I dropped by my former stomping (er, teaching) grounds last week to say hi to my many friends at Centennial College’s School of Communication, Media and Design. And while chatting with the Dean, Nate Horowitz, about my role at Adobe, he suggested I call on Debbie Gordon, the Director of the KidsMediaCentre at Centennial College. Debbie and I had a great chat about digital readiness in public schools and she shared with me the KMC’s new blog, just hot off the digital press last week. Read the rest of this entry »

Comments Off, Written on November 30th, 2011 , Centennial, Education, Learning, On the Personal SIde, Teaching Tags: , , ,

My new eBook: Using the CSS3 Mobile Pack for Adobe Fireworks CS5

If you’ve found yourself wondering how Adobe Fireworks can fit into your web and mobile design workflows, or how you can introduce students to a visual method of designing for mobile, I may have just the thing for you.

Today, my new eBook, Using the CSS3 Mobile Pack for Adobe Fireworks CS5 and CS5.1, went live at http://www.peachpit.com/.

While there are already a couple good how-to tutorials available at the Fireworks Developer Center, I wanted to take a deeper, more practical approach to this new extension. I wanted to go beyond the how and hopefully address the why. I walk you through the basics, but then I move you to a realistic application of the extension.

You will learn about both parts of the CSS3 Mobile Pack:

  • CSS Properties Panel
  • jQuery Mobile Theme Builder

CSS Properties Panel

In the chapter on the CSS Properties panel, for example, you’ll be doing more than simply exporting a rounded corner rectangle as CSS3 mark up; you will be taking a completed web page design and – using Fireworks and a Dreamweaver HTML5 starter page layout – building a standards-based web page, complete with navigation, semi-transparent content areas and stylized text.

Final web page design that matches the original Fireworks mockup

The only bitmap in the page is the background image. And it was all done with a minimum of coding. Maybe it’s just me, but I think that’s pretty cool.

jQuery Mobile Theme builder

jQuery Mobile design, mocked up in Fireworks, then exported to Dreamweaver and previewed in Device Central.

In the chapter on the jQuery Mobile Skinning, you will study and work with the jQuery Mobile template file, also part of the CSS3 Mobile Pack, and learn how to customize an existing skin and export that new mark up over to Dreamweaver to quickly create a simple, customized mobile web site.

Time-saver in production and in the classroom

Whether you are comfortable with code or not, the new tools in this extension can be a creative and time-saving boon.

A designer  can export out standards-based mark up, which can be further edited and tweaked by a developer in their preferred web page editing environment. Or if the designer wears both hat, he or she can move quickly from a visual design to realizing that design in HTML and CSS. I think this is a great example of Fireworks bridging the gap between designers and developers.

And for students learning the craft of web and mobile design, it gives them the opportunity to create their design first, and then see how that design becomes converted to code. Or, depending on the design itself, learn about the limitations to be aware of when building a standards-based design that targets multiple devices.

Either way, it’s a win-win.

Oh and did I mention, this extension is free? Just head on over to Adobe Labs and download the preview. It will run in Fireworks CS5 or CS5.1. I think it’s awesome that the extension is available now – at no charge – rather than having us wait for this kind of functionality in a future release of Fireworks.

If you’re interested in the ebook, it’s available for less than $6.50 USD at http://www.peachpit.com/. Feel free to follow me on twitter @JimBabbage, too. If you’ve got questions about the eBook – or anything else related to Fireworks, that’s a great place to find me.

Comments Off, Written on November 8th, 2011 , Adobe Fireworks, Education, On the Personal SIde, web design, workflow Tags: , ,

Graveyard at nightWell, it took weeks of back-burner thinking, and two days of implementation, but my front yard Halloween graveyard hit the mark again! Parents, teens and kids alike were all very impressed with the set up, from eerie lighting, to fog, to ground-breaking undead and tombstones.

Of course, the true acid test is the scream. You know the scream, right? That first, terror-riddled cry from a spooked child as they walk up the driveway and see that first shrieking ghoul, lit by bolts of lightning. In all, 3 or 4 children either refused to approach the house at all, or had to be carried tot he door. One little girl was so scared, she gave me  a hug!

In all, we had over 130 kids (and borderline adults) ring the doorbell on Halloween night. We actually ran out of candy and resorted to raiding a stash of mini Lindt chocolate bars so we could keep the porch lights (orange and black light) on a little longer. Ad even then, we had to turn kids away well before 9 pm.

Halloween oozes its way into the house as well, with a Creepy Towne village set up on the mantle.

While it is a lot of work, I do enjoy setting up the indoor and outdoor displays. It’s fun and relaxing in its own way. And I can get picky with placement, too; I’ll do the basic outdoor set up, then view the graveyard from a few positions and tweak object locations. When the main set up is locked down, I rough in the lighting during the day and at night, position the lights to be more effective (while not blinding any kids as they make their way up or down the walkway.

Which brings me to the one thing that really ticks me off on Halloween night.

Lazy-ass teenagers

<rant> I really wish that older kids would at least take the time to dress up in some way if they plan to trick or treat. It bothers me that they think they can just show up in a hoodie, carrying a pillow case, and expect to get candy. I mean, come on! Make an effort for Pete’s sake. I don’t care if you’re 7 or 17, if you have some kind of decent costume, you have proven you’ve earned the treat. Otherwise you’re just a lazy parasite, taking advantage of a fun holiday. Too cool to dress up, but not too cool to ask for candy. Give me a break.</rant>

OK, I’ve got that off my chest for the year. Seriously, we had so many comments from kids and adults alike, that it makes the time and effort well worthwhile. And while I’ve promised myself not to buy anything else for next Halloween (one storage shed is almost full of just Halloween stuff), I’m sure I see something gory or scary next October, that I just can’t live without.

Only time will tell . . .

Comments Off, Written on November 5th, 2011 , On the Personal SIde, Photography Tags: , , , ,

I’m thinking about starting a new Fireworks training project, and I’d like your input. I’ve received some great suggestions from Twitter followers and I’d like to hear more.

What UI elements/workflows/features have always stumped you in Adobe Fireworks CS4 or CS5? Are there workflows you’ve always wanted to know more about? I’m here to listen.

MAX 2011 and pre-MAX sessions such as the full-day Education Summit gave educators many opportunities to learn from the industry, from Adobe and from each other.

The room fills up quickly as doors open for the first keynote
The room fills up quickly as doors open for the first keynote

Having been a teacher in Higher Ed for 20+ years, it’s natural for me to look at events like MAX with an educator’s eye. This is a perspective I hope I never lose, to be honest.

While MAX is a great networking occasion for professional designers and developers, it also gives teachers a chance to some important networking as well. They have the opportunity not only to learn new tips and techniques, but to talk to the people working in the industry, learning what skills are used, and what ones may be lacking. I think this is invaluable information; gaining this knowledge can help immensely when planning new courses, or updating existing ones to be more relevant. Read the rest of this entry »

If you haven’t already, head over to Community MX and see what a digital face lift can do! Of course, this new look is more than skin deep. Here are just a few of the exciting changes that are integral to our new design.

  • New Pricing: If you ever hesitated to join CMX because of the price, you’ll be delighted to see that you can now get the student discount of $9.99 a month all year, every year. Why? Because we’re all students in this ever changing business.
  • Graded Tutorials: If you ever had trouble finding tutorials that were appropriate for your level of expertise, you’ll love the menus of graded tutorials.
  • Better search: With almost 4000 tutorials, it can be hard to locate what you’re looking for. Photo collections? JumpStarts? CSS or PHP tutorials? Find them more easily with the CMX search box.

We’re running an open house for the week so that you’ll have a chance to look around and see if what we have to offer is for you. You can also download the stunning new CMX stock photo collection of 12 images from New York City, look at scores of JumpStarts, and access thousands of extensions, tutorials, and articles that will give you a valuable technology lifeline.

Comments Off, Written on September 13th, 2011 , CommunityMX, Design, Education, web design, workflow Tags: , , , ,

Our 1-week camping trip to the Near North was once again, a great success. I’ve been so busy with work since then I haven’t had time to mention it here!

The four of us (Me, Tom Green and our sons Joe and Rob) and the camp mascot, Marley, had a wonderful time kicking back in the great outdoors. Be sure to drop by my Flickr site to see the proof!

Comments Off, Written on September 13th, 2011 , On the Personal SIde

It’s that time again. August is here (I can’t frikken believe it’s August already) and in a few days, my buddy Tom Green and I will once again be making the 12-hour voyage to the Near North of Ontario. It’s a great time to relax, decompress and abandon technology (OK, most technology) for an entire week. Our sons join us for this trip and they love it just as much. Read the rest of this entry »

Comments Off, Written on August 1st, 2011 , On the Personal SIde, Photography Tags: , , , ,


I’m very happy to report that BOTH my lab sessions at Adobe MAX are sold out! W00t!

I’m very happy and excited to announce that I’m speaking at Adobe MAX this October! I’ll be running an Adobe Fireworks lab, geared towards showing developers and designers how Fireworks can save them time using different tips and techniques and tricks. Read the rest of this entry »

Comments Off, Written on August 1st, 2011 , Adobe, Adobe Fireworks, Conferences, Education, On the Personal SIde, web design, workflow Tags:

In the previous post, we talked about using Fireworks to create multiple application icons for an Android device, and then how to take those multiple icons and export them out as individual flat files.

In this post, we’ll look at how to batch process those images into three different sizes, and how to automate that process for future work. The original icons were created quite large – 244 pixels square, to be exact. This made it easy to be very detailed when creating the look of the icons. And while this is useful from and editing and creative perspective, the project requires three sets of smaller dimension icons for an Android application.  Well, Fireworks excels at this type of workflow and produces very small files to boot. Read the rest of this entry »

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