Photoshop CC 2017 Property Panel Update

November of 2016 has seen an update to the Adobe Creative Cloud Suite which includes Photoshop. I have already posted one article on the changes to the New Document window and another article on the updates to the Liquify Filter.

The focus of this article will be on the changes to the Properties Panel in Photoshop CC 2017. The last couple of updates have seen improvements to the Property Panel, but this by far is the biggest change.

Take a look at this screen capture of the 2015.5 Property Panel in use.

photoshop-cc-2015-5-properties-panel

The Properties Panel contains absolutely no information about the selected layer.

The same layer selected in Photoshop CC 2017 now includes x and y coordinates as well as width and height data.

properties-2017

Here is another example this time with a text layer selected. First in the 2015.5 release.

photoshop-cc-2015-5-properties2-panel

And now in the 2017 Update.

properties2-2017

In addition to the x and y coordinates available previously we now can change the font, font size, alignment, and color. Additionally there is an Advanced button that will open the Character Panel.

All of these changes are designed to accomplish one thing, making each task more efficient by limiting the number of panels we need to open.

The Properties Panel update is a welcome change to Photoshop CC 2017.

Photoshop CC 2017 Face-Aware Liquify Update

If you remember the last update to Photoshop (Summer 2016) we shared a post about the new Liquify Filters Face-Aware feature. It turned out to be a wonderful addition.

The filter addition would naturally recognize the facial region and let you modify eyes, nose, mouth, and face shape. Working on a face or multiple faces became much easier.

face-aware-liquify-2015-5

But there was a drawback…there was only one set of adjustment tools for the eyes. Which meant the changes would be applied equally to both eyes.

Photoshop CC 2017 has addressed this issue and has fixed it. The Liquify Filters Face-Aware settings include two sets of controls for the eyes; one for the left and one for the right. Eye size, height, width, and tilt can be set for each eye independently.

face-aware-liquify-2017

Thank you Adobe. A great filter is now even more powerful and an easier to use utility.

 

Photoshop CC 2017 New Document Window

Sometimes the changes to an application are subtle, sometimes not so much. Last year’s Start Workspace in Photoshop was one of those not so subtle changes. Just a few weeks back Adobe’s Creative Cloud application suite updated to its 2017 version and Photoshop has added another one of those not so subtle changes.

Selecting File > New in the menu bar or the New button within the Start Workspace has resulted in dialog box similar to this for a number of years.

2015-5-new-file

If you expanded the Document Type menu you were presented with several choices including; Clipboard, Default Photoshop Size, U.S. Paper, International Paper, Photo, Web, Mobile App Design, Film & Video, Iconography, Art & Illustration, Artboard , and Custom.

2015-5-new-file-options

This is no longer the case. The New Document window is much larger and although some of the old menu categories remain the window is completely revamped.

2017-new-file

Each of these presents a screen with a series of default sized blank documents, and also pre-built templates available through Adobe Stock.

2017-new-photo

Many of the templates are free and there is a search option that will take you to Adobe Stock online so you can look at the other options available.

2017-new-web-download

Once downloaded the resulting file will contain a series of scenes, layers, or artboards and each item will be on its own layer ready to be used as you see fit.

2017-after-download

All the custom options are still there but Adobe has added through Adobe Stock many start-up options. You don’t have to start with a black slate if you don’t want to.

 

 

The HTML q Tag

Somewhere in the neighborhood of 18 to 20 years ago I sat down one weekend with a book, a computer, and a few images and put together my first basic website. It was about artists from the Impressionist movement and was not anything to brag about with one exception, I built it myself, using Notepad.

That was the era of HTML 3.2 moving toward HTML 4.0. Netscape was my browser of choice and most pages used tables for layout.

A lot has changed in the following years but one thing remains…most people don’t know that HTML has a q tag to wrap things in quotes. If something is supposed to be in quotes most people will just type them in their code editor, or allow their visual design application to insert the entity characters to put quotes in place. Like this:

entity-quote

Which results in this page.

quote-entity-browser

One of the main reasons I didn’t use the q tag early on was lack of browser support. Netscape supported it but IE didn’t, and IE was on the rise. The next group of browsers (Firefox, Chrome) weren’t any better. When you don’t use something for an extended period of time you tend to forget about it. That’s what happened to the q tag in my brain.

Another reason may be the fact that it is a specialized tag. It serves one purpose, wrapping text in quotation marks as part of a citation. Why learn about a tag that does one job? Mostly for SEO (search engine optimization). Giving credit where credit is due.

Using the q tag is simple and straight forward. Whatever you want quoted…wrap that text within a pair of q tags.

quote-tag

quote-ie

As for browser support in 2016; all current browsers support the q tag. IE 9 forward offers full support. So maybe it’s time to look at the small but useful q tag and give credit where credit is due.

 

HTML5 Form Date Attribute

Getting corporate America to make the move to HTML5 seemed to take longer than any other transition we’ve seen in the past. In part I’m sure due to the long development process. From first working draft in January of 2008 to stable recommendation in October of 2014, that’s almost 7 years.

There are many compelling reasons to make the change but the one we will focus on today deals with forms and an easier way of inputting a date.

Early on the primary means of capturing a date was supplying a simple textbox and a visual example of the formatting.

text-element-browser

text-element

It was simple but had to have validation to guarantee its formatting.

Another approach would have been using select menus. A lot more code, both to build the lists and to concatenate the values on the server.

dob-select-list

dob-select-list-code

Another option would be to use a JavaScript library like jQuery and plug in their Datepicker UI component.

dob-jquery-datepicker

It would all be so much easier if date were just on option for a form element. Well it is in HTML5!

date-element-code

That simple input type results in a UI structure that looks like the Datepicker from jQuery.

date-element-chrome

This screen capture is using Chrome but it looks exactly the same in Opera. If you use Edge on Windows 10 it looks like this.

date-element-edge

On an iPhone using Chrome within iOS 10 it looks like this.

date-element-chrome-iphone

That’s all the good news, now for the downside. It doesn’t work in any version of IE, Firefox or Safari and doesn’t look promising for the last two in the foreseeable future.

But don’t let that stop you. Remember, if the browser doesn’t recognize the input type it defaults to a textbox, our old standard method. The benefits to the remaining users and all those on mobile devices are all in the plus column.

Adding Power View to the Excel Ribbon

In recent years Microsoft has included several add-ins to boost Excels usage in the world of Business Intelligence. They include Power Map, Power Query, Power Pivot, and our topic of discussion today, Power View for Excel 2013.

Each of these ship with the Professional Edition of Excel 2013 but need to be added through the Options Panel. After going through this process I was more than surprised to find Power View was still unavailable. So this posting will help those of you experiencing the same dilemma I faced recently.

First things first. This is what my Insert tab looked like after the Power View add-in was…added in.

insert-tab-no-powerview

Normally there would be a Reports group that included one control, Power View. As you can see it doesn’t appear on this tab or any other tab.

Here are a couple of additional screen captures to show that it had been selected and does show up in the Add-In area of the Options Panel.

com-addins

options-dialog-box

I had gone through the necessary steps just as I had with Power Pivot, Power Map, and Power Query. They were all working yet Power View wasn’t available.

It took a while but the solution was found in a posting dealing with Excel 2016. Those steps are what we will go through now.

First we are going to customize the ribbon by adding a Reports group to the Insert tab. That is done by going to the File tab and selecting Customize Ribbon.

customize-ribbon

Make sure Insert is expanded and selected under Main Tabs, and then click the New Group button under the Customize the Ribbon section on the right side of the panel.

new-group

Now we will rename the group by clicking the Rename button in the same area as the New Group button.

rename-group

Now we need to find Power View in the Choose Commands from section on the left. It will be in the Commands not found in the ribbon menu option. It is Insert a Power View Report.

insert-a-power-view-report

That’s it. Click on OK at the bottom of the Options Panel and head back to the Insert tab. There it is on the far right side of the ribbon.

One additional thing, you will need Silverlight installed for Power View to work.

power-view-is-available

 

 

Styling the Humble Checkbox Using CSS

The checkbox has been a staple in the world of HTML forms since day one and for the most part has remained unchanged. HTML 4 introduced the label tag which can be associated with a checkbox using an id attribute in the checkbox and the for attribute within the label. That way you don’t have to click directly on the checkbox, simply clicking the label will select or deselect it.

If the checkbox looks any different today compared to 20+ years ago it’s only because the browser renders it that way.

A typical form with several checkboxes would look like this:

plain-checkbox

And the code to generate the page looks like this:

plain-checkbox-code

Four simple checkboxes with labels. Nothing fancy but they could be simply by applying a little style using CSS.

Take a look at the same four checkboxes after a CSS makeover:

styled-checkbox

The HTML to generate the page has changed a little, but not all that much:

styled-checkbox-code

You’ll notice the label is still there but it has been emptied and moved after the input tag. We’re using it to create the circles and it is an easy task because the id associates the label with the checkbox. In place of the standard label we’re using a span tag to tell us what the checkbox represents.

All the heavy lifting is being done by an external stylesheet using one class selector, one element selector, and a few attribute selectors.

styled-checkbox-css1

First up we shape the div tag that contains each checkbox. We size it, color it, round off the corners, and position it. The relative positioning is necessary because items within it will be absolutely positioned and need a point of reference.

Next up we create the narrow gray line the circles move along. It’s nothing more than empty content that has been sized, absolutely positioned, and colored.

Now we can start working on the circles, both outer and inner, and we will use our empty labels to accomplish this. They will be positioned, sized, stacked and shaped. Oh yeah, and one last item, a CSS3 transition that will allow the circles to shift when they are clicked.

styled-checkbox-css2

The :after pseudo class will be the vehicle used to create the inner circle.

styled-checkbox-css3

The last three selectors are all attribute selectors aimed at the [type=checkbox]. The first one hides the regular checkbox. The second one moves the label (our circles) 34 pixels from its current position when the checkbox is clicked. The last selector changes the inner circle color when clicked.

A pretty amazing change and all done with a little CSS slight-of-hand.

CSS Clearfix: Three Lines and a Breakdown

Occasionally the learning curve in web design can be gentle. Other times it’s a sharp right angle and once in a while it’s just a nasty hair-pin curve. How you perceive these curves is just that, your perception. You know, this morning you feel as sharp as a tack and late in the afternoon you feel as dull as a butter knife.

Clearing floated elements has been one of those butter knife curves for me. True confession time…it hasn’t been a gentle or sharp curve, it’s a I know it works so I haven’t devoted brain time to understand it curve. Was that out load? They say confession is good for the soul.

Let’s break it down and see why it’s necessary and why it works.

basic-code

The code above results in the page below. Two nested containers inside an outer wrapper. That outer wrapper should be 100% of the pages width, as tall as whatever it contains (height: auto), and it has a light gray background color.

Inside the wrapper are two boxes that should each be 30% of the wrappers width, 100 pixels in height, and have a phthalo green background color which is 70% opaque.

floated-divs

But there is a slight problem, the background color of the wrapper is missing. That’s because floated elements don’t follow the pages normal flow rule. They are removed to float left or float right which means the wrapper now believes it has no content. The height: auto of nothing is…nothing. No content, no background color.

The fix, or clearfix as it has been designated comes to the rescue. Three simple statements that make things right based on a pseudo class, a display property, and the clear property.

CSS has introduced many pseudo (false) classes in its last two versions :before and :after being included in that list. Both of these pseudo classes are useless without its content value. What are we inserting before or after? In the typical clearfix code the content can either be an empty string or a single space. We just need some content in our wrapper that is not floated and it will be placed after any existing content.

That leaves our display: block property-value pair. Using the rules established in the Block Formatting Context by the W3C block formatted elements will contain their floated children and cannot extend past the bottom edge of the block.

The code below shows our added clearfix and below it is the resulting web page showing the missing background color of the wrapper.

css-with-clearfix

floated-divs-with-clearfix

 

Using Qlikview’s Date Functions

When putting together a data model for a Qlikview application you will occasionally run into a field that is not formatted properly, both from a numeric and presentational perspective. Behold the transformed junk file that Qlikview organized into meaningful data.

datedata

Meaningful yes, recognizable by the end user…not so much. Don’t get me wrong, it all works as you can see from this example.

matchingdata

Selecting a date will match up with the Plant #, Production Line ID, and Estimated Production, but the average user doesn’t what to stare at the date value and disassemble so they can mentally reassemble it as a logical date.

That’s where Qlikview’s Date() function steps in, or is it the Date#() function? You see, they are both legitimate, the first function is a formatting function and the second is an interpretation function.

A formatting function takes a numeric value as input and converts it to text whereas an interpretation function uses text as input and converts it to a number. Either way, the output is a dual which means it can be displayed as text but utilized as a number.

The first thing we’ll need to do to make it recognizable as a date is use an expression instead of the lonely date field. Right clicking the Listbox and choosing Properties from the context menu will let you change the field associated with the Listbox…or build an expression using the field.

changefieldtoexpression

The Date#() function will allow us to convert a string such as 20120528 into the serial date number 41057. Qlikview uses a serial date number based on December 31, 1899. 1/1/1900 being day 1, 1/2/1900 being day 2 and so on for each day. Today’s date 9/28/2016 would be day 42641. The format ‘YYYYMMDD’ tells the function what part of the number represents what part of the date. By the way, the word Date (in red) after the opening parentheses represents the actual date field.

datehashtag

Next we’ll nest the existing Date#() function within the Date() function. It will also be supplied with a format to present the date in a recognizable manner.

nestedfunction

Our completely formatted date is now not only usable, but also recognizable courtesy of both Qlikview date functions.

formatteddate

Qlikview Chart Styling Using Expression Attributes

Qlikview makes it quick and easy to assemble your data into a professional BI application. But sometimes the information needs a little boost, that extra touch that makes the difference.

One way to accomplish this is using Expression Attributes. These attributes can be found on the Expression tab of your chart object.

Let’s take a look at a couple of examples. The line chart in the first image serves its purpose but might benefit from a style change.

linechart

By right-clicking on the chart we can enter the objects properties window. Selecting the Expressions tab allows us to see the expressions that have been used to build the chart. There is a plus sign in front of each expression that when expanded allows us to see the Expression Attributes.

objectproperties

expressionattributes

There are several different line styles that can be used:

=’<S1>’ Continuous

=’<S2>’ Dashed

=’<S3>’ Dotted

=’<S4>’ Dotted & Dashed

styledlinewithexpressionattribute

For our example we chose the dotted line.

Our next example eliminates the line of a Combination Chart and replaces it with a Diamond Symbol.

chart

A little change of color for the symbol should add that extra touch. We’ll use the RGB Function to make the Diamond Symbol red.

expressionattributebackgroundcolor

styledchartdiamondsymbol

These are just two simple examples of using Expression Attributes to enhance our Qlikview BI application. There is much value to be gained in subtle changes to our visualizations.

Using Character Mapping to Enhance a Crystal Report

It is possible to dress up a report using nothing more than a font and some color. But not in the way you think. There are some specialty fonts installed on a Windows computer know as Wingdings. Each letter is a small picture (like a phone, scissors, knife, etc.) that can be used in a report to enhance the appearance.

The first step in formatting the report is to find the characters you intend to use. They can be found in the Character Map dialog box within Accessories > System Tools or by typing Character Map in Windows Search.

charactermap

Next you will need a formula to determine when a specific character will be displayed.

alternatefont

 

In this example when sales drop below $40,000 a cross will appear otherwise a check mark will take its place. The letters “Q” and “R” represent the values you’ll need in Wingdings2.

We can dress it up even more by conditionally changing the font color.

 

oddevencolor

The final step is formatting the formula font to use Wingdings2. This is accomplished by selecting the Formula object in Design View and opening the Format Editor, going to the font tab and selecting Wingdings2 from the font list.

wingdings2

The finished report now contains a “Cross” or “Check Mark” in red or green where there once was just a capital Q or R.

checksandxs

 

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.