Over It by Brad Frost
Rob Larsen was published a book with O’Reilly called “The Uncertain Web: Web Development in a Changing Landscape”. I like it:
A refreshingly honest look at the chaotic, wonderful world of web development, with handy, practical advice for making future-friendly, backward-compatible websites.
I don’t agree with the conclusion of this post:
But I think the author definitely taps into a real issue:
The real problem is the perception that any code running in the browser is front-end code.
This is something we’re running into at Clearleft: we’ve never done backend programming (by choice), but it gets confusing if a client wants us to create something in Angular or Ember, “because that’s front end code, right?”
The difference between back-enders and front-enders is that the first work in only one environment, while the second have to work with myriad of environments that may hold unpleasant surprises.
Designing primarily in a laptop web browser and testing with a mouse rather than fingers may come to look very out of date soon.
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.
Smart thinking here on the eternal dilemma with loading web fonts. Filament Group have thought about how the initial experience of the first page load could be quite different to subsequent page loads.
Advice for writing Sass. I don’t necessarily agree with everything, but on the whole, this is a solid approach.
It’s worth bearing Chris’s advice in mind.
Good advice from Chris, particularly if you’re the one who has to live with the CSS you write.
As Obi-Wan Kenobi once said, “You must do what you feel is right, of course.”
Kenneth has isolated Chrome’s dev tools into its own app. This is a big step towards this goal:
Why are DevTools still bundled with the browsers? What if clicking “inspect element” simply started an external DevTools app?
With DevTools separated from one specific browser, a natural next step would be making the DevTools app work with other browsers.
A handy starting point for creating a front-end styleguide: a single document of HTML elements.
Watch this space.
My contribution to this year’s edition of the web’s best advent calendar.
A superb article by Josh on planning for progressive enhancement—clearly laid out and carefully explained.
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.
Some good practical advice from Tim on setting a performance budget.
Use rule-based metrics to make sure you haven’t overlooked simple optimizations.
Use quantity-based metrics as guides to help designers and developers make better decisions about what goes onto a page.
This isn’t a scientific data sample, but Jonathan’s anecdotal evidence seems to suggest that most web designers and developers are still thinking with a desktop-first mentality. Which is crazy.
A very handy collection from Anna: articles, books, talks, podcasts, and examples of front-end style guides. If something’s missing, feel free to add it.
Focus on what you want to learn; not what you think you should learn.
There is a lot of pressure out there: to learn new things, to spend all your time coding, to be the super developer. I now believe that to be impossible and unhealthy. It means you aren’t living a balanced life and it also means that you’re living under constant stress and pressure.
A great primer on using
picture. I think I’ll be referring back to this a lot.
Yesterday, Aaron gave a great talk at BD Conf about forms. In one example, he was using
aria-describedby. I was a bit confused by the differences between
aria-labelledby, so Aaron has very helpfully clarified the distinction.
Angry, but true.
Don’t lock yourself into a comprehensive technology that may just die within the next few months and leave you stranded. With progressive enhancement you’ll never go wrong. Progressive enhancement means your code will always work, because you’ll always focus on providing a minimal experience first, and then adding features, functionality, and behavior on top of the content.
Four different techniques for vertical centring in CSS, courtesy of Jake.
A great technique from Heydon for styling radio buttons however you want.
My name is Jeremy and I am a boring front-end developer.
Some thoughts on progressive enhancement, although I disagree with the characterisation of progressive enhancement as being the opposite choice to making “something flashy that pushes the web to it’s limits”—it’s entirely possible to make the flashiest, limit-pushing sites using progressive enhancement. After all…
it’s much more a mindset than a particular development technique.
Turns out that Brian LeRoux and I gave the same answer to this question:
I think I just saved you a click.
It’s very early days for ServiceWorker, but Jake is on hand with documentation and instructions on its use. To be honest, most of this is over my head and I suspect it won’t really “click” until I try using it for myself.
Where it gets really interesting is in the comments. Stuart asks “What about progressive enhancement?” And Jake points out that because a ServiceWorker won’t be installed on a first visit, you pretty much have to treat it as an enhancement. In fact, you’d have to go out of your way to make it a requirement:
You could, of course, throw up a splash screen and wait for the ServiceWorker to install, creating a ServiceWorker-dependant experience. I will hunt those people down.
Soledad Penadés also went to the Extensible Web Summit in Berlin, where she gave a lightning talk. Sounds like it was really good.
This also includes some good advice that, again, Alex might want to consider before denouncing any disagreement on Web Components as “piffle and tosh”:
If the W3C, or any other standardisation organisation wants to attract “normal” developers to get more diverse inputs, they/we should start by being respectful to everyone. Don’t try to show everyone how superclever you are. Don’t be a jerk. Don’t scare people away, because then only the loud ones stay, and the quieter shy people, or people who have more urgent matters to attend (such as, you know, having a working business website even if it’s not using the latest and greatest API) will just leave.
Alex’s response to my post about Web Components, in which he ignores my excitement and dismisses my concerns as “piffle and tosh.”
I gotta say: I think cautious optimism and nervous excitement are healthy attitudes to have about any technology. For Alex to dismiss them so summarily makes me even more worried. Apparently you’re either with Web Components or you’re against them. Heaven forbid that you might voice any doubts or suggest any grey areas.
The beatings will continue until morale improves.
I very much agree with Orde’s framing here: I don’t think it makes much sense to talk about “above the fold” CSS …but it makes a lot of sense to talk about critical CSS.
And, yeah, it’s another example of progressive enhancement.
Alice Bartlett shares her experience of getting aria-live regions to work in a meaningful way.
Harry has written down his ideas and recommendations for writing CSS.
Those lovely people at Filament Group share some of their techniques for making data tables work across a range of screen sizes.
Dan Donald gets to the heart of progressive enhancement:
Assumptions in themselves don’t have to be inherently bad but let’s recognise them for what they are. We know very little but that can hopefully enable us to be far more flexible and understanding in what we create.
Scott shares the code that Filament Group are using to determine which style declarations are critical (and can be inlined) and which are non-critical (and can be loaded asynchronously). It makes quite a difference in perceived performance.
By the way, I really, really like the terminology of “critical” and “non-critical” CSS, rather than “above the fold” and “below the fold” CSS.
Dave wanted to figure out if having a responsive site necessarily meant taking a performance hit, so he ran the numbers on his own site. It turns out all of performance-related issues are not related to responsive design.
Ten facets of web development that you can choose to focus on. One of them is from me …but other nine are worth paying attention to.
Zoe uses one little case study to contrast two different CSS techniques: display-table and flexbox. Flexbox definitely comes out on top when it comes to true source-order independence.
I can relate to every single word that Bastian has written here.
The longer I look at boilerplates, build tools, frameworks and ways to make my life as a developer easier, the more I long for the basics.
Some very handy techniques for working with right-to-left text.
The challenges of maintaining a living breathing front-end style guide for an always-evolving product (the Lonely Planet website in this case).
My interest in rich client-side apps has almost entirely reversed, and now I’m more interested in doing good ol’ server rendering with the occasional side of progressive enhancement, just like we did it in 2004.
This post resonates with me 100%.
I can very much relate to what Dan is talking about here. I have no idea what I do any more.
No doubt we’ll always feel we’re behind the curve as there always seems like more to learn. That’s OK. No-one knows it all, but it is hard knowing what people expect of you.
Derek’s excellent advice on avoiding over-reliance on data attributes has this brilliant nugget of insight:
In the web front-end stack — HTML, CSS, JS, and ARIA — if you can solve a problem with a simpler solution lower in the stack, you should. It’s less fragile, more foolproof, and just works
A healthy dose of scepticism about Web Components, looking at them through the lenses of accessibility, security, and performance.
I share some of this concern: Web Components might look like handy ready-made out-of-the-box solutions, but the truth is that web developers have to do much more of the hard graft that was traditionally left to the browser.
Some great thoughts in here about web development workflow and communication between designers and developers.
I believe that the solution is made up of a variety of tools that encourage conversation and improve our shared lexicon. Tools such as styleguides, pattern libraries, elemental and modular systems that encourage access not only by developers, but by designers, shareholders and editors as well.
A great post from Anna on the front-end styleguides she’s worked on for A List Apart and Code for America. ‘Twas a pleasure working with her on the Code for America project.
A-mer-ica! Fuck yeah!
Another front-end style guide for the collection. This time it’s from A List Apart. Lovely stuff!
Like Drew, I’ve noticed some real hostility to the idea of progressive enhancement recently. Like Drew, I don’t really understand where this attitude comes from. It’s not like progressive enhancement prevents you from doing anything you would do otherwise: it’s just another way of approaching the way you build for the web.
I hope I’m wrong, but I suspect that some developers are letting their tools dictate their principles—the tail wagging the dog (where the tail is Angular, Ember, etc.).
The markup for the patterns that Mailchimp use on their products. I love getting a glimpse of how companies handle this kind of stuff internally.
John addresses the price of increasing complexity in front-end development.
Yes, tooling can make our life easier. We type fewer keystrokes, and commit more code. But as software engineers learned a long time ago, most of the life of an applications is not in its initial development. It’s in maintaining it. This is something we on the web have had the luxury of being able to largely ignore up to now. After all, how many of the things you build will last years, decades?
A terrific piece by Remy—based on a talk he gave—on when he uses jQuery and, more importantly, when he doesn’t. His experiences and conclusions pretty much mirror my own, but of course Remy is far more thoughtful and smart than I.
Really good stuff.
This issue of A List Apart is a great double-whammy. Lara Swanson has a ton of practical tips for front-end performance enhancements, and Brian dives deep into making your own icon fonts.
I like the sound of the book that Chris is writing for Smashing Magazine. It sounds like a very future-friendly approach to front-end development.
Everything you ever wanted to know about using SVG today.
A really good introduction to front-end performance techniques. Most of this was already on my radar, but I still picked up a handy tip or two (particularly about DNS prefetching).
At this stage it should go without saying that you should be keeping up with this kind of thing: performance is really, really, really important.
This looks like being an excellent (free) event in London featuring three talks related to front-end web development.
The inaugural event this month features a talk on responsive design, a talk on data visualisation, and a talk on accessibility.
The slides and audio from Andy’s exceptional talk earlier this year at Southby, combined into one video.
It really is excellent, although he does make the mistake of pulling the “dogma” card on those who woud disagree with him, and he really doesn’t need to: his argument is strong enough to stand on its own.
I wholeheartedly agree with Christian’s diagnosis of the average web page: it’s overweight to the point of obesity. Fortunately Dr. Heilmann has some remedies.
A terrific write-up of this year’s Full Frontal conference, with a descriptive rundown of each talk.
Some great thoughts from Mike Davies about the strengths of the web, prompted by some of the more extreme comments made by James Pearce at Full Frontal last week.
I should point out that James was being deliberately provocative in order to foment thought and discussion and, judging from this blog post, he succeeded.
The Web’s independence from the hardware and software platform people use is a feature. It’s better than cross-platform frameworks which are constantly criticised for not producing exact native-feeling apps on the multitude of platforms they run on. The Web is above that pettiness.
A great in-depth description by Paul of how he optimised his site. More of this please!
The Guardian’s front-end patterns library. The modules section contains their equivalent of a pattern primer. Very nice!
A worrying look at how modern web developers approach accessibility. In short, they don’t.
The low-hanging fruit of accessibility fixes; it’s worth bearing these in mind.
Do you live in Charlotte, North Carolina? If so, you might be interested in this event that I’ll be Skyping into.
Y’know, I’m on board with pretty much every item in this manifesto.
A great step-by-step tutorial from Brad on developing a responsive site with a Content First mindset.
This is a very in-depth look at how to become a power user of the Web Inspector in Webkit browsers. I’m sitting down with a nice cup of tea to go through all of this.
Jake Archibald has a blog now. Subscribed.
A nice Huffduffer-style mad libs form gives this registration form a friendly quality.