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Smashing Newsletter: Issue #66

This newsletter issue was sent out to 118,936 newsletter subscribers on Tuesday, August 21st 2012. If you are not subscribed yet, feel free to subscribe to our email newsletter1 anytime.


In Freiburg, Smashing Media’s hometown, the days are getting shorter and the Smashing Conference2 is just around the corner. The schedule of the speaker talks and workshops is finally set, and while we are not yet hanging up the disco balls, everything is being set in motion to make it an enjoyable and valuable experience for everybody involved. Sadly, it’s impossible to have all of our readers join us for this occasion in September, and so we’ll make sure to provide you all with as many photos, short movies and interviews as we can!

Image credit: opensourceway4.

Should you have missed the opportunity to grab a seat at the conference, you still have the chance to register5 for one of the workshops. You can still become a sponsor6 of the event as well. Of course, let us not forget other fantastic community events taking place this fall! We’re giving away 2 tickets to the Strata Conference7 in London. To win one, just send us a tweet telling us why you would like to go using #smstrata.

Yours sincerely,
The Smashing Editorial Team

Table of Contents

  1. Underscores: A Starter Theme For WordPress8
  2. The Four Legalizers For Web Designers9
  3. Philosophical Concepts Explained10
  4. Sorting CSS Properties With CSScomb11
  5. Splitting The Bill Made Easy12
  6. The Gift Book13
  7. A Design For A Good Cause14
  8. Light and Shadow Artworks By Kumi Yamashita15

1. Underscores: A Starter Theme For WordPress

We’ve all been there: searching for the perfect boilerplate, a set of base templates or a handy starter-kit for that new project. Starting from the very scratch is often time-consuming and rarely necessary since some tasks, settings or code will be repetitive for every single project. So it’s no wonder that each of us has our own set of base templates to take care of browser bugs and speed up the development process. If you find yourself developing WordPress-themes quite often, today you are in for a treat.

Underscores: A Starter Theme For WordPress16

Developed by the finest minds in the WordPress development community, Underscores theme17 — a forked version of the Toolbox theme — focuses on the features that most developers need in everyday projects. The theme has better starter styles, a “just right” amount of lean, well-commented HTML5 templates, a framework for adding your own responsive CSS, a script for adding a toggled drop-down for small screens, five sample CSS layouts, smartly organized CSS and easy-to-rework sample theme options.

Unlike Toolbox, Underscores is not supposed to be used as the parent theme, but was developed specifically to be “turned into” great WordPress themes. If you are looking for an alternative, you might want to consider Bones18 and Roots19 which are both WordPres starter kits as well. (vf)

2. The Four Legalizers For Web Designers

One day you buy an iPad, confirm that you’ve read the hundreds of pages of the “Terms of Service”, and the next day you’re part of the Apple Human centiPad experiment. No, it’s not always as bad as in the South Park episode. However, the lack of transparency found in online services is becoming more and more of an issue. Few people have time or the legal know-how to read every single “Terms of Service” and “Privacy Agreement” they are asked to confirm. ToS;DR and Termsfeed are trying to remedy that.

The Four Legalizers For Web Designers20

ToS;DR21 is a user rights initiative to rate and label website terms and privacy policies, from very good (Class A) to very bad (Class E). The contributors to the project review legal transparency of websites and present the most important legal issues in a concise overview. Termsfeed22 is an online service that provides a free and easy way to generate the templates for user-friendly “Terms of Service” and “Privacy Policies” for websites.

These two websites follow the example of Docracy23 and iubenda24 in providing legal resources to the Web community. This quartet is attempting to make the legal jungle more navigable for users and developers alike. (jc)

3. Philosophical Concepts Explained

Philosophy is a complex theoretical study which doesn’t quite make all of its concepts easy to understand. So when it comes to explaining some of the main theories and movements in philosophy, reducing the complexity to the absolute minimal visual representation might be quite a challenge. London-based designer Genís Carreras picked up just that challenge and designed a set of minimalist posters explaining philosophical doctrines like “Hedonism”, “Idealism” or “Free Will” using simple shades, basic colors and concise definitions.

Philosophical Concepts Explained

The result is a series titled “Philographics” which contains 24 beautifully designed posters, each with a short explanation of the concept that the artwork is supposed to represent. The posters are available in a variety of sizes and formats and can also be purchased25 online. (ml)

4. Sorting CSS Properties With CSScomb

How much time do you spend going through style sheets to properly sort and organize CSS properties? If you often have to maintain the code or work with the code of other developers, CSScomb26 is the perfect tool for you to take care of this time-consuming task.

Sorting CSS Properties With CSScomb27

The tool sorts CSS-properties within the selectors (according to the settings), sorts commented properties as if they are not commented, moves down unknown properties and treats initial formatting of style sheets carefully. It’s also able to successfully parse expressions and any construction with @ like @media. You can set the order of the CSS properties yourself.

The parser treats text according to a developer’s way of sorting code, rather than as a blind robot parsing CSS. The tool is available online but also as a plugin for Sublime Text 2, Textmate, Coda & Coda2, Espresso 2, Notepad++ and Vim, among others. (ml)

5. Splitting The Bill Made Easy

You probably experience this every month: sharing the bill with your friends can lead to awkward situations,especially if someone forgets to keep the list of expenses up to date. The Australian designer Sean Ockert seems to know this problem and developed an online tool that might help you turn this awkwardness into an amusing venture.

Splitting The Bill Made Easy28

With 13Bills29, you can give your bill a name, e.g. “Electricity and Heating”. You would then insert the costs, date and names of your roomies — as many as you wish. After all details are inserted, you simply send out an e-mail that speaks for itself. Now let’s hope your friends pay their part before you have to send them a reminder. (tts)

6. The Gift Book

“Thank you, dear! It’s a beautiful tie!” you tell your wife/daughter/son, sighing inwardly. They appear every year for Father’s/Mother’s Day and birthdays — the gifts nobody wants. And gift-giving is hard… or is it? Wantful may be the solution.

The Gift Book

The idea is ingenious. Instead of offering one ill-suited present, you can put together a beautiful 16-piece catalog of items and offer it to the joyous recipient. You can send your friend a gift book or send him the selection of gifts via email. They will then pick the gift they prefer and have it sent to them. You pay your amount and the service takes care of the rest. No more returning (or sometimes even worse) keeping unwanted gifts.

You can connect the service with your Facebook account and check whose birthday or other important events are coming up. You may provide some information about what kind of gift you are creating, what relationship you have with this person, how much money you’d like to spend and answer a few questions about his/her preferences — and the service will do its best to find great products to add to your gift choices. All gift selections are stored and can be accessed for a later occasion. (jc)

7. A Design For A Good Cause

There are thousands of charities across the globe covering every imaginable category. One problem many of those charities face is awareness of their organization, funding and little commitment from their followers. One of them had a successful idea to put an end to those problems. Sevenly30 creates 52 charity product campaigns per year to support a new cause each week.

A Design For A Good Cause31

The organization presents a new and unique design for every supported cause which is printed on a set of products currently including t-shirts, hoodies and tote bags in different shapes and colors. The clever thing about it: The designs are exclusively available for exactly seven days, which makes the products limited and unique. The used materials are fair-trade and for every product sold, $7 are given to the supported charity. (ml)

8. Light and Shadow Artworks By Kumi Yamashita

What can you do with a single piece of paper and a light source? Most people would answer this question with “write a note”. Designers would probably say “sketch a drawing”. Any other ideas? The Japanese artist Kumi Yamashita sculpts light and shadow using paper and other materials (such as carved wood, aluminum with cut-outs, and styrene).

Light and Shadow Artworks By Kumi Yamashita32

The results of her creative artistic work are very impressive — conversation, mother with child, profiles, lovers, and clouds are just some of the themes from her collection Light and Shadow artworks33. Ordinary objects can also be very inspiring — all you need is a new perspective to encounter their hidden beauty and to be creative. (tts)

The authors in this newsletter are: Jan Constantin (jc), Melanie Lang (ml), Talita Telma Stöckle (tts), 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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