Web designers need a lot of tools at their disposal. Mostly this comes in the form of commercial software. If you don’t own the full Adobe Creative Suite, you at least have Photoshop (or, if you’re a FOSS contrarian, GIMP). If you’re on a Mac, you probably have BBEdit (or its free sibling, TextWrangler) installed, and if you’re on Windows… well… I don’t know. Does anyone who takes themselves seriously as a designer use Windows? I’m sure we’ll hear from them in the comment section.
But what I’m talking about here is not the commercial software applications you have installed on your desktop. I’m talking about the free libraries you probably need these days to get a “Web 2.0” site up and running.
I’ve been finding myself lately starting each new project by cobbling together the same set of these libraries, so this morning I decided to save myself some time on my next project by putting together a template set with all of them in place. Once I’ve had time to review all of the requisite licenses, I may post the complete package in a zip file here, but for now, here are some pointers to get you started.
Lightbox for jQuery
$ variable for themselves. But jQuery’s
noConflict() method makes it easy to get these two powerhouse libraries to get along.
This is my least favorite of the tools described here, for two reasons: 1) it’s essentially just a patch for Internet Explorer without adding any new functionality for general use, and 2) it reminds me that Internet Explorer exists.
That said, it’s indispensable. The issue here is simple: IE6 doesn’t support a lot of “modern” features that other browsers do, and that are becoming increasingly essential to how the Web works, but unfortunately, IE6 is still one of the two most-used browsers in the world (the other being IE7). Firefox is growing rapidly in popularity; Safari is ubiquitous among Mac users; and the Web is increasingly experienced via mobile devices, but for now, IE is still king of the hill, and a large percentage of IE users can’t, won’t, or don’t even realize they can upgrade beyond version 6.
<embed> tags and
the suckitude of Internet Explorer browser inconsistencies.
The only downside of sIFR is that finding the latest version is a bit of a mess. But here’s a good place to start.
And finally we come to TinyMCE. At last we have a decent solution to the dilemma of allowing users who probably don’t know HTML to enter styled content on your site. It’s not without problems, especially where pasting from Microsoft Word is involved, but TinyMCE is a great WYSIWYG solution, a word processor in a browser window.