Leonardo da Vinci said, “Simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication.” Whatever I’m designing, that is my mantra. It’s also one of the basic requirements for effective UI design. In order to attract, convert and retain, user interface must satisfy three criteria: It should be engaging, beautiful and elicit an emotional response from the user. The same applies to almost every other work of art; the only difference is, art can endure a certain dose of complexity. UI can’t. Being a vital part of UX, UI is one of the key factors that influence conversion rates. Conversion, on the other…
We asked the Smashing Community for their favorite text editing tricks, shortcuts, and features that save them time. Here’s a roundup of what we’ve found quite useful along with a couple of other suggestions you may find handy.
Favourite Keyboard Shortcuts
Many of you have favorite keyboard shortcuts. Some of these will be editor or operating system specific, although in many cases you’ll be able to find a similar shortcut with the tools you are using. I’ve rounded up a few from the community below.
Select all occurences of current selection (Ctrl + SHIFT + L in VSCode) and duplicate line/selection which I set up as Ctrl + D.
Loris Gillet shared a few favorite shortcuts for hopping around or deleting text:
⌥ + forward/back arrows allows to jump to the next word instead of the next letter ⌥ + up/down arrows allows to jump to the beginning/end of the paragraph ⌥ + Backspace deletes the whole word instead of letters by letters.
Many of the suggested tips came from web developers — tips for the editors they used most frequently. We also received suggestions for Android Studio from Maher Nabeel:
In Android Studio:
Ctrl + D — Duplicate line
Ctrl + Y — Delete line
Ctrl + W — Select block
Ctrl + O — Override methods
Ctrl + ALT + L — Reformat code
Editor Shortcut Cheatsheets
As we can see from the tips already posted, learning the keyboard shortcuts for your editor saves a lot of time. It is always worth taking a look at what is available for your editor, as learning a few of these shortcuts can save a lot of typing over the course of a day writing code.
On Twitter, Tobin Saunders recommended the Atom Editor Cheat Sheet which is a detailed list of shortcuts for Atom. I also took a look at what was available for other frequently used editors.
Visual Studio Code
The VS Code website has a number of downloadable cheatsheets in PDF format, if you find it useful to keep a cheatsheet printed out on your desk.
Joel Reis noted that if you are switching to VS Code from Sublime Text, Atom, Vim or Visual Studio, then you can download the keymap extensions. This means that you can maintain the keyboard shortcuts from your previous editor. This tip was also noted on Smashing Magazine earlier this year when Burke Holland shared with us some of the things that you might be surprised to find that VS Code can do, in his article “Visual Studio Code Can Do That?”
A good selection of Sublime Text 3 shortcuts for Windows, Mac, and Linux can be found here.
Our keyboards and default computer settings are designed more for typing text than typing code. Some commenters have made changes to their defaults in order to make it faster to type the things they most often need to type.
I minimize the number of times I have to hold Shift and press a button. If I make brackets (()) far more often than I use 9 and 0, I customize the keyboard to reflect that, my 9 is ( and Shift + 9 is 9, etc.
Paul van den Tool sets his ‘Key Repeat’ and ‘Delay Until Repeat’ to their highest setting in order that his cursor just “flies across the screen when using the arrows.”
Jarón Barends told us how he, “created Alt + ; as a shortcut to insert a semicolon at the end of a current line.”
A number of people mentioned the text expansion system of Emmet. If you hand-code a lot of HTML and CSS then Emmet can save you a great deal of typing time. When writing HTML, Emmet abbreviations will be familiar to anyone who understands CSS. For example, if you want to create an unordered list inside a div element, you could use the following:
Which would then turn into:
The abbreviation is exactly the selector that would select the li in CSS. A div with a ul as a direct child, and a li as a direct child of the ul. Take a look at the Emmet Cheat Sheet for more examples.
There were a few specific tools recommended in the comments, so here is a roundup of useful tools you may not have heard of.
People who like Vim, really really like Vim. It certainly comes with a learning curve, however, if you are very keen on optimizing your keyboard editing then the time invested is likely to be worth it. As Jess Telford points out, you can do things like type 13k to move the cursor 13 lines up.
Take a look at the Vim Cheat Sheet for a list of commands. You can use Vim emulation in many other editors. The key mapping mentioned earlier for VS Code include mappings for Vim, and there is a plugin available for Atom as well.
Prettier is an open-source opinionated code formatting tool. Using Prettier ensures that all code is formatted to a consistent style. This is incredibly helpful when working in a team as it means that a consistent style is enforced, without anyone really needing to think about it.
I had not heard of the tool AutoHotkey until this suggestion from @Hobbesenero. AutoHotkey is an automation scripting language for Windows. Using the scripting language you can create shortcuts for common tasks, for example, to insert a template.
Converting Text Formats With Pandoc
One of my favorite tools is Pandoc. I use Pandoc when I need to convert one text format to another. One of the really useful things Pandoc can do is turn HTML or Markdown into EPUB format. I frequently do this in order to turn a set of notes into a file I can read using iBooks on my iPad. I do this in order to have an easily accessible set of notes for my workshops or to turn lengthy documentation into an easy to read offline format to read on an airplane.
Pandoc can convert from and to many different file formats. In addition to creating quick EPUB files, I also use it to convert copy from Word documents to Markdown or other useful formats. This can be very useful if you get some messy copy from a client that needs to be converted to enter into a CMS.
TextExpander And Typinator
TextExpander is available for MacOS and Windows and is a tool that helps you create snippets which can be inserted using keyboard shortcuts or common abbreviations. TextExpander was recommended by Anders Norén. If you prefer a solution that isn’t a subscription service then you might like to give Typinator a try.
These text expansion tools can be useful outside of writing code. If you often find yourself typing the same information in answer to emails or support requests, creating a shortcut to insert that text can quickly pay dividends in terms of time saved.
Recommended on Facebook by Dennis Germundal, Textwasher is a very simple tool for cleaning any formatting from text.
Add Your Suggestions In The Comments
There are a vast number of ways to enhance productivity in the tools we use every day, and it is also incredibly easy to completely overlook them. I hope that among these suggestions there will be something for you to try out. Or perhaps this will be a prompt for you to dig a little deeper into the documentation for your editors and other tools. I have certainly been inspired to do so.
If you missed the tweet and have some great tips to share, then add them to the comments. We’d love to hear them!
Just because landing page videos have been seen to increase conversions doesn’t mean you can throw up any shoddy video and expect results. There are a few landing page video best practices that you’ll want to review first, such as whether to use live-action style or animation. The answer to this question depends on your industry, competition and several other factors to be discussed in this piece. As a general rule, taking the road less traveled to differentiate yourself from your competition is a good start. But I don’t want you making important decisions without knowing the pros and cons…
Comprehensive content, a tone of voice, storytelling, punchy texts, surplus value, social signals… While all these big words swallow up the digital marketing world today, one tiny detail sobs in the corner of your marketing strategy. Keywords. In 2018, search engines are smart and more concentrated on behavioral factors, so we sometimes belittle the role of keywords. SEO specialists know that anchors matter, but – afraid of keyword stuffing penalties – they struggle to broaden SEO far beyond this core instrument. They reshape market- and customer-defining descriptors for better rankings, so today we have tons of keyword types to include…
Software developers all over the world can benefit from an increased understanding of intellectual property (IP) laws and how those laws may affect their work. Software programs are often complex works that include both functional and artistic elements and may be covered by a variety of different types of IP laws. This can be very confusing for those who haven’t been taught about IP and can cause them to miss out on opportunities to protect their own work or to accidentally infringe on the work of another.
The purpose of this article is to provide information about one type of IP law, copyright law, for software developers who live or work in the United Kingdom. Below we will discuss the definition of copyright law, the source of UK copyright law, and how it applies to technological works. I’ll also elaborate on what is not covered by copyright law, as well as the UK concepts of fair dealing and moral rights as they are related to copyright law.
Copyright Law Essentials
You can learn more about copyright law in general and about how it applies to software in my previous article. Go to article →
What Is Copyright Law?
Copyright law is a type of intellectual property law that protects creative works, which can include things like plays, movies, drawings, songs, and many other things. Around the world, copyright laws give the authors or creators of literary, dramatic, musical, or artistic works the right to control the ways in which their material may be used. With regard to software, copyright law generally covers the artistic elements of a software program as opposed to the functional elements.
What Is The Source Of Copyright Law In The UK?
Copyright law originated in the United Kingdom from a concept of common law; the Statute of Anne 1709. It became statutory with the passing of the Copyright Act 1911. The current act is the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act of 1988. Those interested can read the full text here.
The relevant government office for copyright inquiries is the UK Intellectual Property Office. The UK is also a signatory to the Berne Convention, an international agreement concerning copyright law that has been adopted by 172 countries worldwide.
How Does UK Copyright Law Apply Specifically To Technological Works?
Copyright law can apply to all kinds of technological works that are used with computers, tablets, smartphones, or video game systems. This includes apps, computer programs, databases, spreadsheets, screen displays, and even virtual reality environments. Copyright also applies to works that are used or distributed on the internet like websites, blogs, and other online content. In the UK, computer programs are specifically protected as literary works.
Throughout the European Union, the Computer Programs Directive provides guidance regarding the legal protection of computer programs. The Copyright (Computer Programs) Regulations of 1992 extended the rules covering literary works to include computer programs in other European countries as well.
What Is Not Covered By UK Copyright Law?
Copyright law in the UK, as elsewhere, does not protect ideas, procedures, methods of operations, or mathematical concepts (though other types of IP may protect them under certain circumstances). In other words, copyright law is about protecting a particular expression of an idea, not the idea itself, and not functional elements of a work. Additionally, names, titles, short phrases, and colors are not generally considered unique or substantial enough to be covered by copyright law. However, a work that combines some of the elements, such as a logo or design, could possibly be eligible for copyright (and perhaps trademark) protection.
How Long Does Copyright Protection In The UK Last?
Because the UK is a signatory to the Berne Convention which covered this issue, a copyright in the UK will typically be protected for either the life of the author plus 70 years from the death of the author or, for published works, for 70 years from the date of first publication. However, there are many exceptions to this rule, and each work should be treated on a case-by-case basis if there are any doubts.
One notable UK-specific exception has to do with the boy who never grew up, Peter Pan. Author J.M. Barrie gifted all of the rights to his creation to a children’s hospital in London. When the original copyright expired in 1987, an extension was added to the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act of 1988 mentioned above so that the hospital could continue to collect royalties based on uses of the work (though the hospital has no creative control over how the work is used). Ultimately, this is only an unusual — and perhaps endearingly British — exception to the normal copyright term.
What Is Fair Dealing?
The copyright laws of almost all countries allow exceptions for certain permitted uses of copyrighted works such as news reporting, educational uses, or where the use of the work is de minimus. In the United States, one can assert a “fair use” defense if accused of infringing a copyright if the use was due to one of these permitted activities. In the UK, these permitted activities fall under the legal concept known as “fair dealing.” According to the University of Nottingham, eligible activities which can be conducted without infringing a copyrighted work include:
Private and research study purposes;
Performance, copies or lending for educational purposes;
Criticism and news reporting;
Copies and lending by librarians;
Format shifting or back up of a work you own for personal use;
Caricature, parody or pastiche;
Acts for the purposes of royal commissions, statutory enquiries, judicial proceedings and parliamentary purposes;
Recording of broadcasts for the purposes of listening to or viewing at a more convenient time;
Producing a back-up copy for personal use of a computer program.
How Does “Fair Dealing” Affect Technology Copyrights In The UK?
The “fair dealing” exceptions mentioned above may specifically impact copyrights for technology-related works such as software programs or databases. For example, producing a backup copy of a software program for personal use only would not be considered copyright infringement under a fair dealing exception. Though fair dealing explicitly excludes decompilation or copying a software program during decompilation, the European Software Directive allows software licensees to use their copy of the software “to observe study or test the functioning of the program” in order to “determine the ideas and principles which underlie any element of the program.”
Therefore, users may freely observe a program as it operates to determine their functions and its underlying ideas, even if the goal is to create a competing program (see the UK case SAS Institute v. World Programming for more information on this concept). However, actual copying, for example in the case of source code copying, is not tolerated since this is explicitly protected by copyright.
For practical reasons, database copyrights would not be infringed if a person with the legal right to use part or all of a database performs steps necessary to use or access the contents of the database. Also, accessing a database for the purposes of private study or non-commercial research does not infringe copyright in a database.
Moral Rights In The UK
Another difference between the UK and other parts of the world with regard to copyright law is the UK’s emphasis on the importance of moral rights. Though this issue may not often arise in technology-related copyright disputes, moral rights are additional rights over and above the economic rights typically protected by copyright law.
In the UK, moral rights are: the right to attribution, or the right to be known or recognized as the author of a work; the right to object to derogatory treatment of a work, which includes any addition, deletion, or adaptation of a work that would distort or “mutilate” the work or injure the honor or reputation of the author; the right to object to false attribution, which basically means that you would not be named as the author of something you didn’t create; and the right to privacy of certain photographs and recordings, such as those commissioned for a private occasion.
One reason moral rights might be important for developers is that the moral right to attribution gives the developer the right to be named as the author of the software program, even though it is not common industry practice to do so. By the same token, if a developer doesn’t get their name associated with projects they didn’t work on, the right to object to false attribution protects them also. Find more information about moral rights here.
It is our hope that this information has been helpful for UK software designers and developers. Though this is only introductory information, and should not be substituted for legal counsel in the event of specific questions or disputes, education about copyright law issues and other IP issues helps to empower software designers and developers to make sure their works are fully protected.
How do you know your content marketing is effective? It’s not a rhetorical question, though it may seem like it. While it’s difficult to measure the success and return on investment of content purely quantitatively, you can absolutely use digital analytics to get some directional insights as well as insights that help you improve your approach. The good thing: there are no shortage of tools and guides to help you do that nowadays. The bad thing: it can be a bit overwhelming when you think about how to get started with digital analytics, especially if you’ve got a content calendar…
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The beginning of a new year seems like a perfect time to think about what we web professionals do, why we do it, how we could do it better and even how we could have more fun doing it.
Like everyone, we learn lessons as we make our way through life and work. If we’re lucky, we pick up some good advice along the way, so we thought it might be useful to find out what kind of advice you all have found to be particularly valuable.
The past years have been remarkable for web technologies. Our code has become modular, clean and well-defined. Our tooling for build processes and audits and testing and maintenance has never been so powerful. Our design process is systematic and efficient. Our interfaces are smooth and responsive, with a sprinkle of beautiful transitions and animations here and there. And after so many years, accessibility and performance have finally become established, well-recognized pillars of user experience.