Design 2.0

March 22nd, 2007 at 12:00 am
 


Web2.0 has spawned hundreds of kinds of websites and web applications for virtually every interest and person. There are sites for young people, working people, health people, gay people, people people, business people, arts people, old people, animal people, plant people and any kind of people you could imagine. Of course there are sites dedicated to design people and enthusiasts. These are the sites categorized under Design 2.0. Like every niche or vertical on the web, there are standalone apps and social apps in Design 2.0.

A useful list of Design 2.0 sites can be found here. I took a look at all of them and finally clustered them into these categories.

  • Image Generation and Editing

  • Color Applications

  • Collaborative Design

Of course, like everything on the web, these can change.

Image Generation and Editing

ajaxSketch

Using the amazing feature of Ajax, ajaxSketch is a SVG (scalable vector graphics) illustrator wherein users can create their own drawings using shape tools, line tools, freehand and text. AjaxSketch is a web-based application similar to Microsoft Visio, Adobe Illustrator, Inkscape, Macromedia Freehand, and other illustration programs. Sure enough, images made in ajaxSketch can be opened in the said illustration programs since SVG is an open standard. This open standard feature of SVG's also allows ajaxSketch to open SVG's made in other illustration programs.

The interface is simple. Functions such as resize, rotate, change background or pen colors, and alter opacity are present in tool bars on the side and top of the screen. Although ajaxSketch claims that it is easy to manage complex gradients, compound shapes, and dynamic content, I haven't been able to figure it all out yet.

The best thing about ajaxSketch is that it lives and breathes on the Internet and it's all free. Furthermore, there's no need for expensive one-time upgrades.

Snipshot

Editing images is always handy when you have an album of snapshots from your digicam. Sometimes there are elements you want to add or remove from your picture perfect moments. Snipshot is a photo editor that uses Ajax to rotate, resize, crop and adjust images on your hard drive or any image on the web. The UI is very straightforward and users can start editing right away. Though the functions of Snipshot are simple, it proves to be convenient especially for photobloggers who have to make minor changes to their images. Snipshot can also import any image from any site with a bookmarklet plugin (that must be installed on your browser). Of course, edited images from Snipshot can be saved on your hard drive.

The rendering time is quite fast and the status bar is very useful when determining if the program has conked out (a common problem with Photoshop when dealing with large files and slow hardware). Snipshot claims that it wouldn't have a problem with editing 10MB image files or 25 megapixel images (5000×5000). This is very impressive for a web based photo editor. Unfortunately, Snipshot is only limited to its simple functions so there's no fancy filters and opacity adjustments or collage features. Still, not everybody needs those features. Moreover, Snipshot is a free application and there's no need to sign up to avail their complete services.

Picture2Life

Another photo editor in the Design2.0 vertical, Picture2Life takes Snipshot a step further with preset adjustment filters aside from the slider adjustments (also available on Snipshot). Preset effects are, grayscale, hue, sharpen, flip, contrast, blur, emboss, brightness, water, sphere, watermark, sepia, and invert.

The interface of Picture2Life is not too friendly though. I've been having a difficult time playing around with its functions. The rendering is a bit slower probably because of the multiple effects present in one page.

An advantage of Picture2Life is its ability to compose collages. Although collage layouts are predefined, it's still better than having no collage feature. Also there's an animate feature that is more of a slide show or a GIF creator.

Furthermore, Picture2Life is fully integrates with Flickr, 23, ImageShack and Slide with the import and export function. Not much different form the ability to edit pictures from any source but nevertheless useful.

FlowerMaker

FlowerMaker is an interesting site that allows users to create flowers with a kaleidescope algorithm. The interface is in Ajax allowing users to click and drag petals onto the canvass. The dragging causes to the petals to rotate in a kaleidescope manner. There are options for kinds of petal shapes, the number of petals per stroke and the color and opacity of the petals as well.

Flowers can then be sent to the “garden maker” and that will generate your garden (flowers with stems and leaves and vines). Of course you can save your flowers and gardens afterwards.

Google SketchUp

This may be in a different league but still it qualifies as a Design2.0 application. SketchUp 6.0 is available for free from Google and it needs to be installed on your machine. SketchUp was designed to help Google complete its Google Earth to map and model the entire world including all infrastructure. SketchUp allows 3D modeling much like AutoCAD. The interface and tool functions are much easier that professional modeling software. Moreover, there's a SketchUp Pro 6.0 but that has to be purchased.

Image editors and generators have come a long way since computer graphics were invented. It's great to see that most of the software most could not afford in the past are now available for free on the web. Surely, in the future we will be seeing the high definition, 3D rendering softwares and other more advanced imaging programs on the web.

Color Applications

Amazingly, most of the sites I found in the Design2.0 vertical were all about colors. Apparently, many people are interested in the “science” of colors. I was surprised to find many discussions and social networks in the color niche.

ColorBlender

It's like going to the paint shop and you begin mixing different paints a trying to achieve that perfect hue. ColorBlender is a web app that allows users to see variations of a chosen color. This comes in very handy when designing gradients and color schemes for different purposes. ColorBlender lets the user choose a color by adjusting RGB or HSV sliders. The app then outputs a palette of six matching colors. This pallete can then be saved for use in Photoshop (.ACT) and Illustrator (.EPS).

ColorCell

Like I said, there are sites that are just crazy about colors. Colorcell is more of a social network for color buffs. Each user gets to create a colorcell. That cell has four quadrants and the user must choose colors that go into each quadrant. Then each cell is submitted into the “Living Space” where it will await it's fate. The fate of each cell is decided through polls. Users can choose 1-3 cells they'd like to help for that day. Colorcell then calculates the “fitness” and “age” of the cells. Of course, cells that don't get enough support die and are buried in the cemetery.

The point of all this fuss according to ColorCell is to determine which colors are popular. This data could be very useful for designers when choosing color schemes for their web pages.

ColorSchemer

Another social network(ish) type of color site is ColorSchemer. To participate in ColorSchemer, users have to purchase the Color Schemer Studio ($50). With that program installed, it allows users to create color schemes and share them on the site's scheme gallery. It is there that the social aspect of the site begins. Schemes are rated and discussed in the forum. Users can also download schemes from the gallery and edit them in the studio. It must be really fun for designers (web and others) doing this since ColorSchemer is in the top 10000 websites according to Alexa.

ColourLovers

Much like ColorCell and ColorSchemer, ColourLovers is a site dedicated to color trends. It's mostly a social network and color is the common denominator.

Users get to make multiple color palettes (5 colors) and have other users rank them. Of course the objective here is knowing what other people think and what most people like. Palettes can then be rated. At the time of writing this article, there are nearly 50000 color palettes on ColourLovers. Mine of course was the youngest and had the lowest rating.

NetCocktail

Color schemes sometimes make or break a website. NetCocktail offers a variety of color schemes for designers to choose from. The site categorizes submitted web pages by color schemes.

Visitors on NetCocktail can simply select the general color of a website design they would like to see and NetCocktail outputs a list of screen shots of sites that match or are related to the query. The screen shots also include a palette of colors used by the site.

Collaborative Design

CSSBeauty

If you're a web designer or programmer, a great resource would be CSS beauty. Here is a site where a lot of developers showcase their works. CSS beauty is a community for web designers and programmers where they can share their works, discuss styles, rank sites, recommend tutorials, tutor, upload and download templates, and if permitted, copy source codes.

Moreover, CSSBeauty is not exclusive to CSS alone since CSS cannot work by itself. Hence, there are also discussion, tutorials, and sources for PHP, Javascript, some Flash, Ajax and all other tools, used for web development.

LinkGrab

Like CSSbeauty, LinkGrab is also a community for designers and programmers although it doesn't have the interactive features like forums, blogs, and discussions on its site. LinkGrab is something like a repository or a library that requests users to submit the links to their sites. LinkGrab then reviews these sites and categorizes them before displaying them on their main page. True enough to their tag line, LinkGrab is a one stop shop for your design RSS feeds.

WebBrush

Remember that IMvironment on Yahoo Messenger, the one with the crayons and a piece of paper? The one where you can play tic-tac-toe with the person you're chatting with? Well, WebBrush is something like that, only bigger.

WebBrush is an active collaboration tool for creating and discussing charts, diagrams, schemes, sketches, discussing some ideas, projects, plans, tasks, sharing photos and graphical materials. So it's an instant messaging drawing board that's able to go on conference mode.

The UI is very good. There are different panels for different purposes. The chat panel works like any other IM service, the drawing panel has a set of basic drawing tools like line, shape, text, fill, etc.

Unfortunately, web brush doesn't work on Firefox yet. Currently only Internet Explorer can run their site though they are already getting ready to launch a Firefox version soon.

Personally, I think WebBrush is really great. The possibilities are infinite with their service, schools will be able to remotely teach their students, offshore staff will better understand each other and international collaborations will make more sense. Of course, all this could only happen with more polishing and marketing of WebBrush.

Conclusion

It's no surprise that design would have it's own niche in Web2.0. Design being a vast topic, there are applications (not included in this review) that have other specialized functions and communities like, Buttonator, Fonttester, and Wufoo. As an essential part of the entire web development process, Design 2.0 will continue to expand its verticals.