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Smashing Newsletter: Issue #58

This newsletter issue was sent out to 105,781 newsletter subscribers on Tuesday, May 1st 2012. If you are not subscribed yet, feel free to subscribe to our email newsletter1 anytime.


In today’s newsletter issue, we’ll get acquainted with a timeline generator, a fantastic gallery of children’s story posters, a free font named Valentina and a free starter WordPress theme for your convenience. Also, there’s a one-of-a-kind email lottery you probably shouldn’t miss out on, and the ongoing projects of embracing failure by learning to move forward.

This time we’re also giving away 2 conference tickets to the FFWD.PRO Conference2 in sunny Zagreb taking place in June. To win a free pass, all you have to do is tell us why you’d like to go using #ffwdpro on Twitter. The winners will be announced by the end of this week.

Thank you for reading, and as always, we hope that you’ll find this newsletter issue helpful and inspirational. Don’t forget to use the hastag #smnl on Twitter to provide us with constructive feedback!

Yours sincerely,
The Smashing Team

Table of Contents

  1. A Better Upload Dialogue For The Web3
  2. Children’s Story Posters4
  3. Free Font: Valentina Typeface5
  4. Generate Timelines To Visualize Data6
  5. Increase Productivity With Useful Terminal Tools7
  6. Share Your Positive Fail8
  7. A Free Starter WordPress Theme9
  8. Drawing Diagrams Online10
  9. World Wide E-Mail Lottery11

1. A Better Upload Dialogue For The Web

Have you ever wanted to let your users easily add their content to your website quickly, without complicated and time-consuming server setup and authentication? Filepicker.io12 is a library that deals with all the dirty work and provides users with a rich interface to submit their files from Dropbox, their computer, Facebook, URL, etc. Users can then easily edit and save text files, adjust images, or even share groups of files. A Better Upload Dialogue For The Web13 works with iOS and Android and is very simple to use. The example app shows you just how slick the interface can be, and includes drag-and-drop functionality for importing files from your own computer. While using the library, you can build more smart applications on top of it. (cc)

2. Children’s Story Posters

We all remember those days from our childhood when we spent evenings reading exciting fairy tales and stories about fantastic, mysterious creatures. Christian Jackson revives these wonderful moments by designing and collecting Children’s Story Posters14.

Children's Story Posters15

Among the illustrations, you will encounter classics such as Snow White, Alice in Wonderland, Pinocchio and The Little Red Riding Hood. It’s interesting to observe how the designer managed to highlight the core idea of each story with only a few elements (along with a spice of good humor)—a little trip to the good old times. (tt)

3. Free Font: Valentina Typeface

Pedro Arilla, a graphic designer from Spain, shares his name with his father and grandfather. Luckily for the Web community, he did not share their passion for carpentry, but instead provides us with this truly beautiful, now freely available typeface today. “Valentina is a classic didone that follows some of the canons proposed by Bodoni in the 18th century, but incorporates many of the characteristics of the antique Spanish punches of the time.” The font is a “sincere tribute” to the Pedro’s grandmother, and “therefore bears her name.”

Free Font: Valentina Typeface16

Valentina consists of 457 glyphs, includes 125 alternative lower cases and 46 ligatures, as well as symbols and punctuations marks. You can download the font for free17 and use it in both your personal and commercial projects. Also, if you’d like to support the typographer, you are welcome to make a donation on his webpage18, if you wish. (ml)

4. Generate Timelines To Visualize Data

Displaying content in chronic order (as a timeline) is a very efficient way of visualizing dates, time-related events, or their developments. In fact, if you are on Facebook, you are no longer able to avoid seeing your friends’ lives organized along a time-scale (and you most probably already have one yourself). For those of you who like organizing in chronic order, the developers of Vérité.co have developed a tool just for you.

Generate Timelines To Visualize Data19

Timeline20 has a beautiful interface and can pull in media from different sources. It has built-in support for pulling in data from Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, Vimeo, Google Maps and SoundCloud—and more will be included in the near future. You can easily fill in data from a Google spreadsheet, or use a more detailed method such as JSON to create your timeline. You can also host it on your website by using the Timeline jQuery plugin. The project is available on GitHub21, or as WordPress plugin22. (ml)

5. Increase Productivity With Useful Terminal Tools

Terminal applications are a great way to increase your productivity. Mosh23 is one of those little time-saving tools that can definitely help improve the speed of your work for you. The tool is essentially a remote mobile shell that allows roaming (so even if your IP changes, you won’t lose your connection), supports intermittent connectivity (it warns you if your internet connection drops, but resumes the connection automatically), and provides intelligent local echo and line editing of user keystrokes. It might be a nice replacement for SSH and works with GNU/Linux, FreeBSD and Mac OS X.

Increase Productivity With Useful Terminal Tools24

Dropbox Sync Script25 is a backup script that will sync your server to your Dropbox account every day. Just have it triggered every day from your computer (with either a crontab entry or StartupItems) and your server will always be backed up. Sheet26 lets you create and access text snippets from your terminal, acting as your own personal wiki. There is thorough documentation available, including using it for opening URLs as well as a number of other actions. (cc)

6. Share Your Positive Fail

Failure does not automatically end with disaster. Actually, some even result into something positive or even amazing! Some great inventions would not even exist without failure, like the discovery of penicillin. With his idea of the hashtag #positivefail, Stuart Battersby wants to shift the cultural view of failure. He suggests that people embrace failure, learn from it and go forward. A failure can be helpful, and it forms a “postivefail”. That’s why he created Positivefail27 to collect and share positive fails from people around the world!

Share Your Positive Fail28

Get involved! Everyone can participate—you only need your twitter account. Twitter your fail-and-positive outcome including the hashtag #positivefail and share your experience with others. You might want to include a link to the webpage, so people know what it’s all about! (ml)

7. A Free Starter WordPress Theme

Building great custom WordPress themes takes time to learn. There are frameworks out there that can speed up the process, but a lot of them are overkill for a basic website. If you just want a basic, responsive website without all the bells and whistles, Nick La has created a new starter theme just for you.

A Free Starter WordPress Theme29

Base Starter WordPress Theme30 is simple and easy to extend, with a column grid included, custom header and footer navigation, and a custom comment template. It also includes pagination and child-theme support. There are templates for a variety of features, and thorough documentation is provided as well. (cc)

8. Drawing Diagrams Online

We’re sure you’ve been in a similar situation before: you intend to send a diagram to one of your clients or even to a business partner, and so you send the file. Alas, s/he is not able to open nor edit it because the specific software has not been installed on their PCs yet. So you’re asked to adjust the file and send it again as a PNG or even as a JPEG. And so it goes, back and forth. Until the whole process is resolved, at least ten emails have been exchanged.

Drawing Diagrams Online31

Wouldn’t it be easier if this whole process could be simplified by using an online editor? This is now possible with the help of Diagram.ly32. The drawing tools are limited, but you will still be able to create mind maps, diagrams, schemas, and many other organizational charts to share online. Another tool that will surely help improve your workflow! (tts)

9. World Wide E-Mail Lottery

Here is a question for you: what would you say if you could reach a million people with only one email? Right. It just takes a few seconds to understand the purpose of the project called “listserve”. You might think that you’re already reaching thousands of people every day with your Facebook or Twitter updates, but in fact you know that you aren’t. If you’re very prolific, you may have 600 Facebook “friends” or 1000 Twitter “followers”. Actually reaching between the current 13,000 and one million subscribers, would be awe-inspiring.

World Wide E-Mail Lottery33

It’s quite simple: you subscribe to the website, thus entering your email address into the listserves34 growing email list, and at the same time entering their lottery. Everyday one person is picked randomly from this list to write a message to all the other participants. This project has the potential to produce many deeply moving messages—as long as the emails don’t end up in your spam folder. Be warned: the emails are sent out every single day. (jc)

The authors in this newsletter are: Cameron Chapman (cc), (tt), Melanie Lang (ml), Talita Telma Stöckle (tts), Jan Constantin (jc), Iris Lješnjanin (il), Vitaly Friedman (vf), Sven Lennartz (sl), Christiane Rosenberger (research), Elja Friedman (tools), John von Bergen (proofreading).


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The Smashing Editorial prepares bi-weekly newsletter issues with lots of love and appreciation for the good ol' web with the latest tips and tricks for designers and web developers. Vitaly Friedman, Smashing Magazine's editor-in-chief, started this project back in early 2010. Today, we can't imagine a better way of informing and communicating with our fans and readers!

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