Monday, May 4th, 2015

100 words 043

It wasn’t that long ago I mentioned a new book about learning HTML and CSS from scratch, published online for free. Well, now there’s another one. This time the subject is typography on the web.

It’s called Professional Web Typography by Donny Truong. It’s a fairly quick read but it squeezes in plenty of handy practical advice with chapters on delivering web fonts, selecting body text, setting type in the browser, choosing headings, picking type for UI, seeing typographic details, and practicing typography.

Needless to say, the book is itself very nicely typeset. And you can pay what you want.

Sunday, May 3rd, 2015

100 words 042

I spent most of today making a Single Page App.

The content is loaded into the page using a low-level transport mechanism called HTTP (the great thing about using this protocol is that you get URL routing for free). I bucked the trend and decided not to encode the content in JSON. Instead it’s contained in a text format called HTML.

There is some asynchronous loading involved for the rich media; that’s accomplished using a feature of HTML known as the img element.

I’m pretty pleased with the results. The whole thing is scrolling smoothly at sixty frames per second.

Saturday, May 2nd, 2015

100 words 041

At Clearleft, we’ve been running internships for quite a while now (paid internships, of course; there’s no justification for unpaid internships—don’t let anyone tell you otherwise). In that time we’ve been incredibly fortunate in getting fantastic people to jump on board our agency train for a few months.

The newest member of our pantheon is James Madson. He took time out of his globetrotting travels to become a temporary Clearlefty. It was great having him around. He’s a smart, humble, talented guy. I’m very glad that he enjoyed his time with us.

And his 100 days project is wonderful.

Friday, May 1st, 2015

100 words 040

Yesterday was April 30th. On April 30th in 1993, the world changed. But this world-changing event was marked by the simplest of actions—a couple of signatures and a some rubber stamps.

Twenty two years ago the World Wide Web was placed into the public domain.

When I was at CERN a few years ago with my fellow hackers, Robert Cailliau produced his copy of this document. It passed around the table. When it came to me, I held it like a magic scroll.

“Be careful—there are only two copies of that,” he said. “And CERN have misplaced theirs.”

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

100 words 039

Charlotte and I came up with a fun exercise today to help a client’s dev team to think of patterns at the granular level—something that had been proving difficult to get across.

We print out page designs, hand them some scissors, and get them to cut up the pages into their smallest components. Mix them all up so you can’t even tell which components came from which pages.

Then—after grouping duplicate patterns together—everyone takes a component and codes it up in HTML and CSS. As soon as you’re finished with one pattern, grab another.

Rinse and repeat.

Wednesday, April 29th, 2015

100 words 038

I ate well today. We celebrated Boxman’s birthday with lunch at the Yeoman, a most excellent purveyor of pub food.

Then this evening, Jessica and I went on a double date with Richard and Wendy to the magnificent 64 Degrees. It was a special evening of English food and English wines, in collaboration with local wine guru Henry Butler.

The food was wonderful: oysters, tuna with apples, whelk croquettes, turbot sashimi with fermented butternut squash, asparagus, sea trout cooked like we were in yakitori alley, and thin slices of beetroot with yoghurt for dessert. All accompanied by fine English wines.

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015

100 words 037

It started when Jessica relayed something that happened when she was on a cultural walking tour of Sofia two weekends ago. The tour guide asked “Does anyone know who invented the computer?”

Alan Turing? Charles Babbage?

The tour guided pointed to a statue and said, “John Atanasoff.”

I had never heard of him. So of course I looked him up. That led me down the most incredible rabbit hole as I uncovered a courtroom drama filled with invalidated patents and mountains of court records.

Why had I never heard about this? It was eclipsed by a bigger legal drama: Watergate.

Monday, April 27th, 2015

100 words 036

I get home from a day in London, working on-site with a client. I’ve spent the day trying to crack a tricky responsive navigation issue, still hammering away at it on the train back to Brighton.

Once I’m home I crack open a beer—an Arundel pale ale. Jessica is making a fantastic meal of basque chicken (while simultaneously making some chicken stock). We sit down to eat this wonderful dish accompanied by a green salad and a bottle of Rhone wine.

I’m happy.

While we’re tucking in, we listen to an episode of Melvyn Bragg’s In Our Time all about cryptography.

Happiness turns to bliss.

The shape of Responsive Day Out 3: The Final Breakpoint

It’s less than two months now until Responsive Day Out 3: The Final Breakpoint. Fortunately there are still some tickets available so if you haven’t got yours yet, it’s not too late. Remember: it’s cheap as chips—just £80+VAT for a day jam-packed with knowledge bombs from twelve(!) fantastic speakers. You’d be crazy to miss it.

If you’ve already got your ticket, you might be wondering what awaits you. Well, if you’ve been to either of the previous days out, you’ll know what to expect: a medley of topics covering all areas of responsive design, from process and workflow through to visual design and code.

The day will be broken up into four segments. Each segment will feature three thematically-related 20 minute talks, back to back. Then those three speakers will join me for a joint chat, where we can take questions from the audience. Check out the videos from the first Responsive Day Out to get feel for the pace or have a listen to the podcast recordings from previous years.

Here’s my rough plan for the four segments this year…

  1. The day will start with some big picture thinking around workflows. There’ll be an emphasis on accessibility—something that can’t just be tagged on to the end of a project. There’s also be a case study of one of the hottest topics in the web designers’ workflow today; style guides and pattern libraries. And importantly, we want to make sure that the role of creativity isn’t forgotten in our new responsive world.
  2. The second segment will be like a mini conference on front-end technologies. There’ll be some deep diving into the latest in CSS techniques, including flexbox, as well as that thorny topic of responsive images. It’s hard to believe, but that’s a topic that hasn’t been covered in previous Responsive Days Out. Time to change that.
  3. After lunch, we’ll start to look beyond today and to the future of responsive design. That’ll begin with a segment on cutting-edge browser technologies. You can expect to be wowed with demos of the latest browser APIs and get your head around the much-hyped world of web components. We won’t shy away from asking how the web can compete with native experiences, like making our sites work offline.
  4. Finally, we’ll end the day—and indeed, the conference series—by taking a high level view of what the future might bring. There’ll be an examination of the skill sets that designers and developers should equip themselves with, and we’ll look beyond the screen to a future of new inputs and outputs.

So the day will have a bell-curved shape to it, starting out with a relatively high-level view, swooping down in the middle to get really stuck in with the technologies of today, before ascending at the end to look into the future.

Friday, June 19th—put that date in your diary. Registration is from 9-10am. There’ll be an hour and a half for lunch (and Street Diner will be on that day!) and everything will wrap up by 5:30pm. It’s going to be an action-packed day—bam! bam! bam!

If you don’t come along to the final Responsive Day Out, you’re going to regret it. So what are you waiting for?

Sunday, April 26th, 2015

100 words 035

I went spelunking down the caves of the web’s history today. I went digging through the original proposal that Tim Berners-Lee presented to his boss, the late Mike Sendall. I explored the design issues that were raised in the creation the World Wide Web. I rifled through the initial vocabulary of HTML. I watched a video from the web’s twentieth anniversary featuring Tim Berners-Lee, Robert Cailliau, and Jean-François Groff.

I was able to do all this because my computer was connected to the internet and I was running a piece of software that understood HTTP, URLs, and HTML’s A element.