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Easel (YC S12) launches as an easier way to design for the web in your browser (techcrunch.com)
82 points by mcolyer on Aug 7, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 26 comments

Excited to see where this goes - the team is spot on that

"The current web design process is broken. People use image editing tools for creation, share screenshots/flat exports over email, and spend more time than necessary manually translating the design into a working product."

Certainly the future of application design should be with tools that understand the medium and the process.

> Certainly the future of application design should be with tools that understand the medium and the process.

This. The reason why web-design is very hard to abstract out into a Photoshop-like app is that because non-trivial websites are at their core, a fundamentally different medium than anything that Photoshop-familiar-designers are trained to create.

To treat the transition from visual-sketch to working-website as just some tedious code-work that gets in the way of brilliance and implementation is missing the point...the brilliance IS typically in the code that implements the vision in such a way that the site is maintainable and graceful across different platforms and screensizes.

Great, now it's even easier for people like me with no talent for design to make horrendous UIs.

Edit: For a more helpful comment, they really need some <input type=number> things in there. You now, TSpinEdits (any Delphi users out there?). Number controls.

I've gotta agree on this one. Generally all I can think when I use browser-based design tools is how much faster/easier it would be for me to go into Photoshop or better, the code itself.

I think the biggest flaw in these apps is they start people with either an amateur design or a blank template instead of exposing the grids and guides that define a website (and further define the limitations of web design) right off the bat. Even though it starts as a blank page, I love Alex Maccaw's Stylo (http://styloapp.com/) because the tools are simple and familiar, they don't overburden the page I'm focusing on and it creates smart guides that show up when I've got two elements on the same plane. It's the only one of these apps I've tried that actually extends my creativity and doesn't end up taking me longer to design something I like between clunky UI elements or trying to figure out what everything does.

Haha, I'm honored (and slightly amazed) that people are using it in production.

Hey, perhaps I'm missing something, but could you add a button to show the styles on an element, somehow? Thanks!

Stylo is very nice. The fact it has, well, grid lines is very helpful. It's more limited, sure, but it looks like I can actually build layouts with this thing, not just fancy gradients.

I've been using it regularly and I find the opposite is true. Right now it's great for generating snippets of styled elements, and I know they are working on making it easier to do much more. I'm really excited about where they are going. Good luck!

A lot of these services bring back some horrible memories from Geocities days.

CSS3 and HTML5 brings back bad memories. It's easy to abuse, I've done it myself intentionally here: http://cats4gold.net/ostar/ - CSS 2D transforms, CSS background-size, CSS3 selectors, HTML5 audio and JavaScript.

Love it. Here's another great demonstration of CSS3's potential for abuse: http://davisparker.com/OHGOD/index.html


I can't wait until those christian revelation ministry sites (one in particular I can't remember the name of) get a hold of this stuff. They were excellent at abusing DHTML.


As an aside, have you tried any of those binaural beats? Is that part of the joke, or something that you actually enjoy?

Oh I've tried it. It's not really as good as they claim, I reckon a good part of it is placebo.

By the way, the site is actually a collaboration between me and two others. Orangestar had put up some binaural beat files on his website, so cats4gold and I jokingly made this site in his name to promote them. And then it kinda grew fr m there.

If you enter the site, you'll notice it is not actually one site, but three linked together.

We've been using Easel to quickly prototype new designs for Vayable, and we're pretty happy with it. It's way more convenient to send around easel links than mucking with Photoshop files.

Congrats to Easel! Keep going!


Really impressive to see how fast these guys are iterating. Excited to see where this goes.

Just tried it. Really cool. I have one question though. The option to right click and "Export HTML/CSS" only exports the current selected widget and not the entire grid/layout. That would be awesome if possible :)

I think that's intentional. The web doesn't need more fixed-size, absolutely-positioned-everything sites.

Easel aims to be a design tool, I think, to help you in coding and designing sites, but won't do all of the former for you.

Exactly what we are thinking.

We realize that it's a difficult problem to create good markup but that doesn't mean we can't help. So we felt the best tradeoff was to give the CSS properties used so you can spend less time with the eyedropper tool.

There is an option to export the full page but we think it's best for quick prototypes.

File Menu > Generate All HTML/CSS

Getting the details right on individual CSS elements is one of things that always falls to the back of the priority queue. Easel seems like a fantastic option for quickly polishing up buttons, forms, etc, which adds up to a much better UI over time. Great job guys!


I love it! Some tabs would be awesome, as would multiple background images (just saying that because I'm having trouble with them today, I doubt many people use multiple images)

Well done. This solves a big problem for some. Enough said.

this is cool, but hope we won't see more terrible UIs from people with bad design sense

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