, you’ll get a kick out of Edit CSS. It opens a pane where you can change the CSS and instantly see the results. So if I wanted to see what it would look like with my recipe titles in bold red, I just go to the declaration, type in the change and voila.

What if you want to lift the color scheme from a page? No prob, go to the Information menu and pick View Color Information. You get a swatch list of every color used on the page.

You can validate the CSS code with the W3C’s Validation Service to find if there’s anything broken in there that needs fixing. On the Devil Dog Cake page, there’s a div that’s supposed to be gray, but it’s misspelled in the style sheet, “grey.”

One more toy to play with and that is the Edit HTML command in the Miscellaneous menu. This is the flip side of Edit CSS. Now you can change the content and see how the styles look applied to other stuff. I suggest these modest changes.

Now that we can shine an X-ray on any web page, we can find looks that we like and tweak them, preview our changes, and copy and paste the code into our own style sheets. Of course, we’ll also have to change the selectors to fit the structure we got out of InDesign and Dreamweaver. But now we’re really cooking. Mmmm, smell that code.

Family Cookbook 2.0, part 3

Has it been more than a week since we left off with the cookbook project? My how blog time flies. Let’s continue.

During the first two posts on this topic, we converted the old XPress file, and tagged the content in InDesign and exported it. Right now we have XML masquerading as HTML. Let’s open it in Dreamweaver.

First off, we’ll format the source code, so we can actually read it. We’re OK doing this because we aren’t taking this content back into InDesign. If we were, right now the robot from Lost in Space would be yelling, “Danger Will Robinson!” The problem is that Dreamweaver doesn’t give a hoot where it places the whitespace characters to format the code. They end up everywhere, including inside every element tag. So if we re-import this into InDesign we get…a huge mess.

Orginally, the title element of Richard’s Pancakes was very tidy with just one return in the right place.

clean XML in InDesign

Now, it has 4.

Nasty extra whitspace

Who left the bumbling Dr. Smith in charge of our content? Oh, the pain.

Happily, we’re on a one way street to the Web, where those whitespace characters won’t be as troublesome.

Start off by adding the some infrastructure at the top:

<!DOCTYPE HTML>
<html>

<head><link href=”cookbook.css” rel=”stylesheet” type=”text/css”>
</link> <title>Ethan’s Family Cookbook</title>
</head>

And wrap everything else in <body>

Then let’s get rid of the Story (capital S) elements, wrapped around the recipe cards, an artifact of those pesky inline frames. We’ll just Find/Replace with nothing, making sure to check “Case sensitive”, since we do have story, (lower case s) elements we want to keep: the chefs’ stories about their recipes.

Now we’ll replace all the names of the tags that came from InDesign style names with valid HTML tags, plus class declarations for hooking into CSS.

To give credit where credit is due, this idea is straight out of chapter 9 of A Designer’s Guide to Adobe InDesign and XML by James Maivald.

So the opening tag <group> gets replaced with <p class=”group”> and the closing </group> becomes plain old </p> Lather, rinse and repeat for <story>, <title>, <chef>, <ingredients>, and <step> elements. I’m also going to lively up the <div> around the recipe card, by adding class=”card” to distinguish it from the other <div>s.

clean code

Validate to check our work. And we get Dreamweaver’s idea of praise for our hard work: “Complete.” Nice. This is a program tossing compliments like manhole covers. How about, “Adequate.” or “Nice job, for a human.”

We preview in the browser, and things look cool with the exception of the degree symbols. So we’ll go back and replace all those with an entity.

Next time, some CSS to finish this sucker off.