Apr 27 2009

Vectors, nettuts and jQuery while convalescing

I’ve been quiet lately because I’ve been recovering from major hip surgery in February. But I haven’t been idle.

I’ve updated the Gothla website for our third workshop and hafla weekend in mid-July 2009. This year, we’re featuring Ariellah, Morgana, Shakra, Asharah and Deva Matisa, internationally recognised exponents of gothic bellydancing.

PayPal has been expanding its merchant services. This year, I shall be able to download booking information directly and print out attendee lists for each of the workshops. Extra levels of security hopefully protect our account from fraud and unwanted chargebacks when someone wrongfully claims back money paid through their account.

I’m getting products ready for the Gothla shop, which is hosted by Spreadshirt, based in Germany. Spreadshirt works best with vector images, that is, drawings. We like to change the colour of our Gothla logo for our t-shirts each year and we would like to be able to sell a generic t-shirt based on the photo in our banner.

I experimented with a couple of programs that can transform photos (raster objects) to vector images.

I was particularly pleased with the results from VectorMagic, although it’s not cheap to download the software, which gives you more control than the free online conversion service. The Gothla logo converted without a hitch. I wasn’t able to reduce the complexity of the photo to a vector image equivalent which Spreadshirt could have used. But I suspect that I needed more knowledge of technique, such as reducing the photo to a layer mask in Photoshop before beginning to make the vector image in Illustrator.

The face of Gothla UK, a raster image

The face of Gothla UK, a raster image

Vectorised version of the face of Gothla UK

Vectorised version of the face of Gothla UK

Essentially, there were too many small elements in my vector version. The t-shirt process requires smooth, definite lines. Ironically, I could have got the photo printed on a light coloured t-shirt, but since the event is Goth, we require black backgrounds.

I did begin to learn something of how vector software works. I hadn’t used Adobe Illustrator before and was delighted to discover its many uses, like making unwanted backgrounds disappear. I think I’ll have another go using Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator using ideas from t-shirt factory.

I’ve also had time and opportunity to read more. I’m currently learning jQuery, a Javascript library resource which enables coders to attach behaviours to element attributes in the same sort of way as CSS. The benefits of using techniques such as jQuery are their minimalist approach and friendly approach to web accessibility. Web surfers relying on screen readers should be able to read web pages without having to wade through screeds of Javascript code.

I’ve discovered Nettuts, a website featuring a host of web development tutorials which deserves very close scrutiny. Want to know about Ajax, or CSS, or PHP, or building content management systems? Make this website one of your resources.

And I’ve been twittering a lot. I find twitter extremely useful for picking up information and exchanging ideas. The growth in social networking has inspired me to devote a whole new page on my website to FriendFeed. This is where you’ll be able to find out what I’ve been saying on twitter and facebook, and what I’ve been bookmarking on deli.cious and stumbleupon as I’ve been surfing the web.

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