Much of the web’s early cultural and design history is at risk, despite efforts by the Internet Archive and renegade archivists. One of our realizations after 20 years on the web is that our responsibility isn’t just to the new; we also need to preserve what’s been built in the past.
Grant, like Emma, has recently started blogging again. This makes me very, very happy. And he’s doing it for what I consider to be all the right reasons:
But this is mostly a place for me to capture my thoughts, and an excuse to consider them, and an opportunity to understand them more fully.
More thoughts on the lack of a performance culture, prompted by the existence of Facebook Instant:
In my experience, the biggest barrier to a high-performance web is this: the means of production are far removed from the means of delivery. It’s hard to feel the performance impact of your decisions when you’re sitting on a T3 line in front of a 30 inch monitor. And even if you test on real devices (as you should), you’re probably doing it on a fast wifi network, not a spotty 3G connection. For most of us, even the ones I would describe as pro-performance, everything in the contemporary web design production pipeline works against the very focus required to keep the web fast.
The Indieweb approach has a lot in common with Ev’s ideas for Medium, but the key difference is that we are doing it in a way that works across websites, not just within one.
Zeldman looks back at Stewart Butterfield’s brilliant 5K contest. We need more of that kind of thinking today:
As one group of web makers embraces performance budgets and the eternal principles of progressive enhancement, while another (the majority) worships at the altar of bigger, fatter, slower, the 5K contest reminds us that a byte saved is a follower earned.
A handy way of quickly finding out how the weather in your area compares to the weather on Mars.
Progressive Enhancement remains the best option for solving web development issues such as wide-ranging browser support, maintenance and future-proofing your application.
Here’s a really nifty use of the
:checked behaviour pattern that Charlotte has been writing about—an interface for choosing a note from a piano keyboard. Under the hood, it’s a series of radio buttons and labels.
The 17th century blind Irish harpist has been immortalised as a crater on Mercury.
Here’s a lovely project with an eye on the Long Now. Trees that were planted last year will be used to make paper to print an anthology in 2114.
Margaret Atwood is one of the contributors.
And that’s why you always use progressive enhancement!
The key change in all of this, I think, is that Google has gone from a world of almost perfect clarity - a text search box, a web-link index, a middle-class family’s home - to one of perfect complexity - every possible kind of user, device, access and data type. It’s gone from a firehose to a rain storm. But on the other hand, no-one knows water like Google. No-one else has the same lead in building understanding of how to deal with this. Hence, I think, one should think of every app, service, drive and platform from Google not so much as channels that might conflict but as varying end-points to a unified underlying strategy, which one might characterize as ‘know a lot about how to know a lot’.
A PDF of Clarke’s classic essay on the follies of prediction. From the 1972 collection The Futurists, edited by Alvin Toffler.
I like this nice straightforward approach. Instead of jumping into the complexities of the final interactive component, Chris starts with the basics and layers on the complexity one step at a time, thereby creating a more robust solution.
If I had one small change to suggest, maybe
aria-label might work better than offscreen text for the controls …as documented by Heydon.
Charlotte’s opening remarks at the most recent Codebar were, by all accounts, inspiring.
I was asked to give a short talk about my journey into coding and what advice I would give to people starting out.
A great run-down by Heydon of just one ARIA property: aria-label.
SmashingConf Oxford 2015: Richard Rutter on Don’t Give Them What They Want, Give Them What They Need
A great case study from Richard, walking through the process of redesigning the website for the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.
On the fifteenth anniversary of A Dao Of Web Design people who make websites share their thoughts.
Paul Ford’s is a zinger:
I don’t know if the issues raised in “A Dao of Web Design” can ever be resolved, which is why the article seems so prescient. After all, the Tao Te Ching is 2500 years old and we’re still working out what it all means. What I do believe is that the web will remain the fastest path to experimenting with culture for people of any stripe. It will still be here, alive and kicking and deployed across billions of computing machines, in 2030, and people will still be using it to do weird, wholly unexpected things.
This is a fascinating bit of web archeology: John has annotated the code from one of the earliest versions of jQuery.
Pacman meets Pong meets Space Invaders.
A superb piece by Ross Penman on the importance of being true to the spirit of the web.
Jo writes about hosting Codebar Brighton. I share her enthusiasm—it feels like a great honour to be able to host such a great community event.
Charlotte has experimenting with a nice discrete bit of flexbox on her personal site. Here she documents what she did, and what the fallback is.
Mike runs through the history of Flash. Those who forget the history of the web are doomed to repeat it:
The struggle now seems to be turning to native apps versus non-native apps on the mobile platform. It is similar to Flash’s original battle ground: the argument that the Web technology stack is not suitable for building applications with a polished user-experience.
Mark Rothko paintings recreated with CSS gradients.
Still a few days left to back this great project for Brighton:
Build, tinker, make and play! For anyone with imagination, The Brighton Makerlab lets ages 8 to 80 create cool stuff with technology.
Get your next design game off to a quick start with this handy generator of nonsensical-yet-vaguely-plausible product ideas.
Hot on the heels of Github’s pattern library, here’s Heroku’s.
Github’s pattern library.
As always, it’s great to see how other organisations are tackling modular reusable front-end code (though I can’t imagine why anyone other than Github would ever want to use it in production).
Jeffrey muses on progressive enhancement and future-friendliness.
This year’s map from TeleGeography is looking lovely.
A profile of the great work Aaron and Seb have been doing at the Cooper Hewitt museum. Have a read of this and then have a listen again to Aaron’s dConstruct talk.
Because in 10 years nothing you built today that depends on JS for the content will be available, visible, or archived anywhere on the web.
The most ambitious project from Archive Team yet: backing up the Internet Archive.
We can do this, people! Moore’s Law and all that.
Superb. Absolutely superb.
A magnificent tour-de-force by Frank on the web’s edgelessness.
Read. Absorb. Read again. This is the essence of responsive web design, distilled.
These are principles of visual design—hierarchy, rhythm, etc.—nicely explored and explained.
A terrific bit of smart CSS thinking from Heydon Pickering.
You know he’s speaking at Responsive Day Out, right?
A really handy interactive intro to flexbox. Playing around with the properties and immediately seeing the result is a real help.
Google’s experimental new “slow” label could revolutionize how we tackle web performance - Web Performance Today
It looks like Google is going to start explicitly labelling slow sites as such in their search results (much like they recently started explicitly labelling mobile-friendly sites). So far it’s limited to Google’s own properties but it could be expanded.
Personally, I think this is a fair move. If the speed of a site were used to rank sites differently, I think that might be going too far. But giving the user advanced knowledge and leaving the final decision up to them …that feels good.
Interstellar travel time dilation and status updates: a clever narrative combo.
Unleash your inner Jackson Pollock.
The minimum dependency for a web site should be an internet connection and the ability to parse HTML.
Lea wasn’t happy with the lack of styling and extensibility of the datalist element, so she rolled her own lightweight autocomplete/type-ahead widget, and she’s sharing it with the world.
This is such a simple little adjustment, but I think it’s kinda brilliant: tweaking the display of your site’s maps to match the season.
Paul Kinlan writes an honest post-mortem of his push for Web Intents.
There are some valuable lessons here, particularly for the indie web’s web actions.
Our new intern—L’il James—demonstrates good .gif skills in his write-up of the project he worked on at Hack Farm.
It’s like Downton Abbey and Silicon Valley had a baby.
A nice little pattern for generating a swish timeline in SVG from a plain ol’ definition list in HTML.
Brewster Kahle’s short presentation at NetGain.
Brilliant! Although it’s kind of like shooting fish in a barrel to make a Markov chain out of someone whose entire output is already one big Markov chain.
Adam Curtis: the Banksy of documentaries.
There’s a whole bunch of great events happening in Brighton this March: Codebar, Curiosity Hub, She Codes Brighton, 300 Seconds, She Says Brighton, and Ladies that UX. Lots of these will be downstairs from Clearleft in Middle Street—very handy!
The Web is the printing press of our times; an amazing piece of technology facilitating a free and wide-scale dissipation of our thoughts and ideas. And all of it is based on this near 20-year old, yet timeless idea of the Hyper Text Markup Language.
This is a talk I gave at An Event Apart about eighteen months ago, all about irish music, the web, long-term thinking, and yes, you guessed it—progressive enhancement.
A scholarship fund for women students at the Flatiron School, in memory of Chloe.
Spotify has named the program the Chloe Weil Scholarship as a memorial to Chloe Weil, an inspiring designer and engineer who took a strong interest in creating opportunities for women in technology.
Rushing doesn’t improve things, it might even slow you down. Focusing on a few things and doing them well is worthwhile. Sharing what you learn—even while you’re still figuring things out—is even better.
We hired Charlotte, our first junior developer at Clearleft recently, and my job has taken on more of a teaching role. I’m really enjoying it, but I have no idea what I’m doing, and I worry that I’m doing all the wrong things.
This article looks like it has some good, sensible advice …although I should probably check to see if Charlotte agrees.
I really like the self-examination that Ian and his team at Lonely Planet are doing here. Instead of creating a framework for creating a living style guide and calling it done, they’re constantly looking at what could be done better, and revisiting earlier decisions.
I’m intrigued by the way they’ve decided to reorganise their files by component rather than by filetype.
A short documentary on the wonderful Grace Hopper.
The Guardian have hit the big red button and made their responsive site the default. Great stuff!
(top tip: don’t read the comments)
Everyone who calls for WebKit in Internet Explorer is exactly the same kind of developer who would have coded to Internet Explorer 15 years ago (and probably happily displayed the best viewed in badge).
It’s happening again, and every petulant, lazy developer who calls for a WebKit-only world is responsible.
Anna documents the most interesting bit (for me) of her new wearable/watch/wrist-device/whatever — the web browser.
This Eno-esque deck of cards by Scott could prove very useful for a lot of Clearleft projects.
I love Lyza’s comment on the par-for-the-course user-agent string of Microsoft’s brand new Spartan browser:
There must be an entire field emerging: UA archaeologist and lore historian. It’s starting to read like the “begats” in the bible. All browsers much connect their lineage to Konqueror or face a lack-of-legitimacy crisis!
First, the browsers competed on having proprietary crap. Then, the browsers competed on standards support. Now, finally, the browsers are competing on what they can offer their users.
A profile of the wonderful Internet Archive.
No one believes any longer, if anyone ever did, that “if it’s on the Web it must be true,” but a lot of people do believe that if it’s on the Web it will stay on the Web. Chances are, though, that it actually won’t.
Brewster Kahle is my hero.
Kahle is a digital utopian attempting to stave off a digital dystopia. He views the Web as a giant library, and doesn’t think it ought to belong to a corporation, or that anyone should have to go through a portal owned by a corporation in order to read it. “We are building a library that is us,” he says, “and it is ours.”
This is quite amazing!
I remember getting up on Christmas day 2003 (I was in Arizona), hoping to get news of Beagle 2’s successful landing. Alas, the news never came.
For something that size to be discovered now …that’s quite something.
I have doubts about Angular 1.x’s suitability for modern web development. If one is uncharitably inclined, one could describe it as a front-end framework by non-front-enders for non-front-enders.
Brad’s writing a book.
Insert take-my-money.gif here.
There are some good points here comparing HTTP2 and SPDY, but I’m mostly linking to this because of the three wonderful opening paragraphs:
A very long time ago —in 1989 —Ronald Reagan was president, albeit only for the final 19½ days of his term. And before 1989 was over Taylor Swift had been born, and Andrei Sakharov and Samuel Beckett had died.
In the long run, the most memorable event of 1989 will probably be that Tim Berners-Lee hacked up the HTTP protocol and named the result the “World Wide Web.” (One remarkable property of this name is that the abbreviation “WWW” has twice as many syllables and takes longer to pronounce.)
Tim’s HTTP protocol ran on 10Mbit/s, Ethernet, and coax cables, and his computer was a NeXT Cube with a 25-MHz clock frequency. Twenty-six years later, my laptop CPU is a hundred times faster and has a thousand times as much RAM as Tim’s machine had, but the HTTP protocol is still the same.
Dan has started writing up what he did on his Summer hols …on a container ship travelling to China.
It is, of course, in the form of an email newsletter because that’s what all the cool kids are doing these days.
A lovely Yuletide present from Brian and co.—an exploration of the proverbs embodied in Bruegel’s painting.
I just noticed that I’m mentioned in the acknowledgements of this most handy of W3C documents. This pleases me disproportionately.
Watch this space.
Curiosity’s journey so far, nicely visualised.
Like caniuse.com, but for typography features. Find out what’s supported in browsers today.
You Don’t Need jQuery! – Free yourself from the chains of jQuery by embracing and understanding the modern Web API and discovering various directed libraries to help you fill in the gaps.
The tone is a bit too heavy-handed for my taste, but the code examples here are very handy if you’re weaning yourself off jQuery.
Print out the plans, fold and glue/sellotape the paper together, and you’ve got yourself the best sci-fi robots in recent cinema history.
Seb will be running this workshop again at the start of February—details here. I can’t recommend it highly enough—it’s so, so good!
With all my talk about extending existing elements instead of making new ones, I was reminded of one of my favourite examples of custom elements in action: Github’s extensions of the
Sounds like a cute idea, right?
In fact it’s the best thing you’re ever likely to read on Peruvian ursine immigration.
This is an awareness project I can get behind: a Clarke-like Project Spaceguard to protect the Earth from asteroid collisions. This campaign will focus awareness of this issue on one single day…
Now if only the front page of this website actually said when that day will be.
Update: And now it does.
A fascinating look at how the humble password gets imbued with incredible levels of meaning.
It reminds me of something I heard Ze Frank say last year: “People fill up the cracks with intimacy.”
I completely share Bruce’s concern about the year-zero thinking that’s accompanying a lot of the web components marketing:
Snarking aside, why do so few people talk about extending existing HTML elements with web components? Why’s all the talk about brand new custom elements? I don’t know.
I’m a fan of web components. But I’m increasingly worried about the messaging surrounding them.
A history lesson and a love letter to the early web, taking in HTML, Photoshop, and the web standards movement.
Those were long years, the years of drop-shadows. Everything was jumping just slightly off the screen. For a stretch it seemed that drop-shadows and thin vertical columns of text would define the web. That was before we learned that the web is really a medium to display slideshows, as many slideshows as possible, with banner ads.
Stuart has implemented webmentions on his site, which is great. It’s also fitting, as he is the inventor of pingback (of which webmention is a simpler reformulation).