TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Jul 98 Online

Volume Number: 14 (1998)
Issue Number: 7
Column Tag: MacTech Online

Jul 98 MacTech Online

by Jeff Clites <online@mactech.com>

Sweating the Details

By virtue of the Mac's user interface, all Macintosh applications are graphical in nature, whether or not they have graphics as their actual subject matter. Some would go so far as to argue that on a Mac the interface is the whole point. So even if you are not developing the next Doom or Photoshop, you still have to think about the way things look on screen, and a well-designed interface can set a successful product apart from the competition. The actual appearance is only one aspect of effective interface design, but it is an important one, because it shapes a user's first impression of your application.

Fortunately, there are a wealth of shareware products available to help you tweak your interface until it is just how you want it, and to help you inspect the interfaces of other applications to see what they did right (or wrong). In the early days of Apple's Grayscale Appearance, designers spent no end of time wondering what exact shade of gray certain applications used to achieve their subtle three-dimensional effect. It's a simple question, but a difficult one to answer without the right tool. There are several products which fill the need nicely, allowing you to view an arbitrary region of the screen at magnification, and determine the color of individual pixels. Check out ColorFinder, Color Picker Pro, ColorSieve, Coloristic, and Pixel Spy, and decide for yourself which you like best.

ColorFinder
http://www.acmetech.com/FreeWares.html
Color Picker Pro
http://www.rootworks.com/cpp/
ColorSieve
http://members.aol.com/markwomack/colorsieve.html
Coloristic
http://www.bubblepop.com/coloristic/index.html
Pixel Spy
http://www2.trincoll.edu/~bhorling/pixelspy/

Screen Ruler is one of those unique applications which makes you wonder, "why didn't I think of that?" It places a ruler on the screen, allowing you to measure distances down to the pixel. So if you have trouble remembering how wide a scroll bar is, you can just whip out Screen Ruler and see for yourself, and you can avoid eye strain by using it in conjunction with one of the previously mentioned magnifying glasses.

Screen Ruler
http://www.kagi.com/microfox/

Although it is less often used in the interface itself, antialiasing can be an effective way to lend a more polished look to your application's interface elements, or to its splash screen or About box. Two excellent examples are the About box of Aaron Giles' popular JPEGView image viewer and the button and text-field labels of Trygve Isaacson's Hex Wrench programmer's calculator, both of which use antialiasing of grayscale text. (And of course, these are useful tools to have around in their own right.)

JPEGView
http://www.umich.edu/~archive/mac/graphics/graphicsutil/jpegview3.31.sit.hqx
Hex Wrench
http://www.bombaydigital.com/HexWrench/

Antialiasing can be done on-the-fly, and there was an article in January 1997's MacTech explaining how to do this using QuickDraw's CopyBits routine. But you can also create antialiased images and text with an image editor, and use them within your application as you would any other PICT resource. Which technique is best depends on your situation, but the latter approach if often appropriate and has the advantage of allowing you to use nonstandard fonts without requiring the user to have them installed. An excellent shareware application for this sort of thing is Thorsten Lemke's GraphicConverter.

Antialiasing with Color QuickDraw
www.mactech.com/articles/mactech/Vol.13/13.01/QD-Antialiasing-Techniques/index.html
GraphicConverter
http://www.lemkesoft.de/index.html

When it comes time to put the finishing touches on your new application, you just have to have a cool icon. If you'd like to use a tool which is a little more powerful than ResEdit, take a look at Icon Machine -- it's full of nifty features.

Icon Machine
http://www.kagi.com/dathorc/iconmachine.html

Image Formats

With the advent of QuickTime, programmers don't have to worry about the details of various file formats just to get an image onto the screen. Even so, sometimes you do need to know what makes a JPEG a JPEG and a TIFF a TIFF, and how to handle them on your own. O'Reilly maintains the Graphical Data Standards and File Formats page as a companion to their book Encyclopedia of Graphics File Formats, and it has links to information on a wide range of image formats. For things not covered here, head over to Wotsit's File Format Collection, which has a massive assemblage of information on just about any file format you are likely to encounter, including image formats but not limited to them.

Graphical Data Standards and File Formats
http://www.ora.com/centers/gff/specs.htm
Wotsit's File Format Collection
http://www.wotsit.demon.co.uk/

For specific information on JPEG (the Joint Photographic Experts Group format), the official JPEG home page has a collection of links to useful information. For TIFF (the Tagged Image File Format), there is the Unofficial TIFF Home Page. Finally, there is PNG (the Portable Network Graphics format), which is gaining in popularity as a free replacement for the proprietary GIF format for lossless compression. Its home page is full of personality, giving the history of PNG as well as listing its strengths and spelling out the technical details. Macintosh versions of code to work with each of these formats is available on Jack Jansen's page.

JPEG Related Links
http://www.jpeg.org/public/jpeglinks.htm
The Unofficial TIFF Home Page
http://home.earthlink.net/~ritter/tiff/
PNG Home Page
http://www.cdrom.com/pub/png/
Jack's Macintosh Software
http://www.cwi.nl/~jack/macsoftware.html

These and other links are available from the MacTech Online web pages at www.mactech.com/online/.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Final Cut Pro 10.6.4 - Professional vide...
Redesigned from the ground up, Final Cut Pro combines revolutionary video editing with a powerful media organization and incredible performance to let you create at the speed of thought.... Read more
iMovie 10.3.4 - Edit personal videos and...
With a streamlined design and intuitive editing features, iMovie lets you create Hollywood-style trailers and beautiful movies like never before. Browse your video library, share favorite moments,... Read more
Motion 5.6.2 - Create and customize Fina...
Motion is designed for video editors, Motion 5 lets you customize Final Cut Pro titles, transitions, and effects. Or create your own dazzling animations in 2D or 3D space, with real-time feedback as... Read more
iMazing 2.15.8 - Complete iOS device man...
iMazing is the world’s favourite iOS device manager for Mac and PC. Millions of users every year leverage its powerful capabilities to make the most of their personal or business iPhone and iPad.... Read more
VueScan 9.7.90 - Scanner software with a...
VueScan is a scanning program that works with most high-quality flatbed and film scanners to produce scans that have excellent color fidelity and color balance. VueScan is easy to use, and has... Read more
Compressor 4.6.2 - Adds power and flexib...
Compressor adds power and flexibility to Final Cut Pro X export. Customize output settings, work faster with distributed encoding, and tap into a comprehensive set of delivery features. Features:... Read more
Capture One 15.3.2.11 - RAW workflow sof...
Capture One is a professional RAW converter offering you ultimate image quality with accurate colors and incredible detail from more than 400 high-end cameras - straight out of the box. It offers... Read more
Vivaldi 5.4.2753.28 - An advanced browse...
Vivaldi is a browser for our friends. We live in our browsers. Choose one that has the features you need, a style that fits and values you can stand by. From the look and feel, to how you interact... Read more
Parallels Desktop 18.0.0 - Run Windows a...
Parallels allows you to run Windows and Mac applications side by side. Choose your view to make Windows invisible while still using its applications, or keep the familiar Windows background and... Read more
TechTool Pro 16.0.1 - Hard drive and sys...
TechTool Pro has long been one of the foremost utilities for keeping your Mac running smoothly and efficiently. With the release of this version, it has become more proficient than ever. Main... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Turn-Based RPG ‘Avatar: Generations’ Sof...
Square Enix London Mobile, Navigator Games, and Paramount Consumer Products just announced that the turn-based RPG Avatar: Generations based on Nickelodeon’s Avatar: The Last Airbender is soft launching this month for mobile. Avatar: Generations is... | Read more »
Tower of Fantasy launches today and brin...
Level Infinite and Hotta Studio have announced the release of their very ambitious looking shared open world MMORPG Tower of Fantasy. With its cross-platform functionality between PC and mobile, it looks to be one to roll the dice on and enjoy at... | Read more »
‘Genshin Impact’ Version 3.0 Gets a New...
After HoYoverse released Genshin Impact (Free) version 2.8 on all platforms, the company has slowly been teasing the major upcoming 3.0 update. This update features the Sumeru region with many characters. While details on the update including a... | Read more »
Out Now: ‘Tower of Fantasy’, ‘Tightrope...
Each and every day new mobile games are hitting the App Store, and so each week we put together a big old list of all the best new releases of the past seven days. Back in the day the App Store would showcase the same games for a week, and then... | Read more »
SwitchArcade Round-Up: ‘Book Quest’, ‘Cl...
Hello gentle readers, and welcome to the SwitchArcade Round-Up for August 10th, 2022. In today’s article, we’ve got a little news about an update to a game I really like, a few new releases to summarize, and some sales to look at. A bit of a quiet... | Read more »
‘Pine Tar Poker’ is an Otherworldly Poke...
Developer BJ Malicoat, who put out the well-received and former Apple Game of the Day pick Downwordly in June of last year, is back working on another mobile game project called Pine Tar Poker, and it has caught my attention. Why? Because it’s a... | Read more »
Darkness Rises celebrates four years of...
Four years of uptime for a mobile game is akin to eternity, and this is exactly the milestone that Darkness Rises has reached. It is important for developers to keep updating to keep the game fresh, and NEXON has announced a massive anniversary... | Read more »
Keep Your Smatphone’s Case On When Using...
The original Gamevice was born as a sort of offshoot of the weird Wikipad gaming tablet/controller/hybrid thing way back in 2014. Interestingly, the first Gamevice controller for iOS only supported the iPad mini and launched in 2015, with versions... | Read more »
SwitchArcade Round-Up: A ‘Splatoon 3’ Ni...
Hello gentle readers, and welcome to the SwitchArcade Round-Up for August 9th, 2022. In today’s article, we’ve got some news about a Splatoon 3 Nintendo Direct, a review of QUByte’s Thunderbolt Collection, a single new release summary, and the usual... | Read more »
Orangepixel’s Pacifist Survival Game ‘Re...
Back in June we learned that long-time mobile developer Orangepixel, who also makes games for PC and consoles (including the Atari VCS!), would be bringing the unique survival game Residual to mobile devices sometime this year. Originally launched... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Apple has 24-inch M1 iMacs available starting...
Apple has 24-inch M1 iMacs with M1 CPUs (8-core CPU/7-core GPU) available today in their Certified Refurbished store for $1099 shipped. Their price is $200 off standard MSRP. Each iMac is in like-new... Read more
13″ M1 MacBook Airs in stock today for $799,...
QuickShip Electronics has open-box return 13″ M1 MacBook Airs in stock and on sale for $200 off MSRP on their eBay store right now, each with free express delivery. According to QuickShip, “The item... Read more
In stock today: Mac Studio models for up to $...
Apple retailer Expercom has Mac Studio models in stock today and on sale for up to $400 off Apple’s MSRP, depending on configuration. Their prices are the lowest price available for a Mac Studio from... Read more
Mac mini with M1 CPU and 512GB of storage on...
Amazon has the M1 Mac mini with a 512GB SSD in stock today on sale for $749.99 including free shipping. Their price is $150 off Apple’s MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for this... Read more
Need a Mac or iPad for school? Get a free App...
Apple’s Back to School promotion for 2022 continues to run through September 26, 2022. As part of this promotion, Apple will include a free $150 Apple Gift Card with the purchase of any MacBook Air,... Read more
Apple Watch SE on sale for $50 off MSRP
Amazon has Apple Watch SE GPS models on sale for $50 off MSRP for a limited time, each including free shipping. Their prices are the lowest currently available for SE Watches: – 40mm Apple Watch SE... Read more
Save $310 on a 14″ 24-core GPU M1 Max MacBook...
Save $310 on 14″ MacBook Pros with 24-core M1 Max processors at Apple (32GB RAM/1TB SSD) with these Certified Refurbished models in stock today for $2789 in Space Gray or Silver colors. Regular price... Read more
14″ M1 Pro MacBook Pros available today at Ap...
Apple has Certified Refurbished standard-configuration 14″ MacBook Pros with M1 Pro CPUs available today for up to $250 off original MSRP, starting at $1799. Each model features a new outer case,... Read more
13″ MacBook Air with M2 CPU, in Starlight, on...
Apple retailer Expercom has the new Starlight 13″ MacBook Air with an M2 CPU (8GB RAM/256GB SSD) on sale for $1135.05, shipped, through August 12, 2022. Their price is $64 off Apple’s MSRP, and it’s... Read more
14″ M1 Pro MacBook Pro with 1TB SSD on sale f...
Expercom is offering a $200 instant discount on the 14″ M1 Pro MacBook Pro with a 1TB SSD through August 12, 2022. Their discount reduces the price of this configuration to $1999 shipped — the lowest... Read more

Jobs Board

Solutions Engineering Manager - *Apple* - S...
…in our Hardware and Advanced Solutions group leading and developing our Apple technical practice to increase revenue and profitability. The ideal candidate would Read more
Operations Associate - *Apple* Blossom Mall...
Operations Associate - Apple Blossom Mall Location:Winchester, VA, United States (https://jobs.jcp.com/jobs/location/191170/winchester-va-united-states) - Apple Read more
Cashier - *Apple* Blossom Mall - JCPenney (...
Cashier - Apple Blossom Mall Location:Winchester, VA, United States (https://jobs.jcp.com/jobs/location/191170/winchester-va-united-states) - Apple Blossom Mall Read more
Omnichannel Associate - *Apple* Blossom Mal...
Omnichannel Associate - Apple Blossom Mall Location:Winchester, VA, United States (https://jobs.jcp.com/jobs/location/191170/winchester-va-united-states) - Apple Read more
Sephora Beauty Advisor - *Apple* Blossom Ma...
Sephora Beauty Advisor - Apple Blossom Mall Location:Winchester, VA, United States (https://jobs.jcp.com/jobs/location/191170/winchester-va-united-states) - Apple Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.