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

Airmail 3.3.2 - Powerful, minimal email...
Airmail is an mail client with fast performance and intuitive interaction. Support for iCloud, MS Exchange, Gmail, Google Apps, IMAP, POP3, Yahoo!, AOL, Outlook.com, Live.com. Airmail was designed... Read more
Numi 3.15.1 - Menu-bar calculator suppor...
Numi is a calculator that magically combines calculations with text, and allows you to freely share your computations. Numi combines text editor and calculator Support plain English. For example, '5... Read more
TextSoap 8.4.1 - Automate tedious text d...
TextSoap can automatically remove unwanted characters, fix up messed up carriage returns, and do pretty much anything else that we can think of to text. Save time and effort. Be more productive. Stop... Read more
TextSoap 8.4.1 - Automate tedious text d...
TextSoap can automatically remove unwanted characters, fix up messed up carriage returns, and do pretty much anything else that we can think of to text. Save time and effort. Be more productive. Stop... Read more
Backblaze 4.3.0.44 - Online backup servi...
Backblaze is an online backup service designed from the ground-up for the Mac. With unlimited storage available for $5 per month, as well as a free 15-day trial, peace of mind is within reach with... Read more
Numi 3.15 - Menu-bar calculator supports...
Numi is a calculator that magically combines calculations with text, and allows you to freely share your computations. Numi combines text editor and calculator Support plain English. For example, '5... Read more
EtreCheck 3.3.3 - For troubleshooting yo...
EtreCheck is an app that displays the important details of your system configuration and allow you to copy that information to the Clipboard. It is meant to be used with Apple Support Communities to... Read more
BusyContacts 1.1.8 - Fast, efficient con...
BusyContacts is a contact manager for OS X that makes creating, finding, and managing contacts faster and more efficient. It brings to contact management the same power, flexibility, and sharing... Read more
TunnelBear 3.0.14 - Subscription-based p...
TunnelBear is a subscription-based virtual private network (VPN) service and companion app, enabling you to browse the internet privately and securely. Features Browse privately - Secure your data... Read more
Apple Final Cut Pro X 10.3.4 - Professio...
Apple Final Cut Pro X is a professional video editing solution.Completely redesigned from the ground up, Final Cut Pro adds extraordinary speed, quality, and flexibility to every part of the post-... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

The best new games we played this week
We were quite busy this week. A bunch of big mobile games launched over the past few days, alongside a few teeny surprises. There're lots of quality games to load your phone with. We've gone and picked out five of our favorites for the week. [... | Read more »
Magikarp Jump beginner's guide
Magikarp Jump is a mystifying little game. Part Tamagotchi, part idle clicker, there's not a whole lot of video game there, per se, but for some reason we can't help coming back to it again and again. Your goal is to train up a little Magikarp to... | Read more »
Goat Simulator PAYDAY (Games)
Goat Simulator PAYDAY 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: ** IMPORTANT - SUPPORTED DEVICES **iPhone 4S, iPad 2, iPod Touch 5 or better Goat Simulator: Payday is the most... | Read more »
GRID Autosport delayed until autumn
Sorry mobile racing fans -- GRID Autosport has been delayed a few months. The game is now expected to launch this fall on iOS. Feral Interactive announced that they wanted more time to work on the game's UI and overall performance before launching... | Read more »
Zombie Gunship Survival Beginner's...
The much anticipated Zombie Gunship Survival is here. In this latest entry in the Zombie Gunship franchise, you're tasked with supporting ground troops and protecting your base from the zombie horde. There's a lot of rich base building fun, and... | Read more »
Mordheim: Warband Skirmish (Games)
Mordheim: Warband Skirmish 1.2.2 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $3.99, Version: 1.2.2 (iTunes) Description: Explore the ruins of the City of Mordheim, clash with other scavenging warbands and collect Wyrdstone -... | Read more »
Mordheim: Warband Skirmish brings tablet...
Legendary Games has just launched Mordheim: Warband Skirmish, a new turn-based action game for iOS and Android. | Read more »
Magikarp Jump splashes onto Android worl...
If you're tired ofPokémon GObut still want something to satisfy your mobilePokémon fix,Magikarp Jumpmay just do the trick. It's out now on Android devices the world over. While it looks like a simple arcade jumper, there's quite a bit more to it... | Read more »
Purrfectly charming open-world RPG Cat Q...
Cat Quest, an expansive open-world RPG from former Koei-Tecmo developers, got a new gameplay trailer today. The video showcases the combat and exploration features of this feline-themed RPG. Cat puns abound as you travel across a large map in a... | Read more »
Jaipur: A Card Game of Duels (Games)
Jaipur: A Card Game of Duels 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: ** WARNING: iPad 2, iPad Mini 1 & iPhone 4S are NOT compatible. ** *** Special Launch Price for a limited... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Memorial Day savings: 13-inch Touch Bar MacBo...
B&H Photo has the 2016 Apple 13″ Touch Bar MacBook Pros in stock today and on sale for up to $150 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY & NJ sales tax only: - 13″ 2.9GHz/512GB... Read more
Apple refurbished 13-inch MacBook Airs availa...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2016 13″ MacBook Airs available starting at $849. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each MacBook, and shipping is free: - 13″ 1.6GHz/8GB/128GB MacBook Air: $... Read more
Apple restocks refurbished 11-inch MacBook Ai...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 11″ MacBook Airs (the latest models recently discontinued by Apple), available for up to $170 off original MSRP. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each... Read more
12-inch 1.2GHz Retina MacBooks on sale for up...
B&H has 12″ 1.2GHz Retina MacBooks on sale for up to $150 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY & NJ sales tax only: - 12″ 1.2GHz Space Gray Retina MacBook: $1449.99 $150 off... Read more
15-inch 2.7GHz Silver Touch Bar MacBook Pro o...
MacMall has the 15-inch 2.7GHz Silver Touch Bar MacBook Pro (MLW82LL/A) on sale for $2569 as part of their Memorial Day sale. Shipping is free. Their price is $230 off MSRP. Read more
Free Tread Wisely Mobile App Endorsed By Fath...
Just in time for the summer driving season, Cooper Tire & Rubber Company has announced the launch of a new Tread Wisely mobile app. Designed to promote tire and vehicle safety among teens and... Read more
Commercial Notebooks And Detachable Tablets W...
Worldwide shipments of personal computing devices (PCDs), comprised of traditional PCs (a combination of desktop, notebook, and workstations) and tablets (slates and detachables), are forecast to... Read more
Best value this Memorial Day weekend: Touch B...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2016 15″ and 13″ MacBook Pros available for $230 to $420 off original MSRP. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free: - 15″ 2.6GHz... Read more
13-inch MacBook Airs on sale for up to $130 o...
Overstock.com has 13″ MacBook Airs on sale for up to $130 off MSRP including free shipping: - 13″ 1.6GHz/128GB MacBook Air (sku MMGF2LL/A): $869.99 $130 off MSRP - 13″ 1.6GHz/256GB MacBook Air (sku... Read more
2.8GHz Mac mini available for $973 with free...
Adorama has the 2.8GHz Mac mini available for $973, $16 off MSRP, including a free copy of Apple’s 3-Year AppleCare Protection Plan. Shipping is free, and Adorama charges sales tax in NY & NJ... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple,...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
*Apple* Media Products - Commerce Engineerin...
Apple Media Products - Commerce Engineering Manager Job Number: 57037480 Santa Clara Valley, California, United States Posted: Apr. 18, 2017 Weekly Hours: 40.00 Job Read more
*Apple* Media Products - Commerce Engineerin...
Apple Media Products - Commerce Engineering Manager Job Number: 57037480 Santa Clara Valley, California, United States Posted: Apr. 18, 2017 Weekly Hours: 40.00 Job Read more
Best Buy *Apple* Computing Master - Best Bu...
**509643BR** **Job Title:** Best Buy Apple Computing Master **Location Number:** 001482- Apple Valley-Store **Job Description:** **What does a Best Buy Apple Read more
*Apple* Media Products - Commerce Engineerin...
Apple Media Products - Commerce Engineering Manager Job Number: 57037480 Santa Clara Valley, California, United States Posted: Apr. 18, 2017 Weekly Hours: 40.00 Job Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.