Web development remains one of the areas in which the Mac app ecosystem shines brightest. As the technologies underpinning the internet continue to evolve, we’re thrilled to see eager developers providing new tools to take advantage of those technologies and simplify formerly arduous tasks. Like producing graphics code, for instance.
Last year, I reviewed PaintCode, an app that facilitates the creation of Objective-C interface graphics using natural graphic design tools. PixelCut has expanded their reach with the brand new WebCode, an app that offers the same tools geared toward the creation of code-based graphics for the web.
After the jump, let’s dig in to see if the tools are as useful for web design as they were for app development.
When it comes to image editors, Adobe Photoshop remains the gold standard for professionals. But for students, the amateur, or anyone starting their career, the $700 price tag (or even ~$200 with a student discount) is likely prohibitive. There are cheaper apps available, such as Acorn and Pixelmator, but they offer far fewer features.
Luckily, there’s GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) a completely free and open source image editor that nearly matches Photoshop’s versatility. It’s long been available on the Mac if you had X11 installed, but never looked the part of a high quality Mac app. That’s all changed with the latest 2.8.2 release of Gimp, which shipped as a fully native Mac app. That’s what prompted us to take a closer look at the most popular Photoshop alternate.
I have a Wacom tablet, and I love using it for a variety of purposes. If I want to do any sort of digital drawing or painting it is, of course, my tool of choice. Sometimes the drawings get quite detailed, full of many layers, colors, textures and more. In cases like those, opening Photoshop is completely justified. If, however, I just want to do a quick sketch or mock-up, opening Photoshop (or Corel or Sketchbook Pro or any other feature-heavy digital drawing/painting program) doesn’t always seem justified. When I find myself in that situation, I’m never quite sure what to do. Lately, however, I’ve been utilizing a great program called Inkist.
Inkist is a great new bitmap-based drawing and painting program that is great for simple drawings. The app works well with drawing tablets, boasts a small but intuitive feature set for a quick program, and is quite well designed. It’s definitely worth looking into, especially if you find yourself constantly waiting for Photoshop to load for just a few minutes worth of work. Read on to learn more about Inkist’s features, how it works and what I really think about it.
There’s nothing easy about app design. Despite Apple’s best efforts to make the tools for OSX and iOS development as intuitive as possible, anyone who has done it knows that there’s a lot more to creating a terrific user experience than simply using fancy graphics and assembling the code.
For one thing, the interaction between the visuals and the code is important to manage well so that the app doesn’t grow unnecessarily huge in size. PaintCode, a new app from PixelCut software, aims to ease this aspect of production by providing you with an environment for drawing interface elements that are instantly rendered into raw code — so you can have fine visuals without the bloat.
Though it serves a complicated niche, PaintCode could revolutionize the way developers handle in-app graphics in a way that has implications for all app enthusiasts, so we dive in to see how well it rises to the challenge.
If you create apps in addition to using them, then you know that it can be a real pain to optimize your artwork for various devices. Prepo is a free application that aims to make the task of converting retina display artwork to ‘normal’ app artwork less tedious.
Does it succeed in making the conversion process quick and pain free? Read on to find out.
I recently acquired a Wacom tablet. I love using it, but being the software geek that I am I was eager to find some software to use the tablet with. Now, keep in mind that the tablet can typically be used as a mouse replacement and can be used with any program you desire. In fact, playing solitaire or mahjong with the tablet is a great way to get used to using a new tablet.
With that in mind, I tried to stick to programs where pressure sensitivity is used, or where having a tablet is exceptionally helpful, even without pressure sensitivity. I’ll cover the basics that you most likely already know of if you have a tablet, give you some freeware apps to check out and then show you some new and exciting apps that you might not have thought to use before.
Hype, by developers Tumult, seems to have a rather appropriate title. There has been a great deal of talk about this web animation app since its release some months ago, and that can hardly be a surprise, given that it claims to allow the user to create “beautiful HTML5 web content” and animations with no coding required, and that it is developed by a pair of ex-Apple engineers.
Does it deliver on its promises, or does this app get too much “hype” for its own good?
With the multiple common web browsers these days, designing websites that work on all of them can be a strain, especially when they each read CSS in different ways. Even if you’re not someone who creates websites, you’ve no-doubt heard the complaints of many a web coder about the different formats for the multiple web browsers.
JumpZero pounced on the opportunity to create what they call “the missing link between web designers and colors,” and at a launch sale of just $4.99, I think they may just have found it. Head past the break to get an in-depth look at Gradient.
As a web designer, I spend a significant amount of time creating graphics and interfaces in Photoshop. Like other designers and artists, I love the power and limitless possibilities it offers, while at the same time, I grow increasingly frustrated with high prices, feature bloat, and the myriad little quirks that seem designed to drive us insane.
Photoshop’s lack of competition is partly due to the large scope and flexibility of the application – it is used by web, graphic, and interface designers, digital artists, photographers, and more. I doubt Photoshop’s reign as the king of multi-purpose graphics software will end any time soon, but developers have been chipping away at its supremacy in individual fields.
In the more artistic fields, Pixelmator has long been a popular Photoshop alternative, loved for its speed and simplicity. Despite these advantages, Pixelmator could never quite match Photoshop in terms of sheer power – until now. Pixelmator 2 was recently release with an impressive list of new features, find out if it can really compete after the jump!