Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Interesting OpenType statistics

Ran across this chart today on FontShop's 20 year anniversary page:

I found it interesting that it wasn't until recently that OpenType font sales surpassed the sales of PostScript fonts. The OpenType format was announced in 1996 and major applications and operating systems have supported it for a number of years now. Makes me wonder who is still buying PostScript (or TrueType) fonts and why?

OpenType fonts have several big advantages over PostScript or TrueType fonts, including:

  • A single file per font: makes distribution and installation easier more trouble-free
  • Cross platform: the same font file works on Macintosh or Windows
  • Support for large character sets: wonderful for multilingual projects
  • Special extended features in some fonts and applications: support for alternate characters, fractions, oldstyle numerals and more

There's no reason that I can think of for most designers to be purchasing PostScript or TrueType versions of fonts any longer. So the next time you buy a font, think OpenType!

Also of interest: A pie chart on FontShop's 20 year anniversary page claims that 25% of the Fontshop.com support requests are about fonts on the Macintosh platform, and 75% are about the Windows platform. No surprise there!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Workspaces added to Acrobat.com

Acrobat.com is Adobe's solution for "cloud-based" file sharing and collaboration. Today Adobe added the ability to create online "workspaces" where you can share files with designated groups of people. Specifically, the free version of Acrobat.com gives you the following capabilities:
  • Create and maintain one workspace at a time, and share that workspace with as many people as you like

  • Store up to 2 gigabytes of files, and keep them private, or share individual files with a workspace, with individuals or the general public. A single file can't exceed 100 megabytes.

  • Convert up to 5 files to PDF format

  • Host online meetings and screen-share with up to 2 other participants besides yourself

  • Use the online applications Buzzword (word processing), Presentations, and Tables (spreadsheet)
A monthly fee based "Basic" or "Plus" subscription increases these limits.

I frequently use Acrobat.com for file sharing. The Acrobat.com AIR application makes it easy to drag and drop files from your computer to Acrobat.com.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Adobe CS5 tease

Adobe has "announced" that Creative Suite 5 will be announced on April 12, 2010. You can sign up for the on-line launch event here.

See also the Adobe Creative Suite Buzz Hub.

19 days, hour, 5 minutes and 29 seconds until launch as I write this. I can't wait!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

InDesign's Edit Original command

Did you know that you can quickly edit placed artwork and images in Photoshop, Illustrator and other programs from within InDesign? Here's how:

Select a placed bitmap image (something you can edit in Photoshop) or placed vector artwork (something you can edit in Illustrator). Right click or ctrl-click on the image, and choose Edit Original from the context menu. If everything is configured properly on your computer, the program that created the image or artwork should launch, and the image will open. From there, you can edit the image to your heart's content. When you're finished, close the image, save your changes, and click back on your InDesign page. Your changes will be immediately visible on the InDesign page.

But what if this doesn't work? A common Macintosh problem is that you might choose the Edit Original command with an EPS file selected, and Preview will launch instead of Illustrator. Or you might have a JPEG selected and Edit Original will launch your Web Browser instead of Photoshop. If this happens, it's because InDesign defers to the operating system for the mapping between the file type (JPEG, PSD, TIF, EPS, etc.) and what program should be used to open that file type. This mapping can get messed up for any number of reasons. If so, it will be messed up in InDesign also.

Fixing this on the operating system level is a topic for another post. But InDesign CS4 offers an easy workaround. Instead of choosing Edit Original, choose Edit With, and choose the application you want to use to edit the file.

There are three alternatives to choosingEdit Original in the context menu:

1. You can option double-click (Mac) or alt double-click (Windows) on the image

2. You can click on the pencil icon at the bottom of the Links panel

3. You can choose Edit Original from the Links panel menu.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Free t-shirt mockups

So you've designed the next killer t-shirt design (like the one below!), but you want to preview what it will look like on an actual shirt? A new web site lets you do this in a couple of clicks...free!

ShirtMockup.com lets you choose from a variety of t-shirt styles, upload your artwork, position it on the shirt, change the shirt color, and download a jpeg of the results.

Other options for mocking up t-shirts include Photoshop templates from Arsenal, or some of these free resources at SpoonGraphics.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Free utility adds features to Acrobat forms

The Advanced Acroform Toolset from FormRouter adds some cool new capabilities to Adobe Acrobat Pro 7 or 8, or Acrobat 9 Standard, Pro or Pro Extended.

This free utility adds a toolbar to Acrobat that lets you do some powerful things with Acrobat forms without the need to write complex JavaScript code, such as:

* Add a date selection widget to a date field

* Add a "Combo Box" (dropdown) field that's prepopulated with common data lists, such as countries, U.S. states, credit card types, major currencies and more

* Add a text field that is will be validated during data entry, checking to make sure the data entered is an email address, credit card number, IP address etc. If you need to validate in a way that isn't in the list, you can choose "custom" and enter a regular expression string that describes the desired validation.

* Create a Combo box that is a required field

* Add a "file browse" button that allows the form user to specify a file to be uploaded and submitted with the form

* Add a "test submit" button that will submit all the field names and the entered data to a test server and return a PDF listing showing the values submitted

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Free stock images and video clips

Crestock.com Creative Stock Images offers a Daily Free Stock Image. Every day they give away a new high-res stock image or vector image completely free. They make it completely simple with an RSS feed, so you can have a link to each day's free image appear in your in box.

Crestock is running a special deal for the month of March: a 6 month, 10 image/day subscription for $499, or a 12 month, 10 image/day subscription for $699.

Artbeats Royalty-Free Stock Footage offers a free high-quality video clip each day on their Web site for registered users. The clip is available in HD, NTSC and PAL formats. A great way to build a selection of clips for use in Flash animations, Powerpoint presentations or video projects.

* Full disclosure: I'm an affiliate of Crestock. This means that if you visit Crestock from here, and eventually buy something, I might make a few bucks.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Reader-enabling forms in Acrobat 9 Pro

Acrobat 8 Pro and 9 Pro enable you to "Reader Enable" a fillable form so that users of Adobe Reader can save the form locally after they've filled it in. However, Adobe also sells the Adobe LiveCycle Reader Extensions ES2 server software that Reader Enables forms. So, why would you need to purchase the server software if you have Acrobat 8 or 9 Pro?

The answer lies in the EULA (End User License Agreement). Here's an excerpt from the Acrobat 9 Pro EULA:

So, the way I understand it, is that you can either a) send a form to an unlimited number of users, as long as less than 500 are returned to you, or b) send a form to an audience of no more than 500 people, who can return an unlimited number of instances of the form. Beyond this, you need to purchase the LiveCycle Reader Extensions product.

I was asked about the scenario of sending a form to an unlimited number of users, who would only return the form in hard copy format, not electronically. I asked an Adobe Business Development Manager about this. His reply was "If the form is returned in any format -- even print -- then that triggers the 500 response limit."

There's a lot of confusion around this issue. My hope is that this clears things up a bit.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

XML and InDesign case studies

I've been asked to work on some real interesting projects lately, all involving working bringing XML data into InDesign, or getting XML out of InDesign. Most of these projects involve automating the production of complex catalogs from product databases.

This sort of thing is kind of hard to get your head around, so I've put together a series of four "case studies" (1 page PDF each) that attempt to explain in a few paragraphs what each project involved, what challenges were faced, and how they were solved.

Case study 1: A company that sells molecules to research scientists asked me to develop a way for them to efficiently produce a massive 975 page catalog from their product database. Read the solution here.

Case study 2: An electronic components distributor asked me to automate production of complex "new product" brochures that are produced several times a year in eight languages each. Find the solution here.

Case study 3: A company that sells cake decorating supplies hired me to create an automated catalog production workflow that doesn't sacrifice designer's creative freedom. Discover the solution here.

Case study 4: A publisher of legal texts asked me to develop a way to extract product name, descripton and price information from hundreds of formatted InDesign files in XML format so they could import the information into their database. Read about it here.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

CreativeBloc 2010

If you're located anywhere near Eastern Iowa, check out CreativeBloc 2010, sponsored by AAF of Eastern Iowa. I'll be presenting four seminar sessions on CS4, InDesign, Photoshop and Flash at this event in Waterloo, Iowa on March 19. Please join me if you can!

Monday, March 01, 2010

Convert Illustrator artwork to grayscale

I'm often asked how to turn full color Illustrator artwork into a grayscale equivalent. This is simple if you know where to look:

1. Open your color .ai or .eps file in Adobe Illustrator CS3/CS4

2. Select the artwork that you want to convert to grayscale

3. Choose Edit > Edit Colors > Convert to Grayscale

That's all there is to it. If the colors in your original artwork don't map to pleasing grays, you can try one or more of the following to adjust the tonal values of the grays:

* Convert your file from CMYK to RGB or vice versa by choosing File > Document Color Mode before you convert it to grayscale. Even though the colors may not look much different in RGB or CMYK on the screen, they will convert to different grayscale tones.

* Choose Edit > Edit Colors > Adjust Color Balance before or after you convert the artwork to grayscale

* Choose Edit > Edit Colors > Saturate after you convert the artwork to grayscale.