SkillForge Blog

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How to Create or Import a Table in Adobe InDesign

The table is just too useful to keep out of many business documents these days. It’s too good at organizing data. Luckily, even a desktop publishing program like InDesign has the feature handy. And we can even import an existing one pretty much as-is, to save some time. To create it from scratch, with a document to hold it, we have to create or select a text frame. Even if we’re going to put graphics in the table, it’s one of those things the program “just does”. Then we go to the Table menu and click the Insert Table… command. We [...]

How to Create or Import a Table in Adobe InDesign2019-01-25T15:19:29-04:00

Using the Symbol Sprayer and Shifter in Adobe Illustrator

The Symbol tools in Illustrator give the program some true artistic ability. Many people, even now, think this is lacking, and that Illustrator is more "tech" where Photoshop is “arty”. But if properly used, Illustrator can do some very arty things. Two of the Symbol tools, in particular, are rather easy to use, and can produce some striking results. One is the Sprayer. It allows us to select a symbol and “scatter” a bunch of repeats in a given area. (A symbol, in Illustrator-ese, is an object we add to the Symbols panel for spraying, shifting, etc. Think of spray paint [...]

Using the Symbol Sprayer and Shifter in Adobe Illustrator2019-01-24T17:46:46-04:00

How to Use the Transform Features in Adobe Illustrator

When we want to transform, or make specific changes to, an object in Illustrator, we can use the Transform panel. We can also use a couple of the tools in the Tools panel, depending on our preference. For certain kinds of diagrams and precise illustrations,  we may need an accurate angle, or exact amount of change. So knowing how to use the various transform abilities can be critical. (Note: It’s a good idea to make a copy of the object, layer, or document you’re working on, for practice.) The Transform panel can handle several basic kinds of change—size, rotation, and shear. [...]

How to Use the Transform Features in Adobe Illustrator2019-01-24T14:57:25-04:00

How to Create a Template in Microsoft Project

A template in Project, as in most other programs, is a blank form. We fill in the spaces, as on a tax form or license application. The more complex the job, the more complex the form. So when we’re managing a project, any help we can get doing a bunch of similar projects is really good. The key is having a project file that’s mostly or entirely complete—i.e., the project is done. Because if we know the project ran successfully, we can frequently use it to guide others of the same sort. So we open the file in question, and see [...]

How to Create a Template in Microsoft Project2019-01-23T15:21:50-04:00

Using the Split Form and Datasheet Form in Microsoft Access

The idea of the split form in Access is rather like its cousin in Project. We set up a view with the “big picture” or large-scale view in one portion of the window (usually the top), and details in the bottom. Sometimes vice versa, but the thinking is to have both available for convenience. Creating a split form is very easy, as it’s listed within the regular forms. We select the table we want to work with, go to the Create tab->Forms->More Forms, and click Split Form. The result is to show the data from the table in two ways. One, [...]

Using the Split Form and Datasheet Form in Microsoft Access2019-01-22T13:59:46-04:00

How to Use Summary Tasks in Microsoft Project

When we create a project plan, summary tasks are like the main points in a term paper outline. They mark off the highest-level things we need to do in the project. They’re the main stages or phases we look at. So they’re a useful tool for visually organizing the project, in a user-friendly way. The good news is, we don’t have to insert them immediately. We can start by just writing down what we need to do, and clean up later. Here we have a list of tasks for doing some house painting. (Yes, I’ve done this for real. Yes, that’s [...]

How to Use Summary Tasks in Microsoft Project2019-01-18T16:32:32-04:00

How to Create Calculated Fields in Microsoft Project

Project allows for things like calculated fields and other custom data. It holds some fields “in reserve” aside from the ones set up for task names, durations, etc. This way, users can insert data the program couldn’t know about in advance. (I mentioned custom text fields a while back, but a calculated field is a slightly different thing.) Having some experience with formulas, in the style of Access or Excel, will help. And making sure one has a clear idea of what needs to be calculated is important, naturally. We start by calling up the Custom Fields box. It’s under the [...]

How to Create Calculated Fields in Microsoft Project2019-01-18T11:07:11-04:00

How to Fix the Moiré Effect in Photoshop

One of the more subtle problems in digital photography is something called moiré. It looks rather like a slight mesh of light and dark lines, sometimes curved, sometimes straight. Certain kinds of fabric produce this effect when one takes pictures of, say, people in suits. Silks are among the biggest culprits, and wedding images can abound with it. Luckily, there’s a bit of work we can do in Photoshop to greatly reduce the visibility of moiré. We start by opening the picture and selecting the area with the moiré effect. We want to use a couple of pixels of feather, so [...]

How to Fix the Moiré Effect in Photoshop2019-01-09T16:25:18-04:00

How to Export Data from Crystal Reports

We usually have to export data from Crystal Reports, for a couple of reasons. One is, the program normally has to be there to read a Crystal file, so exporting allows others to read something. And unless the report is on a shared drive, it usually has to be emailed to the other parties. Luckily, the dialog box makes the process about as simple as possible. One can click File->Export->Export Report, or go directly to the Export button in the first toolbar. When the box appears, we have two main choices to make. One is the file format we’ll export data [...]

How to Export Data from Crystal Reports2019-01-09T12:18:26-04:00

How to Use Warp Type in Adobe Illustrator

Illustrator is capable of treating text as a graphic element much as anything we draw with any of the tools, so the ability to warp type shouldn’t come as a surprise. Type on a path is another feature in the same ballpark (check my previous post). The basic starting point is the same. We use the Type tool, usually, to create the piece of text we need. We then have to tell the program to treat it as a graphic element rather than a text box per se. (This allows the Warp Type control to show.) We do this by switching [...]

How to Use Warp Type in Adobe Illustrator2019-04-12T17:48:03-04:00

Use Type on a Path in Adobe Illustrator

The use of type on a path is an interesting cross between text and graphics, and allows text to be more than just a means of conveying information in Illustrator. But in order to use the feature correctly, one has to understand a couple of things about how it behaves. First, we usually need to create the shape which we’ll use as a baseline, in the sense that typography uses the term—the line on which the text sits. Then, we select the Type on a Path tool (in the same flyout as the regular Type tool). Position the cursor on the [...]

Use Type on a Path in Adobe Illustrator2018-12-31T20:29:22-04:00

Working with Image Size and Canvas Size in Photoshop

The Photoshop features called Image Size and Canvas Size can be a little confusing. The names are similar, and at first glance what they do will seem to be also. And both are on the Image menu. But the two controls do something quite different from each other, and understanding how can be helpful. Once we open a sample document, we can try using each one. First, Image Size. This feature can change two main things—(a) the size, in height and width, of the printed image, and (b) its resolution, or level of detail in pixels per inch. Since it can [...]

Working with Image Size and Canvas Size in Photoshop2018-12-28T15:24:56-04:00

The Difference Between Double and Single Quotes in PHP

In PHP, the difference between using double or single quotes is quite large unlike other languages like JavaScript.  The main difference, that I believe is most important, is you can use variables inside of double quotes in wherein single quote statements you cannot.  For example, if I have a variable set like so: $age = 22; And I wanted to use it in an echo statement I could do this with single quotes: echo 'I am ' . $age . ' years old'; That would work fine, it would print out to the page "I am 22 years old" just like [...]

The Difference Between Double and Single Quotes in PHP2019-03-17T20:17:56-04:00

How to Adjust Resolution in Adobe Photoshop

Resolution, in the graphics world, refers to detail. Usually, in a Photoshop document, it means the number of dots or pixels per inch. And this number tells you how detailed, sharp, or clear the image will be. Generally, the higher, the better. But there are a couple of points we need to know to use this to the fullest. Changing the resolution of an image is very simple. Having opened the image, we go to the Image menu, click Image Size, and change the number as needed. The number of pixels per inch is usually figured according to the purpose of [...]

How to Adjust Resolution in Adobe Photoshop2018-12-28T11:25:35-04:00

How to run a function with a button click in JavaScript

In JavaScript, there are times when you need a block of code to just sit back, relax, and not run right when the page loads.  This is where JavaScript functions come in.  A function is a block of code that runs when we tell it to.  In this example, we will show how to run a function when a button is clicked.  The first thing we'll want to do is create the button and give it an id using HTML: <button id="clickMe">Run Function</button> This will create on the page a button that says "Run Function" and has an id of "clickMe".  [...]

How to run a function with a button click in JavaScript2019-02-18T23:20:37-04:00

How to Create a Parameter Query in Access

The parameter query, while easy to set up, actually depends on a sort of quirk in the program, as we’ll see. But regardless, it’s a very powerful feature; it allows many variations on one question in a database. Ranges of dates, differences in spelling, and many others can fit a parameter query. A parameter query on a range of dates uses the “Between—And” keywords, and has the user enter a starting and ending date as indicated. (Any criteria of this sort go in the Criteria row in Query Design view.) The quirk is, when we want the program to ask the [...]

How to Create a Parameter Query in Access2018-12-27T11:54:37-04:00

How to get user input in JavaScript

There are times in JavaScript when you'll need to get the user's input so you can perform some sort of calculation with it.  One of the most used methods to get user input is the command document.getElementById("someId").value.  To use this you would first need a textbox on the page which we create using HTML: <input type="text" id="someId"> Once the textbox is created with the id of "someId" we can use getElementById to capture the value like so: document.getElementById("someId").value; If we walk through this whole command we see that it starts at the whole document, then it narrows into an element (or [...]

How to get user input in JavaScript2019-02-18T23:15:23-04:00

Creating an Action Query in Microsoft Access

The action query in Access is a different thing from the normal query we create, called a “select” query. The latter simply selects data and shows the result. But an action query edits data, or even deletes it. And the key thing one needs to know about this is one cannot use Undo to reverse the effect. So though we can easily create action queries, we need to treat them carefully. Luckily, there is a way to test them first. We can use a food database for our example. Let’s say we need to increase prices on soft cheese (Category 2) [...]

Creating an Action Query in Microsoft Access2018-12-24T17:15:05-04:00

How To Use The Ternary Operator in JavaScript

In JavaScript, there is a thing called the ternary operator.  It's a fancy term for a shorthand way to write an if statement.  To compare and contrast let's take a look at the long way of creating an if statement: if(x==1){ alert("There is " + x + " apple"); }else{ alert("There are " + x + " apples"); } This example is checking the value of x and if it's 1 it will alert "There is 1 apple".  If it's not 1, it will alert, "There are 3 apples" or whatever the number is that was put in there.  Well, there's [...]

How To Use The Ternary Operator in JavaScript2019-02-09T13:13:51-04:00

How to Create a Subquery in Microsoft Access

Just as there can be subforms and subreports within an Access form or report, there can be a subquery within a query. As the term implies, a “query within a query” allows the main query to be more specific, or complex. It sometimes requires a little bit of Structured Query Language, or SQL. But this is not a problem. Access is a “shell” over SQL as Windows was a shell over DOS, and the two get along fine. A typical example would be setting up a subquery based on text information, to allow more flexibility with the use of number fields [...]

How to Create a Subquery in Microsoft Access2018-12-24T14:21:36-04:00

How to create a JavaScript Object

In JavaScript, there is a thing called an object.  It's something that can contain a value that is equal to something else.  Those are called key/value pairs.  There's a key that is equal to some value.  It's a way that you can have a variable equal to many different items that can be used as functions, values, etc.  It gives the programmer a lot of flexibility on how they can get their job done.  The most simple way in JavaScript to create an object is like this: var jsObj = {}; We just created an empty object there that could be [...]

How to create a JavaScript Object2019-02-09T12:51:27-04:00

How to Indicate Blank Results in Crystal Reports

When we print a report in any database-connected situation, we sometimes get blank results, i.e. nothing to report. But we certainly don’t want to waste paper on such a thing. So how can we let a user know about it without sending more than one page (at most) to a printer? If you routinely run reports that can come up blank, this might be important. Some programs can show an alert message to this effect: “No results match your criteria.” And though Crystal Reports has what it calls Report Alerts available, I haven’t yet found a direct way to pop up [...]

How to Indicate Blank Results in Crystal Reports2018-12-19T15:58:21-04:00

Substr vs Substring in JavaScript

JavaScript has some slick ways of dealing with strings (words, sentences, etc.)  There are a couple of methods in JavaScript called substr() and substring() that do similar but very different things.  Both are able to extract certain parts of a word or sentence to be used or validated.  The difference between them is substr gives a position and how many characters to extract, where substring gives a range of what characters to access.  For example, if we had this: var str = "SkillForge"; alert(str.substr(5,3)); This would return "For" because the 5  means start extracting from the 6th character, not the 5th.  Substr and substring start [...]

Substr vs Substring in JavaScript2019-01-29T21:21:27-04:00

Using Fields in Text Objects in Crystal Reports

Fields, in Crystal Reports, are the way we bring data from a source into a report. Sometimes, we need to combine the data with text even more directly than placing them side by side. The technique we can use is similar to creating a mail merge with fields in a couple of other programs. First, we pull up the basic data of a report. Choose the data source and table(s), deal with links between them if necessary, and OK out of the Database Expert. Next, create the text object. One thing to be careful of is making the text object large [...]

Using Fields in Text Objects in Crystal Reports2018-12-14T23:33:17-04:00

How to Loop Through an Array in JavaScript

Video version of this post: In JavaScript, there's a helpful way to access every item that's in an Array and it's called a for in loop.  It has the functionality, by default to go through and only run however many times there are items in the array.  To take a look at this we can set up an array like so: var ninjaTurtles = ["Leo", "Ralph", "Don", "Mikey"]; Now we could use a for loop and go through it like so: for(i=0;i<ninjaTurtles.length;i++){ document.write(ninjaTurtles[i]+"<br>"); } This works and it would print out all their names to the page, but this way requires [...]

How to Loop Through an Array in JavaScript2019-03-17T20:02:32-04:00

How to Create an Action in Adobe Photoshop

An Action is the Photoshop equivalent of a macro in programs like Word and Access. It allows consistent repetition of a sequence of steps. So it’s easier to do the same thing in different files, if one wants. As usual, the thing which helps most is rehearsal—practice a little to avoid frustration when you record the real thing. (I’ll apply a layer effect here, the Drop Shadow, for demonstration.) After opening your file and setting up whatever elements we want to affect, we bring up the Actions panel and click the New Action button. We enter a name, a keyboard shortcut [...]

How to Create an Action in Adobe Photoshop2018-12-07T13:18:31-04:00

JQuery Toggle Drop Down Effect

jQuery is a pretty amazing JavaScript library.  It allows you to do things with JavaScript that were, back in the day, pretty tough to pull off.  Today I want to show you how to do a simple toggle drop down effect using jQuery.  The first thing you'll want to do is create a basic HTML page like so: <!DOCTYPE html> <html> <head> <title>jQuery Toggle Drop Down</title> <meta charset="utf-8"> </head> <body> <p> <span id="s1"> Click to slide panel up and down </span> </p> <div id="d1"> This part slides up and down </div> </body> </html> This sets up a span and div tag that [...]

JQuery Toggle Drop Down Effect2019-01-28T14:24:12-04:00

How to Use Quick Mask Mode in Photoshop

Of all the “beyond-the-basics” tools in Photoshop, the Quick Mask feature is probably one of the most nitpicky to understand. But it can provide the user with a fairly easy method of doing something complex, namely, making selections. So it’s worth the time. It’s normally easiest to start by making a partial selection of the area. Using a conventional method such as clicking with the Magic Wand will work fine. Then, going over to the Tools panel/Toolbox, we simply click the button near the bottom for Quick Mask mode. Now, the trick here is knowing what Quick Mask mode does, and [...]

How to Use Quick Mask Mode in Photoshop2018-12-06T16:29:48-04:00

How to use JavaScript Regular Expressions

Video of regular expressions with phone numbers: This tutorial is going to look at a JavaScript regular expression example using zip codes and break down all the pieces.  The problem I've found with regular expressions is they aren't something you can just look at and understand right away.  They use their own syntax that isn't easy to decipher so that is what makes them hard to understand. Let's take a look at an example of one so they won't be as intimidating.  Let's say we want to use a regular expression to make sure that a zip code is typed correctly.  We [...]

How to use JavaScript Regular Expressions2019-02-09T12:00:15-04:00

Using the Gradients in Photoshop—Additional Info

In an earlier post, I went through the basics of creating gradients in Photoshop. In this one, I want to mention a couple more details which might be helpful in their use. There are five patterns, or appearances, which gradients can follow, shown to the right of the Gradient Editor in the Options panel. The one we use most, Linear, makes the color pattern appear as bars, or bands, in the selected area. But the others are potentially quite useful, and not just for decor. One selects the gradient and pattern, and drags from point A to point B, just as [...]

Using the Gradients in Photoshop—Additional Info2018-12-06T13:15:17-04:00