is a blog about design, technology and culture written by Khoi Vinh, and has been more or less continuously published since December 2000 in New York City. Khoi is currently Principal Designer at Adobe, Design Chair at Wildcard and co-founder of Kidpost. Previously, Khoi was co-founder and CEO of Mixel (acquired by Etsy, Inc.), Design Director of The New York Times Online, and co-founder of the design studio Behavior, LLC. He is the author of “Ordering Disorder: Grid Principles for Web Design,” and was named one of Fast Company’s “fifty most influential designers in America.” Khoi lives in Crown Heights, Brooklyn with his wife and three children. Refer to the advertising and sponsorship page for inquiries.+
I firmly believe that we’re in a golden age for design software. The space has gotten so robust with new players, and there’s more great stuff to come. One of the long-brewing projects that I’ve been keeping my eye on is Skala from Marc Edwards and Bjango. Edwards has been working hard to get that app launched, but along the way he’s been releasing interesting, very promising bits of its functionality as standalone utilities. One of them, Skala Color gets a major update today.
This is what Edwards had to say about Skala in an email exchange we had last week:
When we began work on Skala, we decided it could be good to break out some features into separate apps. Doing so helps ensure those modules are well tested, and creates awareness Skala is coming (we’re a tiny company, so we can’t afford expensive ads).
We released Skala’s device previewing as Skala Preview. Skala Color was created to tackle our color picker. I had some important requirements for it:
The color picker had to be compact. Any pixels used to show the picker would be pixels not used to show artwork, so space efficiency is critical.
Accuracy is paramount. Skala is a professional tool, so it must be able to target any colour value easily.
A wide range of formats are needed. It’s common for designers and developers to need colours formatted for CSS, Swift, Objective-C etc.
Edwards addressed the first two points with finely tuned hue and opacity sliders. When the user drags them, a 4X enlargement opens that lets users “roughly” target a specific color, and then move the mouse pointer for more precise selection. As a result, a slider that’s only 100 pixels wide can expose four hundred unique colors. “More accuracy, in less space,” he said.
Skala Color also monitors the clipboard and, if it recognizes that a color in a known format is present, it shows a button in the correct color, which allows the user to select that color in a single click. Edwards told me: “If you’re using Skala Color to move colours between apps, it can be done with a single copy of the text, then a single click in the second app (and in many different formats).”
OS X’s color picker, like its Fonts panel, has been neglected by Apple for so long that it’s refreshing to see this kind of thoughtfulness and care put into a critical component of any screen designer’s toolbox. Get Skala Color 2 for free at bjango.com.+