April 27th, 2012 - by brittany - Salt Lake City, Utah
Siasto Project Management
Siasto claims to be “the best way to manage your projects.” We’re still on the fence, as we’ve only been trying it out for the last few days. But with features like Google App integration (Utilizes Gmail, Google Docs, and Google Calendar), Dropbox connection, intuitive design, and pricing that is cheaper than Basecamp, we’re motivated to check it out. Coming from Basecamp, there are two obvious things that we’re missing: there is no “Messages” area (although messages can be loaded as documents) and no time tracking capabilities.
Foresight.js helps with smart delivery of high-resolution images. Unlike image delivery solutions which automatically send high res images to a device capable of displaying them, Foresight.js checks for a high-res screen AND a speedy network connection, and only if both requirements are filled are the high-res images delivered. This means a user with a retina display iPad and a fast network connection will see the big, beautiful images the iPad is so good at displaying, while a different user who doesn’t have either a high-res device or an adequate network connection will see smaller images optimized for their device.
If you’ve ever had to build or consume an API that hasn’t been properly tested, you’ll appreciate Request Maker. Our fine friend Drew Wilson, who created the Pictos tool we mentioned in a previous post, made a handy-dandy tool for testing the data an API gives you when you are making a request, or the data you are sending if you own the API. In his own words, “There is nothing complex or special about this service. It just makes testing…much easier.”
Layer Cake offers to simplify the process of slicing and exporting images/graphics from your layered PSD. From the Layer Cake website:
Bye bye, “Save for Web/Devices”. To turn PSD elements into images for your website or app, simply
flatten, select, copy, make a new document, paste, save; or hide others, measure, crop, save, undo name your layer groups once and let Layer Cake do its magic.
The short and sweet of Octogit is that it is an easy-to-use interface for Github from the command line. Developers, you can now use the time you usually spend copy and pasting between command line and Github to grab yourself another Mountain Dew or read the latest dev joke on Reddit.
Octogit also allows you to store your Github authentication data, create repositories on Github and locally, track issues in your repository, and inspect & close an issue.
Efficiency for the win.
Jekyll is a Rails blogging gem we’ve been checking out. Here’s a description copied from the project’s Github repo:
Jekyll is a simple, blog aware, static site generator. It takes a template directory (representing the raw form of a website), runs it through Textile or Markdown and Liquid converters, and spits out a complete, static website suitable for serving with Apache or your favorite web server.
Dragscrollable is a jQuery plugin we recently used on a project where we needed to “scroll a large nested layer within a viewport using native scroll from the container.” That’s a quote from the plugin page and it worked exactly as advertised. Performance with this plugin is much better than with other similar plugins we’ve tried.
Our team came across this when building a customized map feature for a client. With 10,000 map pages to load, all other tools we used would slow down, become choppy, and some not load at all. Once we implemented Dragscrollable, we got the seamless user experience we were hoping for.
Beercamp is part of the Front-Trends Conference, which focuses on front-end development. Note that their site isn’t using any Flash. It’s great to see developers pushing the envelope of web technologies like this.
April 20th, 2012 - by brittany - Salt Lake City, Utah
Newest Version of Firefox Disables Flash
Mozilla’s upcoming release of their popular browser, Firefox, will have Adobe Flash disabled by default. This means on any of those pretty restaurant or beauty sites that use Flash technology to show large images or play relaxing elevator music, visitors will not be able to be able to see the content.
The movement away from Flash isn’t new (iOS users are all too familiar with the “Flash not supported message”, but Firefox’s abandonment of the technology is noteworthy, because it is the first desktop browser to make the move away from Flash.
In large part because of HTML5, Flash has a much lower implementation rate than it did several years ago. However, Mozilla’s move may be more of a marketing move (disliking Flash is a trendy position to advocate) than a usability move.
DIY Apps from Apple
Apple recently filed a patent relating to DIY app building. Although no one knows for certain if or when Apple will release a product based on this patent, it stands to reason that making app creation available to the masses could be in the near future.
If This Then That
IFTTT is an online tool that lets you create event driven program links, that makes the internet work for you. If you are like me, and yawned while reading the previous sentence, think of it as “Digital duct tape … allowing you to connect any two services together.” In some ways IFTTT reminds us of Yahoo! Pipes, another tool you can use to mashup services and data.
The example IFTTT gives is a connection between Instagram and Dropbox: If a friend uploads a picture to Instagram, then the uploaded photo is saved to Dropbox. Another usage would be to link your favorite-d tweets to a Buffer app account. When you favorite a tweet, it gets saved automatically to your buffer app queue for timed tweets.
Passpack is an online password manager and password generator.
Secure your accounts from prying coworkers’ eyes, phishing scams, forgetfullness, and a lack of creativity.
If you have a site that requires user authentication and you want to show your users the strength/security of their passwords, try this script called zxcvbn.
April 12th, 2012 - by brittany - Salt Lake City, Utah
OpenStreetMap is an open source, editable map of the world. Think of it as the Wikipedia of maps. By using user generated data from multiple sources (geotagged photos, location-based check-ins, satellite images, etc.) OSM hopes to be the most comprehensive resource for mapping.
It was started in 2004 and has been growing its user base and data library ever since. It has received greater attention by the development community over the last couple of years due to the flexibility it offers over widely-used Google maps. Recently, sites and applications such as Foursquare, WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, and Flickr have chosen OSM over Google maps, with Wikipedia being the newest mega member to join the movement (as of this past weekend). An endorsement such as this should give some credibility to OSM as a viable alternative to Google Maps and Bing Maps.
OSM, as an open source platform, could provide some interesting plugin and application uses for companies interested in more refined mapping capabilities without having to pay for access to a commercial API such as the one offered by Google. Beyond simple location maps for websites, companies and organizations could use OSM for photo-based maps for projects or locations, travel tracking maps, disaster relief maps, trekking/guided tour maps, the list could go on and on.
Mozilla WebRTC Video Chat
WebRTC is an open source project that enables browsers (Chrome, Safari, Firefox, etc.) to use Real-Time Communication (RTC), ie video chat. The team at Mozilla recently gave a demo of their browser using this technology. As stated on their page, RTC is still in the early development stages, but it offers developers a hope of being able to things like video chat in the browser without requiring plugins. Instead of using a browser to chat, email, and communicate on social media and a separate video chat client (skype, facetime, etc.) or bulky plugins for video chats, users will be able to leverage real-time communication within the browser.
Browsers with RTC technology will enhance the user experience by allowing for direct communication without plugins. The technology could enhance social sites, customer support, project collaborations, etc.
Detection of Flashback Trojan for Mac
Trojan BackDoor.Flashback (Flashback Trojan) is a virus that has been infecting computers running Mac OS X. It is linked to a vulnerability with devices running Apple’s version of Java. A patch was released in February by Oracle, but was not addressed by Apple until April 3. It is believed that around 600,000 devices have been affected.
To check if your device is one of the infected lot, visit ARSTechnica and follow the steps provided.
It may save your life. Well, your computer’s life at least.
Hieroglyph is a Ruby gem that allows designers and developers to create an SVG font from a directory of SVG icons. If a website uses icons for navigation or user interaction those icons can now be turned into a font, which provides more flexibility with sizing and colors (goodbye sprites!)
A site like Jauntaroo that uses icons for every step of the user experience (selection, description, rating) benefits by using a more scalable and dynamic approach to icons. It could reduce design time (no more sprites) and development time (fewer steps to make the site responsive).
Using icons for common actions on sites is becoming more and more common: The Facebook “Like” button, Twitter’s “Tweet” bird, Google’s +1. Leveraging common icons for user interaction on sites allows for minimal user input (no reading text). Using an image library like Pictos allows sites to leverage those icons with minimal input from designers (no creating icons) and developers (keyboard shortcuts allow for icons instead of coding for images).
For examples, see sites like Dribbble and airbnb.
April 3rd, 2012 - by brittany - Salt Lake City, Utah
Pixelapse is visual version-control for designers. If you are a developer, think of it as Git for designers. Pixelapse allows designers to save files (logos, wireframes, designs, etc.) to an online account which tracks each version of the file..
The tool includes an app that installed on the desktop, which allows the designer to save and have the files uploaded to Pixelapse at the same time. Each time a document is saved, a version is saved to Pixelapse. Pixelapse is also a great collaboration tool. Because the files are hosted online, clients can view and comment on designs.
For any business where design collaboration is needed; marketing, advertising, design, or interactive agencies Pixelapse is a great tool.
Note: Pixelapse is still in Beta the system isn’t yet perfect.
JewelryBox is a desktop app (available in the Mac App store) that allows developers to manage their rubies, gemsets and gems with a graphical interface.
JewelryBox is a developer tool that is most useful when working on multiple Ruby on Rails apps. It allows for quick switching between versions of Ruby. JewelryBox is basically a graphical version of RVM.
April 2nd, 2012 - by brittany - Salt Lake City, Utah
If you have ever visited our office or spoken to a member of our team, you know that we are a lively crew. We all have different specialties that we love to talk about; web development, app development, interactive design, print design, user interface and experience design, marketing, advertising; the list could go on. However, this enthusiasm and experience hasn’t translated to our blog as often as we would like.
To fix this, we will be compiling a list of tools, news, and industry trends each week based on our team’s collective knowledge. This new feature to our blog will be called Fusion Radar.
We will also be tweeting about the different items throughout the week, so follow us and let us know if you have any industry news or tools you would like included @AgencyFusion.