Monday, August 30, 2010

Demystifying Droplets

Droplets are mini-applications you can create from ImageReady or Photoshop and apply to a single file or use to batch process a collection of files. Here are some tips for understanding and using droplets.
Optimization Droplets
The simplest droplet is one created from the Optimize palette in ImageReady. This kind of droplet contains only optimization settings and is used to optimize one or more files by applying the same optimization settings, as you did in the second project in this chapter, Making Multiple Web Graphics.
To create a droplet from ImageReady's Optimize palette, drag the droplet icon from that palette onto your desktop. Alternatively, click the droplet icon in the Optimize palette and choose a droplet name and location, or click the side arrow on the Optimize palette and choose Create Droplet.

Action Droplets

The other kind of droplet is one created from an action in either Photoshop or ImageReady. This kind of droplet can contain any action you create in the corresponding program. It is used to batch process multiple files with that action. In ImageReady, a droplet is the only way to batch process an action. In Photoshop, you can batch process an action either by dragging a folder of files onto a droplet or by using the Automate>Batch Process command from the File menu at the top of the screen or from the File menu in the File Browser, as you did in the first project in this chapter, Batch Processing Photo Thumbnails.
To create a droplet from an action in ImageReady, click the side arrow on ImageReady's Actions palette and choose Create Droplet. To create a droplet from an action in Photoshop, choose File>Automate>Create Droplet and specify the action set and action in the Create Droplet dialog box that opens.

Including a Droplet in an Action

When you create an action in ImageReady, you can specify optimization settings to be applied along with the other steps in the action by choosing optimization settings in the Optimize palette and then dragging the droplet icon from the Optimize palette into the action in the Actions palette. Set Optimization To [the format you chose in the Optimize palette] will appear as a step in the action, just above the selected step. Note that you cannot drag a droplet from your hard drive into the Actions palette.
Cross-Platform Droplets

Droplets can be used across Windows and Macintosh platforms. To use a Photoshop droplet created in Windows on a Mac, drag the droplet onto the Photoshop icon in your OS X dock (or drag an ImageReady droplet onto the ImageReady icon in your dock).
To use a droplet created on a Mac in Windows, change the extension on the droplet file name to .exe, because it is an executable mini-program.
Applying a Droplet to a Slice
In ImageReady, a droplet containing optimization settings can be applied to optimize an entire image, or alternatively to optimize selected slices in an image. To apply an optimization droplet to a slice, choose settings in ImageReady's Optimize palette, and then drag the Droplet icon from the Optimize palette onto the slice in the document window. You cannot drag a droplet from your hard drive onto a slice.
Editing a Droplet
In ImageReady you can edit a droplet directly. Double-click an ImageReady droplet to open the droplet window. That window contains a list of all the steps in the action. In the droplet window, you can delete a step by dragging it to the Trash icon at the bottom of the window, or you can click and drag steps to rearrange them. In Photoshop you edit the underlying action and create a new droplet.
Droplet Batch Options
In ImageReady, you can set options for how a droplet will be applied to a batch of files by double-clicking the droplet to open the droplet window, and then double-clicking Batch Options at the top of the droplet window. This opens the Batch Options dialog box. In that dialog box you can choose whether to save original files in addition to optimized files, and where to save the optimized files. You can specify how to name any duplicate files to avoid overwriting files, and you can instruct ImageReady to create file names that are appropriate for various operating systems. Among the Playback settings are options to display images while they are being processed and to pause before saving each image. In Photoshop, batch processing options are located in the Create Droplet dialog box and are the same as the batch options covered in the Batch Processing Photo Thumbnails project earlier in this tutorial. 
In this tutorial:
  1. Automation
  2. Batch Processing Photo Thumbnails
  3. Making the Most of Actions
  4. Making Multiple Web Graphics
  5. Demystifying Droplets
  6. Preparing Photos for Web with Conditional Actions
  7. Design Multiple Pages in a Single File
  8. Linking HTML Pages from Layer Comps
  9. Outputting Multiple Linked Web Pages
  10. Creating Dynamic Flash Web Banners
  11. Creating and Importing External Data Sets

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