Category Archives: Design

Two of the big events of the conference season, Adobe MAX and Future of Web Apps, finished up a couple weeks ago and now most of the recorded talks have surfaced online.

Adobe MAX 2009

Adobe TV has a MAX 2009 channel with a lot of content, with videos divided into three categories – Develop, Design and Envision.

Here’s some of the highlights:




Future of Web Apps

Carsonified have only uploaded a small handful of talks over the past few weeks but they’re all worth a watch. So far I’ve only found their London talks on their Vimeo channel, but the Dublin sessions have started to appear on the FOWA site.

Here’s what I’d go for:

I’ll update as and when more work their way online!

Today Adobe released BrowserLab, an online service and Dreamweaver plug-in that allows Web developers to test their websites on popular browsers and across multiple operating systems.

I’m loving this.

Basically, you put in a Web address, collect a browser ‘set’ of those supported (currently, Firefox 2.0 & 3.0 on both XP and OS X, IE 6 & 7 for XP and Safari 3.0 for OS X) and screenshots of actual browser renderings are generated in real time.

Adobe BrowserLab

Not only that, but there is a side-by-side ’2-up’ comparison view to see overall differences – and even better, an onion skin (and zoom!) view can be used to measure discrepancies to the pixel.

More info and an FAQ is on the Adobe Labs page.

Back in December at the Adobe MAX Sneak Peeks session, I saw a demo of ‘Meer Meer’, which has now fully evolved to become this.

I’m not sure about the Web version, but I think the Dreamweaver CS4 plug-in stores all the popular webkits and browser engines, rendering them in real-time like a highly enhanced version of the ‘design view’ that we’ve always been familiar with. My download is halfway through now.

I’ve written posts about hacking your operating system to run multiple versions of Firefox and Internet Explorer, and recommended virtual machines for cross-platform testing - all  that seems so over-complicated and completely redundant now.


There’s also a lot of talk on Twitter about it, I think a lot of people share my feelings. :)

The Free Range summer degree shows kicked off last week showcasing a ton of great work from students around the UK. This week is the first Design week, exhibiting the work of budding designers across multiple disciplines.

I managed to get to the opening night on Thursday, mainly to see ScreenGrab09, the degree show of Bournemouth Uni’s Interactive Media Production course, that I graduated from two years ago.

One of the great things about the course is the diversity of work that the students regularly produce.

At ScreenGrab you can see Web apps, games, interactions and interactive experiences, quite unlike the rest of the work under the ‘design’ banner of the week,stood out from the rest of the work I saw from other universities on the night.

Vic Bishop’s OIC, photo by Will Goldstone

Corin Wilkins’ MyFace, photo by Will Goldstone

Today is actually the last day that ScreenGrab will be in London, so if you have the chance to get down to Brick Lane, it’s highly recommended.

Otherwise, the show moves to back down Bournemouth exhibiting on the Talbot Campus on the 4th and 5th of June (more details here).

You can follow the #screengrab09 tag on Twitter to see what people thought about the show, and photos of the event are collecting on Flickr, tagged screengrab09.

As part of our agency rebranding, we’ve all been tasked with finding a suitable image for the reverse side of our business cards. Apparently it should represent our image and personality, be quirky, but important to us.

Avoiding copyright infringement means I can’t use any bad-ass images of Superman, we can’t have any people we ‘know’ – assuming this includes famous people scratches out using Kirk, Kara Thrace or Tim Berners-Lee etc – even his Semantic Web stack is too square to use as well. (Put this on a t-shirt for me and I’ll be your friend forever).

Anyway, after trawling Flickr for anything half decent under a Creative Commons license I’ve narrowed it down to five images – bit geeky, quite unimaginative, cliché retro.

TAC-2 controller

TAC-2 controller

"Yeah" by Sameli

The background is as good as the joystick itself, TMNT ftw.

Atari 2600 games

Atari 2600 games

"Day 323/366" by Great Beyond

Brilliant. We could use patterns instead of photos if we like – this is almost both.

Commodore CBM

Commodore CBM

"Cutting Edge Technology, 1981" by Superbomba

Could I pass this off as me?

Girl coder!

Girl coder!

Original by Dave & Bry

Older still, maybe a bit obvious.

Then I started looking for trash – I love photography of pretty much anything abandoned or broken. Flickr has a great pool of Abandoned Swimming pools.

Mac and Toaster

Mac and Toaster

"Macintosh Plus + Toaster" by Eric__I_E

They belong together!

Abandoned Monitors

Abandoned Monitors

"Four Toxic Computer Monitors" by Tonx

Possibly the strongest contender. Looks like they’re their holding cables ready to cross the road. Not too overly techy either?

What do you think?

Suggestions/recommendations/votes welcome – need to decide before Friday!

Yesterday, I wrote a ‘how to’ on installing and running multiple versions and concurrent instances of Firefox on Windows XP.

But what about the other browser choices? After all, my original intention was a to develope a versatile testing environment, specifically for cross-browser, cross-platform intended web sites.

Surprisingly, running multiple versions of the other major browsers isn’t as complicated as the Firefox process.

Opera, for example, gives you the option whether to install the set-up as an upgrade or separately, straight out of the box. They offer alternate releases of the current version on their site (9.62 at the time of writing) and have a publicly available archive that goes back to version 3.21 for any old release candidates you need to test.

If you want to run multiple versions of Internet Explorer, you can alter various system and user profile settings in a similar way to my method with Firefox, but it’s far easier to take advantage of the many ‘standalone’ versions you can find online. These are generally third-party, non-Microsoft developments.

TredoSoft have collated standalone versions of Internet Explorer from 3 up to 6, ready to install from a single set-up – it’s called Multiple IE.

It’s brilliant to see IE3, I decided I’d use it as my default browser for a day – loved seeing the frantic alerts about some alien idea called a ‘cookie’ and whether I wanted to risk accepting it onto my computer.

NB: If you’re concerned about what’s being installed when you use Multiple IE, you can do it all yourself with the instructions on Manfred Staudinger’s Multiple IE page.

There’s standalone applications for other browsers too. I only use Windows nowadays, but I’ve recently found Michel Fortin’s standalone versions of Safari – he’s even numbered the icons for your dock (via). That page also links to instructions on running multiple versions of Firefox for Mac.

As for testing Linux system – and this goes beyond HTML and CSS debugging, I use VMware Player from VMware. Not only because when I’ve been developing server-side applications, I’ve not wanted to bother installing those on my home computer base – because it can be tricky, time-consuming, potentially damaging if things go wrong, etc etc and I tend to use Linux-based system for deployment anyway – but because appliances are so damn handy.

Virtual appliances run within a virtual machine like VMware Player as self-contained, packaged software. They can be created and restored as system images, so if something goes wrong – it’s so easy to turn back, with no risk to whatever personal data you might have on your computer as you would installing software as services on the base.

More than that, they’re readily available. VMware has an Appliance Marketplace, with over 900 ready-to-go appliances and a simple, central repository to develop or distribute your own.

There’s popular Linux distributions, various Red Hat, Ubuntu, Fedora – all pretty clean, the basic install, but also some interesting others.

I particularly like the Web Developer appliance, specifically designed to safely test and fine tune web apps. Based on Ubuntu, the creator has consciously included some trendy applications that are gathering more attention, like Ruby on Rails. On top of the expected with Apache, PHP and MySQL, you get a a handful of browsers, various database and debugging tools, code and graphics editors, all as standard, all configured and running – great way to get started.

I took a wrong turn and I just kept going.