How to Create an Image Selection Plugin for tinyMCE with Ruby on Rails

Posted August 23, 2007 by Dan
Categories: User Interface

TinyMCE is a great content editor written in javascript from the folks at Moxiecode systems. We created a plugin for tinyMCE that allows users to select images from a selection of thumbnails instead of having to type a URL into a popup. This is part one of a two part tutorial on creating a custom tinyMCE plugin for image selection. Part one covers the basics of getting the plugin created. Part two will add image upload functionality. At the end of this tutorial you should have a tinyMCE popup window like this:


Some administrative details before we get started. You will need a couple things before you can follow along:

  1. A working rails project and some images.
  2. TinyMCE installed and working – A tutorial for that is here

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UI Tip: Be Physical & Real

Posted June 1, 2007 by Matt
Categories: User Interface

BuzzWord (Beta)I was playing around with a new web app the other day, called BuzzWord. I play around with as many new services as I can so I can get as many ideas as I can for new styles of user interface. (Screenshot included). Despite the fact that it was flash (I said it!), something struck me about the program: it was a joy to use. But I couldn’t figure out why. I knew I definitely didn’t get that feeling from using another online word processor.

Google Doc
And then it hit me – it actually graphically displayed the concept of pages, and more natural spacing between words. And that made all the difference. I started looking around the web a bit more, and indeed, many layouts are starting to incorporate more real-life physicality and images into their layouts. It just makes people want to use the applications more. Don’t get me wrong – features are equally if not more important too (which is why I will continue to use the product displayed on the left). There is a company that is doing this really well right now: Apple. If you look at their products, from the iPod, to Pages, to iTunes, many of them incorporate real life, realistic graphics, not to mention a great tactile experience.

The new Microsoft Surface

… And then I saw Microsoft Surface (at techcrunch, of course!). I have been koolaided. Multi-input, context aware, graphical interface is the next biggest thing in user experience since the window manager and the mouse! Yes, it’s been around since the ’80s, yes other companies might succeed over Microsoft at making this actually work, but the possibilities with this are endless. Combine it with a Wii controller (or something that takes gestures from a distance away), and you’re golden. Put your planner on the surface, and all your favorite web services talk to it and tell you what you should be doing when. Oy vey, I’m getting too excited – I need to rest.

Grading Web Sites on Their SEO

Posted May 21, 2007 by Matt
Categories: SEO

ThriveSmart Grade How do you stack up at the web site grader? This is a great tool to figure out how to improve your site in search rankings.

Sending ThriveSmart through it showed that there is a lot of room for improvement. Things like using H1 tags and making sure your title has important keywords in it are really important. Put more than just the name of your product!

Guess we’ll be spending a few days cleaning up the site. Big time. And adding ways for interested people to sign up for updates to our business, like a feed and a newsletter.