armtuk: Cheetah (Default)
While we were in Philly yesterday visiting with Amy and John, we sojourned in a Borders. I picked up some music that turned out to be a bit naff, but picked up this book on design.

It is full of awesome. It explains design concepts in a clear fashion, helping me understand what works and what doesn't with concrete examples of each. I think this is quickly becomming one of my favourite books on design.
armtuk: Cheetah (Default)
After the last time I got paid, I decided that it was about time to teach myself more about design. Sarah always said that I could learn it if I wanted to, and I do. I purchased for myself two books that came well reviewed on Amazon.com: "Layout Workbook" by Kristin Cullen and "Color Design" by AdamsMorioka and Terry Stone.

I have made it about half way through the colour book, and it's very eye opening. It takes you through some basic colour theory and talks about colour combinations and what concepts and meanings are associated with what colours in western culture, and then also talks a bit about some colour associations in other cultures, particularly Japanese and Chinese. It goes through various concepts as to how to contrast colours using various techniques and how to pick colour groups. It gives some concrete examples of colour groups that work well, and takes you through a set of example designs and their chosen colour schemes.

The second book on layout is all about the general approach to graphic design, and contains various concrete steps to producing a good design. It talks about each element of the design in turn and takes you through how to be effective at it. This book ultimately says that nothing can replace intuition and creativity which above all else help you make a design. I think I am going to have to read this one at least twice. It's a bit light on details though which is a bit frustrating to me being a technical and detailed sort of person. I like to know the mechanics behind everything, and I inherently want to figure out the mechanics behind good design. Perhaps there are only guidelines, and I have to figure out the rest myself. How counter-me is that?
armtuk: Cheetah (Default)
So I continue to work with Plone. This week I have been reading up about object inheritance in zope and how properties and methods are acquired through the object tree. Highly confusing, but it reminds me a great deal of the MUD I wrote a number of years ago. I haven't quite figured out how the two inheritance paths work yet, although I get that one of them is the inheritance path through the container and it's container etc. This makes for a very interesting system that will acquire methods from parents and do the default unless you make something more specific. Very easy to override and work with. I am excited about this.

On a slightly more sour note, I have observed that buildout is broken. The ZODB scripts in the buildout try to execute with python2.3 which is not installed as compared with the other scripts that execute with python2.4. All the zope db management scripts are broken. What's worse is that I posted to the lists, and nobody gives a damn. This is so typical for FOSS. Programmers that don't care about the little things that make or break a product. I would offer to help fix it, but somehow I doubt somebody will take the time to take me through the process enough so that I can fix it.

The next chapter of the book starts us actually building some custom content types and fleshing out the functionality that goes with them. I am very interested to work through this as I am contemplating using custom content types to represent agents and offices within our real estate system. Maybe even properties, and migrate away from JSPs and Tomcat. I always liked python better than java, it just suffers from being slow. Although having said that most of the slowness in our current system is from the database calls to build the darn drill downs. It's cool functionality, but it really loads the system up pretty good. There is also a bug with this functionality. The drill downs are supposed to save themselves so they don't have to be rebuilt with subsequent page loads, but it looks like that's not working, and they are rebuilding with each page load. Not a high priority problem, but I should get around to fixing it sometime.

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