Tuesday, 24 December 2013

How to make a perfect web thumbnail using SharpResize

This article uses SharpResize.

Opening an Image

There are several ways to get your image into SharpResize.
  • New from clipboard using File > New From Clipboard or cmd-N
  • Drag the image onto application's dock icon
  • Drag the image onto application icon or alias
  • Drag the image into SharpResize's image well
  • File > Open or cmd-O
You can grab an area of the screen using cmd-ctrl-shift-4. Drag a rectangle and see the width and height of your selection. It's not an easy shortcut to remember but worthwhile.

In addition there are toolbar buttons for New from Clipboard, Open and Save.



Quality and size

When you open a new image, the width and height won't immediately set themselves to the size of your image. You may need all of your thumbnails to be a standard size. This is also important for SharpResize's single-step feature. If you do want to set the output size to the actual size of the image, press 'Actual' or cmd-=

Resizing will be performed with Lanczos sharpening which is noticeably better than the more usual bicubic. You will see the output image displayed in the image well.

The Quality slider is the jpeg compression of the output. For maximum quality you'll also get the maximum file size but the file size can be reduced significantly (maybe halved) by backing off that slider a tiny bit below maximum.

The Sharpening slider applies a further filter to further improve a resized image. Use judiciously - too much will result in an artificial look. The best setting here will depend on the image. Most pictures seem to look best with the slider about a third of the way. If the image includes text, any more than a small amount of sharpening can spoil the anti-aliasing and make the text look jagged.


Adjustments

New in v1.2 is this panel which allows you to correct brightness, contrast and saturation. The latter can be used to remove colour completely. Call up the adjustments panel with cmd-alt-A. To check your changes, toggle the 'Preview' button.


Saving

You can save the image using File > Save, cmd-S, the Save button or the toolbar Save button. There will always be a dialog shown and the image will be saved as a jpg.

Friday, 6 December 2013

Creating a FAQs web page using Clipassist

Clipassist version 3.4 has the ability to export a selected folder or all clips as a web page with expandable answers. A real-life example of this being used is here: http://peacockmedia.co.uk/integrity_support.html

Here's how.

1. Organise yourself a folder containing the clips that you want to include. Give each a short name. Note that at present they're sorted alphabetically by the short name, so you can use a, b, c to order them. A future version will allow you to drag to re-order.

2. A new feature of Clipassist 3.4 is the 'Full question' field. This is what appears as the question on the web page. Access it with the 'reveal' button or View > Show Full Question

3. The text in the main pane will appear as the answer to the question.

4. Fill in meta data keywords to help you search for this item later on.

5. Choose File > Export Folder to HTML or File > Export All to HTML

6. The exported file will open and function as a web page in its own right but it is designed for you to be able to copy and and paste the questions and answers into your existing page. The Qs and As are tagged <h2> and <p> so they should pick up your existing styles, and they have a class ("faq") so that you can customise their style further.


7. Note that if you copy and paste the Qs and As, you'll need to include the jquery stuff and styles in the head of the exported page to your site.
Clipassist was originally designed to save time by giving you easy access to standard clips of text. Hit an F key and you've got a paragraph of text on your clipboard ready to paste without any styling problems.

It still does that. But recent (frequently-requested) improvements have made it useful as a powerful FAQ's / knowledge-base system.

It already allowed you to organise your clips of text in folders. A search box and meta tagging allow you to find the response to a question easily and quickly.

v3.4 is just out and includes the ability to export your FAQs for web. Pages on the peacockmedia site are now generated using this system; eg http://peacockmedia.co.uk/integrity_support.html and http://peacockmedia.co.uk/organise/faqs.html

Less frequently-asked questions are also stored in the system for fast pasting into an email reply.

Version 3.4 is now available for download from http://peacockmedia.co.uk/clipassist/ and shortly on the Mac App Store.