Rebuilding a site

We are a weekly shopping guide here in Kansas. Basically, we are
printed on tabloid sized newsprint (10 inch x 16 inch printable area)
and our entire publication is similar to the classified section of a
newspaper. Our current site was originally designed in GoLive, then
redesigned in Freeway Pro 3, and then imported into Freeway Pro 4.
Along the way, the CSS button must have gotten turned off at times,
because I have alignment and other problems. On top of that, we have
an auction calendar section that is served from our in house MacOS X
Server, from a separate Freeway document, while everything else is
served from our IPS’s server. That circumstance has changed, so I’m
going to incorporate that part into the main Freeway document for our
website to have a consistent look across all of the pages.

I have upgraded to Freeway Pro 5. We run several licenses and up to 4
of us in our small company share duties in updating copy for the
website. So, I’m looking for ways to simplify our updating process of
web content. Our current website costs us $10/mo. with 100MB of
space. The server our ISP has us on doesn’t offer PHP or MySQP if
either of those would be of help, but he’d be happy to move us to a
server that does support these at no extra charge.

I would also be interested in some low cost Flash creation programs
because ad content is very important, that’s our business. Right now,
I use the Random Image action with JPGs for ads for our automotive
dealers, but I’d like something with a little more pizzazz. Someone
mentioned a banner ad program recently, I took a look at it and it
seemed like something I could use. But I would be interested in other
programs too. Although a bit more expensive, if Adobe Flash Pro is
what I need, I’ll bite the bullet and get it into my tech budget.

I’ve been playing with some of the 5 Pro stuff like the new CSS menus
on other sites I run, and I really, really like the new CSS Menus.
I’m also getting more comfortable letting masterpages be my friends.

The website is at:

Before I begin the rebuild process in Freeway 5 Pro, I would
appreciate some organizational and design ideas. I am open to adding
Actions, even paid commercial ones, to enhance the site.

What we struggle with is that our brains are trained for going to
newsprint. We struggle, as many in my business do, trying to get our
printed product into a web form, especially since we think in inches
in print, and that is usually too big when going to the world of
pixels of a computer monitor, and doesn’t correspond well anyways.

Joe Sporleder
Technology Manager
Waconda Trader


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Hey Joe,

Just visited the link and I’m digging the radar. Never seen that before on a non-weather website. Anyways, I think what needs to happen from a design aspect is a bit of a visual clean up. When I’m building a website I like to think of it as a letter, much like your newsprint, in that it has to have a clear understanding of who’s running this site (logo/header), a way to figure out what it’s about and what you have to offer (navigation/body text), and a footer to reiterate the navigation found at the top or use as a place for contact information since your page length’s are scrollable.

As far as Flash alternative’s, there was a brief bout I had with a user of this site about this, who had recommended BannerZest Pro (http://www.aquafadas.com/en/bannerzest/) and I admit it’s easy to use and such, but it’s a bit on the pricey side ($129.99) for a license and it’s customization and limitations may upset your work-flow, but right now it may be a good alternative instead of biting the bullet right away and diving into Flash if it’s not your thing based off the needs and content of your existing site. By saying that I mean you wouldn’t need something over the top to complicate the displaying of the items you have now.

Good luck with updating your site and I’ll add it to my bookmarks to check up on it every once in a while.


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Joe

I feel for you. My non-work interest, the Early American Industries Association, is moving to digital along with hard copy. Moving their newsletter to a PDF format took a solid month of fiddling, both with the layout and with the Board of Directors. Plus we’re digitizing 80 years of the association journal and working on plans to create a digital version to compliment the hard copy. Getting people who think in hard print columns to switch to a screen based layout is a pain.

The trick has been to first design the digital version to replicate the original, then gradually bring in changes that suite the digital realm. By years end, the Newsletter will totally reflect the digital version instead of vice versa. The journal will more gradually change over two years.

BTW, for $120 a year you should be able to get an ISP that offers full service such as PHP and MySQL. If you ping me off list, I can give you the name for the folks who host mine. I’ld provide it here, but I’m not sure if that’s allowable.

Gary


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On 10 Aug 2008, 5:12 pm, toolemera wrote:
BTW, for $120 a year you should be able to get an ISP that offers full service such as PHP and MySQL. If you ping me off list, I can give you the name for the folks who host mine. I’ld provide it here, but I’m not sure if that’s allowable.

Why not? There are two people that promote their web hosting companies on this list all the time. We also talk about recommendations for good hosts too.

(Cool that you were cautious, though!)


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Well, in that case. Jim Esten owns and operates WebDynamic

I’ve known Jim personally for many years. When he decided to leave his employer and set up his own hosting service, I went for the ride. He is a top-flight programmer, developer and all around trouble-fixer. And a nice, pleasant guy to work with to boot. Prices are very reasonable, the services are everything from simple web hosting to complex storefronts and so on.

WebDynamic works from the Joomla open source platform, cPanelX for your control panel and tons of space.

The WebDynamic home page tends to be sparse because Jim is so busy running the service. Word of mouth is a powerful thing and he has had a steady flow of new business as the word gets out. Tech support is important to Jim and if you have a problem, he’ll get back to you personally.

And if you tell him I sent you, I may get an extra gift in my Galoot Christmas Exchange this year. Or not.

Best
Gary


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toolemera wrote:

…we’re digitizing 80 years of the association journal and working on plans to create a digital version to compliment the hard copy.

Hi Gary,

This is of interest to me. I’m digitalizing a series of economic journals with text and graphs. The graphs I can scan and import into FW as graphic objects. But the text I’ve been copying by typing as HTML text (we don’t have the original electronic records). How do you digitalize the text from your older journals?

Jim


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Jim

My guess is you are putting the graphics and text online rather than in PDF format? It’s a common approach that many institutions use, although I don’t really agree with it as a user friendly means to disseminate material. For the record, I work in an engineering research library in document digitization, a fancy term for we’re turning 50 years of old records and reports into PDF.

Over the past five years we’ve investigated numerous methods of presenting material to the staff (about 3000 engineers, scientists, mathematicians, software & hardware people, etc). In the end, PDF is the most preferred. People use Safari online books to check out a book to see if they want to buy it, or to look up a particular fact… and then buy the book or order the book as a PDF. Almost no one reads the entire book or journal as an online entity. By online entity I mean a document that is tied to a particular website. And this is from people who live and breath with their computurs.

That said, online you will find methods of providing written material page by page, however it requires substantial bandwidth, considerable programming and constant monitoring. Plus it means that the person viewing the material has a broadband connection. Forget dial-ups or other slow, or overcrowded DSL lines. I strongly advice against it if you want to provide material that will please your audience.

A well done scan of a document in grayscale (or color if needs be), OCR, optimized for size and downloads, will please people to no end. Through in good PDF security and watermarks and you have a document that can be read and re-read with ease.

I use Acrobat Pro for all of this work. There are other programs you can use, but none produce as clean a PDF as Acrobat. There are further tips and tricks to scanning grayscale images, optimizing OCR and tricking out the PDF for optimal download. I added a brief review of basic scanning over at my blog here

and am way overdue for a more complete review of scanning, OCR and PDF creation to be included at my website. If you decide to go PDF and have any questions, please feel free to ask.

Basically, just because we can present something online doesn’t mean it’s the best way to present it!

Now, for a really cool gadget, take a look at this stuff over at Adobe

http://blogs.adobe.com/loridefurio/2008/07/pdf_widget_on_a.html

It’s a widget that allows you to place an interactive preview of your pdf on the webpage. The original pdf is hosted by Adobe through their new beta at

I’m just playing around with it but it has some interesting potential to draw people in.

Gary


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toolemera wrote:

I added a brief review of basic scanning over at my blog here…

Gary, good info in this blog! I’d also be interested in the steps to creating clean PDF’s from old journals.

I scanned some 50 year-old slides and magazine photos of paintings and cleaned them up in Photoshop. If you have a minute could you look at the Gallery on this site and comment on the quality of the images?

http://robertsivard.info/

Many thanks, Jim


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Jim

I really have to get my scanning notes online. Lately, requests for tips have been a regular occurrence. I do this stuff daily and truly forget that everyone else doesn’t deal with moire patterning, dpi v physical dimensions, gamma settings and all that fun stuff!

The images you have online look good… but that is for online images viewed at 72 or 96 dpi. There may be a hint of moire patterning in one or two, which I would assume came from magazine images. Or it may be the original that contained some banding in the painting by intention. Hue and saturation are impossible to verify online due to the variations in monitor settings. On a Dell and Apple monitors they look good. My Samsung monitor tends to over-saturate and make reds redder and blues bluer.

Did you try various settings for Unsharp Mask for the magazine scans? This might help to increase some edge clarity.

Generally, I try to make adjustments in the scanning software first, and do as little post-scan work as possible in Photoshop. It’s a fair amount of trial and error, but if you scan well first, you are starting with a better original. There is always the problem of monitor quality versus scan quality versus original. That’s where the trial and error along with a short learning curve comes into play.

It also depends on what you want at the end… scanning is really a function of producing what you want the end result to look like, what dpi, physical dimensions, format, etc. You decide ahead of time what you need and work on settings that produce that end result. I do a lot of archival work along with web work. Each has it’s own requirements.

It’s safe to say I scan at a minimum of 300 dpi in 24 bit color (rarely 48 bit) or grayscale. B&W is really only for scanning modern printed text against a good white background. I adjust, in this order, Contrast, Brightness and then either Gamma (for grayscale) and/or Levels for Color or Grayscale. You can always reduce the size and format in Photoshop or Graphic Converter.

Gary


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Gary, thanks for the feedback. I hope I’m not straying too far from Joe’s original post. Yes, I tried the Unsharp Mask for the magazine photos. They were rather small to begin with so the quality is nowhere near that of the slides.

I have one more brief question. What’s your recommendation for the dpi setting if I’m scanning a slide with the intended end result to be an 18" x 24" reproduction? This was the original size of most of the paintings.

Jim


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Sometime around 11/8/08 (at 15:49 -0400) JimS said:

I have one more brief question. What’s your recommendation for the
dpi setting if I’m scanning a slide with the intended end result to
be an 18" x 24" reproduction? This was the original size of most of
the paintings.

'Scuse me while I put on the Chief Pedant’s hat…

When discussing the bitmap resolution of images, ppi is the right
term. Dpi refers to dots, which is not the same thing as pixels. Rule
of thumb: printers make dots, bitmap images are made of pixels.

Okay, pedant hat removed.

If you want to print an image at a high enough resolution that you
don’t notice the pixels, 300ppi (pixels per inch) for the output
resolution is the normal rule of thumb or operational minimum. To
cover an area of 18x24 inches this would require an image size of
approximately 111MB.

Depending on how your scanner software works you may need to
establish a magnification percentage to go from slide size to print
size - or you need to scan it so you get at least 5400x7200 pixels -
or perhaps you’ll just be able to type in the intended final
reproduction dimensions.

But if you simply make sure that the final result will be at least
111MB, and preferably nearer 150MB (which gives you enough pixels to
have output at 350ppi at that size), you’ll be fine.

k


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Pedant accepted and corrected. I tend to use dpi just cause most people think this way. When I use ppi there is always some email asking… what is that? So I’m lazy.

Scanning slides is a topic in and of itself. Some scanner software will allow you to select a setting for the particular brand of slide film and the size of the slide. This can be important as each brand has different hue and saturation characteristics, particularly as the film ages.

I beg to differ on the resolution of preference for slides. For color, 600 ppi is the minimum recommended and even up to 1200 if you plan on printing at high quality. If a substantial enlargement is required or high quality photo printing is preferred, 2400 is not unheard of for pro results. You can always work on the image in Photoshop afterwards. Save your original scan as a TIFF, uncompressed.

I work with a lot of black & white medium format negatives and glass plate negatives, many of which have intense details. They get scanned at anywhere from 600 up to 2400 ppi (or dpi if the software insists on that term) for the first archival quality image and then down-sampled in Photoshop to whatever is needed.

Gary


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Sometime around 11/8/08 (at 16:56 -0400) toolemera said:

I beg to differ on the resolution of preference for slides.

Ahh, but we’re not disagreeing because we’re talking about
disconnected things! :slight_smile:

What I mean is the ‘effective output resolution’, the pixels-per-inch
that the image is at when placed on the page and scaled to the
desired output size.

It really doesn’t matter what ppi you set when scanning, what
really matters is how many pixels your settings will capture
overall. If you scan a 1-inch-wide area at 2400ppi (and at 100%, no
scaling), and then you scale it up in your page layout so it is four
inches wide, the image’s output resolution will be at 300ppi. If you
scaled it up to fill six inches, the effective output resolution
would be 200ppi.

For magazine repro, 300ppi is the industry-standard recommended
minimum for the final on-page effective output resolution.
Personally, I prefer 350ppi for important work, but 300 is normally
fine.

For the kind of thing you’re talking about, it is important to know
what output scale is involved in the scanning software setup.
Sometimes you can define the intended on-page output size. If you’re
just scanning same-size then yes, you would need to scan at a much
higher resolution or only be able to use those images at small sizes
in print.

What kind of data sizes does Photoshop report when you’ve scanned a
typical image?

k


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Keith wrote:

What kind of data sizes does Photoshop report when you’ve scanned a typical image?

Typically only about 2MB for a slide scanned at 300 dpi/ppi as I recall. Someone printed a poster and it looked pretty good, no pixels visible- could the printing method or inks used have smoothed out the image? Of course for important reproductions I’ll use a higher setting.

Thanks Gary and Keith (welcome back)!

Jim


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Gary,

When the ISP first setup the site, they put it on a server that
didn’t have PHP and MySQL. However, they did offer to move the site
to one of their different servers that supports PHP and MySQL, for
the same price. However, I’m pretty much clueless to these 2 Internet
technologies, so maybe it doesn’t make any different.

The basic purpose of my original message was I was wanting feedback
on my butt ugly site at:

Somehow during the course of upgrading to different versions of
Freeway Pro, stuff got out of alignment because the CSS button got
turned off. I just bot Freeway Pro 5.x and thought I should get some
good ideas from this group before I begin the rebuilding process, so
that I can build a good foundation and do it right from scratch.

Joe

On Aug 10, 2008, at 12:12 PM, toolemera wrote:

BTW, for $120 a year you should be able to get an ISP that offers
full service such as PHP and MySQL. If you ping me off list, I can
give you the name for the folks who host mine. I’ld provide it
here, but I’m not sure if that’s allowable.

Gary


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Keith and Jim. Joe, Dan, the other Joe and anyone I left out!

Ok, that’s out of the way. You have to take into account the original (halftone magazine image, photograph, slide, negative, engraving, etc., etc.) and then figure out what your end result has to be. If you need a 300 dpi (ppi or… ) image of 4x5", then you should set your scan parameters for 300 dpi, forced to 4x5". The alternative is to scan at a higher dpi, or ppi, and scale it down by percentage and hope the end result is good. When prepping for web or press, I scan an image as close to the size needed as possible. If an archival version is required, I scan another image to meet archival requirements.

As for Photoshop, well, it’s called Photo-Shop, not Scan-Shop. The program is intended for use in manipulating photos and creating new material from existing images. Not for manipulating old magazine images, old slide or negatives or even 17th, 18th or 19th century material. Some filters are supplied, but they don’t work very well. That’s when you have to adapt what is available to your needs. Such as reverting to grayscale to reduce background noise from damp and dirt stains.

We use it for those purposes by subverting the tools to our uses, but they were never designed for this purpose.

I realize my explanations are not purely technical in nature. I’ve found at work that I have to express the work flow in terms people readily understand, else they call me constantly asking for help. Thus, dpi instead of ppi, dpi plus forced dimensions for scanning, 24 bit color instead of 48 and so on. Explaining the technical aspects of moire patterning v resolution v halftones gets us nowhere fast in reaching the desired end.

As to scaling, never up-sample, only down-sample if required. Sure, it is possible, but the image quality will degrade with the up-sample. Hence my never suggesting it nor discussing it.

Remember, I’m a librarian-archivist, which means a spend a good part of my time teaching people how to find and do stuff so they can do it on their own!

Best
Gary
PS… I’ll be setting a bunch of preliminary scanning and photoshop guides on my site sometime soon. Just outlines to start, but at least some questions can be answered.


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I forgot to mention, if your end requirement has a mb or kb size limit, you have to abide by that. Hence a 150 dpi limit for a 4x5 image would be set for those parameters… or set higher and down-sampled.

Gary


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