Posts Tagged ‘Tools’

We are pleased to present below all posts tagged with ‘Tools’.

Charts And Graphs: Modern Solutions

Charts are supposed to visualize data in order to give a more profound understanding of the nature of a given problem or recent developments. Whatever type of data presentation you prefer (pie charts, bubble charts, bar graphs, network diagrams etc.), you can create charts in graphic editors manually or use special desktop-software instead. In both cases you have a major problem: once you’d like to update an old chart, or create a new one, you have to run the application and create new images over and over again. That’s not flexible. That's also not usable — e.g. if you'd like to update your chart live.

Server-based solutions, implemented with Flash, JavaScript or pure CSS, offer a more flexible alternative. In fact, since Flash offers significant advantages over static data presentation with CSS and JavaScript, most solutions use it for dynamic data visualization. The data itself is often stored in XML-files which are loaded and updated via PHP or ASP. The price range varies enormously — depending on the flexibility and level of customization you'd like to have. However, if you don't want to pay, you don't have to — there are powerful free solutions as well.

Chart Demo Screenshot

This article presents an overview of tools, applications and techniques for visualizing data in charts and graphs. Among other things both free and commercial chart tools, services, desktop-applications and web-based solutions (Flash, JavaScript, CSS) — you can use them on your server — are presented.

Please notice that the solutions listed below don't necessarily produce charts which serve the main purpose of data visualization — namely, to provide an easy-to-use visual presentation of (possibly) complex data sets. It's far more important that the presented information is usable and comprehensible rather than presented in a visually appealing way. Outstanding data visualizations aren't achieved by the beauty of data presentation, but by an effective interpretation of the data it represents.

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Flash-Based Galleries For Your Images

In many situations web designers should avoid Flash and prefer usual text-based presentation. For instance, in most tasks related to pure text presentation Flash is neither necessary nor user-friendly, and it also has some serious accessibility problems: in fact, "pure" text is easier to maintain and easier to copy and paste.

However, if you'd like to present some multimedia-content, particularly images, Flash can often be a feasible solution, with flexible image management for web designers and impressive visual presentation for users. Used moderately, Flash-based galleries can give the presentation a fresh spark and create a rich visual experience you might want to offer your visitors.

Polaroid Flash Gallery

In this post we present some of the free, attractive and flexible Flash-based galleries you can use to present your images more effectively. Read more...

Screensavers – Best Of

Long, long time ago screensavers have been used to prevent the so-called screen-burn-effect — a permanent disfigurement of areas on a CRT display caused by non-moving text or graphics being displayed continuously for long periods of time. To avoid this effect, screen savers have been used to blank the screen or fill it with moving images or patterns when the computer was not in use. Today, screensavers don't serve their original purpose and are primarily used for entertainment.

In fact, we don't need screensavers any more, however we tend to use them as eye-candy for our coffee breaks. Particularly complex and colourful 3D-screensavers are extremely nice to look at. But also if you'd like to lift your spirit with some calm and relaxing animations screensavers can definitely be just what you are looking for.

Screenshot

However, if you are tired of the default screensavers brought to you by your OS you might start searching for the fresh ones in the Web. And you'll quickly find out: the choice is enormous; freeware is usually supplied with adware, and there are literally thousands of commercial solutions. What screensaver to choose? Most companies have limited demo- and shareware-versions, but they are almost always rather disturbing than helpful and will only get on your nerves.

In fact, there are only few pearls - amazing screensavers you'd be really ready to pay for once you've tested them. We've downloaded and installed a hell of a lot of them, we've had many problems (mostly adware) with them, but in the end we've tested all of them. And we've selected the most beautiful, interesting and unusual screensavers for you. Among them Flickr-, RSS- and time-screensavers - in the overview below both free and commercial solutions are presented.

Please notice:

  • in the overview below you won't find enormous screensaver collections such as Screensaver.com (10 points for the first user mentioning this site in our comments). We've also tried to avoid sites filled with advertisements, pop-ups and hidden ad blocks. We also ignored cheap "discount screensaver providers" — mostly they offer just image galleries, and not real screensavers;
  • screensavers are executable programs. Therefore: caution, Windows-users! We've tested the software presented below, still: use them at your own risk.
  • some screensavers don't work properly on dual-monitors;
  • you might also be interested in Selected Wallpapers For Your Desktop we've presented few weeks ago.
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Browser Tests, Services and Compatibility Test Suites

Cross-browser compatibility is still one of the most complex issues when it comes to web-development. Web standards usually guarantee a (relatively) high degree of consistency, however no browser is perfect and particularly older browsers have always been quite good at surprising web-developers with their creative understanding of (X)HTML/CSS-code. Still you need to make sure that (at least) most visitors of your web-site can use it, navigate through it and find what they're looking for as quickly as possible.

Browsers Tests Are Necessary
The truth is that a) you never know who might type in your url in his/her navigation toolbar and b) the browser-environment is still very quirky and the risk of inconsistent presentation is simply too high to ignore it. For instance, different browsers and operating systems use different techniques for rendering fonts (Win vs. Mac on handling fonts). The font size isn't identical on different platforms and some fonts might not be installed on the user's system.

Internet Explore has the browser usage share of 46%
Worldwide browser usage: IE6 dominates; IE 7 has already more users than Firefox 2. Stand: 01.10.2007. Source.

Firefox on Linux doesn't display web-sites as Firefox on Windows does. As bonus web-developers have to cope with dozens of versions and, of course, Internet Explorer 6 — 46% of browser usage share, which is a true godsend for hardcoders and hackers. It's almost impossible to keep all possible problems in mind — a detailed test helps you to identify the critical issues — also and particularly if these are the smallest details of your layout.

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Attractive Online Diagrams, Charts And Maps

Data charts and diagrams are used when statistical data has to be presented in the most convenient and usable way. Visual charts are clear, visually appealing and easier to perceive than some simple enumerations or tables - mainly because users don't have to analyze the meaning of presented facts, but can perceive main tendencies through the visual weight of the facts — directly.

amCharts

amCharts

You can create charts in graphic editors or use special applications (software or web-apps) which can help you to create your charts in few minutes. However, once you'd like to update an old chart, or create a new one, you have to run the application and create new images over and over again. That's not flexible. Or maybe you just want to offer your visitors not a simple image, but a powerful dynamic chart.

To gain a greater level of flexibility you need to take a closer look at further approaches.

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Web Applications: Improve Your Workflow

Woman Yay! by Mark Bloomfield In a world where applications are taking themselves online, there's a host of amazing web applications that perform all types of services and cater for just about any industry. Thanks to the joys of technologies like AJAX, Rails, PHP, XML powered Flash and the like, there's no limit to the functionality that can be packed into an online web application. In the coming weeks, we are going to be highlighting a number of these web applications. This week, it's all about the workflow - tools that make running your business even easier. Granted, there are probably hundreds of applications that can help you with various aspects of your business. But for now, we're going to look at project management and invoicing.

Basecamp

Whilst there's loads of project management tools available on the web, there's only a handful that are actually worth being called management tools. Even fewer are actually useful and worth signing up for. Read more...

Data Visualization: Modern Approaches

Data presentation can be beautiful, elegant and descriptive. There is a variety of conventional ways to visualize data - tables, histograms, pie charts and bar graphs are being used every day, in every project and on every possible occasion. However, to convey a message to your readers effectively, sometimes you need more than just a simple pie chart of your results. In fact, there are much better, profound, creative and absolutely fascinating ways to visualize data. Many of them might become ubiquitous in the next few years. So what can we expect? Which innovative ideas are already being used? And what are the most creative approaches to present data in ways we've never thought before?

Screenshot

Text similarities

Let's take a look at the most interesting modern approaches to data visualization as well as related articles, resources and tools. Read more...

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