Grid-type interfaces are almost an omnipresent navigation tool in most websites nowadays. It provides a clean and structured layout to effectively present visual data to the user. Unfortunately, its inherent structure is also one of grid’s pitfalls. As a consequence of the way data is laid out on a grid, there is this unwanted feeling of rigidness, inflexibility, and at certain extremes makes it feel boring.
Aware of the weakness of the grid, web designers have over the years tried to revitalize it. One of the more effective approaches to do this was usually through animation of grid-type interfaces through the use of flash. This works out fine for some who can easily adapt to the nuances of motion design. But to the many designers who don’t have the time to study and learn flash while keeping their heads above water, handling several projects and delivering deadlines – this is definitely not an option.
The lack of options has brought me to try several flash components to ease the pain of creating a professional looking animated grid interface. This is when I was able to try gridNavigation. It’s simply an easy-to-use and robust grid interface you can install and use as a flash component. gridNavigation displays thumbnails in a grid or pyramid like layout while allowing you to specify the exact number of rows and colums (for grid) or the position of the layout (for pyramid). Here are some of the main features of the gridNavigation component:
- Display thumbnails of images, SWFs or movie clips in a grid or pyramid like layout
- Built-in blur effect for smooth transitions from low res to high res content
- Layout options: top left, top right, bottom left, bottom right
- Number of columns and rows can be manually or automatically set when using the grid layout
- Content, menu items and settings may be defined through XML, Component Inspector or ActionScript
- Automatically resizes thumbnails and content to desired size
- Option to use the same or different files for thumbnails and large content
- Customizable zoom and easing speeds
- Built-in skinnable preloader for thumbnails and main content
- Supports all Flash image formats
- ActionScript events for: onOpen, onOpenComplete, onClose, onCloseComplete
- Comprehensive ActionScript API
- Light weight: AS2=20Kb, AS3=32kb
Despite it being a purely grid-type interface, it allows a fairly impressive degree of customization. You can change the easing and zooming speed of the animation, specify thumbnails, external SWFs or movie clips as both thumbnail or full sized view. You can add images, SWFs or movie clips through the component inspector, or by XML or ActionScript for more dynamic data.
gridNavigation is perfect for those planning to create a photo gallery, video gallery or even as a cool interface to navigate through a whole site. With gridNavigation allowing you to create highly customizable and professional looking grid interfaces – this is definitely a must for a web designer’s arsenal of tricks.
gridNavigation costs $44.95 for the ActionScript 2 or ActionScript 3 versions, or $54.95 for AS2+AS3, with an option for a $10 upgrade from the AS2 to the AS3 edition.
Disclosure: The above article is a sponsored review published upon request by Flashloaded