Category: "Notes"

Further Application Notes works very well through upgrades, in this case, with dojo. Using the tundra theme, I can reskin an application - including dojo/dijit very quickly.

Some colors should not be changed - specifically error and warning displays which are traditionally red and yellow respectively. A backup of the CSS files was invaluable, since a dojo upgrade only required CSS upgrades for the dojo files (dojo.css, dijit.css, tundra.css).

Contact Form Fixed

Sincere apologies to those who tried to request information through the contact form on this blog. I have changed it to use the contact form and tested it carefully. Comments and inquiries are most welcome.

More Cost-Effective Design Strategies

  • Work within application design architectures. In other words, try to use as much of their HTML and CSS as possible, or replace just the CSS. Most good applications have a nice hierarchical CSS and template organization. Learn to work with it. Many application allow the addition and removal of widgets and tools from the admin interface. Accomodate that and support it. Its is extremely valuable.
  • Use icon sets. They will allow you to provide a beautiful interface in a fraction of the time. Support these projects if possible, ask your employer.
  • Use toolkits, but carefully. If it is a simple feature, code it yourself. If it is complex, find a toolkit or javascript library.
  • Keep the layout and colors separate in the CSS. That way, you can reskin an application in different ways, easily. Use browser specific overrides where necessary.
  • If you are building an application use a hierarchical template structure and create components that can support the whole system, instead of just one page.

Real tests was used to convert a complex AJAX application from one color scheme to another.

Since the objective was a neutral color scheme, I put greyscale color codes into the image/new color area. I ran the third script on the CSS files, and on the HTML (some inline styles were there). Took all those colors and pasted them into the existing CSS color block, and ran the tool.

Applied the second set of sed commands, and it looked pretty good.

I did change some of the colors manually to make it look better, but in 2 hours, I had a completely recolored application. The last time, it took me 2 days.


Later note: I ran on a different application, with a much more sophisticated design, including dojo’s tundra theme, and it performed extremely well. I copied the dojo .css files into the application’s css directory, then ran I didn’t copy the dojo .css files back into the dojo tree, because once they have been modified, they aren’t truly ‘tundra’.

Let the client pick the colors for their site ...

Automated tools that skin a site allow people to choose the colors and see the effect without any technical knowledge or access. This is the perfect way for a web client to ‘design’ their own site. They have the time and ability to select the colors they like. Once they are satisfied, the site provider can ‘lock’ the colors. This saves a tremendous amount of time for the client and provider, as well as avoiding alot of friction.

The are obviously limitations to this approach, and clients and providers must be aware of them.

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