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“Decora” Graphic User Interface & Crestron Templates

Decora Crestron Smart Graphics Theme

The latest graphic user interface, Crestron Smart Graphics theme and Crestron template series being developed in our studio is called “Decora”.  These screenshots are from the first theme in the “Decora” series, “Java” (that’s the working title at least).

The “Decora” series will be made up of several themes, each of which features an attractive, versatile color-scheme.  The idea behind “Decora” is to provide a set of themes that focus less on visual spectacle and eye-candy, and more on subtle design that will complement the style and decorating of the room in which they are being displayed.  In addition to “Java”, we are working on themes in sky-blue, hunter-green, and “southwestern” motifs.  Best of all, for an additional charge, “Decora” will be available for custom order in any color-scheme you want.

The first “Decora” series Crestron templates are slated to be released before the end of the year.

View screenshots on our Tumblr page here.

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5 Great Icon Sites to Add to Your Arsenal

Every so often, I’ll hear from one of our customers that they need an icon that isn’t included with the theme or template he or she purchased from us. In the unfortunate situation (fra, fra, fra) that they don’t want to custom order a one-off icon from us, I will usually direct them to one of the sites listed below. Once they’ve found the right icon, I always invite them to send it to us so we can stylize it (free of charge) to match the theme or template they purchased.

While you might have to sift through some crap before you find what you’re looking for, there are so many icons available between these five sites that you’re almost always sure to find something that will fit your application.

 


Iconfinder

This is always my first go-to site for finding quality icons. It’s a very well designed and easy to navigate website, it’s ad free, and it features entire matching sets of icons, many of which are really nicely done. Iconfinder also has a “premium” membership-based option that allows access to vector versions of icons plus other benefits.

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Happy Little GUIs

bob-rossRemember Bob Ross? You know, the “happy little trees” painter guy with an afro, who used to be on public television. Well, for those of you who don’t, and those who are simply too young to remember the late Mr. Ross; he was a fantastic painter who used to make these amazing nature scenes on his show, “The Joy of Painting”.  In every 30 minute episode, with no special editing (what we would now call “real-time”), Bob would crank out an incredible painting, using a handful of unconventional brushes, and his unique, impressionistic technique.

I not only remember Bob, but rather am somewhat of a “super-fan”; still watching his show on a daily basis via reruns and DVDs. Consequently, it has occurred to me on several occasions that there are many aspects to his technique that are very applicable to the visual side of the work I do as a UI designer.  So, “get yourself a tall glass of iced-tea and sit back and relax” as I share a few of them with you. More…

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Avant Activity Icons Available Now

Our first, stand-alone icon set is finally available. We’re very excited about these gorgeous activity icons and we’re sure you’ll like them too. They come in two convenient sizes, 128x128px and 256x256px. They will be added to our online store soon, but for the time being they can be purchased right here; just use the “Add to Cart” button below. Click the picture to see a preview of all the icons included with the set.

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Click for a preview of the entire Avant icon set

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I mean really, when’s the last time you used the “stop” button?

In a previous post, I talked about going through your old bag of programming tricks and eliminating those that are either outdated or just no longer practical. This post is along the same lines, as it about getting rid of things you don’t need. Many programmers, myself included, tend to fall into the habit of what I call “conditioned programming”. We program systems the way are used to and we don’t really stop to think about what we’re doing from one system to the next. This often leads to stubbornness or bullheadedness on the part of the programmer when asked why the system works the way it does. We get defensive; after all, it’s not our problem that the customer was sold a product that is way over his head, we just program the commands that are on the factory remote, right? Well, frustration with misleading sales staff aside, it is always in the programmer’s best interest to analyze and evaluate the needs of the customer for each system he or she programs.

Many end users can tell you right away that they never use certain commands for a particular device. This can clear up confusion from the get-go, reduce clutter on the touch panel and ultimately make the system much easier for the customer to operate. You can also make some executive decisions of your own and give the axe to buttons and commands that you’ve been including for years but are seldom used by most of your customers. I just recently had the revelation that the “stop” command could be eliminated from a number of devices for which I had been habitually including it. And if you’re still putting the “angle” button on your DVD pages you should really be taken out back and taught a lesson. Seriously though, if you are an efficient programmer it will be no big deal to add these obscure commands back in if the customer specifically requests them. I personally find it helpful to create an Excel spreadsheet that lists optional device commands and system features so I can fill it out when I meet with a customer (of course, this could be due to the fact that I am an organizational freak who will find any excuse I can to create an Excel spreadsheet).

If you are already following the programming practices I’ve outlined here, I’m sorry you just wasted your time reading this, but if you quite often fall into the habit of “conditioned programming”, I think you will find it helpful to start analyzing your projects a little more. It will make your customers happier, reduce service calls, and keep you in the habit of regularly revisiting your programming practices.