Some people assume that the cloud is just the internet, with a catchy new name. But in fact, the cloud actually uses the internet—or at least the powerful servers that run it—to store and share information. This is only one of several misconceptions that even designers and other web professionals sometimes have about the cloud; to get a thorough understanding, you can refer to a cloud computing guide.
The internet is both the benefit and the drawback of the cloud; you can reach your information from any enabled device, but you can’t reach anything if you can’t get a connection. Most of the time, however, this is not a problem; the major difficulty for most people using the cloud is the lesser issue of a slow or inconsistent connection. But this can almost always be overcome by following a few simple steps to improve your connection.
How Designers Can Utilize the Cloud
There are many great services on the cloud that are extremely useful to be aware of, and possibly to incorporate into your design process. Just a short list of the most popular includes:
- Dropbox: A service that enables easy storage and sharing of your files.
- Basecamp: A similar concept, except that it focuses on being a hub for group projects, with to-do lists, assignments, and other project-based features.
- Adobe Kuler: A database of color palettes, created by other designers. You can browse these palettes or make your own.
- GitHub: A host for website building that many web designers use to upload and share front-end framework and other components.
- CSSDesk: A place to experiment with your CSS that aids you in creating browser-compatible markup.
- GridFox: A Firefox extension that superimposes an editable grid over any webpage.
The Adobe Creative Cloud
While there are a lot of tools and services that designers can use on the cloud, nothing replaces Adobe products for most designers. So it’s fortunate that the company has been quick to adapt.
Available for both teams and individuals, Adobe is now offering a Creative Cloud monthly membership. With this new system, you get automatic access to new features as soon as they’re available, freeing subscribers from the tiresome process of purchasing and downloading updates. It’s definitely handy for when you need limited-time access to a program (such as providing software to a temporary employee), and for those who like to keep their programs up-to-date.
Furthermore, you can take advantage of the storage and sharing capacities that Adobe is now able to offer; you’re given full control over your files, with the ability to set bandwidth requirements, and enable downloads and comments. The service also provides a system for publishing new apps and websites; yet another way that the cloud can streamline your design process.
Adobe Creative Cloud is just one example of the kinds of seamless, powerful functionality that will soon be the norm in cloud computing. It’s the new frontier of the web, and designers of all kinds should take advantage of the opportunities it offers.
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