Flash is Dead. Long Live Animate

Adobe Animate CC Logo

Flash has had a few hard years. HTML5 whupped its ass. So it’s going away.

Sort of.

In its place, Adobe will give us Animate CC, which loses the loser of a name but retains much of the function. There will be added functions, as well. Here’s Adobe’s announcement of the change.

To summarize the changes, here’s how Adobe describes what the new software will do:

  • Drawing, illustration and authoring
    • Vector art brushes – Modify the path of a stroke after it’s been drawn, and scale them to any resolution without losing quality. You can also make custom brushes and import brushes created with Adobe Capture CC.
    • 360° rotatable canvas – Rotate the canvas on any pivot point as you draw to get the perfect angle and strokes. You can even use this feature with a Wacom Cintiq!
    • Improved pencils and brushes – Draw smooth, precise vector outlines along a curve and get faster live previews.
    • Easier audio syncing – Control audio looping directly on the timeline, without having to code.
    • Faster color changing – Naming tagged colors lets you change one color and have it automatically update your entire project.
    • Colored onion skinning – Easily orchestrate complex animations now that adjacent frames can have different color and alpha values.
  • CreativeSync integration
    • Adobe Stock – Browse and license millions of high-quality photos, illustrations and vector graphics directly in Animate CC. You can even add life to static content by adding animations to them.
    • Creative Cloud Libraries – Access colors, vector graphics and brushes directly as you work.
  • Output capabilities
    • Multiplatform support: HTML5 Canvas, WebGL, Flash (SWF), AIR, video, and custom platforms (such as SVG) via extensions.
    • 4K+ video export – Export videos with custom resolutions for the latest Ultra HD and Hi-DPI displays.
    • Custom resolution export – Revitalize older content by resizing and optimizing them for any resolution, such as Ultra HD and Hi-DPI displays.
    • .OAM support – Export your project as an .OAM file for easy importing to Adobe Muse, InDesign, DPS and Dreamweaver.

The new Adobe Animate CC will be released in January 2016.

Manage Convention Contacts with Twitter Lists and Feedly Categories

You’re going to a great conference. You’re going to do lots of networking. The stack of business cards you accumulate will be enormous. Here are a couple of tips to help you keep all those names, faces, Twitter handles, and URLs straight.

Twitter Lists

Twitter lists are easy to create. They provide a way to read Twitter feeds from people according to groupings or interests. You don’t even have to be following them. You might have a list of food bloggers or tech bloggers or some other category of Twitter users. When you view the list you see tweets only from the specific people you added to the list.

When someone hands you a business card at a conference, you can quickly add their Twitter handle to a list. That will help you keep names and faces organized.

You can create a list and add to it from a desktop browser or from a mobile Twitter app. Let’s step through creating a list with a desktop browser first.

Create a list with a desktop browser

Sign in to your Twitter account in a browser. Here’s mine as an example.

The Lists option is on your profile page

In the menu bar opposite your profile photo, click the Lists link. When the Lists page opens, you’ll see any lists you subscribe to (you can subscribe to any public list, including your own), any lists you’ve been added to as a member, and the invitation to create a new list. Once you have lists created, this is where you would find them in your desktop browser.

Create a new list button

Click Create new list, give the list a name, and you can begin adding Twitter accounts to it.

When you create a new list, you can make it public or keep it private. If it’s a public list, it has a URL and anyone who is interested can subscribe to it. For example, here’s one of my public lists: womeninwebeducation.

To add someone to a list, find their user profile. You can search for their name, or just click on their name if you see it on Twitter. When their Twitter profile opens, click the gear icon by the Follow button to see user options.

Select Add or remove from lists

Select Add or remove from lists. Your lists open up and you check or select the list you want to put the user in.

Create a List with the Twitter App

Open the Twitter app.

Click the Me icon

Touch the Me icon at the bottom of the screen to see your own profile.

Click the gear icon to see Lists

Touch the gear icon next to your profile image to see Lists on the menu. Touch Lists.

Touch the plus sign to add a new list

At the top of the Lists page, you see a plus (+) sign. Touch it to create a new list. Give the list a name and decide if it’s public or private.

Once you have lists built, this is where you would go in the mobile app to read the lists you’ve subscribed to. This is also where you can see lists you’ve been added to by someone else.

Next, add Twitter accounts to your list.

Touch the gear icon to see Add/remove from lists

When you’re viewing the Twitter profile of the account you want to add to a list, touch the gear icon to see Add/remove from lists. Press Add/remove from lists and select the list you want to use.

In addition to viewing lists from a browser or the mobile app, tools such as TweetDeck have options that allow you to add columns for lists to your display.

Organize Blogs with Feedly Categories

Feedly is an RSS feed reader. There are many such tools, and you may already be using one to keep track of blogs you want to follow. The reason I mention Feedly in particular is that it offers a way to organize blog feeds into categories. You create categories yourself, or you can use Feedly’s suggestions for categories such as Food, Fashion, Books, or whatever.

Feedly has both a mobile and a desktop version, which makes it easy for you to take those conference contacts you made and quickly add blog URLs to the proper categories. In addition, there’s a pro version of Feedly ($5 a month or $45 for a whole year) that connects to Evernote where you can write notes or save snippets from blog posts.

You can login to Feedly with your Google ID or your Facebook ID.

Using Feedly on a Desktop

I logged in and customized my view a bit, which explains the orange. Hope you like orange as much as I do.

The Home menu in Feedly

At the Home page, there’s a menu on the left. It shows you the 3 categories I have so far: Cinema, Culture and Pop Culture. So far I only have a few blogs in each category. When the home page opens, all the unread feeds from everything appears, but I can click on any one of the categories or blogs and see only that.

Feedly has many categories you can browse, or you can make your own. Feedly calls these Collections. To quickly add a specific blog, find the search box on the upper right. Type in the URL of the blog you want to add. I typed www.theculturemom.com.

The search brought up the culture mom feed

The search brought up the feed from The Culture Mom. Next to the name of the blog at the top you see a button with +Feedly. I click that to add this blog to one of my collections.

Add the blog to whatever collection you want

I select the collection I want. Or I can add a new category.

Using the Feedly App

On your mobile device, the Feedly app takes some practice to get used to the way it swipes, but you’ll get the hang of it quickly.

A menu at the top left shows your feeds

It opens with all your unread posts. A menu at the upper left reveals your specific collections and blogs, which you see opened above. At the upper right, there’s a magnifying glass. Touch that to quickly add a blog.

Search for the blog you want to add

The search box opens, where the URL of the blog you want, e.g. theculturemom.com, can be added. Feedly also suggests blogs it thinks you will like. When the search results appear, you see a plus (+) sign at the top near the name of the blog feed. Touch that plus sign and add the blog to the appropriate collection.

It only takes a few seconds to add the information from a business card to a Twitter list or Feedly collection. If you do it while the person who gave you the card is still fresh in your mind, it will help you remember who you’ve talked to, what their interests are, what their blog is about, and it will give you a way to keep an eye on their tweets. Then you can concentrate on having a great conversation with the next person you meet.

[NOTE: This post was syndicated in slightly different form on BlogHer.com.]

Resources for Material Design

Material Design is a set of design principles created by Google for developers creating apps for Android. They call it a design language. The concepts don’t apply only to Android, of course. Some of the resources I’ll mention below can be helpful to anyone.

You may be familiar with the way things designed this way look and work, because Google has deployed it on most of its sites since last June.

color blocks for picking a color scheme

The opening page of materialpalette.com

Material Palette is a bold color picking tool. Simply pick two colors and you are offered a color palette.

a group of colors with color codes

The color palette for blue and deep orange

Material Palette is quick, simple, and useful to any app developer.

To back up a bit, a definition and description of what Material Design is all about can be found at developer.android.com. It deals with more than color choices. The design concepts also involve animations, shadows, and drawables.

Google also provides a set of basics about Material Design. The Google site discusses the goals and principles of Material Design and goes on to explain style, animation and many more aspects of development using the concepts.

MaterialUp.com offers inspiration in the form of daily examples of how the concepts have been used in websites and apps. This site and Material Palette are interconnected.

Intro to the Web Developer Toolbar

I always tell students to use the Web Developer Toolbar developed by Chris Pederick. It’s free, it works in Firefox, Opera, or Chrome and it’s very helpful.

This short video explains a bit about it. Although it’s talking about Joomla specifically and is an ad for Lynda.com, it’s still a good video. You hear Jen Kramer doing the description. It’s almost the same speech that I give students when I introduce them to this tool, so I thought it was worth sharing with you.

Contrast Ratio: A New Color Contrast Tool

Here’s a very nice new tool for checking color contrast against WCAG 2.0 standards for accessibility. It was created by Lea Verou and is called Contrast Ratio.

The tool allows you to swap text color and background color. It permits the use of transparency in both text color and background color. If your color choices fail to meet the WCAG 2.0 standards, the ratio button in the middle of the page turns red. Hovering over the button tells you how many, if any, of the WCAG 2.0 standards your colors meet.

Hover over the middle button to see how you're doing

Hover over the middle button to see how you’re doing

Bump up the level of opacity a bit on this color scheme and it passes.

A passing color ratio

A passing color ratio

Directions on the page explain some fancy ways to change the values for text and background colors. These are fun and time saving, but the real value in the tool comes from the clear and obvious way it reports on how the colors test out against WCAG 2.0 standards.

10 New Photoshop Freebies

One of the greatest things about the field of graphic design is that so many talented professionals are willing to share their work with one another. This is especially true for Photoshop, arguably the most popular graphic design software on the planet. Photoshop freebies make it easy to improve your efficiency and productivity as a designer, thereby helping you make more money in less time. Here are 10 new Photoshop freebies you should add to your stable today.

1. Flaticon.com Photoshop Plugin

I think you’ll come to regard this as one of the best Photoshop plugins you ever install. The Flaticon.com Photoshop plugin gives you access to more than 14,000 free icons, searchable from right within Photoshop!

Flaticon

2. Retinize It

Retinize It is a Photoshop plugin that slices your designs to make them Retina-ready. Take advantage of the most advanced screen display technology by ensuring your websites and iOS apps are Retina-ready with this free plugin.

retinize

3. Camouflage Patterns for Photoshop

Go full camo with this set of 10 free camouflage patterns for Photoshop, created by user Tijo and posted on Brusheezy.

camo

4. Vanilla Cream UI Kit PSD

One of the most aesthetically pleasing UI kits on the web is available as a free PSD download! This UI kit includes elements for blogs, forms, filters, buttons and more.

vanilla

5. Color Swap and Monochrome Photoshop Actions

Michelle Kane continues to offer outstanding, premium-quality Photoshop freebies on her website. The color swap action lets you instantly and effortlessly change background colors, while the monochrome action gives your grayscales a professional finish.  Other Photoshop freebies are also available

michelle kane

6. Instagram Vintage Pro Photoshop Action

Give your images the vintage look Instagram users love with this action by DeviantArt user Friabrisa.

vintage pro

7. HDR Photoshop Action

This Photoshop freebie is a sample from the commercial Faux HDR Actions suite, and will give your photos a premium HDR photography appeal out-of-the-box.

free HDR

8. Fall Foliage Photoshop Brushes

From the Creature Comforts blog comes this set of 23 high-quality fall foliage Photoshop brushes that look absolutely beautiful when finished with a watercolor effect.

fall brushes

9. Photoshop Skin Smoothing Action

Fundy presents this free Photoshop skin smoothing action, available for instant download from their website. Soften your portrait subjects for beautiful glamor shots and more.

skin smoother

10. High-resolution Photoshop Watercolor Brushes

Digitally paint watercolor masterpieces with this set of 38 free watercolor brushes by Brusheezy contributor Sandy.

watercolor brushes

Guest Author Brian Morris writes for the PsPrint Design & Printing Blog. PsPrint is an online commercial printing company. Follow PsPrint on Twitter @PsPrint.

Useful Links: Usability, Text resize, Twitter IPO, Siri

The ABC’s of Usability, Part 9 is at Usabilla. They are defining terms in a move to teach you the basics.

Support a user’s ability to resize text. This is from Simply Accessible. One thing it talks about is the uselessness of text resize widgets.

Twitter loses money, as many have reported. Yet it’s going to try to raise a billion dollars in an IPO. In a lot of ways that doesn’t make sense, but I recall Amazon losing money for many years before it started turning a profit.

The voice talent behind Siri has spoken out. Her name is Susan Bennett. She’s going public now in an effort to make sure the right person is recognized for the famous voice.