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Preparing CMS Web Graphics and Layouts Using Open Source Tools

Saving slices for the web


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Preparing CMS Web Graphics and Layouts Using Open Source Tools

with Jen Kramer

Video: Saving slices for the web

Now that we have our footer and our header all sliced out of the larger comp, we need to save this out in file formats that are compatible for the web. Right now, these are in the PSD format, Photoshop Document, and PSDs are not readable by web browsers. Web browsers read three types of images: one is called GIF, one is called PNG, and one is called JPEG. GIF files are actually a proprietary format.

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Preparing CMS Web Graphics and Layouts Using Open Source Tools
1h 40m Intermediate Dec 16, 2009

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In Preparing CMS Web Graphics and Layouts Using Open-Source Tools, Jen Kramer shows how developers and graphic designers can collaborate to create a great site design that integrates with a content management system (CMS) like WordPress, Drupal, or Joomla!, all using open-source software. This workflow is based on two existing open-source design tools, KompoZer and GIMP. Jen shows how to modify web graphics and create slices with GIMP, and then place these in an HTML page integrated with CSS in KompoZer. Along the way, she discusses web design best practices and special challenges that might arise when designing for CMS software. Exercise files are included with this course.

Topics include:
  • Using static HTML versus a CMS in web design
  • Knowing the dos and dont's of CMS design
  • Exploring GIMP and KompoZer
  • Saving slices for the web with GIMP
  • Inserting graphics in an HTML page
  • Styling web pages with CSS
  • Changing the default styling assigned by a CMS
Subjects:
Web CMS Web Graphics
Software:
GIMP KompoZer
Author:
Jen Kramer

Saving slices for the web

Now that we have our footer and our header all sliced out of the larger comp, we need to save this out in file formats that are compatible for the web. Right now, these are in the PSD format, Photoshop Document, and PSDs are not readable by web browsers. Web browsers read three types of images: one is called GIF, one is called PNG, and one is called JPEG. GIF files are actually a proprietary format.

They have a fixed number of colors. 256 being the maximum and 2 being the least. You can reduce your file size with the GIF by reducing the number of colors that are available. GIFs also support transparency, if you'd like to have a transparent background on your image, and they also support animation. GIF formats work best for saving images that are cartoon-like: drawings, logos, and those types of images. PNG, which stands for Portable Network Graphic, is the open source format similar to GIF.

Once again, it has a fixed number of colors. The PNG 8 format has 256 colors, whereas the PNG 24 format has many more than that. Again PNGs are very good for saving out logos and drawings such as we see here. It also supports transparency. And since it's the open source format, we are going to use PNG in all likelihood to save out these images. Finally, JPEG, which stands for the Joint Photographic Experts Group, is the format used for saving out photographs.

It supports millions and millions of colors and it can be compressed to make your file sizes smaller for the web. Be careful not to compress you JPEGs too far or they will start to look blocky and distorted. So to save these images for the web here in GIMP, what we're going to do is we're going to go to File and note, Windows people, that the menu is associated with each individual graphic. There is no menu across the top. This is actually a little bit more Mac- like in the placement of where the menus are for the software.

We're going to go to File and we're going to go to Save As. In your Save As dialog box, what we're going to do is type in the name for the file. We're going to call this footer.png. If you're not sure what file formats are available, you can look at it under Select File Type (By Extension) underneath, which will show you all of the extensions that GIMP supports. Here's GIF, here's JPEG and here's PNG.

The other file formats that are in here are used for print or they are used for other various applications. We want a PNG though, so we are going to save our file as footer.png and I am going to click the Save button. After doing that, I'm going to get a series of dialog boxes asking me how I want that PNG to be optimized. First of all, it warns me that a PNG does not handle layers, which no graphic for the web does handle layers. I can either flatten the image or merge the visible layers.

I am going to go ahead and just merge the visible layers and click Export. Then it's going to ask me a series of questions about what additional features I might want to include with this PNG. I am just going to leave all of the default values set. Note that the Compression Level is set all the way to 9 as a default. That's a high compression level for a small file size. Click the Save button and your file is saved. Now we have footer.png.

I'll go ahead and repeat the process here for the header. So once again, File > Save As. I am going to call this one header.png and I'll click the Save button. I am going to merge the visible layers and export. I am going to leave all the default settings and click Save. Those of you who are familiar with Photoshop might find those dialog boxes for saving out these files rather different than what you're accustomed to.

Fortunately, there's some alternatives to make GIMP a little bit more Photoshop like in that regard. But what I have just showed you is the default way of saving out these images for the web with GIMP.

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