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Three years ago, the Smashing Newsletter was launched and since then our love and appreciation for the good ol’ Web has grown even more. We keep improving the quality of our bi-weekly newsletter and present to you only with the most useful and interesting tips and tricks for designers and Web developers. Today, we can’t imagine a better way of informing and communicating with our fans and readers! Thanks for staying with us — we appreciate it.
In today’s newsletter issue, we’ll be exploring a cool app, a type compatibility table, custom-designed icons to represent headlines, products we all wish would exist, a handy little Photoshop script, posters that tell the Oscar history in a very unique way, explore interviews with well-respected professionals, and last but not least, present to you the fresh new SMACSS eBook that is now available in the Smashing Library!
The Smashing Team
Table of Contents
- Breaking Icons Of Breaking News
- Products I Wish Existed
- Tinytype: A Comprehensive Table For Default Fonts On Mobile
- Remove Unused Layer Styles In Photoshop
- SMACSS eBook Now Available In The Smashing Library!
- Seesaw: Social Decision-Making
- The Interface Question: Your Settings Vs. My Settings?
- Third-party Library Update Tracking
- Personified Oscar Statues
- The Gently Mad
1. Breaking Icons Of Breaking News
It’s relatively easy to create icons for folders, arrows, download buttons or calendars. But what about creating an icon for a… headline? It’s probably much more of a creative challenge, but ultimately a bit more exciting too. Icons Times uses custom-designed icons to represent the headlines of the main breaking news of the day. On the site, instead of headlines, it’s icons that catch your first attention.
The creators of the project (who prefer to stay anonymous) scan news channels for the most interesting and important news, design icons that illustrate those news stories and put them on the site. The headlines are categorized into sections: business, entertainment, sports, technology and world. Can you figure out the idea of each icon before reading the actual headline? (ea)
2. Products I Wish Existed
How many million times have you dropped an idea? You had a flash of wit but this flash never turned into anything else, for whatever reasons (e.g. thoughts like: What the heck! Nah! Forget it! It’s not good enough. It’s difficult.)? We tend to underestimate the potential of our ideas and our capability to implement them.
We often stop at a very early stage: we don’t even make our ideas tangible. But perhaps we should. On Products I Wish Existed, designers and developers submit ideas for fantastic products they wish existed. If you are looking for the next big thing, perhaps it’s worth checking the ideas and building a solution to a real problem that people have. Or perhaps you’d like to add your own idea and see how it gets picked up and developed by the community? (ea)
3. Tinytype: A Comprehensive Table For Default Fonts On Mobile
Today we’re spoiled with choices when it comes to creating a website with beautiful typography. However, the rise of mobile devices and the need for a lighter page weight are important considerations when using Web fonts. It doesn’t make life easier that all those device operating systems are very different from each other, and often you might want to fall back on already available fonts in case Web fonts don’t load for some reason. Luckily, Jordan Moore spent some time putting together a type compatibility table showing available default system fonts across different mobile platforms.
The table shows the state of default system fonts across popular platforms: iOS, Android and Windows Phone 7. Jordan put it together as a way of finding alternatives to Web fonts when the page weight starts to get too heavy. You’re welcome to improve it and contribute to the project on GitHub. (ml)
4. Remove Unused Layer Styles In Photoshop
You probably know the drill: you want to remove unused layer styles in Photoshop, but apart from click-dragging empty layer style options manually to the trash, the application is actually missing an efficient way to do so. Here’s where the power of the community comes in.
After a huge demand in a Photoshop support forum, Paul Riggot has developed a handy little Photoshop script that solves exactly this problem and removes layer styles you no longer need without too much clicking involved. You can download the script for free. If the link has already used up its bandwidth, you can still find the script on the original post in the Photoshop forum. (cm)
5. SMACSS eBook Now Available In The Smashing Library!
If you’ve been a subscriber of the Smashing Newsletter for a while now, you probably know that we publish selected quality eBooks regularly in the Smashing Library, our truly smashing eBook subscription. To provide even more value to our subscribers, we will also make available thoroughly selected eBooks from well-respected designers and developers in the industry.
Jonathan Snook’s “Scalable and Modular Architecture for CSS” is the first, and more eBooks will be coming soon. Of course, we will announce them in our newsletters, but you can also follow our updates on Twitter. And if you haven’t voted for the next eBook bundle to be released yet, make sure to vote now in your personal dashboard. (il)
6. Seesaw: Social Decision-Making
Life is full of decisions: what to plan for dinner tonight, what’s the perfect birthday gift for a friend, or which color should you paint your kitchen? Asking friends for their opinions often makes things easier, but what do you do when they’re not around the moment you have to decide? What about just starting a poll?
The Seesaw app could help you with this. Just take photos of your options and notify friends and family with a text or via Twitter/Facebook so they can cast their votes. Seesaw then provides you with real-time results of their opinions. The app is currently available only for iPhone. With a bit of support, big and small decisions will be easier — and probably even more fun! (cm)
7. The Interface Question: Your Settings Vs. My Settings?
Fancy a little mental experiment? Please have a look at the interface of your favorite website or app and now try to analyze: is it easier for you to see this interface as an extension of yourself, which is communicating for you, or as a separate personality — like a buddy — who is communicating with you? In other terms, should the interface use “your” or “my” when talking about your stuff? Should it be “your settings” or “my settings”? Which is right?
You never thought you cared? Your subconsciousness probably does, as well as Dustin Curtis; for him the question definitely matters. Thinking about the answer and its possible implications (nearly) ate his soul. If you are curious about the outcome, pay a visit to Yours vs. Mine. According to Curtis, interfaces should mimic social creatures and they should have personalities. In the article, you’ll learn about two interesting neurological adaptations which might support each one of the two approaches, and you can make your own choice. (ea)
8. Third-party Library Update Tracking
Staying informed about the latest API changes and security updates is essential for any developer. But keeping track of all of these changes can be quite time consuming. You’re probably subscribed to a few mailing lists, have a couple of sites you are checking frequently, or run
npm update and
pip Install -U on a regular basis. In case you don’t want to remember all of these little time-eaters, there is a new service waiting to be explored: meet Bundlescout.
Just like the name implies, Bundlescout bundles the data about package updates, that you used to collect tediously from different sources, in one place. It monitors changes and sends you a notification e-mail with a list of packages once a day, so that you instantly know when an important update is released for one of your libraries. At the moment, Bundlescout supports Python’s PyPI, Node.js’ npm, and Ruby’s RubyGems with all of their 100,000 packages — and the number is constantly growing. Bundlescout offers both free and commercial plans. Now, that’s a little service that helps to simplify a developer’s life! (cm)
9. Personified Oscar Statues
February is the most exciting month for the movie industry: only the best in each category receive the biggest award, the Oscar. But after a couple of years have passed, do you still remember which movie was crowned with the golden statue, and in which year?
To celebrate the most remarkable winners every year, the designer Olly Moss was commissioned to create a poster called 85 Years of Oscars. According to the brief, Olly had to find a way to reference every single Best Picture winner from the last 85 years. The result? The poster tells the Oscar history in a very unique way: each of 85 statues is characterized with motifs related to the winning movie for that year. There are statues for American Beauty, Titanic, Forrest Gump… well, which movies can you actually recognize? (tts)
10. The Gently Mad
Have you ever wondered what people you admire professionally are like in private life? What are their hobbies, what do they like to eat, what are their views on random issues and concerns from our society?
In the podcast The Gently Mad, you can explore interviews with well-respected professionals — mostly Web designers and developers — who share their experiences, thoughts and interesting asides with curious people like you and me. If you pay attention, you will notice that your colleague or a designer/developer you aspire to be like has more in common with you than you thought! (tts)
The authors in this newsletter are: Esther Arends (ea), Melanie Lang (ml), Cosima Mielke (cm), Talita Telma Stöckle (tts), Iris Lješnjanin (il), Vitaly Friedman (vf), Sven Lennartz (sl), Christiane Rosenberger (research), Elja Friedman (tools), Clarissa Peterson (proofreading).
Hold on tiger! Thank you for reading the article. Did you know that we also publish printed books and run friendly conferences – crafted for pros like you? For example, Smashing Book 5, packed with smart responsive design patterns and techniques.