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22Jul/117

Pixel Programming

If you're old enough you may have seen the times when programmers wrote code as optimal as possible given the computers available back then. I remember 3D shooter games that would average 300 - 400 KB in size and you would play countless levels for days. Here's for example a 96 KB 3D shooter game called .kkriger that will leave you breathless.

If you try now to explain people these days that it takes less space to write a 3 minutes HD animated video and music clip than than it takes to store a 32×32 pixel icon they won't believe you. Not now when a plain jpeg image used on some website is > 50KB. So here's a guy called Iñigo Quílez who demonstrates just that using the image analogy. He writes a x86 real mode demo using Photoshop. The entire program is done by creating a 9x9 pixels image, filling each pixels with carefully chosen colors to represent the correct opcodes (who needs compilers, right ?) The image is then saved in a .raw format (no headers) then renames it to a .com file so that Windows recognize it as a executable. The animation is a infinite moving tunnel with a gray colored texture created with an XOR pattern, blurred, and deformed using a plane deformation technique to produce the animation.

This is the "source code" resized 10 times in a png extension

And here's the guy in action proving his mad skills.

5Mar/090

Visual versioning for designers

The company, Gird Iron Sofware, calls Flow a “Visual Workflow Manager.” I call it a miracle.

Programmers had versioning tools since the begining now it's time for the designers to get theirs. And it's a really good one.

Flow follows a project’s workflow by tracking and mapping out the revisions a file has gone through during your work process. It manages your project files, how they’re related to each other, and where they’re located.

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How It Works

Say that you have a final document for a client. It’s a PDF file that includes particular fonts and several images. Drop that PDF file onto Flow, and the application maps out the assets and the iterations of those assets for you. Double-click on a previous revision of an asset, such as one of the images, and Flow finds it on your computer instantly. Flow will let you know if you are missing any of the fonts in a project file.

Flow doesn’t care what the names of the files are; it identifies them through an ID number so even if you can’t remember what you named a file, Flow will find it for you and map it.

Flow not only gives you a history of a file and its iterations but allows you to revert to any version as needed. They call this “Visual Versioning.” You can also perform a “Visual Search” to locate any file and to see a visual diagram of how it fits into the project you’re working on.

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Asset Tracking
One of my favourite features is the asset tracking across multiple programs. Without any intervention from the designer, Flow will detect copy/paste and import functions from application to application. That means it can tell that you've created a vector in Illustrator, imported it into Photoshop, and then exported it to JPG and added it to an HTML file.

Project Reports

Another nice feature is the ability to track how much time was spent working on a particular file or on a project as a whole. This actually fits quite nicely with how I used to determine how much time was spent on a project. I've often gone through my email and phone logs to see which project I was working on at any given time. Timesheets have always been a hassle and this would definitely help me get a more accurate view of where my time is being spent.

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Versioning

I like how it'll automatically version the files that you are working on and even tracks when you do Save As. You'll be able to configure how far back a file is versioned so as not to eat up your entire hard drive (although considering I barely use 20% of my drive now, I'm not overly concerned). It creates thumbnails of each version, letting you quickly eyeball changes from version to version. It'll even track files on network drives or on removable storage.

Check out their video for a quick demo and a bit more details. For full details, just go and download it