Alo Sarv
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Developer's Diary

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Learning photoshop

Since coding Hydranode has become a full-time job (for free, I might add), I seriously need a hobby to get my mind off the boring, complex C++ stuff. So I decided to pick up Photoshop and get some skills in that area. There are other motives behind it as well - a modern programmer in today's computer age must be capable of at least modest Photoshop (or similar tool) skills, for visualizing and designing user interfaces - you can't write user-space software w/o user interfaces.

One thing that I'v never understood is how do people create icons - working at 16x16px resolution seems like serious black magic; however I discovered that if your interface is heavily skinned, the importance of icons is reduced significently. Icons have huge impact on native-controls-based interfaces, since there they add visual appeal to otherwise boring native controls, but if your custom theme is appealing enough, icons become less important - look at iTunes interface for example - it has nearly zero icons, but nobody can call it ugly.

Anyway, as mentioned roughly two weeks ago, I have most of the GUI design stuff on paper, so what I spent today's night on was attempting to digitalize that stuff, and draw it in Photoshop. Four hours of (fun) work, and I have most of the basics up and running. The following days will most likely be focused on this topic as well, unless I feel an irresistible urge to go back to the code.

I'm not going to show you what I'm working on on the GUI side for several reasons. First, my whole 9-hour photoshop experience isn't something you'd like to look at (or me to show anyone outside a closed circle), secondly I'd like to finish the concepts before going public, and thirdly,
considering that it would take about two months of code to get the GUI running at all, plus time for the skinning engine, plus time for actually skinning the damn app, I just don't want to publish the GUI concepts I have planned so much ahead of implementation time. Furthermore, while I have sufficient software engineering and C++ knowledge to defend my choices in code, 9 hours of Photoshop experience is definately NOT sufficient for me to defend my choices. It is most likely that someone with more experience will later re-do the skinning (I certainly hope so), but right now I can spend time off the code while still related to project, do usability-oriented design, and actually have fun for a while. All work and no play makes Madcat a dull kitty.

So stay tuned for updates, but don't expect any (public) screenshots until the time is right.

Madcat, ZzZz

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