InDesign Data Merge with Images

In this Adobe InDesign tutorial you’ll learn how to merge multiple image files into Adobe InDesign to create form letters, postcards or other custom InDesign documents that use custom images for each page in the document. To learn more, visit our InDesign Training Course page to see our InDesign Training classes.

Select and Mask Workspace: Photoshop 2015.5

Photoshop has continued to refine the selection tools available and the latest update, June 2016, is no exception.

Gone is the Refine Edge tool, or better yet, not gone but improved and placed in its own workspace.

image-one

image-two

I have two images I would like to combine and masking out the unnecessary bits of the second image pictured is a simple task which has been made easier. Once photo number two has been added as a new layer to the first image and sized so our participants are approximately the same size we’ll choose the Quick Select tool. Notice there is a new choice in the Options bar, a button labeled Select and Mask.

image-three

quick-select

Clicking the Select and Mask Option takes us into a new workspace and lays out all of our tools in a new window. All the options you’ve used in the past with the Refine Edge tool are here and a few more. The View Mode now includes Onion Skin with a transparency setting that makes masking even easier than it used to be.

select-and-mask-workspace

select-and-mask-transparency

After all adjustments have been made clicking the OK button will apply the mask and return you your standard workspace.

select-and-masked-image

I’ve seen a post or two on Adobe’s Community forum concerned that the Refine Edge tool was gone. Have no fear, it’s still there it has been renamed and resides in the Select and Mask workspace.

Creating Maxfield Parrish Clouds Using Photoshop

I was recently leaving the parking lot of a local business when the cloud formation in front of me reminded me of a painting by American painter and illustrator Maxfield Parrish. If you are not familiar with his work here is a painting called Ecstasy that was commissioned for the 1930 General Electric Mazda Lamp Calendar. The model was his daughter Jean Parrish.

ectasy

The clouds I was looking at were beautiful and saturated with color because it was close to sunset. I grabbed my phone, took a picture, and went about my business. Imagine my disappointment when I looked at the photo later that same evening and this is what I had captured.

IMG_1434-smaller

No worries…that’s one of the many reasons we use Photoshop.

Step number one was to get rid of the power lines, street lights, and poles. My tool of choice was the Spot Healing Brush with Content Aware active. Simply setting the brush size and dragging over sections of the poles and power lines with this tool and next thing you know; unsightly clutter removed.

spot-healing-brush-image

I wasn’t 100% sure how much of the image I wanted to keep so the next thing that needed to go was the building in the lower left-hand corner. Selecting that area with the Rectangular Marquee tool and using Content Aware Fill was all it took. By the way, this was all being done to a copy of the background layer.

content-aware-fill-after-image

Now it was time to decide what part of the image stayed, and what would be cropped. If you think you might change your mind later don’t forget to uncheck Delete Cropped Pixels in the Options bar. That way all of the image is still available.

cropped-image

Now to enhance the image with one of those layers that almost any photograph will benefit from; a Levels Adjustment. Or some of you may prefer a Curves Adjustment. Either way we are adjusting the tonal quality of the photo. Removing the vale as it were, and tweaking our contrast. At this point I’m 90% there.

levels-adjusted-image

One more step and we are complete. Just a slight bump in saturation done by adding a Hue/Saturation Adjustment layer.

memphis-clouds

When complete we have a sky that would be the perfect backdrop to any Maxfield Parrish painting. And all it took was a little imagination…and Photoshop.

Adobe InDesign CC 2015.4; Library Filtering

Using InDesign to create your publication is making your life so much easier.

The photo shoot for your upcoming article went well.

Then you realize in all the pictures taken there is one shot that didn’t happen. Timing, lighting, location…whatever it was, the image isn’t there.

Thankfully, the Creative Cloud includes Adobe Stock images. All that is necessary is opening InDesign’s CC Library Panel. It can be found in every Workspace except Printing and Proofing and even then can be opened by choosing Window > CC Libraries in the menu bar.

library-panel

Once open, the Library Panel offers a search option at the very top.

adobe-stock-search

Typing in a search term or phrase will return hundreds of results from Adobe Stock’s photos, illustrations, vectors, and videos. It certainly would be nice if I could narrow the results down to include only photos and vectors.

New to the June 2016 release of InDesign that request has been fulfilled. Immediately below the search bar you will now find a “Results from Adobe Stock” option with a spinner to the left that lets you expand your search choices to include four filters; photos, illustrations, vectors, and videos.

adobe-stock-search-categories

Checking the appropriate boxes will immediately narrow your search down to only photos, and vectors in our case. Less hunting, less work equals a more productive you.

adobe-stock-library-filtered

Oh, by the way, even though this article is about InDesign this new search filter is also available in Photoshop, Illustrator, Animate, and Dreamweaver. Enjoy!

A Printer Friendly Version

“You’ve seen them before: links that say “click here for printer-friendly version” or words to that effect. Every time you follow one of those links, you load a separate document that presents exactly the same information with a different layout, and probably different markup.

That means somebody (or a script) had to take the original document and convert it to a stripped-down version that’s more suitable for print output. Maybe that somebody was even you.”1

The endnote, if you take the time to read it, will tell you the article this references was written in 2002. Fourteen years later and we are still faced with far too many pages with a printer icon or the ubiquitous “click here for a printer friendly version”. Makes you wonder what we have learned during those years.

The ability to include a stylesheet specifically for print media has existed since CSS 1 released in 1996 and was refined with CSS 2 as a published recommendation in 1998. The <link rel=”stylesheet” href=”print.css” media=”print”> highlighted attribute can be added to a linked external stylesheet. That statement informs the browser the stylesheet is to be used when printing or when viewing the pages content in print preview.

If you would rather not create a separate stylesheet for print media there is the option of adding a @media print section to your existing stylesheet. Any specific rules for printing a page can be added to this media query block.

@media print    {

  header {

  background: none;

  color: #000;

  }

}

Using a separate print stylesheet also affords us the opportunity to use those interesting units of measure CSS offers like pt for fonts or in/cm for margins. We don’t use them because they don’t make any sense in a world of varying screen sizes. It makes consistent design improbable. The printed page on the other hand is consistent in size and is perfect for points, picas, inches, centimeters, or millimeters.

Most of the time designers for the web feel the content is only going to be viewed in a browser. The printed page isn’t a consideration. But it stands to reason if we design pages to adapt to varying screen sizes we should also take print into consideration. The printed web page needs to be addressed in this time of responsive design, usability, and accessibility.

Here are a few additional resources on the subject.

 CSS for print tutorial

6 Things I Learned About Print Stylesheets From HTML5 Boilerplate

10 Tips for Better Print Style Sheets

Tips And Tricks For Print Style Sheets

1Meyer, Eric (5/10/2002). CSS Design: Going to Print [Article]. Retrieved from http://alistapart.com/article/goingtoprint

Face-Aware Liquify: Photoshop 2015.5

The Liquify filter has been part of Photoshop since version 6.0 which was released in September 2000. Over the years there have been a variety of improvements in this filter and the newest release is no different.

There is an entirely new facial recognition portion to the Liquify filter. It works on one face or many faces as long as they are full frontal views. It doesn’t work on profiles. There are separate settings for eyes, nose, mouth, and face size.

Let’s take a look at what it can do. We’ll start with a photo from Adobe Stock.

AdobeStock_73154683_750x500

face-aware-liquify

face-eye-size-aware-liquify-

face-eye-size2-aware-liquify-

face-nose-aware-liquify-

 

face-mouth-aware-liquify-

face-shape-aware-liquify-

With a few adjustments to each of the four facial areas our original photo now takes on a new appearance. A narrower face, raising and narrowing the nose, thinner lips, and making the eyes a little smaller looks like a different person.

AdobeStock_73154683_liquified_750x500

 

Straightening an Image Using the Crop Tool: Photoshop 2015.5

Sometimes the picture is perfect…almost. You see, while the composition is excellent that slight tilt left or right throws the image off. Photoshop has offered a couple of different tools over the years that will allow us to fix this issue but not without additional doctoring.

With Photoshop’s latest release (2015.5 June release) they have knocked it out of the park. Let’s take a look at a simple example. Here is a shot of downtown Memphis, TN. taken from the observation deck of Memphis Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid.

before-crop

It’s a decent enough shot but the slight tilt of the camera puts the horizon at an angle, which you can see in this screen capture from Photoshop.

horizon-line

The tools we’ve used in the past, primarily the ruler tool, would allow us to straighten the image. But then we would end up needing to crop the image to take care of the white or transparent background that became visible where the picture rotated. The crop tool also allowed us to rotate an image to straighten it, and CS6 even proportionally cropped the picture as we rotated it. As a matter of fact, that’s still an option as you can see here. The area between the orange lines is what will be cropped.

straight-but-cropped

Ideally we could rotate the image and not need to crop the finished product.

Enter a new usage for Content Aware that is associated with the Crop Tool. The Content Aware algorithm continues to amaze as it finds its way into more and more tools. Now all you need to do is check the Content Aware checkbox in the Options Panel when you select the Crop Tool.

selecting-content-aware

Rotate the image so the horizon is level, press enter or click the Commit current crop operation button and watch in amazement as the picture is rotated and the areas that would normally be blank are filled based on surrounding pixels.

typical-straighten-content-aware

No pixels lost and a perfect horizon line. Thank you Photoshop and thank you Content Aware!

after-crop-straightened

Font Matching: New to Photoshop 2015.5

Have you ever seen an ad before and wondered what font was being used? That’s probably not the type of question you ask of just anyone, but in the world of graphic design…well that’s a different story. The latest release of Photoshop, 2015.5 June release has a new feature that will help answer that nagging font question.

Let’s use this image as our example and we’ll place some sample text above it to test our results.

font-to-test-with

With the image containing our unknown font open in Photoshop we’ll need to designate the area to sample from, so using the rectangular marquee tool simply draw a rectangle around the text you’d like to sample.

marquee-font-to-match

Next, using the menu select Type > Match Font.

type-menu-match-font

After having selected Match Font from the menu, a new Match Font dialog box will open. The dialog box will be divided into two sections. The upper section will offer suggestions from your installed fonts. The lower section will offer suggestions from the available fonts at Typekit.

suggested-installed-and-available

Then it’s just a matter of doing some comparisons’. Choose an installed font for your sample text and see how much it does or doesn’t look like the font being sampled.

local-font-selected

In a perfect world we would always find an exact match, but that’s not where we live and there are hundreds of thousands of different fonts that exist. It will find the closest suggestions it has based on what you and Typekit have.

It can be a true time saver.

 

 

Photoshop Image Adjustment Layer

The art of photography has changed dramatically with the advent of the smart phone. Today everyone is a photographer, and pretty much all of those photographs need some adjustment. Enter Photoshop with the ability to adjust your pictures in a non-destructive way.

The Adjustments Panel in Photoshop includes 16 different types of adjustments that can be applied to your image as a separate layer. By doing this as a separate layer none of the pixels in the original image are altered. The benefit to you of course means you always have your original.

Let’s take a look at two of the most common adjustments: levels, and hue/saturation.

Here is a beautiful image of the Bay Bridge in San Francisco taken from a passing plane. At first glance everything looks great but truth be told it could use a little help.

base-image

This image shows the histogram, or tonal range of or picture. Notice the two orange triangles on either end. They indicate where black should start on the left side (0) and where white should start on the right side (255). By moving the sliders, the circled options, we have re-established those tonal beginning points. The mid-tone slider has also been adjusted to drop the mid-tone just a touch. The resulting changes have a dramatic impact on the image.

levels-histogram

base-levels

One additional adjustment to our image will be beneficial. We’ll bump the saturation (color intensity) just slightly to improve the coloring in the lower left-hand corner.

saturation-adjustment

base-levels-saturation

The difference is subtle but just enough to help the image pop.

Crystal Reports Performance Information Tool

After designing a report Crystal Reports provides a built-in utility that will allow you to test performance and shine a light on areas where optimization would be beneficial. It is called the Performance Information tool and can be found by selecting Report > Performance Information in the menu.

menu-performance-information

Once opened, the Performance Information dialog box has a tree structure on the left side that provides five sets of information captured by the tool.

performance-information

Report Definition – Information about the reports content: number of fields, number of summaries, Chart objects, Special Fields, etc.

Saved Data – Data captured in the report: number of data sources, total number of records, size of the saved data.

Processing – Processing of the selected report: grouping and sorting on the server, required page count, number of summary values.

Latest Report Changes – Recent changes to the report.

Performance Timing – These values provide the specific benchmark to determine if any modifications have impacted performance: timing to open the document, formatting the first page, number of pages formatted, and the average time to format a page.

To keep track of these pieces of performance data the Performance Information dialog box offers the option to save the information in a separate text file.

performance-information-save

performance-information-saved-text

These saved files can then be used for comparison purposes. What has improved and what had the greatest impact.

performance-information-text

Using a CSS Reset

One of the frustrations designers have been feeling for some time now stems from web design by committee, or design via theme. Many web sites today are WordPress sites with a theme and some content. Just add words and you have an instant site. Then comes the task of modifying the site and trying to make heads or tails of the built-in CSS. Have fun! And we won’t talk about accidently removing content that hoses the database that breaks the site…Arg! But I digress. Sometimes that frustration can come from the browser itself. Did you know that your browser, user-agent, has its own stylesheet and it is first in line to style everything until you step in?

CSS reset to the rescue.

At least that is the way many people feel. Let me, the designer, decide what things should look like and you, the browser, step aside so I can do my job.

To demonstrate we will be using the first chapter of Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein and three different interpretations of a CSS reset. Here is what the page looks like as rendered by Google Chrome and its stylesheet.

screenCapture-nostylesheet

The HTML is simple and straightforward. A couple of headings and a series of paragraphs. Everything about the page, font, text color, background color, line height, heading size and weight are all set by the browser stylesheet.

frankenstein

The first reset we will use was designed by Vladimir Carrer back in 2010 and is a minimal approach to resetting the user-agent styles. It contains 5 declarations and modifies 18 elements, barely. Two of the declarations deal with tables and we aren’t using any tables.

mini-reset

The end result looks like this:

screenCapture-mini-reset

The primary things you will notice include the weight of the two headings has been returned to normal and the document margins and padding are set to zero. So little change it’s almost not noticeable. “I wanted to make Mini CSS Reset who will focus on the main CSS features like Divs , Tables and Forms who are also the most used CSS(HTML) elements.”  – Vladimir Carrer

The next reset was created by Russ Weakly back in 2010. It is a little more involved but still changes little within our document.

simple-reset

The end result looks like this:

screenCapture-simple-reset

The largest benefit to our document using this stylesheet is the elimination of margins from the top of headings and paragraphs. In essence what is left is “space-below” which makes it easier to control these elements.

The last reset we will investigate today is the shortest but involves the largest changes. It is mentioned in Jason Cranford Teague’s book CSS3. The premise is to reset the most important styles using the universal selector. It changes 10 properties on everything.

reset-simple

The end result looks like this:

screenCapture-cssreset-simple

It almost resembles a document with no tags, therefore, no styles. The thing to keep in mind here are the 10 properties that have been altered and what we want those new settings to be. A reset returns design control to our hands and that is generally what a designer wants.

This reset works well for small to mid-sized sites but can create a lot of work for large sites.

Making “Can Grow” a Global Setting in Crystal Reports

There are a lot of different setting we talk about during our Crystal Reports classes. Much of the information we end up displaying within these reports consists of text, and in our quest to make it fit we end up making constant adjustments to width and height. That is, until we are introduced to the string format option can grow.

With one simple format setting we eliminate the need to make those height adjustments.

Here is what we are talking about. Our example will use a simple group heading to identify the country of origin.

design_view

It looks like this in print preview.

print_preview

We decide to increase the group heading font size from 10 points to 12 points and discover upon previewing that some of the text has been truncated.

cropped_group_text (more…)

Code Hinting in Crystal Reports Formula Workshop

When using Crystal Reports, formulas play a large role in preforming such basic tasks as conditional formatting, selecting records, and general calculations. The code window for all of these tasks is called the Formula Workshop. It is a centralized window divided into five sections; Workshop tree, Field Tree, Function Tree, Operator Tree, and Definition area.

formula_workshop

Normally when you want to create a basic calculation formula such as taking one database field and multiplying it by another database field you will expand your connection object within the Field Tree so you can see all of your available tables. Clicking the plus sign next to each table will reveal all of the fields in that table. You next step is either double-click the field to insert it into the Definition area or left-click and drag it into the Definition area.

The same can be said for inserting functions or operators. The only difference being you would need to expand the categories each function or operator is listed under.

The Definition area offers an interesting code hinting feature I find very useful. If I want to use a particular field from a database table all I need to do is type an opening curly brace in the Definition area and a pop-up tip gives me a list of all my available database tables. Typing the first letter of the table will select it and I can now press the tab key to insert it. As soon as it is inserted another pop-up tip shows a dot and all the fields within that table. Typing its first letter or first few letters will select it and I can now press tab to insert it.

orderdetails

quantity

A wonderfully fast way to get to any function or operator in the Definition area is to use a simple keyboard shortcut. Just press Ctrl + Spacebar and the same pop-up tip will start an alphabetical list of functions and operators. As you type the pop-up tip eliminates anything that does not contain the letters you are typing.

control_spacebar

control_spacebar_typing

As soon as you can see the function or operator you are looking for you can use your up and down arrow keys to select the item you want. Pressing the tab or enter key will insert it.

control_spacebar_more_typing

This can be a real time saver because you do not need to expand the function or operator categories. Just start typing and your code can be inserted.

tab_or_enter

Is It Time for a New Browser?

viv_icon_256Microsoft_Edge_logo_256    logo256

 

When it comes to the topic of web browsers one phrase comes to mind, oh how the mighty have fallen. In the 23 years since the release of Mosaic, “the world’s first popular browser”, we have seen several major contenders rise to the top.

In 1994 the same people that developed Mosaic started a company named Netscape and released Netscape Navigator. Its growth was phenomenal as the popularity of the web was just taking off. Microsoft jumped on the band wagon in 1995 with Internet Explorer. During these early years Netscape dominated with as much as 90% of the market. Then and before you knew it the first browser war was being waged.

Microsoft bundled Internet Explorer with their Windows 98 operating system and said it was free which forced Netscape to stop charging for their browser. Within a matter of a couple of years the numbers were completely reversed and Internet Explorer had a 90+% market share.

Meanwhile in Norway a small browser named Opera was released in 1996. You’ve heard of it…right?

The two major players continued to battle it out when Apple decided it was time to introduce their own browser for their operating system. Safari made its debut in 2003 and was available for both Apple and Windows computers from 2007 until support for Windows was dropped in 2012.

Unfortunately neither Opera nor Safari seemed to be offering much competition to the now reigning browser, Internet Explorer. Quietly behind the scenes, Netscape had launched the Mozilla Foundation in order to introduce the open-source model to the world of browsers. It resulted in the release of Firefox in 2004. From the time of its release until its peak at about 28% in 2011 Firefox chipped away at Internet Explorer’s dominance.

Google, I assume you’ve heard of it, released Chrome in September of 2008. With chinks in its armor already showing from battling Firefox, Chrome piled on Internet Explorer as well. It probably didn’t help that Internet Explorer had been sitting on its browser duff and most web developers considered it to be a pain to work with. Oh yeah, and there were at least 4 different versions still being used.

Somewhere along in May of 2012 Chrome passed Internet Explorer as the top dog browser and as it continues to rise…Internet Explorer continues to fall.

So, the title of this article said something about a new browser. Truth be told we have several new choices.

If you have moved over to Windows 10 Internet Explorer is no longer installed by default. Microsoft’s new browser is called Edge and is a light-weight standards compliant application built on a new engine that has removed support for legacy technologies like ActiveX.

Pale Moon is an open source browser for usage on a Windows or Linux operating system.

“Pale Moon offers you a browsing experience in a browser completely built from its own, independently developed source that has been forked off from Firefox/Mozilla code, with carefully selected features and optimizations to improve the browser’s speed*, resource use, stability and user experience, while offering full customization and a growing collection of extensions and themes to make the browser truly your own.”

http://www.palemoon.org/

The newest of the new would be Vivaldi, released on April 6, 2016. Started by former Opera CEO Jon Stephenson von Tetzchner, it exists due to dissatisfaction with the direction Opera has chosen to move.

“Fast forward to 2015. The browser we once loved has changed its direction. Sadly, it is no longer serving its community of users and contributors — who helped build the browser in the first place.

So we came to a natural conclusion: we must make a new browser. A browser for ourselves and for our friends. A browser that is fast, but also a browser that is rich in functionality, highly flexible and puts the user first. A browser that is made for you.” – Jon Stephenson von Tetzchner

https://vivaldi.com

Exciting times are upon us again. Change is something we fight yet we fail to remember that change in inevitable. It was Netscape. It was Internet Explorer. It is Chrome. What’s next?

CSS3 Multiple Columns

Doing a basic web page text layout using more than one column has been much more of a chore than it ever should have been. In the early days of web design almost everything was built using tables. Actually tables inside tables inside tables. Along comes HTML 4.0 with its companion CSS but we still continued using tables. Why, because our browsers weren’t compliant.

It should have been easy because CSS introduced the float property. Take two div tags and float them side by side and we have the basic design concept of two columns. Eventually browsers did embrace CSS and what it offered but it still could have been easier.

Finally CSS3 has addressed the problem with a breakthrough simple solution. We now have a series of column properties that will allow us to divide our content into as many columns as we need.

Columns have been used in printing for a variety of reasons one of which is keeping text lines short enough to make reading easier. No long lines so you need your finger to trace down to the beginning of the next line. Lines of a length that we can read as a thought and not just a group of words.

That line length is generally considered to be between 65 and 90 characters. Taking that into consideration we can look at the first chapter of Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein laid out in full screen.

full-screen-width-text

The html is simple and straight forward.

chapter-one

By adding just a few lines of code to our CSS file (still using the necessary browser prefixes) we can ask the browser to flow the text into as many columns as we need.

css-column-propeties

I have chosen to set the column width property but we could also have used column-count and set its value to 2, 3, 4 or however many columns necessary.

two-column-text

In a commented area about our section settings you can see the list of CSS3 column properties. Count, gap, rule, and width are the primary choices. Column-span would allow us to span the title across multiple columns. Time will tell how much longer we need to use the browser prefixes but as long as they are included multiple columns are finally easy to implement.

QlikView Quick Suggestions: Moving a Comma for Quick Editing

Here is a simple and very straight forward suggestion when working in QlikView’s Script Editor.

When you are loading data from any source and your LOAD statement has a list of fields that you may want to shorten at some point; consider this simple suggestion.

The comma that divides the field values is found ate the end of the field name.

Script-editor

Consider moving the comma to the beginning of the next line and remove it from the end of the previous line.

Script-editor-comma-moved

Now if you find it necessary to remove a field or two or more from your table; just comment out that line in your script using a single line comment.

Script-editor-comma-moved-commented-out

No additional changes need to be made. Save the file and reload your script.

Need the field back…remove the comment, save, reload.

Life is good!

 

Cropping Images with CSS

There are times when you want to focus on a specific area of a photograph but don’t need a separate, cropped version of the picture. CSS offers an approach that will maintain the complete, original image but allow you to crop, mask, or clip your picture.

Let’s begin with a simple example. This page includes a full-size image of a young lady sipping a cold beverage on a beautiful spring day.

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Using CSS3 Instead of JavaScript

CSS3 has been in development since 1998, that’s right, 1998. Both CSS1 and CSS2 became standards in quick succession, December of 1996 for CSS1, and May of 1998 for CSS2. One of the main differences between CSS3 and its predecessors is the use of documents or “modules” to contain different components of the specification. Some examples would include media queries, level 3 selectors, level 3 color, and multi-column layout. These modules progress at different rates and are largely dependent on browser support.

There are two specific modules we are going to take a look at today: transforms and transitions.

Transforms can be 2D or 3D and allow you to scale, rotate, move, or skew an object.

Transitions allow you to change properties smoothly from one value to another, over a measured duration.

These two modules in combination allow us to perform basic hover effects that in the past were only doable using JavaScript. The advantage of using CSS is twofold: less code, and slightly better performance since animating a transform occurs in the GPU.

If you are concerned about browser support we have included screen captures from caniuse.com. All is well as long as your users/clients have progressed beyond IE9.

caniuse-transform

caniuse-transitions

Our demonstration will begin with a simple list that will be styled to look like a couple of sticky notes.

html-step-1

To make our sticky notes appear to be hand written we would like to use a font that looks that way, hand written. CSS3 makes that easier now because of the addition of web-fonts. For years we were stuck using the same fonts over and over again. Now it’s as easy as going to Google Fonts, selecting something from their list of over 700 fonts, clicking the quick use button, copying a link and pasting it into the head of your web page. Just use the name of the font supplied by Google in your stylesheet and you are good to go.

css-step-2

We’ll also add a drop shadow to give a sense of dimension to our notes. You’ll notice a prefix being used for this code. With 5 browsers vying for your attention and each of them progressing at a different pace they have taken to using slightly different syntax. This prefix is necessary for a given browser in order for your style to work. Eventually all browsers will use a standardized syntax, but for the time being we will include the prefix to guarantee success.

css-step-3

With some basic styles in place our page should look like this.

screen-shot-2

Now we want our sticky notes to appear randomly placed which means they shouldn’t look straight or level. That’s where transform comes into play. We’ll take each note and rotate it and use relative positioning from CSS2 to move them up or down. We are also using the CSS3 pseudo class nth-child to select which list item we are styling.

css-step-4

Our page now looks like this.

screen-shot-3

The over-all effect we are looking for is a zoomed in, straightened view of our sticky note. To accomplish this we will use the CSS2 pseudo-class hover. It will allow us to scale our note using transform and then time and smooth that transformation using transition.

css-step-5

css-step-6

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QlikView–Moving the “Unmovable” Object

QlikView is without a doubt one of my most favorite programs to teach.  The capabilities for modeling and visualizing data are just amazing.  But for all of QlikView’s shine and wonder, it’s not without its shortcomings.  I really shouldn’t say “shortcomings”, but there are a few areas that could use a bit of improvement.  Take, for instance, moving objects around the report space.

Normally, an object possesses a title bar (or “caption”, as QlikView likes to call it) and you can simply click and hold the caption bar and move the object.  The problem arises when a designer hides the caption bar (and to a lesser extent the border), leaving the report viewer with what appears to be no way to grab and move the object.

Instead of temporarily turning the caption and borders back on just to make a simple adjustment and then turning them back off again, you can place the mouse pointer over the object and hold down the ALT key on the keyboard.  This will activate the MOVE feature where you can now relocate the object quickly and effectively.

Gauge
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Microsoft Word – 10 Features that will Improve Your Workflow

With so many features packed inside each Microsoft application, it’s easy to overlook some that can really add value to your daily workflow.  Below is a list of some of the features you may have never noticed but will quickly become part of your daily routine.

Styles

image

Styles are not only a great time-saver, but they form the basis of a variety of other Word features.

Styles allow you to assign in bulk a variety of different formatting attributes, like font size, style, color, alignment, line spacing, borders, shades, indentation, etc…  The list is quite voluminous.  Once styles are applied to text, the text can then be bulk-updated simply by changing the style.  If you modify the style, Word will automatically apply the change to all text whose appearance was created from the style.  Imagine the time saved when making minor alterations like changing the font size of all headings.  Change the style and all of the headings are updated to match.

Once you have your styles in place, you can now also navigate more effectively through your document via the Navigation Pane.  Any text formatted with a heading style will appear as a list entry.  This will become one of the greatest time-savers when navigating large documents.

image (more…)

Preserving White Space Using CSS

We find it easy working with white space in today’s generation of applications. In word processing pressing the spacebar, tab key, enter, return, or even shift+ enter and what they deliver are all things we have grown to expect.

That isn’t the case when designing for the web. Some visual design programs handle basic white space issues like line breaks and paragraphs but the remainder of presentational formatting is left up to us. There is no HTML tab tag so we insert additional space characters. Without the space character (technically the non-breaking space character; &nbsp;) the browser will strip out the additional white space.

An approach that can make this easier is to use the CSS white-space property. It has 6 (six) values; normal, inherit, nowrap, pre, pre-line, and pre-wrap.

white-space-html-code

  • inherit – inherits it’s property from the parent container
  • normal – white space works as usual
  • nowrap – next will never wrap until it encounters a <br> tag, all other white space collapses as usual
  • pre – text acts like the HTML <pre> tag, formatting is as you see it, is as you type it
  • pre-line – text will collapse as usual, will break and wrap as necessary
  • pre-wrap – text is as you type it, will wrap and break as necessary

white-space-browser-full-screen

white-space-browser-full-screen-scrollbars

white-space-browser-half-screen

Browser support is full (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera) as long as you are using IE 8 or later. It is part of the CSS1 specification.

10 Web Resources for Front End Developers

Things on the web move so fast they make the idea of “time flies” seem slow. The World Wide Web has been available to the public since 1991, 25 years this fall. Most people today couldn’t imagine life without the web.

Developers are faced with a tremendous challenge today. The web is a moving target. So much so that WHATWG (Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group) has chosen to refer to HTML as a “living document”, meaning it is constantly being edited and updated.

This means the tools we use and the items we refer to change constantly as well. This list of 10 web resources includes sites I have used for years, and a couple I’ve just discovered. They range from color references to HTML references to best practices. Are they perfect…no. Are they all inclusive…no. But you gotta start somewhere!

caniuse.com

caniuse

If you’re designing for the web today you’re using HTML5. And if you’re using HTML5 you are still faced with browser compatibility issues. This site is a great location to determine what features are compatible with your users most commonly used browser(s).

paletton.com

paletton

Originally known as ColorSchemeDesigner.com, paletton.com is the one tool in this list I have used and referred people to the longest. It is a great color planning and utilization site. Others have come along but it is still my go-to color scheme planner.

color.adobe.com

color-adobe

This is one of those “others have come along” sites I just mentioned. It began as kuler.adobe.com and has changed the kuler part to color (kuler is a Mauritian Creole word that means color). One of the benefits of this site are the thousands of color themes available.

HTML5 Cheat Sheet

html5-cheat-sheet

The one page, downloadable reference to HTML5 tags. It is available as a PDF file or a .png file. Grab a copy and throw it in a centrally located folder so it’s there when you need it.

typewolf.com

typewolf

If content is king, typographic characters and correct grammar are important! A great reference for those who “get it” and for those who don’t. After all, according to Oliver Reichenstein, web design is 95% typography (please feel free to discuss among yourselves).

javascripting.com

javascripting

There seems to be a never ending array of JavaScript libraries and frameworks to deal with. As this site tells us it is the “definitive source of the best JavaScript libraries, frameworks, and plugins”. Check it out and put that statement to the test.

youmightnotneedjquery.com

might-not-need-jquery

As browser compatibility improves there are times we can accomplish a lot with a little. A little JavaScript more specifically. There are times we don’t need to load an external resource to do something we can do in our own code. This site demonstrates many examples, from effects to events, proving that less can be more.

regxlib.com

reg-ex-lib

Since we were just talking about JavaScript, how ‘bout them regular expressions? Almost since day one, JavaScript has been used for form validation. IMHO it’s hard to beat the RegExp object for verifying the information supplied in a form is correct. This site has thousands of prebuilt expressions ready to use.

regular-expressions.info

regular-expressions-info

In case you didn’t get the concept I think regular expressions are powerful validation tools, here’s another resource. The last site had lots of code to use, this site has more information on the how-to part of things.

github.com/bendc/frontend-guidelines

frontline-guidelines

I mentioned best practices at the beginning of this post and this is one person’s interpretation. A series of recommendations dealing with content, presentation, and behaviors. (more…)

Change Colors Using Blending Modes in Photoshop

There are times when everything about the picture you’ve just taken seems to be perfect. Then, when it comes time to use it, you discover one key color just doesn’t work. Or you need the same item in more than one color.

Using Photoshop one solution is to apply the color needed to a new layer and change its Blending Mode.

Take our automobile example for instance. The photograph captures the essence of the car but the ad needs to feature a new, hot color.

telsa-base-color

Our first step is to add a new empty layer above the car layer. There are several ways to do this but we are only going to mention one which is the keyboard shortcut; Ctrl+Shift+N on Windows , or Cmd+Shift+N on a Mac.

This adds a new layer above our background layer. We’ll rename this new layer “paint job” by double clicking the name in the Layers Panel and typing the new name in its place.

Next we’ll change the foreground color in the Tools Panel to the new color we want on our car. If you know the RGB color value you can click the foreground color swatch to open up the Color Picker Panel. Then type the RGB values in the appropriate location and click OK.

tesla-color-picker-window

With a new layer in place and the color we what selected the next set would be to use the Bruch Tool to paint over the car on the new layer. It doesn’t have to be perfect, we can clean things up later.

tesla-color-layer

The magic happens in our next step. Once we’ve painted over the existing color and it looks like our next example image we change the Blend Mode of this new “paint job” layer from Normal to Color.

tesla-blend-mode-menu

Voila! A new car with a new paint color. There may be a little clean-up work needed on the “paint job” layer, but that can be handled with the Eraser Tool.

tesla-blend-mode-color (more…)

QlikView – Suppress Splash Screen

We spend so much time trying to make things run as quickly and efficiently as possible, but sometimes we just can’t help ourselves when it comes to self-promotion.

QlikView loves making things go fast; starting QlikView is another story. As if we were unaware that we had elected to launch QlikView, a several second “commercial” in the form of a splash screen has to tell us that we are one of the lucky ones.

Splash1

As much as I enjoy using QlikView, I find the startup splash screen to be a bit of a nuisance.

The good news is, there is a VERY easy way to prevent the splash screen from being displayed during program launch. (more…)

Photoshop Interface Easter Egg

Easter eggs in software have been around since 1978. The term was made popular by developers at Atari after game designer Warren Robinett placed his name as a hidden message within the game Adventure. Finding the message was like going on an Easter egg hunt.

Today, Easter eggs are hidden gems within software applications, operating systems, and DVDs. The developers at Adobe are no strangers to this concept.

The new dark interface settings within Photoshop have given the development team a wonderful location to place an Easter egg. To get to these settings we need to open the Preferences panel and we can do so by selecting Edit > Preferences > Interface on a Windows computer, or by clicking the Photoshop menu and going to Preferences > Interface on a Mac.

edit-preferences-interface

Inside the Interface portion of the Preferences panel there are four square buttons at the top of the dialog box. They represent our four different color settings. Clicking on each one allows you to lighten or darken the UI (User Interface). The Easter egg is changing those buttons to either coffee cups or slices of toast.

photoshop-preferences-interface-default

Hold down Ctrl+Alt+Shift on Windows or Cmd+Opt+Shift on a Mac and click on one of the buttons…they change into coffee cups. Do the same thing again…they change back into square buttons. One more time…they change into slices of toast. A fourth click while holding down our key combination and they return to square buttons.

photoshop-preferences-interface-coffeecup

photoshop-preferences-interface-toast (more…)

Excel – Hide Records with Zeroes in Pivot Table Calculations

One of the most asked questions of beginning, and sometimes seasoned, pivot table users is “How do I hide the entries in a pivot table whose totals equal zero?”  On first blush, this seems like an easy feat, but users quickly discover that it’s not as easy as predicted.  There are ways to sort the source data and then exclude the entries with zero values, but that task of sorting and filtering the source data would have to be performed each time the source data is updated.  This is not an appealing prospect.

There is actually a very easy way to not display pivot table records that equal zero. (more…)