All posts tagged ‘Software’

File Under: Glossary

Browsers

Browsers are software programs that render web pages and help you move through the web.

The browser that triggered the World Wide Web explosion was Mosaic, a public domain graphical user interface (GUI) from the National Center for Supercomputer Applications (NCSA). Released in 1993, Mosaic made it possible to design documents containing images for display over the internet. Up to that point, an internet document was basically just a bunch of text on a server. In 1994, Mosaic ship-jumper Marc Andreessen released Netscape 1.1, following Mosaic’s successful lead, by distributing the browser free of charge on the internet in order to establish a wide user base.

Popular web browsers today include Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari and Opera. See Browser Charts for information on some of their differences.

File Under: Glossary

Cache

Caching (pronounced CASH-ing) is a technique computers use to save memory by storing frequently accessed files.

Web browsers have caches that keep recently downloaded web pages handy. Browser caches are typically kept on your local drive, and you can usually adjust the amount of memory or disk space allotted for the cache. The benefit of web caches is that you can access a cached page much more quickly than if you downloaded it from a distant server.

File Under: Glossary

Filter

A filter is a program that receives a specified kind of data, then manipulates and outputs the results.

Your word processor’s find and replace function is a good example of a filter.

Designers, Step Away From the Photoshop

In many cases, web design begins in an image editor. A designer mocks something up in Photoshop (or some similar tool) and that design is eventually translated into HTML, CSS and JavaScript to create a live website.

But why do we work this way? It violates one of the fundamental tenets of good design, that design should follow content. It also means working with static documents. You submit a design to a client, the client likes it, but wants all the corners rounded. Have fun changing the corners in Photoshop — meanwhile, we’ll be adding a single line of CSS 3 to our live mock up.

In the final post to this year’s 24 Ways (see our coverage of other 24 Ways highlights), Meagan Fisher picks up what’s become a popular idea among many of web design’s most respected voices — that web designers should do their mockups in markup. That is, start with a live HTML and CSS page to create your designs.

Citing Photoshop’s shortcomings (not to mention expense) Fisher argues that tools like CSS 3 make writing — and more importantly updating — your mockups pure code just as fast, if not faster than the old Photoshop methods.

But there’s an added benefit Fisher touches on only briefly that bears further emphasis. Working with the code from the begin gives you chance to refactor, refine and improve it before production work ever starts.

Part of the reason lies in something designer Jeffrey Zeldman once posted to Twitter, “design in the absence of content is not design, it’s decoration.”

Starting with content — whether actual content, or simply the markup of the page — will force you to focus more on structure and making sure that your design fits the site from the ground up. In our experience this leads to slimmer, more semantic and easier to maintain code. As with writing in any language, the real process is not writing, but rewriting.

Even if you’re thinking that the world can pry your Photoshop markups out of your cold dead hands, give Fisher’s piece a read and, even better, try starting with code and see what happens. For some it might mean learning a new skill set, for others merely a shift in thinking. Regardless of whether you decide to switch to this method for good, we guarantee you’ll learn something new in the process.

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File Under: Software & Tools

Firefox Experiment Adds Gesture Support for New MacBooks

firefox macbookGot one of the hot new Apple MacBook or MacBook Pro laptops? Mozilla has a special build of Firefox just for you one that makes the browser respond to the multitouch gestures of Apple’s latest hardware.

The gesture supporting version is a build of Firefox 3.1 pre-Beta 2 (which means it’s got a few changes over the recently released beta 1) and contains some patches contributed by developer Tom Dyas.

The build is experimental (read: potentially unstable), and it remains to be seen whether or not the gestures will make it into the final release, but at least you can catch a glimpse of what the future of web browsing might feel like.

The supported gestures include swiping (moving three fingers over the trackpad), and pinching and twisting (turning two fingers). Here’s the corresponding actions:

  • Swipe Left: Go back in history
  • Swipe Right: Go forward in history (both this and the one above allow you to hold down the Cmd key and open the results in a new tab)
  • Swipe Up: head to the top of the page
  • Swipe Down: head to the bottom of the page
  • Pinch Together: Zoom out
  • Pinch Apart: Zoom in
  • Twist Right: Next tab
  • Twist Left: Previous tab

Unfortunately, I don’t have a new MacBook, so I haven’t been able to test this version of Firefox. I can confirm that my EeePC hackintosh is not supported (the EeePC trackpad ostensibly supports some multitouch gestures, but it didn’t work with Firefox).

If you’ve got a shiny new Apple laptop, let us know what you think. I should also point out that this build supports not just the new aluminum MacBook and MacBook Pro, but also both models of the MacBook Air, as well as the gesture-aware MacBook Pro that was released earlier this year.

[via Mozilla Links]

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