There are three things that typically get me pretty excited:
- Finding free tools that let you get the results you want
- Getting the results you want without having to invest days learning.
- Not having to purchase a whole suite of programs just to do one tiny thing.
Of course these aren't the only things I get excited about, but you have to admit it's pretty cool when you find tools that do what you want without the posturing, the diva demands, the huge entourage and hefty pricetag.
My developers have created a couple of little web-design tools that fall into this category, and I've decided to share them with you guys.
1. Instant Corners
Do you want round corners on your website's boxes? It's a small thing to want, but actually figuring out how to produce them is another story. Even if you've got access to a copy of Photoshop, or you've worked out how to use GIMP, it's still pretty finicky. And then you've got those tables to make! Ack! Tables!
Instant Corners is pretty gosh-darn simple to use, and it gives you your corners all nicely laid out in a table, displayed in an HTML page, ready to go.
Add to that it's probably the most basic piece of software you're likely to see in a long time. It looks like this:
To create your corners, choose your background color by clicking on the "pick color" icon next to the color swatch. Then choose what color you're using for the inside of your box in a similar way.
You can choose whether you want "large" corners or "small" corners. Then hit "create corners"! Instant Corners creates four corners, four sides and also an HTML page with the corners laid out in a table. You can choose to use the HTML provided by Instant Corners or just ignore it and create your own in your HTML editor of choice.
I showed this program to one of my web designers and she was pretty skeptical. I think the quote was: "Oooooh... (sarcastic noises)... Round corners! Well geez, now I'm bound to be an internet marketing success! Don't hold me back now!" But after using it she was like, "Well, actually, that's pretty useful. (appropriately sheepish noises.)" So there you go!
2. Instant Image Resize:
Guess what this one does? (We're pretty practical people here. We name things as we see them. It was either "Instant Image Resize" or "Resizeorama".) This one has a few more options than Instant Corners but it's still pretty simple, and it's a great way to resize your images, either individually or in bulk.
To use this software, import your images into the list using the "Add Images" or "Add from folder" button down the bottom. Select one of the pre-set options for image width/height, or click "custom size" to choose your own size. ( ** NOTE: The size you select will be the size of the shortest side of your image. So for a typical photo, if you choose a size of 150 it'll resize the shortest edge to 150 and the long edges will be 225.)
Do the same thing for "image quality". Remember that "low quality" images will have smaller file sizes and be faster to download but you're likely to get some JPEG compression "melting". It's a good idea to experiment until you find a setting that gives you a good tradeoff between file size and image quality.
By default the software selects the option "Save resized image with suffix as..." (and there you enter what you want the suffix to be.) I recommend keeping this option selected so you don't accidentally overwrite your photos!
You can calculate what your new file size will be by selecting an image from the list and clicking on the little calculator in the "File size preview" box.
When you're all set, check the boxes next to the images you want to resize, then hit the big shiny "Resize" button. Instant Image Resize will resize your images and save them with their new names in the same folder as your original photos.
Cool huh? This one is really good for creating thumbnails for your bigger images.
Michelle and I got our wedding photos from the photographer the other day, so (as promised) here are a few slightly more artful shots of the happy day: