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

Cocktail 8.1.2 - General maintenance and...
Cocktail is a general purpose utility for OS X that lets you clean, repair and optimize your Mac. It is a powerful digital toolset that helps hundreds of thousands of Mac users around the world get... Read more
Cyberduck 4.6.4 - FTP and SFTP browser....
Cyberduck is a robust FTP/FTP-TLS/SFTP browser for the Mac whose lack of visual clutter and cleverly intuitive features make it easy to use. Support for external editors and system technologies such... Read more
Herald 5.0.2 - Notification plugin for M...
Note: Versions 2.1.3 (for OS X 10.7), 3.0.6 (for OS X 10.8), and 4.0.8 (for OS X 10.9) are no longer supported by the developer. Herald is a notification plugin for Mail.app, Apple's Mac OS X email... Read more
DEVONthink Pro 2.8.3 - Knowledge base, i...
Save 10% with our exclusive coupon code: MACUPDATE10 DEVONthink Pro is your essential assistant for today's world, where almost everything is digital. From shopping receipts to important research... Read more
Boom 2 1.0.1 - System-wide pro audio app...
Boom 2 is a system-wide volume booster and equalizer app that is designed especially for OS X 10.10 Yosemite. It comes with a smart interface, self-calibrates itself according to your Mac, offers... Read more
Apple Security Update 2015-001 - For OS...
Apple Security Update 2015-001 is recommended for all users and improves the security of OS X. For detailed information about the security content of this update, please visit: http://support.apple.... Read more
Drive Genius 4.0.1 - Powerful system uti...
Drive Genius 4 gives you faster performance from your Mac while also protecting it. The award-winning and improved DrivePulse feature alerts you to hard drive issues before they become major problems... Read more
Yosemite Cache Cleaner 9.0.3 - Clear cac...
Yosemite Cache Cleaner is an award-winning general purpose tool for OS X. YCC makes system maintenance simple with an easy point-and-click interface to many OS X functions. Novice and expert users... Read more
xScope 4.1.1 - Onscreen graphic measurem...
xScope is powerful set of tools that are ideal for measuring, inspecting, and testing on-screen graphics and layouts. Its tools float above your desktop windows and can be accessed via a toolbar,... Read more
OS X Yosemite 10.10.2 - Apple's lat...
OS X Yosemite is Apple's newest operating system for Mac. An elegant design that feels entirely fresh, yet inherently familiar. The apps you use every day, enhanced with new features. And a... Read more

Unlock Sunshine Girl in Ironkill with th...
Unlock Sunshine Girl in Ironkill with this special 148Apps code Posted by Rob Rich on January 29th, 2015 [ permalink ] Robo-fighter Ironkill has been out on iOS a | Read more »
Crossroad Zombies Review
Crossroad Zombies Review By Jordan Minor on January 29th, 2015 Our Rating: :: CROSSWALKING DEADiPad Only App - Designed for the iPad Crossroad Zombies is a rough draft of a cool genre mash-up.   | Read more »
Blood Brothers 2 – Tips, Cheats, and Str...
War is hell: Is it the kind of hell you want to check out? Read our Blood Brothers 2 review to find out! Blood Brothers 2, DeNA’s follow-up to the original Blood Brothers, is an intriguing card collecting / role-playing / strategy hybrid. There’s... | Read more »
Blood Brothers 2 Review
Blood Brothers 2 Review By Nadia Oxford on January 29th, 2015 Our Rating: :: AN AGGRAVATING RELATIVEUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Blood Brothers 2 is built on a simple, solid foundation, but its free-to-play system... | Read more »
I AM BREAD, the Toast of the Town, is Ro...
Have you ever dreamt of being deliciously gluten-y? Do you feel passionate about Rye and Wheat? The guys at Bossa Studios do and that is why they are bringing I AM BREAD to iOS soon. The loafy app will feature all the new content that is being... | Read more »
Fahrenheit: Indigo Prophecy Remastered R...
Fahrenheit: Indigo Prophecy Remastered Review By Jennifer Allen on January 29th, 2015 Our Rating: Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad 10 years after its initial release and Fahrenheit: Indigo Prophecy still feels like a... | Read more »
Evolve: Hunters Quest is a Match-3 That...
Evolve: Hunters Quest is a Match-3 That Has You Hunting Up Some Big Game. Posted by Jessica Fisher on January 29th, 2015 [ permalink ] | Read more »
Destructamundo Review
Destructamundo Review By Jordan Minor on January 29th, 2015 Our Rating: :: WRECKING CREWUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Destructamundo blows up real good.   | Read more »
The Sandbox Gets Exclusive Update, Adds...
The Sandbox Gets Exclusive Update, Adds Invincible Characters Campagin Posted by Tre Lawrence on January 29th, 2015 [ permalink ] | Read more »
Mean Girls: The Game Review
Mean Girls: The Game Review By Jordan Minor on January 29th, 2015 Our Rating: :: FETCHUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad A Mean Girls tower defense game makes way more sense than you’d think.   | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Back in stock: Refurbished iPod nanos for $99...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished 16GB iPod nanos available for $99 including free shipping and Apple’s standard one-year warranty. That’s $50 off the cost of new nanos. Most colors are... Read more
New Good Management Suite Simplifies Enterpri...
Good Technology has announced the availability of the Good Management Suite, a comprehensive cross-platform solution for organizations getting started with mobile business initiatives. Built on the... Read more
15-inch 2.0GHz Retina MacBook Pro (refurbishe...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished previous-generation 15″ 2.0GHz Retina MacBook Pros available for $1489 including free shipping plus Apple’s standard one-year warranty. Their price is... Read more
15-inch 2.5GHz Retina MacBook Pro on sale for...
Amazon has the 15″ 2.5GHz Retina MacBook Pro on sale for $2319.99 including free shipping. Their price is $180 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for this model from any reseller. Read more
iPad Turns Five – The ”Book Mystique
Five years ago this week, the late Steve Jobs took the stage at an Apple special press event to unveil the first Apple iPad — a slab-shaped, hand-holdable device that was to shake the personal... Read more
Sale! 15-inch Retina MacBook Pros for up to $...
B&H Photo has the new 2014 15″ Retina MacBook Pros on sale for $150 off MSRP for a limited time. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 15″ 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro: $1889.99... Read more
Apple refurbished Mac minis for up to $150 of...
The Apple Store has restocked Apple Certified Refurbished 2014 Mac minis, with models available starting at $419. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each mini, and shipping is free: - 1.4GHz... Read more
Apple Releases New Tranche Of OS Updates For...
Apple has released incremental bugfix and security updates for its most recent Mac and iOS versions. OS X Yosemite 10.10.2 Update Apple says this update includes the following improvements: Resolves... Read more
Samsung To Be Main Supplier Of A9 Chips For i...
Korea’s Maeil Business Newspaper reports that Samsung has beat out its chipmaking rivals, Taiwan’s Qualcomm and TSMC, as supplier of chipsets for the next generations of both its own Galaxy S6 and... Read more
Save up to $340 on iMacs with Apple Certified...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished iMacs available for up to $340 off the cost of new models. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and shipping is free. These are the best prices on... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Systems Engineer - Pre Sales, Educat...
…is responsible for proactively providing technical expertise to drive sales of Apple solutions into assigned accounts. The SE architects, validates, and assists in Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant - Retail Sales...
As an ambassador of the Apple brand, the ASC is accountable for driving sales performance by: Connecting with customers. Discovering customers' needs and values. Showing Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant - Retail Sales...
As an ambassador of the Apple brand, the ASC is accountable for driving sales performance by: Connecting with customers. Discovering customers' needs and values. Showing Read more
*Apple* Tree Children's Center is hirin...
Apple Tree Learning Center is Hiring Preschool Teachers! Phoenix Childrens Academy is a national leader in the early childhood education industry and we are currently Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant - Retail Sales...
**Job Summary** As an Apple Solutions Consultant (ASC) you are the link between our customers and our products. Your role is to drive the Apple business in a retail Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.