Bob Kepford

The personal web site of Bob Kepford.

Animated GIF Screencasts

We’ve all seen animated GIFs. I’m not sure when they came back into fashion but I’m a huge fan. I also love using screenshots and screencasts to communicate ideas and demonstrate functionality. The problem with screenshots is that they are static and screencasts take a lot of time time to produce and upload. This is where the animated GIF screencast comes in.

For the past few days I’ve wanted to create a few animated GIFs to show a client the interaction I have been working on but I wasn’t aware of any apps that would allow me to do this. A quick Google search led me to LICEcap.

An image of a focus styles on TheWeeklyDrop.com

LICEcap does exactly what I want and no more. Once you launch the app you can place the window over the part of the screen you want to capture, resize the capture area, and click the record button. You can set the frames per second but I just left it at the default 8 FPS and it worked perfectly. Once I was finished my capture I uploaded the GIF to the web using another one of my favorite apps Cloud App. I can see a ton of potential uses for these GIF screencasts. You can even use them in emails!

Update: I mistakenly stated that LICEcap was available on Linux

Oh, and LICEcap is free, open source, available for Mac and Windows.

Drupal Drupal Drupal - My New Gig

I’m happy to announce that in a few weeks I will begin working with the fine folks at Mediacurrent in the role of Senior Drupal Developer. MediaCurrent helps organizations built websites using Drupal. It’s also a distributed company based in Atlanta, Georgia so I will remain in the Central Valley). I’m very excited about the opportunity to work in growing Drupal shop that serves clients like Duke University, Nascar, the Miami Dolphins to name a few. My role there will be to translate client needs into a working Drupal web application that meets the client’s needs. If you know me, you know that I am passionate about the web, technology, and Drupal.

While I am excited about this new opportunity I will truly miss my friends and colleagues at Fresno Pacific. I’ve had a blast with the awesome crew there at FPU. It’s truly an amazing place full of awesome and talented people. I will dearly miss them.

Octopress & Jekyll

It’s funny how I have come full circle. The first version of this site was written in static HTML and here we are headed into 2013 and my site is once again a static HTML based site. Why? Well, if you know me you know that I have been using and building Drupal sites for a good while so why the change?

First off, I have not abandoned Drupal. I still think it is the best CMS we have. That said, I spend a ton of time working with Drupal and it is actually nice to use something else every now and then. I love Drupal but my site had been lagging behind on security updates. I’d rather spend my time writing blog posts. My favorite “feature” of Jekyll is that you don’t need a database. No more security updates, no more hassles.

Why Jekyll?

I’m a geek and love working on the commandline and with text files. I’ve been looking at different static site generators and I settled on Jekyll. Jekyll is written in Ruby and deployment is really easy. There are several ways you can host your Jekyll site including Github pages but since it produces static files I’ve opted for rsync the site to my server. When I want to update my site or write a post I simply open my text editor and go to town. When I’m done I type rake generate and then rake deploy. My entire site including the content is in a Git repo as well.

Why Octopress?

I looked at Jekyll but had been hearing good things about Octopress (by Brandon Mathis also check out HSLpicker.com) which is based on Jekyll. Octopress is basically a framework that is built on top of Jekyll but includes a ton of configuration that is not in Jekyll.

Octopress provides:

  • A semantic HTML5 template
  • A Mobile first responsive layout (rotate, or resize your browser and see)
  • Built in 3rd party support for Twitter, Google Plus One, Disqus Comments, Pinboard, Delicious, * and Google Analytics
  • An easy deployment strategy using Github pages or Rsync
  • Built in support for POW and Rack servers
  • Easy theming with Compass and Sass
  • A Beautiful Solarized syntax highlighting

I’m sure I could have went with Jekyll but my time was really limited. So far I’m really liking Octopress.

Transition

I’m very excited to announce that in a few weeks I will be transitioning into a new position as a Web Developer at Fresno Pacific University. I’ve known Lisa for some time and I’m super excited about working with her and the rest of the Communications team. In this new position I will be building and managing the public facing web sites and web applications for the University, most of which are Drupal based(Thanks Nick).

Five years ago I started working for State Center Consortium as a part time Webmaster. I’ve had a few bosses in that time span but Amanda Hopkins has been my boss for the majority of that time. She is an amazing person and leads a great team there, it’s been an honor to work with them. It’s rare that you can find a place where you can stretch out and try new things, learn new things, and have a real voice that is honored and respected. Gonna miss the folks at SCC but I’m excited about the future and my new role at FPU.

Git and the Commandline

If you are a web developer you should be using a version control system. In my opinion the best one is Git. Git is very powerful which means it can be a bit intimidating. The payoff is worth the learning curve though. Here are few resources that have helped me learn Git and the Commandline.

Even if you don’t use Git and instead choose to use something like SVN or Mercurial you will find it very valuable to learn how to use the commandline. Trust me.

Commandline Resources

These videos taught me so much about the commandline. They aren’t free but if you really want to learn a lot quickly they are worth every penny.

Git Resources

  • Pro Git: This was the first thing I read when I started with Git. Great book with a lot of good info. You can buy the paperback or read it online for free.
  • Git: Another great Peepcode video. I highly recommend this video. Really helped me wrap my head around Git.
  • Git Cheatsheet: An interactive Git cheatsheet.
  • GitHub: Do yourself a favor and just use Github. They make hosting your code so easy. Love them.
  • GitHub Help: Github also has some great Git resources. Check them out.

Here are a few other Git resources.

Git Clients I Recommend

  • Terminal. Yeah. I prefer the commandline
  • GitX GitX is the defacto standard client for Mac users. Not very feature rich, but it’s simple and fast.
  • GitX (L) My current client of choice. Mainly for viewing diffs
  • Git Tower It’s the best GUI client for Git I have ever seen. I don’t use it, but I know several developers who swear by it.

Once you are comfortable with Git you will wonder why you waited so long to start using it. It’s not just a way to version your code, it’s a really powerful tool to help you write better code.