In a blog post dated 1st. May on Coding Horror, Jeff Atwood suggests that developers should learn to use a full featured graphics editor – and he very firmly does not believe it should be MS Paint. He says that we all need to learn the difference between JPG and PNG – Well Jeff I’ve news for you, many developers understand the difference very well – they also understand the difference between loss-less and lossy compressions and the various ways that an image can be represented in a file format. This is stuff they work with all the time – files, software – stuff like that.
Now for my part, I can use (yes) MS Paint to knock up a button or two – or even create a web page title bar as a gif image of a fancy font but when it comes down to real graphic design then I go to an expert. My expertise is application design coupled to a reasonable competence in several programming languages but I know to leave graphics to the experts - just as I trust those same experts will leave areas where I am competent to me.
By all means encourage developers to develop new skills – a new language would be favourite but let’s not belittle the skills of graphic designers by confusing those very real skills with competence in a graphic package’s user interface.
My developer’s graphics toolkit is:
MS Paint - for the basics although it is an amazing tool in the hands of an expert.
Formati 11 – to manipulate gifs
SmartDraw – for the odd diagram used in presentations or documentation
Easy Thumbnails – to resize and manipulate the compression/quality ratios of JPG’s
Each a simple tool and together they provide me with more than enough to ensure that I can deliver my designer’s graphics to the intended audience. That’s what it is about – delivering, not creating, graphical images.