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Smashing Newsletter: Issue #84

This newsletter issue was sent out to 144,975 newsletter subscribers on Tuesday, May 14th 2013. If you are not subscribed yet, feel free to subscribe to our email newsletter1 anytime.


No matter how indefinable humor may be, we’re all aware of the fact that it can be one of those wonderful things that can increase not only productivity, but also create an atmosphere that encourages interaction and brainstorming of new ideas. It’s known to be the best medicine: When used appropriately, it can give almost every situation a positive spin.


Other than that, humor is viral. Someone’s laughter can be so contagious that you’ll find yourself laughing along before you even know it! Here at Smashing Magazine, we like to use gifs instead of words — even if it’s a simple hello3. We hope you’ve had a good laugh today. If not, what are you waiting for?

P.S. Our Smashing Library keeps growing! Make sure to check out the overview of all of the eBooks available in our Smashing Library Catalog4 (free download!) which we have prepared just for your convenience.

Yours sincerely,
Iris Lj.

Table of Contents

  1. Expanding Smart Objects The Easy Way5
  2. Building And Previewing Icon Fonts Live In The Browser6
  3. What’s New In The World Of Paper?7
  4. The People Behind Great Products8
  5. HTML5 Video Support Reference Table9
  6. Going Back In Time: With Retro Vector Goodies10
  7. A Web User Goes Offline: A Year Without The Internet11

1. Expanding Smart Objects The Easy Way

Handy Photoshop tricks are always welcome, and solutions for obviously missing features are even more. So here is a little script12 that has the makings of becoming your new everyday companion. Written by Kamil Khadeyev, it simplifies a normally pretty tedious process: expanding smart objects.

Expanding Smart Objects The Easy Way13

All you have to do is install the script, set up a hotkey for it and lean back. It will appear in your Photoshop menu, and when you select a Smart Object, it will expand it as a group of layers. The new group is even placed in the same order and keeps the same name as the original group. You can download the script14 from Kamil’s blog. A real time saver, isn’t it? (cm)

2. Building And Previewing Icon Fonts Live In The Browser

In light of high density displays, using raster graphics for icons doesn’t seem like a bulletproof solution that will stand the test of time. To embed scalable graphics in our websites, we can either use SVG, or Web fonts… or perhaps both? Sometimes you can just use some of the glyphs from popular free Web fonts, but other times you might need to embed a logo or a custom character. So how do you do that?

Building And Previewing Icon Fonts Live In The Browser

Well, you would draw an SVG glyph, export it and use tools to generate a Web font file and a CSS snippet, but you don’t really have to do it manually. In the article Reconciling SVG and Icon Fonts, the guys over at Hull explain how to set up a flexible design workflow, going from editing a bunch of SVG files in Sketch to previewing them as they update live in your browser, already compiled as a Web font. It’s a little tweak, but it can help you iterate your design much more quickly, and automate tiresome manual work. (vf)

3. What’s New In The World Of Paper?

When you were a kid, did you like doing arts and crafts? For example, did you like making things out of paper? Most likely, you loved it, like most kids do. Being busy grown-ups with lots of responsibilities and tight schedules, we don’t really sit down at the kitchen table anymore to do handicrafts. Or, when was the last time you made a paper plane…?

What's New In The World Of Paper?15

How about playing with paper again? If not a plane, what about crafting your own paper notebook? Learn how, at Design & Paper16, a blog for all lovers of paper — and those who want to be inspired. You’ll find all kinds of exciting creative do-it-yourself paper projects, hot new paper designs, printing tips, giveaways, and even interviews with leading designers and manufacturers from the world of paper. Curated by three avid designers based in Vienna. (ea)

4. The People Behind Great Products

Did you ever think about launching your own business, about selling your Web-based product? Well then it’s time to tune in to Product People1917 and listen to some hands-on advice from people who successfully took this step. Hosted by Kyle Fox and Justin Jackson, this interview podcast focuses on great products and — most importantly — the people behind them.

The People Behind Great Products18

Each episode is about a half hour long, jam-packed with insights on how things are created and valuable tips for your entrepreneurial aspirations. You can learn about the human side of entrepreneurship, why you sometimes have to be a method actor walking in other people’s shoes and how curiosity brings you further. A new episode of Product People1917 is waiting for you each week. A great and inspiring resource for anyone who seeks advice on how to turn an idea into a marketable product. (cm)

5. HTML5 Video Support Reference Table

So your clients want to add a video to their website, but they don’t want to upload it to YouTube or Vimeo and would prefer to keep it on their site. How would you embed the video to make it work across browsers? What video formats would you need to provide? And what about a fallback?

HTML5 Video Support Reference Table20

Well, consult The State Of HTML5 Video21. This resource provides a detailed overview of the current support for video and audio media formats, tag attributes, JavaScript API, full screen playback and text tracks. With the growing support of HTML5 video, we need to encode videos only in MP4 and Webm formats and we can use media attribute on the 
video source attribute to deliver appropriate videos to every device. The main culprits are of course Internet Explorer 6, 7 and 8 which would need a Flash video fallback. A useful resource worth bookmarking and coming back to. (vf)

6. Going Back In Time: With Retro Vector Goodies

Remember the ’80s, when commercials were crazy and cell phones gigantic? People spent their Saturday afternoons in the arcade or in front of their home gaming systems. The ’80s were like living in the future, and so were the designs of the time. If you’re into graphic design elements from this or other past eras, you must check out Retro Vectors22, a great source of vintage vector goodies from the good ol’ times — the 1880s to the 1980s.

Going Back In Time: With Retro Vector Goodies23

Besides futuristic gaming and computer design, you’ll find Gothic-style ornaments from the Victorian era as well as small ad clip art from the ’50s and ’60s — the golden age of advertising. Original materials that have fallen out of copyright have been scanned at the highest resolution possible. The content includes graphics from 100-year-old newspapers and other printed materials such as shop catalogs, calling cards and posters. All files are free to use for commercial or personal work. (ea)

7. A Web User Goes Offline: A Year Without The Internet

Unplug the cable, shut off your Wi-Fi, and swap your smartphone for a dumb one. Be offline, for one year. Would you? Paul Miller, 26-year-old tech writer and senior editor at The Verge, did. In early 2012, after seven years of tech writing and having used the Internet constantly since age twelve, Paul found himself burnt out by the non-stop flow of WWW information, endless emails in his inbox and never-ending news to cover. At 11:59 PM on April 30th, 2012, the techie pulled the plug.

A Web User Goes Offline: A Year Without The Internet24

Armed with unlimited time and the goal in mind to find out what the Internet had done to him over all those years, Paul managed to escape the virtual world for 12 months. Did the real and tangible world solve his problems? Did it heal his sanity and make him a better person? Far away from all the noise, from the other side of the browser, what did Paul find? Enlightenment? Or boredom and loneliness?

I won’t blow the show. Find out yourself, at I’m still here: back online after a year without the internet25. (ea)

The authors in this newsletter are: Iris Lješnjanin (il), Esther Arends (ea), Vitaly Friedman (vf), Cosima Mielke (cm), Sven Lennartz (sl), Christiane Rosenberger (research), Elja Friedman (tools), Clarissa Peterson (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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