things we learned

lessons from working in the design and web development business

December 8, 2012
by Tom
Comments Off on (The Pains of) Displaying Random Content Records with Typoscript

(The Pains of) Displaying Random Content Records with Typoscript

Sometimes TYPO3, the mighty opensource Content Management System with a large community in Europe, drives me crazy. It really is a Love/Hate relationship we’re having. I love the fact that you can get everything done with TYPO3 and I hate the fact that sometimes it’s so damn complicated to get things done with TYPO3, not the least because of Typoscript (TS) — the ‘interpreter’ between the underlying PHP-core and the setups in TYPO3.

Even with more than 5 years of building medium and large sites for several clients with TYPO3 on my back, I occasionally run in a situation where a seemingly simple task unfolds as a frustrating venture and eats on budget and time and eventually takes toll on my sanity.
Usually it turns out that there’s a problem in my initial idea, a logic flaw, or a not-so-well-thought-of underlying structure, but since it is really really hard to keep track of all the “functions” that come with Typoscript, and debugging the rendering process is even harder, sometimes working with TS is anything but fun.
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September 24, 2012
by Tom

Pixel, Devicepixel, ppi, and your Mom

Assuming your mom is a designer, working with Photoshop on her fairly new Macbook 15″, and putting out comps for “mobile”*.

Somehow many of us assumed that an iPhone has a “screensize” of 320 x 480px, an iPad has 768 x 1024px and next up in line we have the laptop screens and desktop screens. Mom’s Macbook for example has 1440 x 900px.
So, what’s your mom gonna do? Sitting on her 1440 x 900px screen, she is very likely to open a photoshop document and give the canvas a dimension of 320 x 480px, and happily starts designing a screen that should fit in there.

*) Now for the sake of this article, I won’t go into details of how working with a defined height/width canvas in itself is a problem for “mobile” design, there’s plenty of info around that out on the web. Plus I won’t go into details why with the arrival of the iPhone 5 and its 640×1136 screen the “this is iPhone” thinking is over.

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September 22, 2012
by Oliver Beckenhaub

“The Future of Content Management” – Notes from Rachel Andrew’s Talk at Smashing Conference in Freiburg

  • Everybody hates Content-Management-Systems (CMS).
  • Clients love to do a little bit of web design.
  • Bigger logo, comic sans – The web designer says no. But when the client says »I want to edit my site in MS word« – The web designer says yes – WHY???

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September 22, 2012
by Oliver Beckenhaub

“The Spirit of the Web” – Notes from Jeremy Keith’s Talk at Smashing Conference in Freiburg

What is the web?

  • The web means something different to different people.
  • Ask 10 people and everybody will tell something else.
  • The web is agreement.
  • The web is files, urls, http and more all working together.
  • The web is files addressable at URLs delivered over HTTP
  • A website is a bundle of files.
  • A website is the same as a web app. Web app is just another buzzword.
  • A website is a website no matter how it is consumed (smartphone, tablet, pc or what else)
  • A website is not a “desktop thing”.
  • The web is not control.
  • Design is about control.
  • Control isn’t the spirit of the web.
  • Read “A Dao of Web Design“. It was written in 2000. There were no iPhone, tablets etc.
  • We don’t know the speed, capabilities, screen size of our website visitors.
  • Tools like Photoshop, Dreamweaver etc., they make a fundamental decisions for you at the very beginning: Which screen size do you want? You must set a width an a height!
  • The is flexible, so our tools should be.
  • There are tools like Style Tiles or Pattern Primer. They move us in the right direction.
  • Change the design process. Style the atomic elements first.
  • Content First.
  • Give up control to make responsive webdesign, but don’t give up control!
  • Responsive design is not about mobile, it is about the web!
  • The web is responsive by default. We make it unresponsive when we set a fixed size. It’s our job not to screw that up.

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September 22, 2012
by Holger Bartel

“Styleguides are the new Photoshop” – Notes from Stephen Hay’s Talk at Smashing Conference in Freiburg

Andy Clarke already said it in his talk in 2009:

  • Come up with new workflows
  • Design in the browser

Photoshop is impractical for responsive design mockups

Problems with Photoshop comps

  • Design changes are time-consuming
  • Too much manual work
  • Image editor is dependency
  • Responsive design implies multiple and flexible layouts

Web based comps – The Pros

  • Doesn’t take longer than photoshop
  • Automated trivial taks
  • Realistic presentation
  • Free and open – every has a browser
  • No negative surprises for the client
  • Possible prep for development
  • They can be responsive

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September 22, 2012
by Holger Bartel

“Beyond Media Queries” – Notes from Brad Frost’s Talk At Smashing Conference in Freiburg

Principles of Adaptive Design

“What’s under the Christmas tree in two years? That’s what we’re designing for today.”
Brad Frost


“The things we don’t know are more important than the things we do know. Design for the future.”


  • Embrace diversity as an opportunity
  • The web on mobile devices is not the ‘web light’
  • Give people what they want! Don’t give them stupid error messages or limit access to certain devices
  • Responsive web design is only the tip of the iceberg and there’s much more to it

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