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DesignGeek #41

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July 27, 2005 - 2:00am

Web Design Tricks in the Creative Suite

I just came back from the first-ever Creative Suite Conference, five straight days of non-stop information, tips and techniques about every program in the Adobe Creative Suite:

My head is about to explode from information overload. In a good way.

Of course, the fact that it was held in Las Vegas — Caesar's Palace, specifically — didn't help my synapses. Unlike most of the other speakers and attendees who were able to control themselves in a mature, professional manner, picture me getting off the plane with lucky 7's instead of eyeballs … I was like, "Vegas! Five days! Oh, mama!"

I hit the tables for a couple short visits every day — after lunch, during session breaks, on the way back from dinner — it was a novel experience having a full-blown casino just an escalator ride away from sessions on Version Cue and Photoshop Smart Objects.more >

Flash from Illustrator

You don't need to know how to use Flash, nor even own it, to create slick .swf art for your web site complete with plug-in detection code. Just create your artwork in Illustrator, then go to File > Export and choose "Macromedia Flash (SWF)" from the Format drop-down menu.

The resulting Macromedia Flash (SWF) Options dialog box offers a ton of goodies, and the following tips are all found here.

To create a static piece of vector web art, choose Export As: AI file to SWF file. Since virtually everyone has the Flash plug-in already installed in their browser, they can see its fine, clean lines without problems.more >

Vector Animations from Photoshop/ImageReady

ImageReady CS2 can also save animations as Flash files as well as the usual GIF format. It's easier to use ImageReady for this since its Animation palette lets you set the duration of individual frames, and it offers tweening (automatic creation of "onion skin"-type intermediate frames between key frames) to create smooth animations.

Photoshop CS2 also sports an Animation palette with the same features, but it can't save or export the animation as a Flash file.more >

Capture Web Sites as PDFs

Recent vintages of Acrobat Pro offer the ability to convert live web sites to multiple-page PDFs, but hardly any web designer I've worked with knows about it. In my studio, we've been using the feature for years to archive iterations of client's sites, and to have a convenient "web site on a CD" to carry around for reference.

You don't need to know a web server password or anything; if you can see it in your browser, you can capture it in a PDF. During the seminar I captured the first two levels of Apple's site and a few pages of eBay as well … cool!

With each new version of Acrobat, the feature gets better and better. It captures drop-down menus in forms, translates "includes" into page content, understands CSS, keeps links intact and can even grab GIF animations, Flash interfaces and Quicktime movies.more >

Another Training Geek at Seneca

Sherri Austin (sherri [at] senecadesign [dot] com) is Seneca's newly-minted Training Coordinator, helping to coordinate my own schedule and those of my training freelancers (the Associate Geeks). Sherri's been with me since February, starting out as a short-term temp until I realized how great she was and refused to let her leave. If you've called here recently you've undoubtedly had the pleasure of speaking with this warm, witty, and friendly person.