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Summary:

There are definitely some great tools for the iPad to help solidify your app concept from a more abstract point of view. Looking at the more tangible side of visual design, I’ve found the following tools available in the Mac App Store to be quite helpful.

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There comes a point in the creation of every great app that you move from concept to implementation.  On the design side, this is when you feel like you have your wireframes and storyboard walk-throughs (or collection of bar napkins) at a point where you want to start “real” development.  There are definitely some great tools for the iPad to help solidify your app concept from a more abstract design point of view. Looking at the more tangible side of visual design, I’ve found the following tools available in the Mac App Store to be quite helpful.

Choosing the Right Colors

ColorBenderColorBlender ($1.99). When choosing a color palette for your App, you either have an eye for it or you don’t. For those of us who don’t have it, ColorBlender can help out.  There have been a lot of studies on how humans are affected by different colors, and there are certainly combinations of colors that are hard on the eyes.  The main function of ColorBlender is to create a palette with six harmonious colors that will make looking at your app pleasant, or at least tolerable, for most people.  The only thing this app is missing is a good color picker, but that’s quickly remedied using OS X’s included DigitalColor Meter utility. After choosing a base color in the DigitalColor Meter, ColorBender will help you select a collection of harmonious colors to use throughout your app.

AppControlsAppControls ($19.99). Once you have a solid color palette picked out, the next step will be to use that palette when creating various controls throughout your app. AppControls will help you create the artifacts necessary to create some great looking controls. You can copy the values of the colors generated in ColorBender, and paste them into the Color Picker of AppControls. Even if you don’t like the limit of six colors that ColorBender generates, you can at least use it to select the two colors that will be used to create a smooth gradient on your controls. All you need to do is the following:App Control Color Bender Walkthrough

  1. Use the DigitalColor Meter to select the color you want to use as your primary color, and hit the Shift+Cmd+H key combination to hold the colors on the screen.
  2. Type the color codes into ColorBlender to set your six harmonious colors.
  3. Copy the value of the color you want to use directly from ColorBlender’s screen and paste it into AppControls color picker.

Preparing for App Store Submission

LittleIpsumLittleIpsum (Free). How many time have you tried to size up how a data entry or large text display field will look by pounding random keys on the keyboard? A tool named LittleIpsum provides a better way. It generates Latin text in varying lengths including words, sentences and paragraphs. The text is then copied to your clipboard, and ready to paste into your app.

StatusBarredStatus Barred ($0.99). Occasionally, you may want to pull together a collection of screen shots for the current state of the application, either to update documentation when designing a change in the way the application works or simply to craft your marketing material.  Status Barred is a simple little app that will crop off the carrier status bar from the images you take so that the focus in on your app, and not your carrier.

iOSIconsIcons ($2.99). The final Mac App in this collection of design apps will help in the creation of icons, both for and within the app.  It can also be used to help with the design of any support or marketing web sites that will be created.  Icons could not be easier to use. Start with a 512×512 square image, drop it into the tool, and generate your icons.  You can even round the edges and add that cool glass look.

While these tools individually are no match for Adobe’s creative suite of tools, for the price, they add up to a competitive package. And like the start of a thousand bee stings, it only makes sense that this tightly focused new breed of apps help others create more great task-specific software as the App Store model continues to propagate.

  1. I’ve tried three of the icon apps in the Mac App Store, Icons, iConify, and Iconizer. I prefer Iconizer. iConify is pretty basic, and Icons is great, but Iconizer does everything Icons does plus it makes demo images of your app in the app store, or on the dock/dashboard. I send those to clients, and they love ‘em!

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  2. There’s a loupe in the AppControls color picker that can be used to copy any color on your screen. If you click it, the cursor will turn into a loupe that does the same thing as DigitalColor Meter, which means you’ll be able to skip step 1. Then, once you’ve got the colors in ColorBlender, you can use the loupe again to copy the colors into AppControls, which is a lot faster than using copy and paste.

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  3. I’m hoping the app store allows more of these sorts of utilities to be developed.

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