All posts by Pariah S. Burke

Passion Drives First Blog Network for Creative Pros


Designorati is building a 360-degree view of the creative world while revolutionizing the blogging revolution.

PORTLAND, Ore.—22 Sept., 2005—, the first blog network exclusively for creative professionals, by creative professionals, and driven by passion, officially debuted today. Beginning with nine Topics ranging from Graphic Design and Illustration through Creative Culture and Strategy, Designorati’s mission of reporting on all professional creative disciplines and concerns is well underway.

“First and foremost, Designorati is about passion,” says Publisher and founder, Pariah S. Burke. “Creation is passion, and any writing about, or in support of, passion must itself arise from passion.

“Creative professionals are not creatives because we chose to be, but because we must be. Somewhere, deep inside each of us, is an undeniable compulsion to create, whether that’s with pixels, ink, fabric, metal, or words. Designorati is written to the passion in every creative, and by the same passion within the members of Team:Designorati—the peers of every working creative.”

Designorati is about what moves you, creatively,” explains Samuel John Klein, editor of Designorati:Cartography and Designorati:Typography. “We stand on the shoulders of giants; our passion makes us look deep into the roots of what we love, and informs what we do now. Designorati looks to liberate those sources of inspiration, and drive those passions even further.”

Creative Fields and Designorati Topics

Designorati is divided into Topics, self-contained websites devoted to areas of focus corresponding to working creatives’ interests. Topics such as Designorati:Graphic Design, Designorati:Illustration, Designorati:Desktop Publishing, and Designorati:Web Design often speak to the tools and techniques of their respective and broad creative disciplines, other Topics zero in on creative interests that have largely gone unrecognized.

Topics like Designorati:Strategy, which addresses workflows and high-level decision-makers, and Designorati:In-House, the first such site devoted entirely to the unsung heroes of in-house corporate design, provide views upon those areas of the creative world that rarely see the light of editorial.

Designorati:Creative Culture lives up to its mission and tagline of “you are more than your work” by speaking to the culture of professional creatives. While other Topics speak to the vocation of creatives, addressing such subjects as copyrights for creatives, software tutorials, and effective use of typography, Designorati:Creative Culture feeds the creative’s soul with news and opinion on music, fashion, toys, gadgets, gear, and sources of inspiration.

Currently Designorati features nine Topics:

  • Designorati:Cartography
  • Designorati:Creative Culture
  • Designorati:Desktop Publishing
  • Designorati:Graphic Design
  • Designorati:Illustration
  • Designorati:In-House
  • Designorati:Strategy
  • Designorati:Typography
  • Designorati:Web Design

According to Cate Indiano, author of Adobe InDesign CS2 @work and editor of Designorati:Strategy: “The world of design is multi-dimensional and I can’t think of a single resource that covers all aspects of its many disciplines. What a great way to stay informed, experience thought provoking dialog about the industry and enhance your existing skill set with useful instruction. Designorati is a ‘one-stop shop’ for anyone who creatively communicates for a living.”

In time Designorati will encompass Topics representative of all areas of professional creativity, written some of the most passionate people working in those areas. Additional Topics are already in development, and passionate, talented editors and writers with new Topic ideas are being actively recruited.

A tenth Topic, Designorati:360 Blog, chronicles the operations of, and provides an insider’s view into, Designorati itself.

A Revolutionary Partnership

Although radical, the fact that every Designorati editor and writer shares in an equal split of 50% of the site’s gross revenue, is not what makes Designorati’s business model revolutionary. Neither is the fact that editors and writers retain the copyrights in and to the work they publish on Designorati. What makes Designorati’s business model truly revolutionary in both the worlds of professional media and blogging is that its editors and writers will own it.

“Designorati defines the word equity as it should be defined: Ownership and interest in Designorati itself,” states Burke. “No other blogging network or media has ever offered genuine equity—and meant it.” Each Designorati editor and writer who spends one year writing consistently and well; being a team player; upholding the Designorati values of integrity, honor, fairness, respect, and honesty, and; helping to build the brands of Designorati and its Topics, will earn partnership in the company.

A Revolutionary Blog Network

Another hallmark of Designorati’s singularity in the blogging world is its strong concentration on quality ahead of quantity. Designorati staff members are required to publish a minimum of only three full-length articles or ten short (fewer than 500 word) articles per month—a sharp contrast to the triple-digit monthly requirements of other blogging networks.

With fewer articles due per month, Designorati’s editors and writers are freed to spend the time necessary to research and write articles of quality and substance. The team nature of Designorati, which enables every editor and writer to publish on any Designorati Topic site, keeps content fresh and constantly informative without exerting undue pressure on any one team member.

Designorati views itself as part blog network, part traditional news media, practicing what it calls Next Generation Journalism.

Burke explains the distinction: “I’m reluctant to call Designorati a ‘blog network.’ Out there are some amazing and professionally written blogs—most of the Designorati founding members have created and written professional blogs themselves—nevertheless the term ‘blog’ often equates in the public consciousness to conversational, maverick, and lacking in standardized practices. Designorati is at the forefront of Next Generation Journalism, which incorporates the best of blogging and traditional journalism into something else, something new.”

From blogs, Designorati takes self-editing, public accountability, instantaneous time to publication, and the belief that every article is a dialog between readers and writers. Unlike most blogs, however, it has a style guide like any magazine’s, and Team:Designorati adheres to journalistic ethics guidelines such as those established by the American Society of Magazine Editors.

“I am a member of Designorati because of what it stands for,” says Elisabetta Bruno, Designorati:Desktop Publishing editor. “I have passion for what I am doing—passion and a purpose I’ve had my whole life. Designorati takes that passion and carries its message throughout the designers’ world. Designorati looks at professional creativity from every angle—providing a 360-degree view of the creative world.”

Designorati is currently accepting applications for new writers on its existing Topics, as well as proposals for new Topics related to professional creativity.

About Designorati

Designorati ( strives to achieve a 360-Degree View of the Creative World by covering all areas of interest to the creative professions and creative culture. Designorati is published by Pariah S. Burke, the creator and editor-in-chief of Quark VS InDesign (, and the creator and former editor of the Design Weblog, the Magazine Design Weblog, and the (Unofficial) Photoshop Weblog for Weblogs, inc.

Team:Designorati members are located throughout the United States and around the world. Their bios and credentials are available at .

This document is permanently archived in the Press Room.

IE Developer Toolbar

Microsoft has released a free beta of the IE Developer Toolbar, which provides deep Web page exploration and modification, including:

  • Explore and modify the document object model (DOM) of a web page.
  • Locate and select specific elements on a web page through a variety of techniques.
  • Selectively disable Internet Explorer settings.
  • View HTML object class names, ID’s, and details such as link paths, tab index values, and access keys.
  • Outline tables, table cells, images, or selected tags.
  • Validate HTML, CSS, WAI, and RSS web feed links.
  • Display image dimensions, file sizes, path information, and alternate (ALT) text.
  • Immediately resize the browser window to 800×600 or a custom size.
  • Selectively clear the browser cache and saved cookies. Choose from all objects or those associated with a given domain.
  • Choose direct links to W3C specification references, the Internet Explorer team weblog (blog), and other resources.
  • Display a fully featured design ruler to help accurately align objects on your pages.

The IE Developer Toolbar can be pinned to the Internet Explorer browser window or floated separately.

[via What Do I Know?]

Limited Edition Adobe Messenger Bag Handsomely Totes Creative Gear

New limited-edition messenger bag from Adobe and MEDIUM carries all in style.

Featuring thermoformed pockets for stowing a 17-inch laptop, cell phone, keys, pens, and, of course, MP3 player, and stretch mesh pockets for cables and assorted other gadgets, the Adobe Messenger Bag is billed as the ultimate messenger bag for the creative professional. Stylish and feature-packed, it lives up to its billing–only a few quibbles hold it back from earning props as the ultimately styled messenger bag for the creative professional.

The new Adobe Messenger Bag by Adobe and MEDIUMThe new Adobe Messenger Bag by Adobe and MEDIUM

On commission from Adobe, Santa Barbara, California’s MEDIUM Design Group designed, proofed, and promotes the bag exclusively with Adobe Creative Suite 2 software–even the bag’s website was designed in GoLive CS2.

Emblazoned with the Adobe logo on the front and the MEDIUM logo on the back, the handsome Adobe Messenger Bag is crafted from 1.6-1.8mm tumbled full grain black leather and high-denier nylon and appointed with discrete red stitching. It features a toggle closure, top-mounted leather-wrapped carry handle, and an oversized shoulder strap, which distributes the weight of all that gear. Measuring 27 cm tall, 45 cm wide, and 10 cm thick, it’s big enough for your everyday commute, but clearly not intended as an overnighter.

Accommodating 10 – 17-inch laptops, the internal thermoformed sleeve is padded and suspended above the bag base–your laptop won’t hit the floor when the bag does.

Audiophiles–and in the age of iPod, who isn’t?–will benefit from more than just the MP3 player pocket. A slit in the exterior allows passage to headphones from the MP3 player stored inside, and routing clips built into the padded shoulder strap channel the wire from bag to head with minimal risk of snagging.

Opened roll-top.Opened roll-top.
Secured with nylon straps, a unique and not entirely obvious “roll-top closure system” appears to access the main pouch from above, and fold over to become the back flap–not unlike a backpack. We’re willing to give MEDIUM the benefit of the doubt and assume that the closure is more elegant than it appears in the product shots. Given the dual tightening straps, however, we have to wonder if the bag to store all creative gadgets can be opened and closed on the go and one-handed, as any messenger bag should.

The included tear-resistant nylon rain hood, which slips out from the rear pouch to wrap the entire satchel against the elements, is a nice touch. It does make one wonder if it was commissioned by the rainy Adobe Seattle office, though, because we just can’t see anyone in the sunny San Jose headquarters requiring rain protection. Unlike similar attempts to protect the gear protector, this one accommodates normal transportation by allowing the shoulder strap to protrude from the rain slicker. We would prefer to see the fitted rain slip in complementary black instead of silver.

The bag certainly is handsome from the front and sides, but for US$250, one would expect an all-leather bag–but this is a minor quibble. Even in nylon, the back panel stylishly compliments the design. We do, however, have to mark off for the shoulder and draw strap fasteners conspicuous on either side of the bag. Though they appear to be necessitated by the roll-top closure system, these black plastic pieces detract mightily from an otherwise dapper satchel.

The rain pouch.The rain pouch.
We travel with both a PowerBook and PC laptop. We already have the sleek Adobe padfolio and duffle, but can only hope that, if this collaboration between Adobe and MEDIUM proves successful, we’ll soon see another version of the Adobe Messenger Bag sporting dual suspended laptop sleeves.

The Adobe Messenger Bag is available for pre-order today for US$250.00, and will begin shipping 15 November 2005. To order, or for more information and photos, visit the official website.

Making PDFs: A Modern Primer

How to make high-quality PDFs: A primer summarizing the six methods available to almost anyone.

There are a great many questions going around lately about making PDFs. Between e-mail, the Graphic Design Resource Group, and this week alone I answered the following questions and misconceptions about creating PDFs:

“How do you save a photoshop file in acrobat pdf form?”

“A print shop once told me that if you simply type pdf after the title name you choose–it will change.”

“I find if you resave by ‘printing’ it through Distiller the file’s size is even smaller than anything you can save through Photoshop or Illustrator.”

“How can I reduce the size of a PDF that is first designed in photoshop and then saving it as PDF?”

“You can print to Distiller… (PDF distillation via PostScript) or you can save your Photoshop file as an EPS and drag it to the Distiller icon.”

“I was taught to stick with an EPS-to-Distiller workflow, though full PostScript files work fine for me too.”

“Anyone know of an easier way to make a press-ready PDF from Quark 6 on Mac than printing to [PostScript] and [Distilling]?”

“InDesign Shmindesign. Quark’s PDFs are at least printable!”

“Acrobat [6] Profesional is great for proofing clients, but what program can I use to send PDFs for press?”

Given the proliferation of questions and misconceptions, I thought a primer might be in order.

There are five main ways to make a PDF with the two most recent versions of Adobe Acrobat, versions 6 and 7. With certain other Adobe products–InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, and GoLive–there is a sixth way. With Adobe Acrobat versions 2-5, there was a seventh, now defunct, method. All seven methods of creating PDFs will be discussed succinctly below.

As Easy As Printing

1. The method most commonly known to most users is printing to an Acrobat virtual printer. In versions 6 & 7 this printer is called “Adobe PDF” or “Create Adobe PDF,” and it appears in the operating system’s printers folder just like any other printer. What makes this printer “virtual” is the fact that it creates a PDF file rather than printing ink to paper, like the Hewlett-Packard printer beside you would.

With this method, an opened document can be printed from any application on the system. In Notepad, for example, choosing Print from the File menu will present a list of installed printers, one of those being Adobe PDF or Create Adobe PDF. Simply select the printer and press the Print button. For more control over the quality, file size, and features of the resulting PDF, choose Properties, Printer Properties, or a similar button to access the Adobe PDF or Create Adobe PDF options. These options are virtually identical to those found in Distiller (see below).

PDFs printed in this manner have the same features and quality as any PDF created through Distiller, assuming the user has configured equal settings.

Distiller: It’s Not Just For Bathtubs Anymore

2. Creating a PDF directly through Acrobat Distiller. Distiller is the PDF creation engine at the heart of all modern Acrobat PDF-generation functions (it was not a part of PDFWriter noted below).

Acrobat Distiller is an application with a user interface unto itself. An icon, shortcut, or alias should be in the same location as the one for the main Acrobat application (e.g. “Adobe Acrobat Distiller 7.0″ with “Adobe Acrobat Professional 7.0″). By opening Distiller directly, different options for PDF creation become available. For example: Distiller will directly open and distill PostScript files (.PS) and Encapsulated PostScript files (.EPS).

PostScript files are typically entire print jobs printed from a host application to a .PS file–effectively printer language to draw the text and/or pictures from the host’s layout. When they are created expressly for manual processing through Distiller, the procedure is called the “two-step method” of PDF creation.

Encapsulated PostScript files are typically smaller than an entire job, often a single page or just a small drawing converted to the highly portable .EPS file format.

These and certain other file formats may be processed manually or semi-automatically through Distiller in one of three manners: 1) By opening them into Distiller with File > Open; 2) by dragging and dropping the files into the main Distiller window’s drop area, and; 3) by configuring a “watch folder,” a folder on the system that Distiller monitors, waiting for a convertable file to appear, at which point Distiller will automatically begin the conversion to PDF.

Click N’ Convert

3. In Acrobat versions 6 & 7 conversion support was added for more file types, as was support for on-demand conversion through the operating system’s contextual menu. On-demand conversion translates into the ability to right-click a .TIF or .HTML or other supported file and choose “Convert to Adobe PDF.” PDFs created via this method invoke Distiller, but the process is almost transparent; after choosing the right-click menu option, the user interaction is finished. Within a few moments a PDF version of the source file will appear, ready for printing, e-mailling, sharing, or burning.

Are You Ready to Meet Your PDFMaker?

4. Into certain non-Adobe applications Acrobat installs special features or plug-ins to enable a faster, more direct method of PDF creation than the universal means of printing to Adobe PDF or Create Adobe PDF available to all programs. In programs like Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, and (Windows-only, Acrobat 6 & 7 only) Internet Explorer, Acrobat versions 5, 6 & 7 install “PDF Maker,” a special tool created solely for these applications. PDF Maker enables one-click PDF generation from the currently active document.

While printing to Adobe PDF or Create Adobe PDF is, of course, available to these applications as well, using PDF Maker has certain special advantages. For example: Microsoft Word documents may contain clickable hyperlinks, bookmarks, a table of contents, and indexes. When printing to Adobe PDF or Create Adobe PDF, these special features appear exactly as they would when printed to an ink and paper printer, flat and non-clickable.

By using PDF Maker, however, hyperlinks in a Word document remain clickable hyperlinks in the resulting PDF. Bookmarks in Word become bookmarks in the PDF, which also become clickable entries in Acrobat’s or Reader’s Bookmarks tab. And, Word’s table of contents and indexes also become clickable and add entries to the Bookmarks tab, making navigation of longer PDFs extremely easy.

The special features imparted by PDF Maker vary with each host application–in Internet Explorer, for example, hyperlinks remain clickable, form fields turn into Acrobat PDF form fields (new to Acrobat 7), and Flash animations embedded in HTML embed into–and play within!–the resulting PDF file (Acrobat 6 & 7).

Inside Out

5. From within the Acrobat application itself PDFs may also be created by several means, including: Opening various supported file types as PDF–thus invoking Distiller hidden in the background; opening Web pages as PDFs; scanning into Acrobat, which automatically generates a PDF, and; splitting existing PDFs into multiple PDF files.

PDFs Without Acrobat

6. Setting aside the Acrobat application itself, Adobe’s other major creative products, their “point products,” can all natively generate PDFs, even without Acrobat installed on the system. InDesign Exports to PDF, Illustrator and Photoshop have PDF as a choice when saving new files, and GoLive can even automatically generate PDFs from a website layout (for proofing, for instance).

All of these non-Distiller PDFs from Adobe point products are 100% PDF. They are clean PostScript (the language on which PDF and press workflows are based), and they are press-ready (with the correct options). With InDesign, an entire book comprised of multiple chapters saved in separate InDesign files can even be converted to a single, solid PDF with no more work than exporting a single .INDD file to PDF!

All of the above six PDF-creation methods generate high-quality, press-ready PDFs. Or, they can generate low-resolution, small file size PDFs, depending entirely upon the options chosen by the user. No one method generates a higher quality PDF than any other, again, assuming all user configurable settings are equal.

The Red-Headed PDF Step-Child

7. The last method, which is fortunately no longer an option in the last two releases of Acrobat, is PDFWriter. A mainstay of Acrobat from versions 2 through 5 (though only installed in version 5 if the user deliberately chose to install it), PDFWriter was referred to as a “quick and dirty” PDF creation method. Its description was apt.

Unlike any Distiller or save/export PDF generation method, PDFWriter was solely a screen-resolution PDF creator. Its PDF files were the same quality as taking a screenshot or picture of the computer screen. It did not support special features like hyperlinks, bookmarks, transparency, or security. It could be printed, but the quality was was so poor printing on even the lowest quality printer was ill-advised. Contrasting sharply with PDFWriter’s 72 dots per inch PDFs were even sub-$100 home inkjet printers that produced 300 dpi printouts.

PDFWriter installed as a second virtual printer alongside Acrobat Distiller, which led to a great deal of user confusion. Users looked at the two choices in their applications’ Print dialogs and opted for the one that actually had “PDF” in the name; it was usually a poor choice, though most users didn’t realize it.

Because there were no options to configure, and because 72 dpi PDFs looked fine in the 72 dpi realm of computer screens, PDFWriter became the defacto standard for PDF file creation for many, many business users. Even if they recognized that PDF files made with this applet could never be printed on a printing press (typically 600-2400 dpi quality), PDFWriter’s lack of options made it more friendly than Distiller.

The world was awash with the lowest-quality PDFs possible, which is why Adobe discontinued PDFWriter after phasing it out with Acrobat version 5. The PDFWriter code itself had not been updated since Acrobat version 3, six years before. It was ancient technology, by all the standards that matter, and it needed to be done away with. Distiller-based engines are the only way to get quality PDFs.

Regrettably, many non-Adobe, usually free, PDF-creation applications and routines use the PDFWriter method. Thus, though PDFWriter itself is long gone, low quality PDFs are still being created by the ream.

Graduating PDF-U

As you can see, though Adobe discontinued PDFWriter, it also replaced it with several better ways to make PDF files. Anyone who has Acrobat 6 (released April 2003) or Acrobat 7 (released December 2004) installed, has at least four distinctly different means of creating PDFs. With Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Visio; AutoDesk’s AutoCad, or; Windows Internet Explorer a fifth and faster means becomes available. With all Adobe Creative Suite (1 or 2) point products, with or without Acrobat, an even easier Save or Export PDF creation means opens up.

Of them all, the two-step method for creating PDFs is the most labor intensive with its print to PostScript then Distill methodology. In years past, the two-step method was required for quality PDF output from many programs, most notably QuarkXPress. But with modern versions of Acrobat, printing to Adobe PDF or Create Adobe PDF is just as reliable and results in PDFs of the same highest quality. In fact, the two-step method has been relegated to the role of troubleshooting step, used only when the source application generates errors on printing.

Now, you have choice. Whichever of the above methods best fits your workflow, you may choose because now you know they exist and they work. The whole point of all these different methods of making PDFs is to give you, the creative, choice. Each method has its advantages and its special uses, like PDFMaker’s support for special features in Word, Excel, and other ubiquitous business applications. Some, like printing to Adobe PDF or Create Adobe PDF in any application capable of printing, are a broad catchall.

Making PDFs with Acrobat or other PDF-enabled programs is rapid, facile, and much, much more plentiful than most realize. Try out these methods and dispell your misconceptions about the need to take extraordinary measures to make press-ready PDFs. In most cases, it’s as simple as printing or saving.

About: Designorati:Graphic Design

Established September 2005

Graphic design is everywhere, in every product, package, poster, and product of the modern world. Although the graphic design discipline was created less than a century ago, the world has since come to rely upon it. The world simply cannot function without graphic design and graphic designers.

Yet graphic design is broader than any other creative profession. It is the third largest profession in the United States, far ahead of more commonly understood and respected vocations such as attorney, accountant, and educator. Graphic designers, who run the gamut from after-hours moonlighter through freelancer, solo- and team-creative, to agency and corporate designers, work in every city, town, and village in the world.

Graphic design impacts everything and everyone. Designorati:Graphic Design impacts the graphic designer.

About: Designorati:Creative Culture

Established September 2005

Tools and techniques are the hallmarks of the creative professions. But are they hallmarks of the creative individual?

Creatives strive to express, expose, and expand their souls through their work, but their work does not define them. A soul as open and intuitive as the creative’s is beautiful and rare. That beauty unlocks the universe to the creative mind, and that rarity unites creatives into communities–into a culture all their own.

Designorati:Creative Culture serves the creative community, speaking to the creative’s soul. You are a creative. Your work is the business of dreaming, of wondering, of creating. But you are more than your work.