shawn.blais

Shawn has worked as programmer and product designer for over 20 years, shipping several games on Steam and Playstation and dozens of apps on mobile. He has extensive programming experience with Dart, C#, ActionScript, SQL, PHP and Javascript and a deep proficiency with motion graphics and UX design. Shawn is currently the Technical Director for gskinner.

@tree_fortress

Introducing: Flokk – A Desktop App built with Flutter!

After several months of hard work, we’re excited to announce our latest collaboration with Google, Canonical, and the Flutter Team, it’s a cross-platform app called Flokk!

What is it?

Flokk is a Google Contacts Manager, targeting Desktop, that allows you to integrate the Twitter and GitHub activity of your friends and contacts. 

Building Flokk

Flokk was built using the latest master branch of Flutter, and targets Linux, macOS, and Windows (with Web-Support thrown in as a bonus!). We spent a lot of time trying to make it feel like a native Desktop App and are extremely happy with the results. In the end performance was great across all the desktop platforms and rendering was extremely consistent. Flutter Desktop really looks like it could be poised for great things.

We worked closely with the Flutter team throughout the project to identify issues and develop workarounds. We will be posting more in the next couple of weeks about the architecture we used, challenges we faced, and some of the specific solutions we came up with.  

In the meantime you can check out the code right now! The entire project is open-sourced on GitHub at https://github.com/gskinnerTeam/flokk. We’re excited to see what the community does with this project, and encourage you to clone or fork the repository and jump into the code. 

Additionally we’ve posted builds for all operating system and web:

What’s Next?

The current build is in a “production ready” state, but there were still a number of loose ends and features we were hoping to add, including a better narrow-mode menu and animated side-menu. In the coming weeks and months, we’ll be posting additional updates, and logging issues in Git for the community to potentially look at.

Cinema 4D Lite vs Blender

I’ve been recently learning Cinema 4D Lite in my professional development time at gskinner and comparing it to Blender 2.8. After having spent time in both pieces of software, I wanted to share the pros and cons of using these 3D tools. So here is what I know you’ve all been waiting for: the C4D Lite vs. Blender Battle of 2020!

Battle of the Software!

Rotating bottle of hot sauce made in Cinema 4D Lite
Rotating bottle of hot sauce made in Blender

I couldn’t think of a better way to test two 3D packages than with a hot sauce bottle showdown. Using both C4D Lite and Blender, I tried to create the same scene to showcase the abilities of both.

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Flutter: The new ‘animations’ package explained

The Flutter team recently dropped a great new transitions package, based on the new Material 2 design spec, the somewhat ambiguously-named: animations package.

SharedAxis Example

They are super cool to look at and appear to be highly performant. The only issue? The examples they’ve provided with the package are pretty hard to follow (coming in at close to 1500 lines!) and there’s no code snippets at all in the README.

But fear not! This package is actually extremely simple to use once you clear away the noise, and can see how it works.

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Creating Efficient Designer and Developer Collaboration

Flutter Vignettes Showreel
Flutter Vignettes Showreel 2019. Click here to see a full video

It’s already been 2 months since our team finished the Flutter Vignette project and gave a talk at Flutter Interact ’19. Throughout the project, we were able to maintain a healthy designer-developer relationship, which was the key to the successful completion of the project. I want to share 5 things that helped us build an effective and efficient collaboration between designers and developers.

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Making Data Digestible: Tips to Improve Your Dashboard Designs

As the amount of data in the world increases, so does the need for designers to know how to visualize that data. Since at gskinner we have to work with quite a variety of data sets, I thought it was a good idea to brush up my data visualization skills.

Image of book covers of Information Dashboard Design and The Visual Display of Quantitative Information

I read Information Dashboard Design by Stephen Few and The Visual Display of Quantitative Information by Edward R. Tufte to get a better understanding of the principles and theories behind data visualization. In this post, I’ll share some valuable take-aways from these books that you can apply to your designs.

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