A Great New Tool Fresh from Adobe Labs – Adobe Edge

Just yesterday a brand new tool was released to the public. Adobe Edge is a tool that allows you to easily create HTML 5 animations in a Flash-esque application. It uses a timeline, much like Flash, where you can add objects onto the stage and manipulate them in various ways across the timeline. These animations are created using SVG and CANVAS of HTML 5. Your projects are saved as HTML, Javascript and CSS files that make up the animations and this makes it very easy to place in your web pages through Dreamweaver.

In the current version only animations are available, but Adobe has promised that there will be new features added in new builds of the preview version. So, if you find Adobe Edge to be a useful tool (and how could you not?) be sure to follow the updates.

Tech Tip for the Web Designer

For those of you that are new to web design or would like to get started in the field, or if you are like me and just too lazy to code your CSS, I have a great tool for you! I recently stumbled on this web app CSS3 Generator which allows you to style a box to your liking using a simple graphical interface. Once you have the box styled, press the “Get the Code” button and you have the CSS code necessary to style any object on a site you are working exactly like you have styled the box. This works great with Dreamweaver and using HTML5.

Photoshop Express – Photoshop for the iPhone/iPad!

Yes, Adobe has made a version of Photoshop for iPhones and iPads, and the best part? IT’S FREE! Here is a link to a video that demos this new app: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2hui0p_qI-Q

This is a great application for photographers looking to edit their photos on the go or for casual user who would like to edit or enhance their photos. Not only does it allow simple editing and enhancement all by touch, but also gives you the option to upload directly to Facebook and Picasa or share to friends via email.

Photoshop Express, I’m sure, will have photographers and graphic designers very excited, but another reason this app is so significant is that it is a precursor to having full desktop applications that have gone completely  mobile. This very well could be the beginning of the end for desktop computing in general.

Quick Tip from Jerome – Dropbox

If you have a Flash or InDesign project that you are putting time into both at work and at home or just have files that you access and edit frequently from multiple machines, then Dropbox is a tool that you should look into. Dropbox is available for essentially all platforms, mobile, Mac, Windows, and even Linux. Once you have installed Dropbox and logged into your account, it creates a Dropbox folder in your home directory. Anything you put in that folder from then on is synchronized over the internet to any other devices on which you have Dropbox installed. For mobile devices you merely open the Dropbox app and you then have access to these files as well. Bear in mind that Dropbox is completely free for up to 2GB of storage, not a bad deal at all!

Now if you are feeling saucy and really want to take full advantage of this great tool, you can further its usefulness by using symbolic links or “symlinks”. What these symlinks do is to redirect anything you put into a folder into another folder. For example, if I created a symlink between my Documents folder and a folder on my Dropbox, then anything I put into my Documents folder will go right into my Dropbox. Pretty slick. Just know that it will remove the original folder from your system. In the case of our example, my Documents folder would disappear unless I removed the symlink. So be sure to back up. (It wouldn’t be a bad idea to know how to remove this symlink either.) Are any other ActionScript 3.0 developers salivating over this besides me? What this means is that you can have all your 3rd party or home brew libraries and classes stored in the ‘clouds’ and any updates you make on one machine goes to all. Now that’s better living through technology.

Need help with this symlink business? Here’s a link:
Symlink Tutorial

The End is Near, Part II

Time is quickly running out for Ascend Training’s regularly scheduled CS4 classes. Our last CS4 hands-on training will be:

Dreamweaver CS4 Level 1, Chicago, Aug 30 – Sep 1, Deerfield, Oct 11 – 13

Ascend Training is happy to put CS4 classes on our regular schedule for groups of 3 or more people. We will also be happy to provide our CS4 curriculum for our on-site training. Any of our students taking CS4 classes are still eligible for 8 months worth of free retakes in the CS5 version of the class. Those retaking a class in CS5 who have originally taken CS4 classes will also have the option of buying the book used in the new class.

Getting a New Computer Without That Hefty Price Tag

As much as I love the applications included in the Adobe Creative Suite I sometimes wonder if my computer is going to make it through my next Flash project or if it will even be able to open the flier I am editing with InDesign. So, seeing as the computers I own are getting on in years, I’ve been thinking it is about time for an upgrade. Now I have always been a Mac guy myself, but their prices are getting more and more outrageous. To get the power I want in a desktop without breaking the bank, I am in the process of choosing parts for a computer I intend to build myself. Now this may sound completely beyond your knowledge and skills, but surprisingly enough its no more complicated than my Lego Death Star I built in the 4th grade. All you need is proper manuals, here is a useful site that will tell you the necessary components and how to choose the correct ones. There are many more tutorials to be found by simple Google searches. Buying your own components and building your own computer will give you about twice as much bang for your buck. Yeah, the jig is up Dell and HP.

That being said, I have a few tips to save you even more cash. When it comes to computer hardware, take your time, you don’t want to get something that’s outdated but also don’t want to be spending too much on a piece of hardware that you could find on sale or cheaper elsewhere. If you are unfamiliar with Gizmodo, this site is your best friend when it comes to tech deals. Each day, Gizmodo will post an article called Dealzmodo that lists the best deals of the day for primarily tech items. There are always hardware deals on Gizmodo. Newegg is one of the best sources in general for hardware, everything you need will be on Newegg at reasonable prices. For in depth reviews of hardware, tomshardware.com is the place to go. One last thing, and this should go with out saying, avoid ebay. As appealing as some of those prices are, this is fragile technology and I, for one, would not trust ebayers with this stuff.

lego death star

On second thought, building a computer may be less complicated than the old Lego Death Star. I must’ve had a lot more patience back then.

Thats all for today,

Adobe CS6 Released on AIR?

Adobe AIR allows developers to build web applications without a browser. Why is this important? AIR apps are a combination of a web and desktop applications allows users to run web applications on any desktop whether it’s Windows, Mac, or Linux.

Adobe AIR utilizes HTML and Flash to give the user a consistent experience that feels like a desktop application. This enables applications to have more power and functionality, and because they run in the background, can enable notifications.

One example is Earth Browser by Lunar Software. It’s a 3D view of the earth that relays real-time weather conditions including live earthquakes, satellites, wildfires and more. With a simple click, you can view volcanos all over the world, and get real-time data on their activity.

With the recent Adobe-Apple war, we have to ask if this means that CS6 will be released via AIR? Clearly AIR is a pet project of Adobe, and has already taken off like a rocket.

From a practical point of view, users may love their Macs, but need their Adobe apps. Most of us consider Photoshop/Flash/Dreamweaver/InDesign a lifestyle, and with a library of existing files, a change to anything else is impossible.

It will be interesting to see how the current debates between Adobe/Apple/Flash/iPhone/AIR continue.

Smarter Saves with Adobe Bridge Collections

If you find yourself using files that are in two differen folders or even hard drives, Collections is for you! On the lower left side of the Bridge window you will notice 3 tabs reading Filter, Collections and Export. When you click on Collections you have 2 choices: A straight Collection, or a Smart Collection.

Smart Collections are fantastic because let’s say you buy images from istockphoto.com. The good thing is that the word “istock” is in the name of each image, and if you set up a Smart Collection with Filename Contains istock, Bridge will set up and save that search as a Collection.

Free Event: Creating Email Newsletter Blasts!

Learn the ins and outs of creating killer html email marketing blasts! Look at the behind the scenes html development, in addition to best practices and avoiding being tagged as a “spammer.” This free event is at our Chicago training facility August 17th, 2010 , 5pm.

Register for this free event.

Learn about our Adobe Dreamweaver Training

The battle behind the screens – Flash vs. Silverlight

It’s definitely a war–it’s just that it’s a Cold War.

Since Microsoft released Silverlight, (and by the way, watch what happens when you surf over there) their answer to Adobe Flash, in 2007, there’s been a (sort of) silent war going on behind the two software giants about who gets to play your movies.

When you go to a site like Youtube or Hulu to watch videos (and who among us does not, these days?), isn’t it awesome how fast it is? How clear? How the videos you watch don’t take up space on your hard disk or really even slow down what you’re doing in the background? That’s because when you go to those sites (and soon others like Vimeo and possibly Dailymotion), your browser loads a plugin to let you read the Flash Video that someone has posted and that the website has slightly reconfigured–and plays it right from the source, like you’re looking through your computer to where the video really is, somewhere else. This means that anyone, anywhere can see it, which is good news for video producers and marketers alike. Just as Mac OSX, Windows, and Linux can all (usually) read the same types of files, now we can all see almost any type of video–the trouble is that not everyone feels like they’re making enough money this way.

Any guesses who? (*coughSilverlightcough*)

Well, you’re mostly right, but it isn’t JUST Microsoft. There are plenty of people out to get Flash, now that it’s the standard for video playback on the web: Sun Microsystems (who makes Java), plenty of open-source proponents, and Apple have either resisted or worked around integrating Flash into their video products (iPhone, anyone?) but more than ever, Adobe is realizing that if they want their product to stay at the top, they’re going to have to get into some heretofore unexplored venues. To that end, the rumors are flying about new tools for developing iPhone apps using Flash, putative Flash support on the theoretical Apple Tablet (if it exists, right?), and more.

Microsoft is responding to this by leveraging their power toward pushing Flash out of certain areas; ever notice that the streaming function of Netflix is run on Silverlight instead of Flash?

So here’s the question: both Flash and Silverlight are proprietary software, and both are the big boys when it comes to video playback on the web–now whom would we prefer as the keeper of our vids? Because someones’s going to win this battle–and either way, it’s going to mean a lot about how we get (and what we can do with) our video.