Archive for August, 2008

MAX Session Highlight – Extending Spry

One of the MAX 2008 sessions I’m most excited about is Danilo Celic’s session “Extending the Spry Framework“. Danilo’s both an engineer for WebAssist as well as a hardcore individual developer, having been writing Dreamweaver extensions since the API was published years ago. If you’ve been working with Spry but not venturing much ‘outside the box’, this is exactly the session for you- Danilo will cover custom widgets, transitions and effects by extending the base Spry component set, and how to really take the visual effects to the next level.

For a few bloghints from Danilo to whet your appetite, you can check out his posts “Help for creating custom Spry transitions“, and “Upping your Transition Count“, and know that he’s going to school you much, much deeper in the session. Even if you’re more of a general JavaScript coder, this session should have a ton of real-world information you can get tactical with fast. Highly recommended!

MAX Session Highlight – Designing in a Developer’s World

Full disclosure- “Designing in a Developer’s World” is my session this year at MAX. It was born out of many, many discussions I’ve had over the last 2 years in which it’s become increasingly clear that the line between designer and developer is blurring when it comes to modern web-based projects.

As opposed to a decade ago where static web pages and request/response interaction with server-side components were your only choice, these days your average web designer creates designs that are dynamic and stateful – user interface elements open, closed, expanded, and resized, forms that validate themselves without taking a trip to the server first, etc – it’s certainly not 1997 anymore. As the technical demands on web designers increase, the complexity of our projects have increased exponentially. This session will really get to the heart of the quandary- efficiently creating stateful, web-based designs while maintaining a modicum of creativity throughout an increasingly technical process. For examples and context, I’m planning to explore several types of ‘stateful design’ workflows that today’s web designers are regularly a part of- from interactive form-based applications, to rich interface implementation, to content syndication and reuse.

There will be slides and example code available after the session, of course- I’ll be sure to post them on my blog in case you miss it. However, if this sounds up your alley, please add my “Designing in a Developer’s World” session to your MAX schedule, and make sure to come armed with your best questions- my favorite part about these presentations is, quite frankly, the open Q&A that always ensues afterwards.

Look forward to seeing you in November!

WebAssist Launches SiteAssist Professional

Setting up a new Dreamweaver site project can be quite a chore. Sure, you have the FTP/SSH info for your host on hand, a URL you can hit in a browser, and a shrinking deadline (who doesn’t these days?), but building robust sitewide designs and the directory structure that houses them can require a huge amount of preplanning and headwork to do well. Just getting that ‘clickable site framework’ up and live can be a major undertaking, especially with clients breathing down your neck.

Joe Lowery from WebAssist just gave me a demo of their newest solution to this problem- SiteAssist Professional (a ground-up rewrite of their popular SiteAssist Dreamweaver extension) – that can have you up and running with a robust, CSS-based framework for your site in roughly 8 mouse clicks (and probably a few keystrokes too, but who’s counting) that will look great on any modern web browser. To get started with a new site project, the SiteAssist Pro wizard will step you through:

  • Configuring your general site settings
  • Selecting a layout option
  • Configuring pages and navigation (essentially setting up the heirarchy and architecture of your site)
  • Configuring the site footer
  • Output options

… after which you should be up and live with a clickable, functional Dreamweaver site you can then flesh out and customize to the nth degree. If that ‘blank canvas’ problem faces you regularly with new client projects, SiteAssist looks to be a great way to kick out the logistical jams and get rolling fast.

Reusability is a key with SiteAssist- aside from the many great visual/functional/site-level presets available, you can easily save new custom site types (with their own specific collection of page types) as well as quickly apply new designs. Page types are great ways to save and encapsulate common page-specific functionality – like a detail page, a contact form, a video player page, etc – and then reuse them across all your projects in a design-neutral fashion. Clientside and server-side functionality can be partitioned off and saved this way- a real productivity boost if you’re managing a lot of projects in Dreamweaver.

Layout and design is equally flexible- aside from shipping with 16 beautifully-designed native templates you can use to kickstart the process, SiteAssist Pro now works with your existing Dreamweaver templates- making it that much easier to integrate SiteAssist Pro into your existing site designs and workflows. SiteAssist Pro also supports exported layouts from their popular CSS Sculptor product (developed with CSS guru Eric Meyer) and custom page types that allow you to quickly define standard functionality and common design themes for your site. Interoperability appears to be a key feature of the release, it also works seamlessly with the WebAssist’s CSS MenuWriter menu generation extension.

SiteAssist Pro is a commercial extension- $199.99 but available thru September 9th for a reduced $149.99 – and you can get more information on it at the WebAssist site:

Great stuff!

MAX Session Highlight – Spry, PHP and FileMaker Pro

As we get closer to MAX, I’ll be highlighting some of the sessions I’ve noticed that are particularly interesting, unique or otherwise noteworthy- and the first is a rather unlikely combo of technologies that should present a really interesting look into spreading Ajax interfaces onto conventional – or perhaps even unconventional foundations.

In my first featured session, “Using the FileMaker Pro API for PHP with Adobe’s Spry framework“, FileMaker Pro expert Joe Scarpetta will take a critical look at how to meld the FileMaker PHP API with Spry on the front end to quickly build out rich functionality to an existing database application. This session reportedly rocked the house at the recent FileMaker Pro conference, and should be interesting to a much wider MAX audience as both a great how-to session on Spry as well as a peek into larger workflows melding database platforms, PHP and rich user interface components to build out rich, dynamic web user interfaces.

If you’re a designer faced with ‘skinning’ database apps for web or intranet delivery or even a PHP developer looking to extend your skills upward to more UI work, this is a session you won’t want to miss- make sure to add it to your MAX schedule ASAP. And keep posted- I’ll be highlighting several more sessions I’ve particularly been eyeing over the next few weeks on a variety of topics, although probably centered around workflow and such, as that’s a particular area of interest for me.

Speaking today @ An Event Apart SF

I’m currently at An Event Apart San Francisco, where I’ll be speaking this evening on Responsible Web Design, a meme I’ve been following for the last year or so without sharing the slides. Although it started as a ‘Cliffs Notes’ preso on web design and development best practices, it’s now started to incorporate some of the new features of Dreamweaver CS4 that support said practices. I’m all for closing loops, honestly.

As this will be the last time I give this particular presentation (I really mean it this time!), I’m uploading a PDF of the current deck for anyone who’s interested. It’s gone through several iterations, for what it’s worth, so I can’t guarantee it’s the same deck you saw beforehand. Feel free to ask questions here in comments if you have any?

Download the “Responsible Web Design” PDF

You’re welcome to repurpose anything within as you’d like, all I ask is if you’d like to do that- please drop me a line here and tell me how you’ll be using it. However, the code/design assets I use in the DW sections can’t be shared yet (we’ll be using them for a new series of presentations I’m working on), so sorry about that- just slides this time.