Designing for the Web ~ Getting Started
Desktop Software When it comes to moving pixels around on screen, I only use a handful of tools that I’ve used for years. I’ve been using Apple Macs for fifteen years now, so these tools are predominantly for Apple Macs — although the Adobe tools, and Dropbox, is crossplatform. I keep trying new tools as they come on the market, but these old favourites are never more than a click away.
Adobe Photoshop Photoshop has been around as long as I’ve been using Apple Macs. I think the first version I used was version two. Let’s put it this way, I’ve been using Photoshop long enough to remember what a big deal it was when Adobe introduced Layers into version three. I primarily use Photoshop for layout. The introduction of editable text, and functionality like the Save For Web option, made designing for the web a lot easier than it used to be. Years ago, I would have sliced images from Photoshop, creating my HTML from the slices. Nowadays, I use Photoshop purely as a layout tool before moving onto creating the layout from scratch in HTML and CSS. It has its quirks, for sure. Its becoming increasingly bloated as Adobe tries to apply the product to a broad industry. It’s increasingly unstable as a result — not to mention its uncanny ability to turn the cursor into a spinning beach ball at the drop of a hat. But, all that said, I couldn’t bring myself to use anything else. With over fifteen years of using it, for me, using Photoshop is like wearing that old, battered pair of slippers. You know you should probably replace them, but try as you might, you can’t bring yourself to do it. http://www.adobe.com/photoshop
Adobe Illustrator Illustrator is another software package I’ve used for long time, almost as long as Photoshop. It can be used to create incredibly complex illustrations, or, as a website layout tool. I don’t use it for layout, but that is more of a habitual thing, rather than a deficiency in the software. I use Illustrator for creating
logotypes and logos, illustrations and icons. Basically, any vector artwork. http://www.adobe.com/illustrator
Adobe Fireworks Fireworks is worth a mention. Fireworks is aimed at web professionals — it’s designed around to our needs. For example, the latest version, CS4, has a primary selling point of being able to convert to standards-compliant HTML and CSS for ‘Rapid Prototyping’. I used to use Fireworks for a lot of my web production needs when it first came out in 1999, (when it was Macromedia Fireworks). Since Photoshop started to integrate more web-focussed features, I’ve never gone back to using Fireworks, even though I know I lot of its optimisation is more sophisticated. Its workflow seems to be much improved, and the feature set looks great. But, I keep giving it a try for a day or so, only to go back to what I’m more productive with. To me, Fireworks feels like a new pair of slippers; uncomfortable, different and unfamiliar. http://www.adobe.com/fireworks
HTML editors I used to let Dreamweaver create my HTML. That was when I didn’t understand, or want to understand the inner workings of HTML. I thought that was a developer’s job, not mine. Upon seeing the error of my ways, I started using BBEdit by Bare Bones Software. BBEdit is now on version 9 and is still a superb text editor for the Apple Mac. It allows the creation of ‘sites’ and auto-complete — amongst other features — and proved to be a perfect replacement to Dreamweaver. I used that until Coda, from software company, Panic, was released a couple of years ago. Coda was like a breath of fresh air. Whereas BBEdit had grown up from Mac OS System 9, and never really felt like a native Apple Mac application, Coda felt every much like a native application. The latest version includes a Terminal right there in the application, and SVN, (Subversion), integration. It’s simply a fantastic text editor.
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Designing for the web