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

OpenOffice 4.1.7 - Free and open-source...
OpenOffice.org is both an Open Source product and a project. The product is a multi-platform office productivity suite. It includes the key desktop applications, such as a word processor, spreadsheet... Read more
Backup and Sync 3.46 - File backup and s...
Backup and Sync (was Google Drive) is a place where you can create, share, collaborate, and keep all of your stuff. Whether you're working with a friend on a joint research project, planning a... Read more
iClock 5.5 - Customizable menu bar clock...
iClock replaces the old Apple's default menu bar clock with more features, customization and increases your productivity. Features: Have your Apple or Google calendar instantly available from the... Read more
Garmin Express 6.18.0.0 - Manage your Ga...
Garmin Express is your essential tool for managing your Garmin devices. Update maps, golf courses and device software. You can even register your device. Update maps Update software Register your... Read more
MarsEdit 4.3.5 - Quick and convenient bl...
MarsEdit is a blog editor for OS X that makes editing your blog like writing email, with spell-checking, drafts, multiple windows, and even AppleScript support. It works with with most blog services... Read more
Xcode 11.0 - Integrated development envi...
Xcode includes everything developers need to create great applications for Mac, iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. Xcode provides developers a unified workflow for user interface design, coding, testing... Read more
DaisyDisk 4.8 - $9.99
DaisyDisk allows you to visualize your disk usage and free up disk space by quickly finding and deleting big unused files. The program scans your disk and displays its content as a sector diagram... Read more
VMware Fusion 11.5.0 - Run Windows apps...
VMware Fusion and Fusion Pro - virtualization software for running Windows, Linux, and other systems on a Mac without rebooting. The latest version includes full support for Windows 10, macOS Mojave... Read more
Apple Configurator 2.10 - Configure and...
Apple Configurator makes it easy to deploy iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, and Apple TV devices in your school or business. Use Apple Configurator to quickly configure large numbers of devices connected to... Read more
Spotify 1.1.15.448. - Stream music, crea...
Spotify is a streaming music service that gives you on-demand access to millions of songs. Whether you like driving rock, silky R&B, or grandiose classical music, Spotify's massive catalogue puts... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Marvel Strike Force is adding Agent Coul...
Marvel Strike Force, the popular squad-based RPG, is set to receive a bunch of new content over the next few weeks. [Read more] | Read more »
Lots of premium games are going free (so...
You may have seen over the past couple weeks a that a bunch of premium games have suddenly become free. This isn’t a mistake, nor is it some last hurrah before Apple Arcade hits, and it’s important to know that these games aren’t actually becoming... | Read more »
Yoozoo Games launches Saint Seiya Awaken...
If you’re into your anime, you’ve probably seen or heard of Saint Seiya. Based on a shonen manga by Masami Kurumada, the series was massively popular in the 1980s – especially in its native Japan. Since then, it’s grown into a franchise of all... | Read more »
Five Nights at Freddy's AR: Special...
Five Nights at Freddy's AR: Special Delivery is a terrifying new nightmare from developer Illumix. Last week, FNAF fans were sent into a frenzy by a short teaser for what we now know to be Special Delivery. Those in the comments were quick to... | Read more »
Rush Rally 3's new live events are...
Last week, Rush Rally 3 got updated with live events, and it’s one of the best things to happen to racing games on mobile. Prior to this update, the game already had multiplayer, but live events are more convenient in the sense that it’s somewhat... | Read more »
Why your free-to-play racer sucks
It’s been this way for a while now, but playing Hot Wheels Infinite Loop really highlights a big issue with free-to-play mobile racing games: They suck. It doesn’t matter if you’re trying going for realism, cart racing, or arcade nonsense, they’re... | Read more »
Steam Link Spotlight - The Banner Saga 3
Steam Link Spotlight is a new feature where we take a look at PC games that play exceptionally well using the Steam Link app. Our last entry talked about Terry Cavanaugh’s incredible Dicey Dungeons. Read about how it’s a great mobile experience... | Read more »
Combo Quest (Games)
Combo Quest 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Combo Quest is an epic, time tap role-playing adventure. In this unique masterpiece, you are a knight on a heroic quest to retrieve... | Read more »
Hero Emblems (Games)
Hero Emblems 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: ** 25% OFF for a limited time to celebrate the release ** ** Note for iPhone 6 user: If it doesn't run fullscreen on your device... | Read more »
Puzzle Blitz (Games)
Puzzle Blitz 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Puzzle Blitz is a frantic puzzle solving race against the clock! Solve as many puzzles as you can, before time runs out! You have... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

11″ WiFi iPad Pros on sale today for up to $2...
Amazon has new 2018 Apple 11″ WiFi iPad Pros in stock today and on sale for up to $200 off Apple’s MSRP. These are the same iPad Pros sold by Apple in its retail and online stores. Be sure to select... Read more
Select 12″ iPad Pros on sale for $200 off App...
Amazon has select 2018 Apple 12″ iPad Pros in stock today and on sale for $200 off Apple’s MSRP. These are the same iPad Pros sold by Apple in its retail and online stores. Be sure to select Amazon... Read more
Get one of Apple’s new 2019 iPhone 11 models...
Boost Mobile is offering the new 2019 Apple iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and 11 Pro Max for $100 off MSRP. Their discount reduces the cost of an iPhone 11 to $599 for the 64GB models, $899 for the 64GB... Read more
13″ 1.4GHz Silver MacBook Pros on sale for $1...
B&H Photo has new 2019 13″ 1.4GHz 4-Core Touch Bar Silver MacBook Pros on sale for $100 off Apple’s MSRP. Overnight shipping is free to many addresses in the US. These are the same MacBook Pros... Read more
4-core and 6-core 2018 Mac minis available at...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2018 Mac minis available on their online store for $120-$170 off the cost of new models. Each mini comes with a new outer case plus a standard Apple one-year warranty... Read more
$250 prepaid Visa card with any Apple iPhone,...
Xfinity Mobile will include a free $250 prepaid Visa card with the purchase of any new iPhone, new line activation, and transfer of phone number to Xfinity Mobile. Offer is valid through October 27,... Read more
Sprint is offering the 64GB Apple iPhone 11 P...
Sprint has the new 64GB iPhone 11 Pro available for $12.50 per month for new customers with an eligible trade-in in of iPhone 7 or newer. That’s down from their standard monthly lease of $41.67. The... Read more
Final week: Apple’s 2019 Back to School Promo...
Purchase a new Mac using Apple’s Education discount, and take up to $400 off MSRP. All teachers, students, and staff of any educational institution with a .edu email address qualify for the discount... Read more
Save $30 on Apple’s AirPods at these reseller...
Amazon is offering discounts on new 2019 Apple AirPods ranging up to $30 off MSRP as part of their Labor Day sale. Shipping is free: – AirPods with Charging Case: $144.95 $15 off MSRP – AirPods with... Read more
Preorder your Apple Watch Series 5 today at A...
Amazon has Apple Watch Series 5 GPS models available for preorder and on sale today for $15 off Apple’s MSRP. Shipping is free and starts on September 20th: – 40mm Apple Watch Series 5 GPS: $384.99 $... Read more

Jobs Board

Systems Analyst ( *Apple* & Android) (Jo...
Systems Analyst ( Apple & Android) (Job ID: 572513) + 11751 Meadowville Ln, Chester, VA 23836, USA + Full-time Company Description Computer Consultants International, Read more
*Apple* Mobile App Developer - eiWorkflow So...
…eiWorkflow Solutions, LLC is currently looking for a consultant for the following role. Apple Mobile App Developer Tasks the role will be performing: ? Mobile App Read more
Essbase Developer - *Apple* - Theorem, LLC...
Job Summary Apple is seeking an experienced, detail-minded Essbase developer to join our worldwide business development and strategy team. If you are someone who Read more
Student Employment (Blue *Apple* Cafe) Spri...
Student Employment (Blue Apple Cafe) Spring 2019 Penn State University Campus/Location: Penn State Brandywine Campus City: Media, PA Date Announced: 12/20/2018 Date Read more
Best Buy *Apple* Computing Master - Best Bu...
**732093BR** **Job Title:** Best Buy Apple Computing Master **Job Category:** Store Associates **Location Number:** 001441-Beaumont-Store **Job Description:** The Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.