Make matting interesting with ImageFramer

In this tutorial, I want to show you a few ways to use matting with ImageFramer.

A mat can enhance, or even radically change, the impression of a picture.  With a mat, a piece of art can look far more impressive than without it. To show you some matting tips I have chosen a nice autumn photo with a bright accent on blue shoes. Hope you like it.

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Simple matting

First of all let’s choose the frame that enhances the picture and doesn’t distract us from our main purpose. The frame I chose is called Legion (can be found in Real collection, Wooden set). The width is set to 8%.

Then I’ve added a mat around the photo. In general, neutral colors are always a safe choice. Playing a background role, they help a picture to dominate the space around it. For this reason I’ve picked the Toasty mat in Beige and Yellow collection. I recommend making the mat twice as wide as the frame. I increased the width to 14% by using the slider on the right, in the Layer Settings tab.

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Double matting

In this variant I want to give the effect of more depth to the picture. For this reason I added Fussil mat from the same collection and put it to the inner side of the photo. The inner mat creates a thin line of a slightly lighter color. Where a double matting is used, the color of the inner mat can enhance the bright accent on the picture or be just slightly darker or lighter than the main mat color.

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Choose your own color

But let’s try something different. Don’t forget that you can choose a color of a mat from the picture itself. The picture is full of warm yellow and red colors, so I clicked on the eyedropper and decided to go with a deep orange color from one of the leaves in the photo. To make it even more interesting I did the same thing with the bevel and chose a dark purple color for it.

This makes the photo stand out by adding interesting visual elements and a bit of extra color.

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There are many more creatives ways you can use ImageFramer to improve the presentation of your photographs. Let your imagination surprise you!

Educational articles on framing and matting

Are you interested in the history of picture frame? Or perhaps you need some tips for choosing the perfect frame for your art work? What are the main rules of framing the photo?
We are pleased to inform you that we have started publishing educational articles on framing and matting. Take a look at our Picture Framing Articles page.
Every month we will add articles with interesting facts about framing, as well as sharing tips to mount your artwork. Let us introduce our first article – Why a picture frame?

Why a picture frame?

A frame for a picture is like a beautiful dress for a woman. It serves to emphasize the important details, hide the disadvantages, and create a complete, perfect image. Many private owners and art galleries exhibit their paintings without frames, but this is a huge mistake. An unframed picture looks far less impressive than it could because the painting itself is rarely self-sufficient and lacks a complete form. In most cases the right framing is necessary to complete the image…
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Starting without money? Check! Five times of 5!

Last week Kosta and I attended an unconference related to business, startups and also some things unrelated to the above. We’ve been to several interesting lectures and activities and in general had a lot of fun. The last one was about starting business without much money.

The lecturer, who also teaches at the university where the event took place, told how not every business should be built in the “start up” way, i.e. venture money, immediate multinational presence etc. He proposed several alternatives on “starting down” and then growing up as needed:

  1. Start to work on the business while on the day job.
  2. Make the office in your home instead of in an expensive “start-up” location
  3. Use Skype instead of phone/cell
  4. Team with your friend or family instead of hiring an external CEO on a high salary
  5. Use (cheap, if possible) freelancer instead of hiring employees

While he was listing it we were folding our fingers for each “check”. I checked all five:

  1. I worked on Apparent Software (on ImageFramer) for three years while on my day job before I decided to switch to full-time. Kosta is still part-time in Apparent Software.
  2. My home is my office and no changes are planned. Well, about once a week Kosta’s home is our office.
  3. We use Skype In and Skype Out to connect to customers all over the world.
  4. Kosta is my friend of about 15 years and this adds a lot to the fun and to the trust.
  5. We’ve successfully used freelancers for graphics, web development, video production, and even programming.

Of course, these advices are not rocket science and the fact that I followed them is just because the financials of the business required finding affordable solutions. Still, it was both amusing and reassuring. I feel we’re on the right track.

Stay tuned to some exciting news in May.

All the best,
Jacob.

DMG for distribution incompatibilty on Snow Leopard?

Do you use DMG to distribute your software for download?
Do you create it using a script, by creating a template DMG and then replacing its content upon release?

If you do, which I fully endorse, and you’ve created your template in Finder on Snow Leopard, read below.

In the last couple of days before the ininitial release of Cashculator to the public I’ve been struggling with the DMG creating process. I thought I’d already mastered it. After all, I’ve been already doing it with ImageFramer. So I prepared my template, copied the .DS_Store file from it (I used this process with ImageFramer) and script handled it all fine for me. I look at the final opened DMG and I see the following image (which is what I indended it to be):


Cashculator DMG background

Cashculator DMG background

I send it to the server and let my partner Kosta check it on his machine. He’s using Leopard and not the Snowy kind. He send me back the following image, which is far from what I thought it to be:


Cashculator DMG on Leopard

Cashculator DMG on Leopard

Not good. So I tried this way and that way. I even moved to another system, where I first create the DMG and use  the DMG itself as the template, without exracting .DS_Store first. Nothing helped on Leopard.

So we met and he brought the Leopard machine with him. I open the DMG, press Cmd-J and see that Finder thinks there’s no backgrond image and icon sizes are different.

After some research I came to the conclusion that DMGs created on Snow Leopard don’t show the same at all on Leopard. Frightened, I also tested my ImageFramer releases, which also sport a new background since the release of Snow Leopard. To my shock, it was also totally wrong on Leopard. That’s not how I wanted to convey the first impression of ImageFramer to potential customers.

The solution, of course, was to create the DMG on Leopard and use it as template instead. I ran the new template through my scripts and reopened the final DMG on Leopard to check. It was fine. Finally.

Today I did the same with ImageFramer‘s DMG. For some reason, the one from Leopard showed without background on my Snow Leopard machine. I only added the background again and saved the DMG. It worked fine on Leopard too.

That’s it. So, if you use a similar technique for creating DMG, check them on Leopard and on Snow Leopard before shipping to avoid later embarrassment.

NSConference – missing already

So I’m back from NSConference.

Wow, it was a much exciting experience for me, for several reasons. I’ve entered the Mac development arena about 3 years ago but I’ve never been to any developer conference. WWDC is too far and expensive for me. So when Scotty first announced about it I thought it’d be nice to get there. Fortunately, it worked out.

First I’d like to thank Scotty an Tim because I was probably one the most problematic of their visitors. I came to UK with my wife, so we couldn’t stay in the regular accommodations and I’ve continuously bothered them both about my issues with it and the banquet. They were both very helpful and kind with me.

The developer “crowd” was very interesting, coming from different countries. I’ve talked to people from Italy, Denmark, Switzerland, Germany and of course UK. There were people from other countries such as Finland, Spain, France. There were quite a bunch of iPhone developers and also people who wanted to become full-time Cocoa developers coming from other areas, such as Java or Ruby consulting.

The sessions were all well selected and on high level. The speakers were of the highest quality both knowing and entertaining. Matt Gemmell ’s talk about custom controls was helpful as I have created a couple custom controls myself for ImageFramer 3. Fraser ’s talk about integrating with Apple’s photo programs was also just what I needed since ImageFramer is a program for photographers as well and I don’t have any integration at this time.

Some other talks that I liked are Mike Lee’s Pimp my app sessions, which was both entertaining and helpful. I like these business and user experience related stuff and Mike’s a great speaker. After the conference I caught him for several questions and he was glad to discuss things.

Marcus Zarra talked about Core Data, Spotlight and Quicklook integration. He’s a good speaker and makes it all look really simple.

F-Script session was very interesting. Although I’ve looked at F-Script myself beforehand, Philippe Mougin excited the audience with its abilities and I sure learned quite a few things myself.

All other sessions were helpful and entertaining as well.

The night after the conference, laying in bed I couldn’t fall asleep and ideas floated into my mind how to make ImageFramer 3 better. The new knowledge and enthusiasm all fused into one and I’ve had quite a few helpful ideas. Yes, nerdy, I know, but sometimes good ideas about programming come at this time.

Huge thanks to Scotty, Tim and other people involved. I now wait for NSConference ‘10.

The only thing that I didn’t like were these British water taps. How in the world am I supposed to wash my hands this way? We’re in 21 century and it’s a new building. Can’t put the mixing faucets, for crying out loud!? I know, it’s the same in London and it’s some British thing but someone, please explain why it’s this way and how to use it effectively.

The most annoying thing in UK

(the photo above is from my hotel room in London)

I you just happen to want to see some of my photographs from the UK trip, take a look at: London and Oxford set on flickr. There might be more later as well.

Jacob (@apparentsoft)

MicroISV analysis – are you a micro-monster or a small fry?

The research below was done by Kosta, who recently joined Apparent Software to lead business development.

Having recently entered the world of MicroISV for Mac, one of the first things I wanted to know was what are the characteristics and types of ISV, what are the main groups that they fall in etc. Basically, I wanted a market research. To my surprise, I found nothing satisfactory of that kind.

As a good catchphrase goes – you want to get something done, you’d better do it yourself – and so I did ☺

This is summary of my analysis based on randomly-selected several dozens of MicroISV developing software for Mac OS X platform. I apologize in advance if I offend anyone but I focused on regular Mac applications and excluded plug-in developers and game developers from this research. Both of these constitute different groups and deserve another detailed research that can be hopefully done by another volunteer ☺.

In order to cluster the ISVs, I collected several parameters for each examined ISV:

  • What kind of applications does it develop?
    • Specialized / specific applications that would interest only a small niche (for example, applications that add a watermark to images or print  invoices )
    • Generic applications, designed for the general public (like productivity applications, generic image-editing applications etc)
    • Both specific and generic applications
  • Applications quantity – how many applications did each ISV develop
  • Application categories quantity. All applications can be usually divided into well-known categories: personal productivity, utilities, imaging, internet applications etc. I checked for each ISV how many of these categories does it span.
  • Application price

Having collected all this data, I was ready to cluster the ISVs – create meaningful homogeneous groups having similar characteristics. Having these groups will help us better understand what kind of ISVs are there and what the differences between different types are.

But before presenting the clusters, let me first build some suspense by listing several generic conclusions based on the research:

  1. Most ISVs create generic products or both generic and specific products. Only 21% of the ISV develop only specific products.
  2. About half of the ISVs develop applications in 1 category only. That includes ISVs who develop specific products (the 21% shown above) and ISVs who have 1-3 generic applications.
  3. In terms of application quantity – there is almost no middle-ground: either you develop 1-3 applications, or you are in 6 to 9 applications league.
  4. Price wasn’t determined by the ISV type, but by application type. Only one exception to his rule – the only ISVs providing ALL applications for free have 2-3 applications in 1 category only.

And now – for the winners!

What are final conclusions of the research?
What are the clusters that MicroISVs can be broken into?

Necessary disclaimer for these of you less familiar with marketing or descriptive statistics: there are always border-line or unique cases not falling into any cluster – but these are the exceptions that only underline the general rule.

  • Small fry (49%): Most of MicroISVs fall into this category. They have several generic or both generic and specialized applications, belonging to 1-2 categories. They probably lack the resources or the will to grow and become a Generizer or a Micro-monster, but they may still become one.
  • Generizers (16%): These ISV have larger amount of applications (5-6), all of them generic. All applications are usually in 1-2 categories, like utilities, web or productivity. These ISV may still grow to become Micro-Monsters.
  • Micro-Monsters (16%): The last stage of Micro-ISV development – these companies have it all. They have many (8-9) applications spanning several categories, some specific and some generic.
  • Specializers (15%): ISVs that have few specific applications, all of them usually in one category. This is usually the case of 1-man show that has a personal interest in that particular category, and doesn’t want to expand beyond this category. This ISV will rarely turn into another category, and will expand by slowly creating additional specific applications in the same category.


MicroISV clusters

MicroISV clusters



MicroISV growth

MicroISV growth

Concluding thoughts

How can your ISV benefit from the analysis you’ve just read?

My take is that each ISV owner should ask himself the following questions:

  1. What group does his ISV fall in?
  2. Are you satisfied with belonging to that group?

If the answer to the previous question was “No”, ask yourself

  • Who do you want to be when you grow up?
  • What is stopping you from getting there?

And make a long-range plan how and when DO you get there!



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