Thursday, April 24, 2008

Cloning your Corporate UI with HTML DB - Part V (Re-Post)

The following is a re-post of the "Cloning your Corporate UI with HTML DB" series that I blogged about back in 2005 on the now-defunct Orablogs site. Most of the content and advise is still the same today, and has been reposted here exactly as it was on the old site.

July 8, 2005
Finally! I just deployed the new look for both Oracle HTML DB Studio & Oracle HTML DB References. (I'll get to Best Practices PL/SQL a bit later today - have to do some customer calls first)

I basically gave up on the DHTML menus - it was taking too much time and overall, I think it just didn't add enough value for me to keep pulling my hair out over. The base OTN Menus are there - clicking on them brings you to the appropriate page in OTN - where the menus work just fine...

I did get a little over ambitious, and decided to give the splash page of both Studio & References a make-over. Check them out:

Both of them now "look & feel" like the rest of OTN & oracle.com, making it a more seamless experience for users. And it wasn't all that difficult to pull off, either. Most of the graphics were lifted from either our corporate artwork repository or oracle.com, as was most of the underlying HTML. All you have to do is peek at the HTML source, copy it into your static (or dynamic) region, and then the page, making adjustments when and where they are needed. It was more of an iterative process, not a difficult one.

The only thing that may not seem obvious is how I got gray backgrounds on all of the corporate logos. This was done using the Color Replacer tool in Paint Shop Pro. The Color Replacer tool does what you would think - replaces color A with color B. It was as simple as setting color A to white (#FFFFFF) and color B to a light gray (#EEEEEE) and painting in a new background color. It helps when you have the right tool for the job!

That about wraps up this series. I hope that people learned something about what it takes to create a new Theme in HTML DB based on an existing corporate standard. I like to explain it as part art, part science. You not only need to be skilled in HTML, DHTML, CSS, etc., but you need an eye for good design. It helps to be a perfectionist and pay attention to details, but don't let that consume you, as most people won't notice (or even if they do, won't care about) the slight imperfections. Have a good weekend!

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