CMX Weekly Newsletter

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Holy Smokes! Just a Few Weeks Until TODCon!

TODCon is an annual event known for its informal, personal feel and for the tremendous amount of information and camaraderie one can find there. If you've ever bought a book on an Adobe or Macromedia product, chances are you'll meet the author of the book at TODCon. Glance over the list of speakers and you'll likely see some familiar names from the Adobe community. There are a huge number of learning tracks available to attendees, and the personal way in which you interact with the instructors is unmatched at events such as this. People who attend TODCon usually come back year after year when they see how unique it really is, and it's great watching everyone evolve together.

You're invited to register for this fantastic, one of a kind event.

Alas Poor Freehand. We Knew Him Well. We Didn't Use Him, But We Knew Him.

Actually, a lot of folks used Freehand and loved it. It was a nice alternative to programs like Illustrator that had a greater learning curve than Freehand. Why are we talking about Freehand like it's now deceased? John Nack has posted Adobe's obituary on his blog at Adobe.com, saying that no new versions of Freehand will be hitting the shelves. If you like the program and still want to use it, you'll have to work with Freehand MX, a four-year old (but most recently released) program, and wait for operating system updates to make it completely obsolete. RIP, Freehand.

Suing For An Honorable Cause. Oh, And Plenty Of Cash.

Media Rights Technologies and Bluebeat.com have launched a lawsuit against Microsoft, Adobe, Apple and Real Networks, whom they feel have enabled digital theft of copyrighted digital materials. Media Rights says that the Digital Millenium Act of 1998 specifically makes it illegal to distribute software that gets around Digital Rights Management (DRM), and that the aforementioned companies are failing to protect copyrighted digital material. Not coincidentally, Media Rights Technologies and Bluebeat.com teamed up a short while ago and came up with what they believe is a great system for keeping DRM safe. In essence, they're saying that because companies like MS, Adobe, Apple and Real do not use their product, they're not doing their part to protect DRM. Nice racket, and we don't expect much to come of it. More on this at MacsimumNews.com.

Hey, Good Lookin'

Macs look good. The iPhone looks good. The iPod? Also good. Heck, just about all of Apple's products have a consistently sleek look about them, and have helped make the Apple brand an indelible and immediately recognizable one. TechnologyReview.com has a fascinating article on "The Secret Of Apple Design", which attempts to get inside the head of Apple design. That head appears to largely belong to Steve Jobs, who according to most accounts, put a lot of stock in the design of anything produced by Apple.

Not Everyone Is Excited About RIA's

Julian Doherty is not a huge fan of Flex, Silverlight or JavaFX and doesn't care who knows it. In his blog, he disses the whole lot of them, writing them off as "a bunch of old ideas repackaged with new Web2.0 marketing spin." While it's true that Rich Internet Applications are still a fairly new idea, and their potential has yet to be fully realized, it would be a mistake to write them off. We think a lot of exciting innovations will be seen in developing these applications down the road. But differing opinions can be good food for thought, and besides Julian links to a few sites that have some great information on each of these new products.

Satisfied Customers Speak Out!

  • "This series has been, by far, the easiest to understand and the quickest to master Dreamweaver/CSS tutorial I've found so far. Up to this point I've grown more and more confused as I try to teach myself web design, but your series is a breath of fresh air! Makes me realize I really can get a handle on these concepts. I can't wait for more installments!"

    - Mary S., CMX Subscriber, commenting on Sheri German's article,
    The Dreamweaver Web Standards Lesson Plan Series Part Six.

    Whether you're just starting out or need advanced support, Community MX will give you answers and ideas to work through your tough issues. Don't miss out. Learn more about CMX or sign up for a free trial today!

Great Quotes:

"It is good to rub and polish our brain against that of others." - Michel Eyquem De Montaigne

Just To Prove There Is No Such Thing As a Stupid Idea

There are so many ideas floating around in people's heads. Some of the great ideas go unnoticed, but conversely, many of the insane, illogical and plain stupid ideas get way more attention than they deserve. Some of those end up making people rich, like "Doggles", which are goggles sold to dogs. Oh boy... Check out NicheGeek.com for more ideas that hit the shelves and made their owners millions, like designer diaper bags. Designer diaper bags? Boggles the mind, but also made the person who came up with it rich. I'll tell you what... I'm going to go get my friend Bob drunk and have him come up with as many stupid ideas he can think of before he passes out. One of them has got to make me rich.

So You Want To Be a Pirate?

Most folks know what piracy is. Some do it, some don't, and some that do it claim they don't. But for you computer users who want to know more about piracy - what it is, who it affects and how it works - look no further than Crunchgear.com, who have a comprehensive article on the ins and outs of piracy. The article doesn't take a pro or con stance. It just states the facts, and gives the reader an objective view into the world of piracy.

Not Everyone Is Excited About RIA's

Julian Doherty is not a huge fan of Flex, Silverlight or JavaFX and doesn't care who knows it. In his blog, he disses the whole lot of them, writing them off as "a bunch of old ideas repackaged with new Web2.0 marketing spin." While it's true that Rich Internet Applications are still a fairly new idea, and their potential has yet to be fully realized, it would be a mistake to write them off. We think a lot of exciting innovations will be seen in developing these applications down the road. But differing opinions can be good food for thought, and besides Julian links to a few sites that have some great information on each of these new products.

Pimp Your Firefox

Who doesn't love tips and tricks that make you more productive. More productivity, especially in our line of work, equals more cash. In that spirit, we offer this link to LifeHack.org, where you'll find fifteen great tips to make Firefox an even better browser than it already is. Our personal favorite is typing "about:config" into the address bar to find tons of hidden settings most people don't know about.

We Can Make You a Star

So you posted a video of yourself on YouTube of you and your friend singing a hip hop tune while riding unicycles, and no one's made any comments on it? Maybe the video just doesn't have what it takes to be a winner, or perhaps it just didn't hit the market at the right time. OnlineWSJ.com attempts to figure out what it is that makes some YouTube videos more popular than others, and gives the reader tips to help them make a better impression with their videos. Sections like "Find a Niche", "Work Your Network" and "Get In Early" should help make you a YouTube star in no time.

The Polaroidizer for Fireworks

  • If you had a chance to read my recent article, Create a Polaroid Photograph in Fireworks, you saw how (relatively) easy it is to do this on your own. You can create two simple rectangles, punch the smaller rectangle through a larger rectangle, apply some simple drop-shadows, and Voila! Fairly easy frames that can be applied over the top of a photograph to give the appearance that the picture was snapped with a Polaroid camera. While the techniques described in the earlier tutorial were fairly easy, wouldn't it be even better if you could automate the process? Since you might not remember all the things that need to be done to achieve the effect how about it you could just run a command and have the frames created for you? You could then scale and place your own images and get the final outcome you see above with a minimum of muss and fuss. Now you can. When you download the support files for this article you'll find three commands for Fireworks 8 that will create the Polaroid frames for you. Just unzip the files and save into the Commands folder in your copy of Fireworks 8 and instant Polaroid frames are just a few clicks away.

    Take a look at this free Fireworks Command by CMX Partner Kim Cavanaugh

Fun and Freebies!

Free Stuff For Your Mac

OK, not all of these are free, but most of the "Top 10 Mac Utilities" listed at Lifehacker.com are free, and some of them are plain old priceless.

If Milk Chocolate="Good" AND Raisins=Tasty THEN Raisins+Milk Chocolate=Yum

We're not sure how the heck SQL made it onto a wrapper for chocolate covered raisins, but we're sure it made for plenty of scratched heads. Check out WorseThanFailure.com.

Ruby on Rails vs Java

Here's a great parody of Apple's "Mac/PC" commercials featuring Ruby on Rails and Java, brought to you by RailsEnvy.com.

Working with Shared Libraries - Part 1: Sharing Symbols in Authortime Libraries

  • In this new "Working with" series, you learn how to create and use shared libraries with your Flash movies. Shared libraries can help you optimize your workflow, making it easier to update assets across several Flash movies used for any type of project. I just finished a large DVD-ROM project for UCLA's Center for International Emergency Medicine, and the use of shared fonts dramatically decreased troubleshooting font issues between Mac and Windows versions of Flash 8.

    This free article by CMX Partner Robert Reinhardt can be found here.

Weekly Content Listing

sql

Backing Up Your SQL Server Databases

Adrian Senior

When you are working with dynamic websites their can be little more important than backing up your data, the data within each database may represent years of data that would be extremely difficult to replace if lost. In this article we will look at performing backup and restore operations through Microsoft's Query Analyzer and make provision to store our backup files away from the production server.

photoshop

Resampling/Resizing - What's the Difference?

Knut Kubenz

If you want to change the size of an image in Photoshop, there's probably only two popular ways to do it. Either you Resize the image or Resample the image. Generally speaking, people use Resampling and Resizing interchangeably to mean the same thing. Misunderstanding the difference between the two can be hazardous to your image's health. The Image Size Dialog Box in Photoshop is where it all starts and in this tutorial I'll explain the difference as well as show you how to get the most out of your files without compromising quality.

dw

Spry Region and Repeat

Chaz Chumley

In our previous article we took a look at the Spry XML Data Set which is part of the new Spry Framework within Dreamweaver CS3. However, once we have created a JavaScript object containing our XML data set, we would like to be able to use it. This is where the Spry Region and Spry Repeat come in handy. We will take a look at each and see how to display individual elements and repeated elements from our Spry Data Set.

fl

Animation Magic in Flash CS3 Professional

Tom Green

How's this for a magic trick? Scripted motion without writing a single line of ActionScript code.

Approximate download size: 4.9MB

fl

Creating Fluid Layouts in Flash - Part 5: Extending the Stage Class

Joseph Balderson

Ever wondered how some Flash applications "break free" of the constraints of a fixed stage size, flowing from one size to another depending on browser size or application state? Creating these fluid layouts in Flash is considered by some to be one of those "hidden mysteries" of Flash coding. By others it is regarded as a milestone to be achieved on the path of ActionScript mastery. For me, it is both.

We will take you through the steps, from intermediate to advanced, necessary to create application layouts in Flash which can exhibit "fullsize" or "fluid" functionality. In this series we will explore the basic principles of creating fluid layouts in Flash, build a sample application with a class architecture using components, finishing off with an exploration of the new "fullscreen" feature available in Flash Player 9.

In the last tutorial we created an encapsulation of certain document properties into a static Movie class. In this tutorial we will continue to lay the groundwork for our AS 2.0 "Fluid stage layout engine" by extending the Stage class, thereby adding to its functionality. And along the way we will take a look at some basic ActionScript 2.0 object-oriented programming techniques and best practices.

The Creating Fluid Layouts in Flash Series:
Creating Fluid Layouts in Flash - Part 1: The Basics
Creating Fluid Layouts in Flash - Part 2: Proportional Layouts
Creating Fluid Layouts in Flash - Part 3: Application Development
Creating Fluid Layouts in Flash - Part 4:Creating the Movie Class
Creating Fluid Layouts in Flash - Part 5: Extending the Stage Class

flex

Data Binding in Flex 2 - Part 1: Overview [FREE]

Steve Schelter

Data binding is a central part of the Flex 2 framework, and there are many techniques for implementing it into your application. This lesson will cover the basics behind what data-binding is and what makes it essential to component-driven architectures.

fw

Best Practices Work Flow in Fireworks CS3 [FREE]

Jim Babbage

Many of the new features in the CS3 Suite relate to workflow. The buzz-phrase in Fireworks CS3 seems to be Rapid Prototyping (ok, even I'm getting tired of that term), which in my opinion means:

  • Multiple pages
  • Multiple web layers
  • Master page
  • Rich Symbols for use in Rich Internet Applications such as Flex
  • Better Integration with Photoshop, Illustrator and Flash
  • New Common Library

In this series of videos, we are going to look at a workflow paradigm which takes advantage of some of the new tools in Fireworks CS3. Primarily focussing on Pages, Master Pages, Hierarchical layers and shared layers, we'll see how a design can go from concept to w

The first video tutorial in our series (20 minutes) deals with pages, shared layers and hierarchical layers and my logic for using this method. This is a method I might use in the early comping stages; a point where we've gotten past rough sketches on paper and want/need to engage the client further.

fl

Flash CS3: What Happened to Linkage Identifier?

David Stiller

Intermediate users of ActionScript 2.0 are generally familiar with the concept of attaching Library assets at runtime. The process requires right-clicking (PC) or Ctrl+clicking (Mac) a Library asset and selecting Linkage... from the context menu. This opens the Linkage Properties dialog, which has historically been the place to provide a unique Identifier label. This label allows the asset to be summoned by ActionScript 1.0 and 2.0 in conjunction with methods such as MovieClip.attachMovie() or Sound.attachSound().

In Flash CS3 Professional, the addition of ActionScript 3.0 has knocked this paradigm on its ear. Attaching assets is still possible — in fact, the new mechanism arguably makes more sense — but until you "get it," you might find yourself blinking at the documentation of your shiny new CS3 install, wondering where the "attach" methods went. Sure, you could set your FLA's Publish Settings for ActionScript 2.0, but you want to take advantage of the new language, right? Let's do just that.

js

XML and AJAX: A New Paradigm - Part 5

Rob Williams

When it comes to web development there are often a lot of technologies that people are aware of but never really understand or come to use in their daily tasks. XML tends to be one such technology; most developers have heard of it, and usually have a general idea of what it is, but on the same level most have also almost never used it or understood the purpose of it for their usual projects.

In this series we're going to explore how we can use XML in a practical way to help us develop rather interesting and uniquely controlled/flexible web applications by combining it with AJAX.

In the fifth part of this series we're going to continue developing our client-side coding (JavaScript) and exploring the advantages that a client-side approach offers compared to server-generated pages.

The XML and AJAX Series:
XML and AJAX: A New Paradigm - Part 1
XML and AJAX: A New Paradigm - Part 2
XML and AJAX: A New Paradigm - Part 3
XML and AJAX: A New Paradigm - Part 4
XML and AJAX: A New Paradigm - Part 5

css

Using the Spry Accordion Widget [FREE]

Stephanie Sullivan

One of the new features in Dreamweaver CS3 is the integration of the Spry javascript library. In this series, we'll look at using Dreamweaver CS3 to insert, integrate and modify the Spry Accordion widget. Give your pages the pizzazz they deserve!

Multiple Insert/Update in PHP - Part 1

  • Dreamweaver has some built-in tools for doing database inserts and updates, but they only handle basic inserts/updates of one record. What if you want to insert multiple records at a time, or update multiple records? Dreamweaver is no help in this case, but using PHP the process is simple. This tutorial will show two often-used methods for doing multiple inserts and multiple update. The files testinsert.php and testinsert2.php are included in the download package showing the final code for both methods. Part 1 of this series will show how to do inserts and Part 2 will show how to do a multiple update using these two techniques.

    Check out the Article by CMX Partner Tom Muck

Tips, Tricks and Dirty Cheats!

This week's Tip, Trick or Dirty Cheat is courtesy of Kim Cavanaugh , Community MX Partner

Metadata, Meet Megadeath

It's a pretty common practice to use a master file and perform a File > Save As when you want to make a new copy of a presentation with a new file name.

Unfortunately, when using PowerPoint in conjunction with Adobe Presenter, this practice has a big problem. The meta data that Presenter inserts into your first document will be carried over to your new document, causing all sorts of problems when you publish. And even though it *appears* that you've changed the presentation title and other settings, in fact, when you publish your presentation you'll find that the Breeze server will frequently overwrite existing files.

The best way around this is to use PowerPoint master pages, or simply copy and paste a slide from one presentation to another. Formatting of your text and graphics will be carried over by doing so, but you won't bring in the metadata that Presenter uses and you'll avoid those nasty overwriting problems when you publish.

Would you like your tip published? Submit it to tips@communitymx.com.

That's it for this week. Stay tuned for the next CMX newsletter!