Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Graphics & Code

Recently, I’ve had to do some website template designs, as we’re still in the initial stages of building our core graphics team. Myself and Stan have had to be the adhoc graphics team for a while. I’ve had some rather extensive graphics experience with a Video Production Studio (Tornveil Television), and its always a pleasure to do any graphics work. Its another side of my nature…


But recently, I’ve had to be constantly pulling my brain between graphics and code, mainly because I’d stayed out of graphics for a while, and I’ve been trying to come up with a neat way to “segmenting” my brain so that I can work on both without much overhead as I try to change my thinking. Its not too easy I must say, but I yesterday, I started thinking in terms of “libraries”, so that I can apply all my knowledge on code reuse to Web-Graphics reuse. Now, I’ve been doing this unconsciously, but I decided to “formalize” it. What I’ve started doing consciously, is to make designs that are color theme agnostic. Now, in the course of a single design, I modify the color themes, test with various combinations, such that the design on its own, can flow in any direction we want to apply it. The advantage of this is that if I keep doing this, and the rest of the team adopts it, 6 months (or even much less) down the road, we’ll have so many TRULY reusable themes and templates that some particular jobs will be a matter of integration instead of the Design and Integration model that we seem to follow now for every new job we get.


I think there’s a lot to be learnt from managing both Graphics and Code together almost simultaneously. The thing that graphics does for your coding, is a sense of intrinsic beauty and symmetry, so you learn to appreciate the layout of the code, and hopefully produce better code. Also, once you learn to appreciate the rather subjective areas of graphics, you get to learn to “FEEL” subjectively on a lot of things, and I’ve learnt that this subjective feeling (lets call it the subconscious as a lot of others have called it), if allowed to develop, can be a real valuable guide when making design decisions in either code or graphics design, and in general any creative endeavour you may be involved in.


By the way, yesterday, I downloaded the EFL (Enlightenment Foundation Libraries) cookbook from the Enlightenment Project, and MY OH MY!!!! Those folks have done really good on library design. I think Rasterman is simply cool, in that he followed his gut feeling on most of the code and has come up with these cool libraries, look at imlib2 for instance, its so trivial what can be achieved with it, that it makes you feel the power behind it is as trivial. This is the result of someone who has both a good graphics nose and a good coding nose. Kudos E Team.


Looking at the EFL further strengthened my opinion that the secret of good programming is a good well evolved library. And the abstraction levels in the EFL is soooooo high, you’ll wonder what ppl mean when they say OOP aids abstraction and then you look at libraries like Java libraries and .NET libararies and wonder…. Where is the abstraction? EFL is soooo abstracted it reminds me of Python’s motto: “Batteries Included!”. Serious, those Python guys are not joking when they say that… the libraries are almost a joke to use, and EFL follows this path… I’m soooo impressed.


Ok… just had to post that… back to work. J




Essien  Ita Essien



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