Tags: a

Five Goofy Things Medium Did That Break Accessibility — Medium Engineering

Some mea culpas from a developer at Medium. They share so that we may learn.

I Turned Off JavaScript for a Whole Week and It Was Glorious | WIRED

When someone’s web browsing experience can be so drastically improved by simply switching off JavaScript, you know it’s time for an intervention with web developers.

This is our fault. Client-side JavaScript gave us enormous power and we abused that power.

Meanwhile, Near Saturn… - WSJ.com

A breathtaking overview of Cassini’s mission. The timeline video—matching up footage from Saturn with contemporary events on Earth—is a beautiful and haunting dose of perspective.

You can even watch a four hour video of every single one of the 341,805 images that Cassini has sent up till now.

Tips for Creating and Exporting Better SVGs for the Web

Sara enumerates some handy tips aimed squarely at designers exporting SVGs. It focuses on Illustrator in particular but I’m sure a lot of this could equally apply to Sketch.

ampersand : ampersand2015 on Huffduffer

The audio is now up from all the talks at this year’s excellent Ampersand conference.

Manifest generator

A handy tool for helping you generate a JSON manifest file for your site. You’ll need one of those if you want Android devices to provide an “add to home screen” prompt.

Instant Loading Web Apps With An Application Shell Architecture | Web Updates - Google Developers

Outlining the architectural thinking required to create what the Google devrel folks are calling progressive apps.

Browsers without service worker support should always be served a fall-back experience. In our demo, we fall back to basic static server-side rendering…


…but this is only one of many options.

Hmmm. In my opinion, sending usable HTML on first request isn’t an implementation detail—it’s crucial. But on the whole, this approach is very sensible indeed.

Google+ | Google Web Showcase - Google Developers

Paul gives the lowdown on the Google+ responsive relaunch. They set themselves this performance budget:

  • 60K of HTML,
  • 60K of CSS,
  • 60K of JavaScript,
  • 60 frames per second animations, and
  • 0.6 seconds latency.

And this bit is crucial:

One of our major rules was that all our pages needed to be both server-side and client-side rendered. With server-side rendering we make sure that the user can begin reading as soon as the HTML is loaded, and no JavaScript needs to run in order to update the contents of the page.

Understanding the Web with Jeremy Keith | The Web Ahead on Huffduffer

I really enjoyed chatting with Jen on this episode of The Web Ahead—aimless rambling fun.

New design thinking by Mikey Allan

Web technology is no longer limiting us or scaring us into “staying safe” moreover it’s enabling us to get inspired by our surroundings and go and create some truly amazing, Web-Specific design.

Aerotwist - The Cost of Frameworks

Here’s Paul’s write-up of his excellent talk at FF Conf.

Previously I’ve used the term “developer convenience” when describing the benefits of using a framework. Paul uses the term “ergonomics” to describe those benefits. I like that. I worry sometimes that the term “developer convenience” sounds dismissive, which isn’t at all my intention—making our lives as developers less painful is hugely important …but it’s just not as important as improving the lives of the end users (in my opinion …and Paul’s).

As I look at frameworks, I see the ergonomic benefits (and those are important, I agree!), but I can’t help but feel that, for many developers, investing in knowledge of the web platform itself is the best long-term bet. Frameworks come and go, it just seems to be the ebb and flow of the web, and, as I said above, they do contribute ideas and patterns. But if you ever find that the one you use no longer works for you, or has a bug that remains unfixed, being able to understand the platform that underpins it will help enormously.

You should use [insert library/framework], it’s the bestestest! / Paul Lewis - YouTube

This was one of favourite talks at this year’s FF Conf. But I will readily admit there’s a hefty dollop of confirmation bias in my enjoyment.

Best viewed with - Velocity Amsterdam 2015 // Speaker Deck

Are we doomed to see history repeat itself? With the amount of client-side MVC frameworks and the upcoming implementation of the ES6 syntax, will we soon be seeing a repeat of the “browser wars.” Will more websites only work in a select number of browsers with the capabilities to run their code?

Online regex tester and debugger: JavaScript, Python, PHP, and PCRE

Regular expressions are my kryptonite. I’m rubbish at them and I can never keep the vocabulary in me head.

Mark recommended this tool so I’m going to give it a go the next time I have to resort to regex.

The Advertising Bubble (Idle Words)

The prognosis for publishers is grim. Repent! Find a way out of the adtech racket before it collapses around you. Ditch your tracking, show dumb ads that you sell directly (not through a thicket of intermediaries), and beg your readers for mercy. Respect their privacy, bandwidth, and intelligence, flatter their vanity, and maybe they’ll subscribe to something.

Three years with CSS Grid Layout

Rachel outlines the history of the CSS Grid Layout spec so far:

The process works, as slow as it may seem to us who wait anxiously to be able to take advantage of these techniques. I am happy that we are waiting for something that I really believe has the ability to completely change how we do layout on the web.

An Offline Experience with Service Workers | Brandon Rozek

A great walkthrough of setting up a Service Worker for a blog. The code is here but more importantly, as Brandon says:

I wouldn’t be able to implement this myself if it wasn’t for some of the awesome people I mentioned earlier sharing their experience. So share, share, share!

Moodboard — a small JavaScript library for presenting image moodboards on the web

A lovely little script from Nat to create a nice montage of images. It works by progressively enhancing a regular series of images in the markup.


A tool for generating a pattern library from Markdown comments in CSS. This isn’t the way that I tend to work, but I can see how it would be quite handy.


This looks like being a very handy book on public speaking. I’m going to order a copy for the Clearleft office. I’ll let you know what it’s like.

A Semiotic Approach to Designing Interfaces // Speaker Deck

This looks like a terrific presentation from Alla on iconography, semiotics, and communication.

Making a Simple Site Work Offline with ServiceWorker | CSS-Tricks

Another clear explanation by Nicolas of using Service Worker, this time on CSS Tricks.

Dumb Cuneiform. We’ll take your tweets and make them permanent clay tablets.

There’s something about this that I really like: a message transmitted via a modern communications medium converted into the oldest form of writing.

NC.gov Styleguide

The comprehensive style guide and pattern library for North Carolina.

Cosmos: The infographic book of space

This looks a great book of space-related infographics and data visualisation.

Best of all, there are truly interactive versions online.

A short note about web standards from your friends at Known

Ben and Erin are shipping experimental support for AMP in the latest version of Known, but Ben has some concerns about the balance of power tilting towards one major player, in this case Google:

Unfortunately, AMP redefines the HTML standard with some custom tags. That’s not great. It also requires that we load JavaScript from a specific source, which radically centralizes website content.

But it’s Google’s whitelist of approved ad providers that’s most concerning:

We’ve shipped support for AMP because we see potential here, and recognize that something should be done to improve the experience of loading independently-published content on the web. But attempting to bake certain businesses into a web standard is a malformed idea that is doomed to fail. If this is not corrected in future versions of the specification, we will withdraw support.

Building a device lab | Five Simple Steps

Lara and her colleague Destiny Montague have published a ridiculously useful handbook on setting up a device lab. For such a small book, it’s surprisingly packed with information.

Wrapping up another epic year of Science Hack Day SF!

It looks like this year’s Science Hack Day in San Francisco was particularly excellent.

Tantek told me about building a portable home planetarium—sounded like a blast.

What Happens to Grantland’s Archives? - The Atlantic

Had anyone from the archive been in touch with ESPN? Was there any hope that the treasured collection of Grantland stories might remain accessible?

“We don’t ‘get in touch,’” Jason Scott, a digital historian at the Internet Archive, told me in an email. “We act.”

Radio SETI Observations of the Anomalous Star KIC 8462852 (PDF)

We have made a radio reconnaissance of the star KIC 8462852 whose unusual light curves might possibly be due to planet-scale technology of an extraterrestrial civilization.

Nothing to report yet.

Aural UI of HTML elements

This is such an incredibly useful resource by Steve and Léonie: documenting how multiple screen readers handle each and every element in HTML.

It’s a work in progress, but it’s definitely one to remember the next time you’re thinking “I wonder how screen readers treat this markup…”

From Pages to Patterns: An Exercise for Everyone · An A List Apart Article

I’m so proud of Charlotte right now: last week she gave a conference talk and today she has an article published in A List Apart. Superb work on both fronts!

She does a great job of talking through a collaborative exercise to help teams move from thinking in pages to thinking in patterns.

Where Did the Internet Begin? - The Atlantic

Ingrid begins her tour into the internet and into the past with a visit to room 3240 at UCLA, home to the first node on the ARPAnet.

In a strikingly accurate replica of the original IMP log (crafted by UCLA’s Fowler Museum of Cultural History) on one of the room’s period desks is a note taken at 10:30 p.m., 29 October, 1969—“talked to SRI, host to host.” In the note, there is no sense of wonder at this event—which marks the first message sent across the ARPANET, and the primary reason the room is now deemed hallowed ground.

More for the skill

Be willing to look like a dork:

Embarrassment about what others think has to be the biggest block to any learning. Embarrassment of looking silly. Embarrassment of looking stupid for asking the question everyone else is wondering about but no one is willing to make.

Chimes nicely with Charlotte’s recent piece, Be comfortable looking like an idiot.

Why It’s OK to Block Ads | Practical Ethics

In reality, ad blockers are one of the few tools that we as users have if we want to push back against the perverse design logic that has cannibalized the soul of the Web.

If enough of us used ad blockers, it could help force a systemic shift away from the attention economy altogether—and the ultimate benefit to our lives would not just be “better ads.” It would be better products: better informational environments that are fundamentally designed to be on our side, to respect our increasingly scarce attention, and to help us navigate under the stars of our own goals and values. Isn’t that what technology is for?

Given all this, the question should not be whether ad blocking is ethical, but whether it is a moral obligation.

Reading Right-to-Left | booktwo.org

Suppose the internet is “rewiring our brains” …what of it? Perhaps we can also rewire the brain of the internet.

I’m getting more radical in my view of the internet, this unconsciously-generated machine for unconscious generation. I’m feeling more sure of its cultural value and legacy, and more assertive about stating it. We built this thing, and like all directed culture of the past, it has an agency and a desire, and if you pay attention to it you can see which way it wants to go, and what it wants to fight. We made that, all of us, in time, but we don’t have full control of it. Rather, like the grain of wood, it’s something to be worked with and shaped, but also thought about and conceptualised, both matter and metaphor.

The Okinawa missiles of October | Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Pssst! Wanna read something scary for Halloween? Well, this should make you shit your pants.

Seriously though, if the event described here turn out to be true, it is one of the most frightening moments in the history of our species.


An interactive map of the world’s undersea cables, to accompany Nicole Starosielski’s book The Undersea Network.

Some Thoughts on Hope, Cynicism, and the Stories We Tell Ourselves | Brain Pickings

Critical thinking without hope is cynicism. Hope without critical thinking is naïveté.

Echoing Margaret Atwood’s observation:

If we abandon hope, we’re cooked. If we rely on nothing but hope, we’re cooked. So I would say judicious hope is necessary.

Delivering Responsibly

The full transcript of Scott’s excellent presentation on performance and progressive enhancement.

The Last Man - YouTube

Gavin Rothery’s wonderfully grim and atmospheric short film.

<input> I ♡ you, but you’re bringing me down – Monica Dinculescu

The sad history of input elements.

I wish I could share in the closing optimism:

Now imagine the future where Web Components are supported natively, and someone else is allowed to write a <better-input>, an element that is a real, encapsulated DOM element, and not just a div soup. Imagine using this <better-input> that isn’t implemented differently in each browser, that looks the same everywhere, and that probably also knows how to bake you a cherry pie.

But I all I can think is:

Now imagine the future where Web Components are supported natively, and everyone is allowed to write a million variations of <my-idea-of-a-better-input>, an element that is an inaccessible div soup under the hood.

Patterns & Modules: The Toast — 2015 Redesign

I really like the way that you can literally flip between the source code and the output in this styleguide for The Toast.

It’s the IMP

There are Inception-like layers of nostalgia here: firstly, this web series of web pages made by Matt are a throwback to an earlier era, and secondly, the story being told goes all the way back to the birth of the ARPAnet.

Be comfortable looking like an idiot by Charlotte Jackson

I was talking to Charlotte recently about public speaking, confidence, and overcoming fear. She really hit the nail on the head when she said “I need to get comfortable with feeling like an idiot.”

Words to live by—especially if you’re working on the web.

The Radiation Threat to “The Martian” (PDF)

This is something that has been bugging me ever since reading the book:

While Andy Weir does a good job of representing the risks faced by Mark Watney, stranded on Mars and confronting one life-threatening challenge after another, he is silent on the threat of radiation, not just to Mark but particularly to the crew of the Hermes as they contemplate executing a daring rescue mission that more than doubles their time in deep space.

Well, this paper answers all my questions.

A Jekyll generator for automatically crossposting to Medium

Aaron has created a nice straightforward way to allow to POSSE posts from your Jekyll website to Medium.

EnhanceConf — Call For Proposals

There’s going to be a conference about progressive enhancement. It’ll happen in London in March of next year. You should speak at it.

You’ve got until December 20th to submit your proposal. What have you got to lose?

From Radio to Porn, British Spies Track Web Users’ Online Identities

This profile of GCHQ’s “Karma Police” programme is as maddening as it is insightful: the sheer unashamed brazenness of these bastards deserves our collective anger …not the collective apathy which has been the UK’s response so far.

There is one glimmer of hope in this litany of affronts to decency:

In recent years, the biggest barrier to GCHQ’s mass collection of data does not appear to have come in the form of legal or policy restrictions. Rather, it is the increased use of encryption technology that protects the privacy of communications that has posed the biggest potential hindrance to the agency’s activities.

Death to Analytics — The Brooks Review

I concur with this sentiment:

If you are starting a new blog, or have one already, the best thing you can do is turn off all analytics.

Especially true for your own personal site:

Just turn them off now. Then, write about whatever the fuck you want to write about.

Using Quantity Queries to write content-aware CSS - tomango

Another take on the kind of quantity queries that Charlotte has been experimenting with for a while now. It all goes back to the nth-child stuff that Heydon was talking about at Responsive Day Out

Accessibility Wins, curated by Marcy Sutton

Marcy has created a Tumblr to highlight websites that are taking the right approach to accessibility.

System shock — Medium

This is such a delightful story of a brilliant mistake—true typographic nerdery and nostalgia.

Read all the way through for a free gift.

The State of JavaScript on Android in 2015 is… poor - Discourse Meta

There’s something quite Kafkaesque about reading through the comments on Jeff Atwood’s request for an alternative to Ember.js …for rendering some text on a screen.

Every now and then someone pipes up with “server-rendered HTML?”, there’s a pause, and then a response of “naahhhhh.”


Advanced storytelling: Narrative. In space. Over time. | Ellen de Vries

I’m loving Ellen’s thoughts on taking storytelling to the next level.

Let’s say that we’ve got a lot of useful storytelling models for design now. Achievement unlocked. Let’s move on to discuss narrative structure, in space, over time.

Periodic Table of Storytelling

Combining the molecules of narrative tropes to create stories.

UX Brighton - Lightning Edition

Andy P. is taking the reigns for the next UX Brighton event and it’s going to feature an ensemble cast delivering 5 minute lightning talks. Got something you want to talk about? Don’t be scared! Drop Andy a line.

SETI: A Networked Galaxy?

A fascinating guest post by Brian McConnell on Centauri Dreams: what if there’s a galactic equivalent to the internet, allowing civilisations to communicate with a system analogous to packet switching.

Unfortunately this kind of focussed signalling would be hard to detect. But on the other hand, it could explain the Fermi paradox.

Arbitrary Number Generator

Need an arbitrary—but not random—number? Here you go.

No numbers available? Top up the stock by providing some arbitrary numbers.

London Accessibility Meetup #1 - London Accessibility Meetup

The inaugural London accessibility meet-up is happening on October 28th with two great presenters: Robin Christopherson and Julie Howell—that’s right; she’s coming out of retirement for one last talk!

The Fifth Dragon on Tor.com

A short story by Ian McDonald set in the same universe as his new novel Luna: New Moon.

Accelerated Mobile Pages - I’ve Got More Questions than Answers by Andy Davies

Andy examines Google’s AMP project from a performance perspective and is left puzzled by its reliance on JavaScript and custom elements for rendering media.

But he shares my hope that AMP could serve as a demo of what the web could be if we developers had the will and political clout to see it through:

I wonder if what AMP really does is remind us how we’ve failed to build a performant web… we know how to, but all too often we just choose not to (or lose the argument) and fill our sites with cruft that kills performance, and with it our visitors’ experience.

Day 70: Jeremy’s Got Slack Socks

Yeah, you’re jealous.

Official Google Webmaster Central Blog: Deprecating our AJAX crawling scheme

It’s official: hash bang URLs are an anti-pattern, and if you want your content indexed by Google, use progressive enhancement:

Since the assumptions for our 2009 proposal are no longer valid, we recommend following the principles of progressive enhancement.

The Utopia Of Records: Why Sound Archiving Is Important

The significant challenges in archiving audio.

Performance Budget Calculator

A handy little for calculating your performance budget based on how long you want your page to take to load on a particular connection.

Her Code Got Humans on the Moon—And Invented Software Itself | WIRED

A profile—published on Ada Lovelace Day—of Margaret Hamilton’s work on the Apollo project.

Static AMP page

Maciej has created a version the AMP Project homepage that’s faster, more performant, and more …um …straight-talkin’.

The Internet’s Dark Ages - The Atlantic

The promise of the web is that Alexandria’s library might be resurrected for the modern world. But today’s great library is being destroyed even as it is being built.

A fascinating account of one story’s linkrot that mirrors the woeful state of our attitude to cultural preservation on the web.

Historians and digital preservationists agree on this fact: The early web, today’s web, will be mostly lost to time.

Responsive News — AMP and Responsive Web Design

Tom’s thoughts on what AMP means for developers and publishers. He was initially sceptical but now he’s cautiously optimistic. Like me, he’s hoping that AMP can force the hand of those third-party advertisers to get their act together.

Publisher’s development teams are very capable of creating fast experiences for mobile users, but they don’t have the clout to coordinate all the additional cruft that is added to the page. However, if all the different publishers dev team’s got together and put their weight behind a single implementation, then we can force third parties to change their habits.

Responsive Field Day

All the videos from the excellent Responsive Field Day are now available. Even better, the audio is also available for your huffduffing pleasure!

All the presentations and panels were great. Sophie Shepherd’s terrific talk has really stuck with me.

Jeremy Keith - Responsive Field Day 2015 - YouTube

Here’s the 20 minute talk I gave at the inaugural Responsive Field Day in Portland.

The Most Mysterious Star in Our Galaxy - The Atlantic

The most interesting anomaly uncovered by a Zooniverse project since Hanny’s Voorwerp.

Tangram Bendy Map

BWAAAAMP! It’s Brighton …Inceptionised.

Here’s Peter’s code.

The problem with our data-driven world by Alexis C. Madrigal

I really like this comparison between Waldsterben and the current situation with the web after years of pervasive tracking.

The Be Nice AMP Project

An alternate version of AMP HTML that works in more parsers and user agents.

The AMP project have “A new approach to web performance” making your website dependent on Google. The Be Nice AMP Project follow the old approach: Make your site fast following best practice guidelines and be independent of Google.

Whatfettle ⁓ Note to self: write more

You read a lot and like the idea of writing. You know the best way to get better at writing is to write, so write!

Histography - Timeline of History

A nice navigable timeline of historical events from Wikipedia.

Rise of the meta-platforms and the new ‘web browser’ - Tales of a Developer Advocate

Paul compares publishing on the web to publish on proprietary platforms, and concludes that things aren’t looking great right now.

Performance is the number one selling point for each of these new content platforms.

The Internet of Things Won’t Work Because Things Don’t Work « The Royal Frontier

But we are promised and shown a world where technology is gorgeous and streamlined and helpful and light and unobtrusive. We don’t live in that world. That world is a fantasy. The hope that the Internet of Things will allow us to be free from daily headaches and logistical errors is naive.

The toxic side of free. Or: how I lost the love for my side project (part 1)

Have a read through all of Remy’s posts on his frustrating—but still rewarding—time running JS Bin.

  1. The start of the DDoS
  2. Spam
  3. Registered users wreaking havoc
  4. The cost
  5. Police

“100 Words 100” by Kyle Halleman • Nineteen Twenty-Seven

Kyle Halleman completed one hundred days of writing one hundred words. Respect! I know how hard that is.

Have a read from the first entry onwards.

adactio’s jams | This Is My Jam

I absolutely love the way that my archive is presented here. Matt and Hannah have set the bar in how to shut down a service in an honest, dignified way.

Miranj: Collateral Damage

Websites should not come with minimum software requirements.

Project Apollo Archive on Flickr

This is so, so wonderful—hundreds and hundreds of photographs from all of the Apollo missions. Gorgeous!

The shots of Earth take my breath away.

The InterPlanetary File System Wants to Create a Permanent Web | Motherboard

I’m getting increasingly intrigued by the IPFS protocol and its potential for long-term digital preservation.

How can we fix internet comments?

Here’s an interesting approach to making comments more meaningful:

Instead of blindly publishing whatever people submit, we first ask them to rate the quality and civility on 3 randomly-selected comments, as well as their own. It’s a bit more work for the commenter, but the end result is a community built on trust and respect, not harassment and abuse.

18F — Introducing the U.S. Web Design Standards

The story behind the newly-released pattern library for the US government.

What “UX Design doesn’t exist” means to me — Cennydd Bowles

I completely agree with Cennydd (and Peter, and Leisa). If anyone working on a project—whether they’re a designer, developer, or anything else—isn’t considering the user experience, then what’s the point of even being there? By extension, labelling your work as “UX Design” is as redundant and pointless as labelling it “Good Design.”

But my complaint is with the label, not the activities. It’s the UX Design label that has little value for me. These activities happen in all good design: if you’re not trying to create positive experience then I don’t really understand what you are doing.

Andy Budd, Unsung Hero No.51 - Brighton Source

An interview with Andy, reminiscing about the early days of Clearleft.

WorldWideWeb: Proposal for a HyperText Project

Sometimes it’s nice to step back and look at where all this came from. Here’s Tim Berners-Lee’s proposal from 1990.

The current incompatibilities of the platforms and tools make it impossible to access existing information through a common interface, leading to waste of time, frustration and obsolete answers to simple data lookup. There is a potential large benefit from the integration of a variety of systems in a way which allows a user to follow links pointing from one piece of information to another one.

The Ethos of the Web | degrading disgracefully

This is a wonderful, wonderful description of what it feels like to publish on your own site.

When my writing is on my own server, it will always be there. I may forget about it for a while, but eventually I’ll run into it again. I can torch those posts or save them, rewrite them or repost them. But they’re mine to rediscover.

An Event Apart News: Enhance! by Jeremy Keith—An Event Apart video

Here’s the video of the talk I gave at An Event Apart last year.

Guess what it’s about. Go on, guess!

No! It’s about progressive enha… oh.

What Happens Next Will Amaze You

I refuse to believe that this cramped, stifling, stalkerish vision of the commercial Internet is the best we can do.

HTTP is obsolete. It’s time for the distributed, permanent web

The title is hyperbolic, and while I certainly think that the criticisms of HTTP here are justified, I don’t think it will be swept aside by IPFS—I imagine more of a peaceful coexistence. Still, there’s some really good thinking in here and this is well worth paying attention to.

Russell Davies: Designing for accountability, designing for broken-ness

One failure mode is ‘I have run out of paper’, another is ‘my data has been sold to a company I don’t trust’, another is ‘my country has been invaded and they’ve seized all the servers’.

These are things to be designed for. These are user needs too. They have to be embraced.

Designing The Future, John V Willshire, dConstruct 2015 on Vimeo

Just like Nick, John Willshire has put his slides together with the audio from his gobsmackingly good dConstruct presentation on metadesign.

The Future Mundane on Vimeo

Nick Foster has put the audio of his fantastic dConstruct talk together with his slides.

It’s a terrific, thought-provoking presentation, superbly delivered …and it even has some relevance to progressive enhancement! (you’ll know what I mean if you watch/listen to the whole thing)