OReillyMac: If I'm a developer ready to market a new OS X app ... and it's time to design my icons ... do I follow the strict Apple standards as they exist now ... do I contact a consultant such as Iconfactory, or do I punt?
alanosx: Go for the conversion.
iconfactorycorey: You should absolutely contact the Iconfactory, no question about it :-)
alanosx: Or read my columns on the OReilly network.
OReillyMac: (two shameless plugs in one question!)
iconfactorycorey: We can help decipher the AHIG and try our best to apply them to your icon design
alanosx: I think budget is one issue...
alanosx: if you can't afford to hire an outside firm...and many small developers are in this boat...
alanosx: and it can be difficult deciphering the guidelines...
alanosx: I've seen some terrible icons.
alanosx: But if you can afford to hire a firm...I highly recommend it.
alanosx: I hate software companies with budgets who opt for the cheap road...
iconfactorycorey: I don't think you can afford not to hire someone
iconfactorycorey: especially if you have no designers on staff
alanosx: expensive software with bad icons looks cheap.
iconfactorycorey: the least we can do is take your artwork, make suggestions and create the resources for your developer
alanosx: it is important for people to understand that icons aren't just on the desktop...
alanosx: remember that icons pertains to tool bars and palettes as well...
alanosx: people will judge the app on the design.
OReillyMac: How early in the process should you be thinking about this?
iconfactorycorey: As soon as you know the kind of app you are building
OReillyMac: So this is a parallel process to the actual code development?
iconfactorycorey: It should be, but it usually isn't
iconfactorycorey: Your finder icon is the first thing a user sees
OReillyMac: What's the biggest mistake you see developers make?
iconfactorycorey: Starting too late in the process so there is not time to develop icons
iconfactorycorey: And obviously not hiring designers to do the UI design
alanosx: You know the remark that stuck with me from WWDC...
alanosx: is when an engineer got up and said:
alanosx: "Designing icons for OS X was the hardest part of the development."
alanosx: Designers of the world unite!
iconfactorycorey: We try to make it easier by offloading that burden
iconfactorycorey: for a small fee of course ;-)
OReillyMac: So let's look into our crystal ball for a moment ... and wrap up with a look at the direction that design is heading
OReillyMac: What changes do you see for iconfactory as a result of Mac OS X?
iconfactorycorey: A lot of jobs creating fewer icons that take more time
alanosx: Where is this heading...can you guess...meaning...
alanosx: with the attention to detail...any ideas as to the future of the OS and Hardware?
iconfactorycorey: a lot more time in Freehand
alanosx: It seems Apple is building a lot of room for growth here...and it all points to media.
iconfactorycorey: Now that the software looks as flashy and as slick as Apple's hardware
iconfactorycorey: I think they will add more user customizable features ... if not, developers will
alanosx: II think I see hints towards animated icons as well. They'll really need your services then!!!
iconfactorycorey: They did refer quite frequently to animated icons at WWDC
iconfactorycorey: but in am informational context, like Mail.app
iconfactorycorey: showing you how many messages are waiting
alanosx: Developer heed this warning...out-source!
alanosx: Sometimes... it is hard to know all that your app can and will do...until you know what it looks like. iconfactorycorey: l'm just thinking about IconBuilder
alanosx: Oh yeah...I tried that out.
iconfactorycorey: What did you think?
alanosx: I really liked it...
alanosx: It is a really helpful tool...
alanosx: especially for me when it comes to the final compositing of the icon...
alanosx: I do all my graphics work in 9...
alanosx: why go to X to test it out?
iconfactorycorey: We can help your app be a "good citizen" in OS X starting with the icon
alanosx: Prefer to use Photoshop anyway...and it works as a plug in.
alanosx: Great preview tools as well.
iconfactorycorey: It started an internal tool to make it easier for us
alanosx: It brings the best of Icon Browser...and Composer together in many respects.
iconfactorycorey: gradually got to the commercial quality level and is very popular with designers
alanosx: And it works for Windows icons too!
iconfactorycorey: you are in Photoshop anyway, why drop out to another editor?
iconfactorycorey: new version coming soon with XP support and a few other new features
iconfactorycorey: no need to deal with masks, IconBuilder does it for you
OReillyMac: OK guys ...
OReillyMac: this has been terrific
alanosx: Thanks for stopping by Corey.
iconfactorycorey: Thanks for inviting me!
OReillyMac: Alright. It's a wrap!
Derrick Story is the author of The Photoshop CS4 Companion for Photographers, The Digital Photography Companion, and Digital Photography Hacks, and coauthor of iPhoto: The Missing Manual, with David Pogue. You can follow him on Twitter or visit www.thedigitalstory.com.
Read more Writers' Talk columns.
Return to the Mac DevCenter.