Archive for April, 2007

Drew Keller’s NAB Breakdown

Microsoft Studios’ Drew Keller cuts a fantastic breakdown of his perspectives at the NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) show this year, covering all the big news items from the show. This is a great, balanced look at the highlights from his point of view, and I found the insight into the Adobe presence, products and announcements quite refreshing (particularly as I wasn’t able to attend NAB this year myself).

Check out the video at Drew’s Vox weblog (Adobe highlights are in the last third of the clip, if you’re specifically interested- but I strongly recommend watching the whole run as his commentary is fantastic). Great video!

ALA 2007 Web Design Survey

I often ponder, as I look out upon the crowds at conferences I attend, just how much the topology of web designers (and developers) as a market has changed in the 12 or so years I’ve been involved with it. But my colloquial opinion is just one view onto a rather large community. So I’m pleased to see that A List Apart is starting an annual survey of the web design market to get more aggregate data on the topic. I’m really looking forward to reading the results – and if you’ve already read this far, I’d strongly recommend taking the survey and representing your own experience and views.

Participate in ALA’s 2007 Web Design Survey here, and if you’re so inclined, discuss the survey and it’s questions here to help shape the process in the future. A great idea who’s time has certainly come.

I Took the 2007 ALA Web Design Survey

PVII Slide Show Magic

The next step in my tour of Dreamweaver extensions takes me to long-time Dreamweaver extensionologists, Project Seven. Project Seven (PVII) has always had a warm spot in my heart for taking very specific problem scenarios for web developers, and coming up with extremely elegant and deep solutions to address them.

PVII’s newest commercial extension – Slide Show Magic – is a great example of their problem-specific focus, enabling an automated Dreamweaver interface to create rich, interactive image galleries and slide shows. Sure, you could build out a slideshow’s markup by hand, and code in the fades and dynamic loads by hand, but where Project Seven always excels is coming up with an elegant, accessible, well-structured and automated solution that covers all the bases eloquently.

Not only is Slide Show Magic accessible and indexable, but it gracefully degrades in older browsers, or when JavaScript is disabled. The markup generated by Slide Show Magic isn’t littered with event handlers and extraneous code, and the JavaScript is unobtrusively-written and lean. Their technical solution is as eloquent as the rich visual front end.

If you find yourself building image galleries or slideshows regularly, I can say that I’m very impressed with not just the elegant user interface, but the plumbing beneath the hood of Slide Show Magic- it’s a great automated solution that generates excellent code even the purists can be proud of.

Check out a quick screencast of Slide Show Magic at the Project Seven site (which really highlights the Dreamweaver interface and workflow), or better yet- live demos of the extension in action. Dreamweaver MX and greater are supported, as well as Fireworks MX or greater for image processing (which is optional). Dreamweaver CS3 is supported of course (as are the rest of PVII’s products). Great extension!

35 Designers x 5 Questions

This has to be the most awesome web design article I’ve read in a while. Smashing Magazine interviews 35 designers with 5 questions, resulting in 175 awesome tips and tricks from leading voices in the web design community. Great source of inspiration, advice and know-how, strongly recommended.

Check out the article.

(Thanks to Don Crowley for the twitter-nod and link.)

WebAssist’s eCart 4 Released

WebAssist president Eric Ott dropped by the Adobe offices last week to give me a sneak peek of their new eCart 4 release, which begins shipping as of today. eCart 4 is a significant upgrade to WebAssist’s popular commerce extension to Dreamweaver (supporting DW MX 2004, 8 and CS3).

Back during Eric’s tenure as product manager for Dreamweaver, a huge feature request was an integrated shopping cart solution that made commerce enablement a snap, a call taken up quite admirably by the third-party Dreamweaver developer ecosystem. And from what I can tell, the engineers at WebAssist did a bang-up job of building a very complex but easy-to-use Dreamweaver extension by way of eCart 4 to enable exactly that- rich shopping and commerce functionality in a very user-friendly package. You can see some examples of third-party eCart implementations at the eCart showcase.

Sporting freshly redesigned, standards-based CSS layouts (reviewed and approved by CSS guru Eric Meyer, no less), support for a veritable plethora of back-end payment processing services and frameworks (including all of PayPal’s options), and a very configurable design and layout engine.

The eCart interface itself has undergone a major face-lift as well, with a clean, fresh new look and very well thought-out workflow. Although the options for an ecommerce solution can be vast and overwhelming, WebAssist has done a great job of streamlining the configuration process. Read more about this in the feature breakdown/tour, of course.

This looks like a fantastic upgrade to eCart- an incredibly valuable extension for Dreamweaver overall. Check out the eCart 4.0 website for more details, including a very nicely-done product walkthru by Mark Fletcher. Great job and a powerful new upgrade!

Note: I’ll be looking at some other new offerings from the Dreamweaver extension community over the next few weeks, so keep posted for more soon.

Premiere Pro and After Effects – Now on Labs

Right in line with the NAB show’s industry-wide press storm, Adobe Labs today features two smokin’ hot new prerelease programs for video freaks- both After Effects CS3 and Premiere Pro CS3 prerelease builds are live on Labs and ready to first assault your network/download bandwidth, and then take on your spare processing cycles with aplomb. Also in today’s news, the Soundbooth beta 3 build has been released on Labs. It’s a audio/video storm up there today!

Although After Effects has remained a video-tweaking stalwart on both Mac and Windows platforms for it’s entire lifespan, Premiere Pro dropped Macintosh support two releases ago in favor of Windows-only releases. And quite a bit happened with Premiere in that Windows-only span that Mac users missed out on entirely – the application really took on a more serious, bad-ass side that was (in my opinion) lacking in it’s previous Mac/Windows incarnations. Fortunately now you Mac-bretheren can check out what the PC folk have been freaking on for all that time- as the Premiere Pro CS3 prerelease isn’t just for PCs anymore, but is also Intel Mac-savvy.

A note on availability
Both prerelease programs are for the English version of the applications. I’d also check out the system requirements for Premiere Pro and After Effects to make sure your hardware is up to snuff- video is a pretty taxing media type to work with on any machine.

Also- although Premiere Pro CS3 prerelease will be available to everyone, the After Effects CS3 prerelease program is open to former After Effects and suite owners only – check out the FAQ for more details on whether you qualify.

The products aren’t complete yet and not all functionality is in place, so as with all the Labs programs, make sure to send the teams your feedback and thoughts on the new bits on both the After Effects forums and the Premiere Pro forums.

So what’s holding you back? Go warm up those broadband connections and get crackin’!

CSS Advisor on the Dev Center

In case you missed it, the CSS Advisor site has a new tab/entry point on the Adobe Developer Center as of this morning. Check it out, and if you’ve any good wisdom to share regarding CSS cross-browser rendering bugs, please sit down with a keyboard and pass it along!

Developing CSS With a Clean Slate

I had pleasure of catching Eric Meyer’s presentation at An Event Apart earlier last month on the differences in the various browsers’ default stylesheets- which often accounts for minor differences in rendering that can truly vex your development processes.

Eric’s sage advice for ‘evening the scales’ was to first globally reset a baseline of elements to a consistent and known quantity (without resorting to using the universal selector, then build up your own project-specific styles upon this baseline. This greatly helps account for varying differences in box-model rendering, line height, fonts, etc. which are often interpreted in minutely-different ways by the various browsers’ rendering engines. He even kindly offered to share his own version of such a ‘reset’ stylesheet.

What I did not know – and Eric made me aware of via his ‘blog posting earlier today – is that the YUI team at Yahoo! has already published their own version of a reset.css file to do exactly this.

You can get more information at the Yahoo! UI Library site, along with extensive documentation, ‘quick-start’ notes, and community resources to discuss it’s usage. Very handy, and definitely worth a peek if you’re having issues getting pixel-perfect alignment across your test browser suite.

Welcome, Jonathan!

Adobe Developer Programs group manager Jonathan Wall has finally kicked off his weblog on Blogspot– and I’m sure he’ll have some great insight to share going forward. If you’re curious about the future of Adobe developer programs – even if you’re not – you’ll want to add Jonathan to your blogroll. Drop by his weblog and say hello!

Massimo on Dynamic Editing with Spry

Massimo Foti recently wrote a great article (in Italian) about creating data editing forms with ColdFusion and the Spry framework- and English-speaking regions missed out on it’s coolness. I recently helped Massimo and the Developer Center team translate it into English, so you can now benefit from it’s wisdom on the Adobe Developer center.

Make sure and check out the article – “Creating an interface for editing data in Ajax” – it’s a nice entry into creating forms with Spry to dynamically edit an Access database table (and please don’t blame Massimo for any translation snafus, that would be all my fault as my Italian is shaky at best). Hope you enjoy the article.