People working in the fields of computers and information technology; from programmers and dedicated network engineers to creative graphic designers will all agree with the adage: ‘Reuse and Recycle’.
Now, what is meant by reuse and recycle? Let’s take an example from the point of view of a designer. He has been handed a project to design the GUI for an online games portal. Logos, color scheme, and content have been provided. Out of sheer habit, he opens his favorite layout software and starts to visualize the layout. For reference, he goes through many other sites dealing in online games and stuff.
Here an experienced designer will certainly go into details like navigation structure, usability issues, target audience, and media to be used (flash, html, etc.) for that particular project. By knowing these things, he may start his work in the same software, which the previous artists had chosen but with a few distinct differences. This artist knows that his site will be accessed more by viewers having 1024 x 768 screen resolution or more, and 90% of them will be equipped with flash players. Also, he is using the plug-in, as he knows that 75% or more users will have a broadband connection.
The artist now thinks more like a flash designer than a graphic designer. He is a clever guy reusing his experience for future work and he has already made templates with basic dimensions separately created for different screen resolutions. He opens one of them, saves this as a new file called ‘GameNFame.com’ and now relies on all his creative juices to work. Once he is through with the design, he even has a CSS template ready, for changing the look of the browser scroll bars. He has to simply change a few color codes and he has a page ready for its first test ride.
Let’s take another example of an ASP programmer. He has been told to code a simple contact form with 9 odd text fields and 2 drop-downs, which on submission by the user, must reach ‘email@example.com’.
To start off, let’s assume this person is not an experienced programmer and yet he is a clever one. He has access to one of the previous forms made in ASP by another programmer. He simply saves the file as “newform.asp” and changes the field names, deletes, and adds new fields if necessary and pastes the design below the main ASP code, thereby enabling his page to work. This is called recycling the work.
Though the above two examples may sound basically simple and largely used by people around the globe, the same formula, if used in more complex and time-consuming jobs, can save hours of work in a single day. For instance, recording and creating “Actions” in Photoshop saves plenty of time, if the job involves scanning hundreds of photographs, applying “Sharpen” effects to files, etc.
If you study the WYSIWYG editors available today, you will understand that they work on the same principle. Templates are ready for different files like HTML, CSS, XHTML, PHP, etc., and a programmer has the basic code ready when he opens the software and a new file.
Today’s world is filled with templates and nobody has the time to wait and wonder. If you know what you require, then don’t wait; simply grab a template and get to work. It’s too bad that there are no such templates to write an article.