Friday, March 29, 2013

Tips On Finding Icons For Custom Entities Or Ribbons

There are a few good reasons to change the icons for any new entities you create. If you have many different custom entities, having unique icons for each makes it much easier for the end users to differentiate them and click on the right one. But maybe more importantly going the extra mile and finding a few slick looking images ensures you won't look like an amateur when the next consultant comes poking around.

But how and where to find images? First off lets examine the criteria we need to look for.
  • Largest size needs to be 32 x 32 pixels (depending on what update rollup you have install, you might still see the option for 66 x 48 - this is not actually used anyplace and can be ignored)
  • Needs to be either a GIF, JPG, ICO, or PNG file
  • Ideally will have a transparent background if the image doesn't fill the entire space
These 3 things make us want to look for a 32 x 32 pixel PNG file. The PNG format supports transparency and generally provides better color and compresses well.

Usually when I need to find an image I header over to Google Images but I use the Advanced Image Search.
The first part is easy, just enter the word that describes your entity or what you want the image to look like.

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Second part make sure to Filter Explicit Results to avoid having anything naughty turn up in the results while at the office, choose PNG Files and then select the appropriate option under usage rights to make sure you aren't using an image outside the bounds of its license.

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Now run the search and on the resulting page change the size to 32 by 32 pixels.

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When the results come back you should hopefully have a wide selection of 32 x 32 images to choose from. If you don't find something you like you may need to search for something different. Something I like to do is run searches on synonyms (Synonym.com) of the original term to broaden the results.

Once you download a few potentials, you can open them in your favorite image editing application (Paint.NET is a good free solution) and resize them to 16 x 16 pixels and save them off as a separate file. This is also a good opportunity to verify the image has a transparent background.

Once you have your to images created uploaded them to CRM as web resources and they will be available to use for an entity or a new ribbon button.