Responsive Design Made Easy

The Problem
As any designer not living under a rock the last year can tell you “responsive design” is the latest buzz word to take the industry by storm. While I believe that responsive design is a great and necessary thing, the problem pops up when a front end developer (that’s me) needs to incorporate this new technology into his current work flow. How can we take advantage of various screen sizes without devoting too much time and resources to study and trial-by-error?

The Solution
In an effort to become well versed in responsive design the Digital Brand Experience Team experimented with following three solutions:

1. A free software download that allows the user to set template parameters using an online tool and then exports out HTML/CSS that can be modified and tweaked in your favorite HTML editor.

2. Use a paid software from an industry giant that closely mimics existing design software that designers use day in and day out.

3. Writing the code from scratch using online guides and templates to get a base level of knowledge to hopefully expedite the learning/implementation process.

So, with that being said, today we are going to discuss option two. Since the Digital Brand Experience Team currently uses Adobe software through the Creative Cloud we were all curious/excited to give Adobes new preview software, Adobe Edge Reflow, a try.

Adobe Edge Reflow performs like 99% of the other Adobe products and is very easy to pick up if you have used Fireworks, Illustrator or InDesign for any length of time. I will give a brief overview on how the software works – if there is interest in going into more depth in a future blog post, let us know in the comments.

final screenFLAT

Edge Reflow is set up with your main canvas and a single toolbar to the left. All of our actions/settings can be controlled from this minimal view. There are four features that I would like to point out:

1. Four main selectors that allow you to select objects, create shapes, text, and graphics.

2. When one of these tools is selected the panel below changes to reflect different options and settings.

3. Canvas with a column grid and gutter width set to your liking.

4. The “plus” button is what allows you to set different break points for when your design will re-factor based on different screen sizes.

Since we all have a basic understanding of design software and how Adobe products behave, lets jump to a mock up already laid out in Edge Reflow.

final wide layoutFLAT

As you can see I laid out a very basic grid structure just for the sake of argument. Now for the fun part and where I think that Edge Reflow really shines. Easily manipulating the content on a smaller screen.

So, first, we are going to click the “plus” button in the top right corner (to set our break point). Once the button is pressed the entire bar lights up and you can drag the arrow to the width that you need. We are going to set ours to 320px for the iPhone.

final small width bad layoutFLAT

Now from the screenshot above you can see that this caused my layout to get a little squirrely. No need to freak out, adjusting this layout is as simple as setting up the the initial layout. You just need to resize and reorganize.

So, to fix this layout we are going to do a few things:

1. Change our column structure from 6 down to 1.

2. Reduce the top/bottom margin around the logo since we have less area to work with on mobile.

3. Reorient our main navigation and make the button size larger to account for tapping.

4. Reduce the size of our main banner graphic.

5. Adjust the body copy and right hand rail.

final small width good layoutFLAT

I wish you could have seen that in real-time, as it only took me 10-15 minutes to re-organize that layout.

Now that we have this done, how do we get the HTML/CSS exported so we can upload it to its final destination? Ah, you have found the main weak spot of Edge Reflow. I cannot figure out a way to export the code – which to me is a major stumbling block. The best I can figure is that under “view > preview in chrome” you can see the page in the browser. At that point you can view source and cut & paste the code out of the browser and into the HTML editor of your choice.

The Verdict
Edge Reflow is a very powerful tool that is very easy to pick up for any designer with a working knowledge of other Adobe products. You do not need any HTML/CSS experience and can do the entire layout through the visual interface. It is a great product for front end developers that are just getting their feet wet in the responsive design arena.

That being said I do have a few cons to point out:

1. Exporting HTML: Adobe really needs to come up with an “Export to Dreamweaver” feature. To me this is a no brainer and should have been included even in the preview release.

2. Editing someone else’s code: For me, it is not time efficient to make edits to someone else’s code. I always have problems finding a specific style or the main site structure is not laid out the way I would do it.

Final Thoughts: I am going to reserve this tool for quick prototyping when I need to show a rough responsive design to a client. Using this tool I can get the work done in an afternoon and be able to show the client a visual of what their site will look like on both a desktop and mobile screen. Today, I do not feel comfortable writing final website code with Edge Reflow—I will reserve that for writing the code from scratch.

Ben Vance
Senior Web Designer

March 2013 PU for SharePoint 2013 is available (and mandatory)

For those of you on SharePoint 2013, the March 2013 Public Update is now available with 30+ fixes as well as some performance and stability fixes around search . The good news is the SharePoint Server 2013 update contains the SharePoint Foundation 2013 update as well, so you only need to apply the one update. The bad news is that there is a change in the package configuration that requires you to install this update in order to install any future SharePoint updates.

The following are the KB links for the respective updates:

  • KB 2768000 – SharePoint Foundation 2013
  • KB 2767999 – SharePoint Server 2013
  • KB 2768001 – Project Server 2013

The Full Server Packages for March 2013 PU are available through the following links:

After installing the fixes you need to run the SharePoint 2013 Products Configuration Wizard on each machine in the farm. Additionally, if you are running Search Service Application in the farm, you will need to perform the following:


For those of you wondering the difference between and Public Update (PU) and a Cumulative Update (CU), a public update is a monthly release of general fixes and security updates applying to all customers where as a cumulative update is a bi-monthly release of specific hotfixes meant to address a specific customer(s) problem. CUs are often rolled into a PU later, as in this case where the February CU is rolled into this March PU.

Jason Condo, MCITP
Principal Consultant, Systems Management and Operations

Powershell – Get started with the low-hanging fruit

Much has been written about PowerShell (PS) cmdlets, whether they be the new ones available in v3, the Quest tools, those built into various products like SQL Server and Citrix XenDesktop, or the PSCX community extensions (to name just a few). These cmdlets are great, but don’t forget that PS is an object-oriented, interpreted scripting language, capable of taking advantage of .NET APIs and COM objects like IE and MS Word. Need to write a utility with a graphical interface so the help desk can easily provision a service for a user? Use the .NET System.Drawing and System.Windows.Forms namespaces. Want to open a web page repeatedly to ‘screen scrape’ it? Create a new object of type ‘InternetExplorer.Application’ and have at it!

Admittedly, there is a learning curve involved here, but here are some PS examples that allow you to use PowerShell quickly you may have overlooked:

1. Use the get-process cmdlet when tracking down the process that is causing performance problems. Combine that with the out-gridview and you can add additional selection criteria, and then select just the processes you want to output:

Get-process | out-gridview –passthru | fl

1a  1b 1c

2. The out-gridview is fine if you have a small amount of data, but you need more automation if you have a large base. Combining the built-in csvde.exe with import-csv lets you scale to larger sizes:

Csvde –f users.csv


$users = import-csv users.csv

$users | where {$_.sAMAccountName.StartsWith(“S”)} | select name


3. Let’s gather CPU, memory, and disk statistics. Let’s write a PS workflow (PSFW, new with v3) that will gather all of the statistics in parallel, then pass it an array of the performance counters provided by perfmon we want to examine:

Workflow gather_stats ($perfmoncounters)
    Foreach –parallel ($counter in $perfmoncounters)
      (Get-counter $counter). CounterSamples
$arr_perfmoncounters = ‘\Processor(_Total)\% Processor Time’, `
      ’\Memory\Available Bytes’, `
      ‘\PhysicalDisk(_Total)\% Disk Time’


4. MS Excel is a powerful tool. Can PS export data into a format Excel can use? Yes it can! This example uses the Quest ActiveRoles Management Shell for Active Directory (ARMS), but you could also use get-user from the Exchange PS management tools, etc., then export the results to a comma separated value (CSV) file that Excel can import:

Get-QADUser | Export-Csv -NoTypeInformation -Encoding OEM users.csv


MS Excel can open the resulting file, and you can sort, filter, etc., as you normally would inside Excel.

5. All of the examples I have given show how to read data, but what if you want to write data back into AD? No problem! Just combine the earlier examples to gather your data, then send the results into the built-in MS tool dsmod.exe:


And, since I am encouraging you to mix-and-match tools, what if you want to use the Quest ARMS commands and the Exchange cmdlets (for example) at the same time? Here’s a command that will load all of the PS modules you have installed on your system into a single PS session. Open up a PS window and use this command, courtesy of the Microsoft Scripting Guys:

Get-Module -ListAvailable | Import-Module


Just a caveat for those of you running Exchange 2007 or 2010: These products have not been updated to use v3 of PowerShell yet, so hold off installing it until MS says it is safe.

And for those of you who looked at remoting in v2: PS v2 introduced remoting, but v3 makes the whole thing more robust and reliable. If v2 remoting left you with a bad taste, give it a fresh try with v3 – I guarantee you will have a better experience!

John Scaggs, MCT, MCITP

Senior Consultant, Advanced Infrastructure Group