Slammer guides web designers

Slammer is slang for jail, but Slammer is also a grid tool for Mac OS X. With Slammer, designers can create grids for web pages or even interfaces. In that respect, it’s even better than xScope.

Slammer runs only on Snow Leopard, so if you’re still using Leopard, you’re out of luck. Because it only runs on Snow Leopard, its range of potential users is more limited than xScope, while offering little in terms of more functionality. However, Slammer is superior to xScope when it comes to creating and managing grids.

Slammer’s developer calls his tool a Designer’s Geometry box and that pretty much sums it up. When you start Slammer for the first time, you’ll see a reasonably big box appear with measurement scales both horizontally and vertically. To be quite honest, I find Slammer an ugly beast, even after changing ‘skins’. My beloved xScope looks far better, but also t be honest: I hate setting up a grid with xScope because it takes far too long to do so and even when everything is grouped or connected together, the whole grid thing just isn’t xScope’s strongest feature.

In contrast, Slammer does offer a measuring ruler and almost all of the other functionality that xScope delivers including a loupe for colour picking, but it really shines when you’re setting up grids. The box keeps everything neatly together. There is an Inspector that enables you to set up your grid. In my opinion, that Inspector should be much smaller, or the interface should be different, less intruding. Right now, on my 1600 x 1200 screen, the Inspector constantly sits in the way of the box.

The Inspector gives you access to all of Slammers’ grid capabilities. It allows you to set up multiple different column and row settings, and turn them on and off individually. You can create templates, you can keep settings grouped together, etc, etc. The possibilities are virtually endless. The grids that you can create are as well: use Fibonacci, the Golden Ratio, or just Uniform to set up your grid and Slammer will give you a hedstart by filling in the blanks with useful defaults.

Slammer will even become virtually silent if you want it to: in its ‘click-through’ mode you can make Slammer visible but untouchable. Do whatever you want to in your design, but in this mode, the grid just stays where it is. Very efficient, I found.

The measurement and loupe tools are well done too, but xScope offers more flexibility in these areas because it basically uses your whole screen as its operating theater, while Slammer only uses its box.

Having said all that, I do think Slammer is a great addition to a designer’s toolbox. If you have to choose between xScope and Slammer you have my sympathy; I wouldn’t know what to recommend using objective criteria. If I had to buy a tool like Slammer or xScope, and I could afford it, I’d buy them both! Slammer costs 20.00 USD – xScope is yours for 27.00 USD.

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