Wednesday, January 31, 2007

How internet communities have changed publishing

I was reading this very funny article that Bret sent me and when I got to the bottom of the screen, the link bar at the bottom caught my eye.

Remember the days when the only links news websites put next to their articles were "email to a friend" and possibly "printer friendly"? Now it appears there's an entire list of imperative links, for we must maximize our blog coverage and viral distribution as much as possible. The only think missing from this Onion footer is "add to".

Well, it worked for me, although I didn't blog the article because I am a meth addict afraid of spiders, nor did I use their "blog this" link. For some reason I'm afraid of those things.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

What's to love about PhotoShop CS3 (beta)

Well, I've been using the PhotoShop CS3 beta since the day after it came out, and I have to say I am really pleased with it. I definitely can't go back to CS2 now, Adobe's strategy to make me upgrade sooner has worked!

I felt a noticeable improvement in performance with the new version, which was a pleasant surprise as I was expecting a new version would have more features and be slower to run, as is usual with upgrades. But startup time and general processing time is definitely better.

I was a little uncertain about the interface changes at first, mostly out of unfamiliarity, but now that I'm used to it, the collapsing palettes are awesome. My screen is so much cleaner! I work with two monitors, so in the past I always had my workspace set up to have my palettes on one screen and my work area on the other. Now I can pretty comfortably work with everything on one screen, thanks to the handy collapsible palettes. Sometimes I still use both, but it is definitely better use of the screen real estate.

The new curves editor is sweet - you can see each color channel's curve and edit them all from the initial screen, and the curves are laid over a histogram making it really easy to see what adjustments need to be made.

The smart object editing has improved too, opening and placing PhotoShop documents into others is convenient.

I haven't had the opportunity to use the "Device Central" but I plan to check it out since I might be doing some Blackberry development soon (oh joy). The new version of Bridge is better, they seem to have gotten rid of or moved that annoying Bridge Center dashboard (it never worked as well as it should have). The integration with Acrobat Connect looks promising.

One feature I am hesitant to try? VersionCue. After my woes with the last version (HOURS of lost time recovering/fixing corrupted projects, general frustration), I plan to let someone else figure out the issues first.

If you have not downloaded the Betat yet, I'd say it's definitely worth a try. I haven't had any problems with stability or bugs, but check the Beta forums to see if there are known issues with your setup.

Monday, January 29, 2007

CFEclipse Tips: Line Numbers, Updating to 1.3

I started using CFEclipse a few months ago when I got FlexBuilder, it just made sense for a CF/Flex project. It was definitely an adjustment after years of using Dreamweaver and there were immediately some things I liked, but also some annoyances that I took for granted in DW. One of those annoyances was that line numbers never show up by Default for CF files...however I dug around in the preferences a bit and found that there is indeed an option to turn on line numbers permanently, so they will always show when you edit CF files.

Go to Window > Preferences > CFEclipse > Editor and check the "Show line numbers" option.

May be obvious to some, but for someone just getting into CFEclipse I was very happy to find this setting!

Tip #2 is an issue I ran into when I updated to version 1.3. I ran the updater from the "Find Updates" feature, and restarted just to be safe, but I started getting all sorts of errors when I tried to open CF files.

On a hunch I went in to Help > Software Updates > Manage Configuration, expanded the tree and noticed that 1.2 was still listed in addition to 1.3. I disabled 1.2, and the problems went away. Makes sense that having two versions running simultaneously would make Eclipse very unhappy.

SQL "IN" Clauses, and CF Single-Quotes

I firmly believe that problems can always teach you something, it's sometimes just not that fun of a "learning process." So last week I had this really annoying problem trying to pass a comma-delimited list to a SQL "IN" clause. In the past I've solved the dynamic IN clause issue with code that looks something like this:


<cfloop list="#myList#" delimiters="," index="i">

(myTable.myCol = '#i#')

<cfif i IS NOT ListLast(#myList#)>





I always felt it was kind of ugly but never bothered to learn a better way. I should have looked it up sooner! I knew I could use an IN clause but the problem was wrapping the IN clause list with quotes. Doing that manually seemed worse than just looping over the list. The real problem with the above code arose when the list contained multiple list items of the same value. In that case, the ListLast function did not produce the desired result, and the resulting SQL was invalid.

I started out looking for some type of function that would remove duplicates from a list. I then stumbled across ListQualify(list, wrap character, delimiter, scope), which turned out to be a super-handy function. Pass it a list, a character, a delimiter and a scope and it will wrap each list item in the desired character - you can even choose to only wrap characters, or all list items. So I could wrap my list values in single quotes, and then use the SQL IN clause. Yay!

As a side note, I ran into a very annoying but rather funny issue with CFEclipse's auto-correct feature. I dare you to try typing this string in CFEclipse: "'" (that's double-quote, single-quote, double-quote). Yeah, not happening. I had to type it in Notepad and then paste it in. Sometimes you just feel like the world is against you!

I was ready for that ugly error to finally be gone when I refreshed the page, but lo and behold, a new error. Apparently each single quote mark in my list was being doubled. I did not know that CF automatically escapes these characters in such a situation. That's when Adam reminded me of the PreserveSingleQuotes() function, which does just what it sounds like, and viola, no more error.

In addition to learning something new, it's sure nice to have someone who knows everything about CF right at home!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Pink Like My Drink

So... I've waited long enough to start this blog. Like most web developers/designers (I would guess), for a long time I thought it was silly or even wrong to not code my blog myself. Shouldn't it be my personal code and graphic playground? But about a year after first thinking that I should start a blog (late to the trend party as always--but never late for anything else), I still haven't written a lick of code, and a few feeble design beginnings sit idly in My Documents.

Then I remember that I do this all day, every day, at why would I want to come home and do it on my personal time too? Sure, I read big fat tech books and even have been known to do some work after hours, so it's not entirely out of character. But for now, this most excellent pre-fab blogging tool will do just fine, and eventually I might get around to writing some of my own code. Someday.

Adam will get over his hurt.