Archive: March, 2022
Thursday, March 31st, 2022
Replying to a tweet from @TheRealNooshu
Oh, wow! Really? That makes me so, so happy!
Replying to a tweet from @TheRealNooshu
Fantastic! Please pass on my congratulations and thanks to all the developers involved.
Looking forward to reading the blog post!
Wednesday, March 30th, 2022
Ban Online Behavioral Advertising | Electronic Frontier Foundation
Targeted advertising based on online behavior doesn’t just hurt privacy. It also contributes to a range of other harms.
I very much agree with this call to action from the EFF.
Maybe we can finally get away from the ludicrious idea that behavioural advertising is the only possible form of effective advertising. It’s simply not true.
Carousels: No one likes you - Joni Halabi
The only person who wants a carousel on your site is you. That’s it. It’s a self-serving vanity project so that you can showcase all of your babies at the same time without telling the world which one is your favorite.
In person events are like buses. You go two years without one and then three come along at once.
My buffer is overflowing from experiencing three back-to-back events. Best of all, my participation was different each time.
First of all, there was Leading Design New York, where I was the host. The event was superb, although it’s a bit of a shame I didn’t have any time to properly experience Manhattan. I wasn’t able to do any touristy things or meet up with my friends who live in the city. Still the trip was well worth it.
Right after I got back from New York, I took the train to Edinburgh for the Design It Build It conference where I was a speaker. It was a good event. I particularly enjoyed Rafaela Ferro talk on accessibility. The last time I spoke at DIBI was 2011(!) so it was great to make a return visit. I liked that the audience was seated cabaret style. That felt safer than classroom-style seating, allowing more space between people. At the same time, it felt more social, encouraging more interaction between attendees. I met some really interesting people.
I got from Edinburgh just in time for UX Camp Brighton on the weekend, where I was an attendee. I felt like a bit of a moocher not giving a presentation, but I really, really enjoyed every session I attended. It’s been a long time since I’ve been at a Barcamp-style event—probably the last Indie Web Camp I attended, whenever that was. I’d forgotten how well the format works.
But even with all these in-person events, online events aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Yesterday I started hosting the online portion of Leading Design New York and I’ll be doing it again today. The post-talk discussions with Julia and Lisa are lots of fun!
So in the space of just of a couple of weeks I’ve been a host, a speaker, and an attendee. Now it’s time for me to get my head back into one other event role: conference curator. No more buses/events are on the way for the next while, so I’m going to be fully devoted to organising the line-up for UX London 2022. Exciting!
Replying to a post on paulrobertlloyd.com
Make Beautifully Resilient Apps With Progressive Enhancement
You had me at “beautifully resilient apps with progressive enhancement”.
This is a great clear walkthrough of enhancing a form submission. A lot of this seems like first principles to me, but if you’ve only ever built single page apps, then thinking about a server-submission process first might well be revelatory.
Monday, March 28th, 2022
Sunday, March 27th, 2022
Artifice and Intelligence
Whatever the merit of the scientific aspirations originally encompassed by the term “artificial intelligence,” it’s a phrase that now functions in the vernacular primarily to obfuscate, alienate, and glamorize.
Do “cloud” next!
Hosting Leading Design New York
I went to New York to host the Leading Design conference. It was weird and wonderful.
Weird, because it felt strange and surreal to be back in a physical space with other people all sharing the same experience.
Wonderful, for exactly the same reasons.
This was a good way to ease back into live events. It wasn’t a huge conference. Just over a hundred people. So it felt intimate, while still allowing people to quite literally have space to themselves.
I can’t tell you much about the post-talk interviews I conducted with the speakers. That’s because what happens at Leading Design stays at Leading Design, at least when it comes to the discussions after the talks. We made it clear that Leading Design was a safe place for everyone to share their stories, even if—especially if—those were stories you wouldn’t want to share publicly or at work.
I was bowled over by how generous and open and honest all the speakers were. Sure, there were valuable lessons about management and leadership, but there were also lots of very personal stories and insights. Time and time again I found myself genuinely moved by the vulnerability that the speakers displayed.
Leadership can be lonely. Sometimes very lonely. I got the impression that everyone—speakers and attendees alike—really, really appreciated having a non-digital space where they could come together and bond over shared travails. I know it’s a cliché to talk about “connecting” with others, but at this event it felt true.
The talks themselves were really good too. I loved seeing how themes emerged and wove themselves throughout the two days. Rebecca did a fantastic job of curating the line-up. I’ve been to a lot of events over the years and I’ve seen conference curation of varying degrees of thoughtfulness. Leading Design New York 2022 is right up there with the best of them. It was an honour to play the part of the host (though I felt very guilty when people congratulated me on such a great event—“Don’t thank me”, I said, “Thank Rebecca—I’m just the public face of the event; she did all the work!”)
My hosting duties aren’t over. This week we’ve got the virtual portion of Leading Design New York. There’ll be two days of revisiting some of the conference talks, and one day of workshops.
For the two days of talks, I’m going to be joined by two brilliant panelists for post-talk discussions—Julia Whitney and Lisa Welchman. This should be fun!
Best of all, for this portion of the event I don’t need to get into an airplane and cross the Atlantic.
That said, the journey was totally worth it for Leading Design New York. Also, by pure coincidence, the event coincided with St. Patrick’s Day. For the first time in two years, New York hosted its legendary parade and it was just a block or two away from the conference venue.
I nipped out during the lunch break to cheer on the marching bands. Every county was represented. When the representatives from county Cork went by, there’d be shouts of “Up Cork!” When the county Donegal delegation went by, it was “Up Donegal!”
It’s just a shame I couldn’t stick around for the representatives from county Down.
Thursday, March 24th, 2022
Replying to a tweet from @hankchizljaw
The ones I use the most are Twitter, Instagram, and Google Meet.
Wednesday, March 23rd, 2022
Replying to a tweet from @CuriousScutter
Yes, I think “deceptive pattern” works, though we might need to transition to it using “deceptive dark pattern” for a while: https://adactio.com/journal/18192
What is the Web? - Jim Nielsen’s Blog
“Be linkable and accessible to any client” is a provocative test for whether something is “of the web”.
Replying to a post on vasilis.nl
Thank you for doing this, Vasilis.
The Laboratorium (2d ser.) (I Do Not Think That NFT Means What You Think It…)
The bottom line is that almost everything NFT advocates want to do on a blockchain can be done more easily and efficiently without one, and the legal infrastructure needed to make NFTs work defeats the point of using a blockchain in the first place.
Tuesday, March 22nd, 2022
Monday, March 21st, 2022
Sunday, March 20th, 2022
Replying to a tweet from @obiwankimberly
Speaking at @DiBiConf by day; seeking out trad music sessions by night—I’ll be at The Black Cat tomorrow (Monday) night, and Sandy Bells on Tuesday night.
🐠 Robin Sloan: describing the emotions of life online
Obviously, no one does this, I recognize this is a very niche endeavor, but the art and craft of maintaining a homepage, with some of your writing and a page that’s about you and whatever else over time, of course always includes addition and deletion, just like a garden — you’re snipping the dead blooms. I do this a lot. I’ll see something really old on my site, and I go, “you know what, I don’t like this anymore,” and I will delete it.
But that’s care. Both adding things and deleting things. Basically the sense of looking at something and saying, “is this good? Is this right? Can I make it better? What does this need right now?” Those are all expressions of care. And I think both the relentless abandonment of stuff that doesn’t have a billion users by tech companies, and the relentless accretion of garbage on the blockchain, I think they’re both kind of the antithesis, honestly, of care.
Reading Orwell’s Roses by Rebecca Solnit.
Going to Edinburgh. brb
Friday, March 18th, 2022
Thursday, March 17th, 2022
Wednesday, March 16th, 2022
Replying to a tweet from @sil
Tuesday, March 15th, 2022
Reading The Lathe Of Heaven by Ursula Le Guin.
Monday, March 14th, 2022
Going to New York. brb
Sunday, March 13th, 2022
Building a Digital Homestead, Bit by Brick
A personal site, or a blog, is more than just a collection of writing. It’s a kind of place - something that feels like home among the streams. Home is a very strong mental model.
Make it boring — jlwagner.net
Excellent advice from Jeremy who wants us to build fast, reliable, resilient websites …even if the technologies involved in doing that don’t feel exciting.
Central to that endeavor is recognizing that the browser gives you a ton of stuff for free. Relying on those freebies requires a willingness to not
Saturday, March 12th, 2022
Going to New York
I’m flying to New York on Monday. That still sounds a little surreal to me, but it’s happening.
I’ll be hosting Leading Design New York. Even a month ago it wasn’t clear if the in-person event would even be going ahead. But there was a go/no-go decision and it was “go!” Now, as New York relaxes its mandates, it’s looking more and more like the right decision. It’s still probably going to feel a bit weird to be gathering together with other people …but it’s also going to feel long overdue.
Rebecca has put together a fantastic line-up of super-smart design leaders. My job will be to introduce them before they speak and then interview them afterwards, also handling questions from the audience.
I’m a little nervous just because I want to do a really good job. But I’ve been doing my homework. And given how well the hosting went for UX Fest, I’m probably being uneccesarily worried. I need to keep reminding myself to enjoy it. It’s a real privilege that I get to spend two days in the company of such erudite generous people. I should make the most of it.
If you’re going to be at Leading Design New York, I very much look forward to seeing you there.
If you’re not coming to Leading Design but you’re in the neighbourhood, let me know if you’ve got any plans for St. Patrick’s Day. I’ve already got my green paisley shirt picked out for my on-stage duties that day.
Wednesday, March 9th, 2022
(optional.is) Link Rot
Following on from my recently-lost long bet, this is a timely bit of data spelunking from Brian analysing the linkrot of 1400 links over 18 years of time.
I feel like it’s high time I revived some interest in my proposal for
button type="share". Last I left it, I was gathering use cases and they seem to suggest that the most common use case for the Web Share API is sharing the URL of the current page.
If you want to catch up on the history of this proposal, here’s what I’ve previously written:
A good example is the Constraint Validation API. For the most common use cases, the
required attribute and
A bad example is the Geolocation API. The most common use case is getting the user’s current location. But there’s no
input type="geolocation" (or
I’ve been thinking about how a lot of recently-proposed APIs end up having to deal with what Chrome devrel’s been calling the “user gesture/activation budget”, and wondering if that’s a good indicator of when something should have been HTML in the first place.
I think he’s onto something here!
button type could be minted?
The Web Share API is a classic example. You can’t invoke the API after an event like the page loading. You have to invoke the API after a user-initiated event like, oh, I don’t know …clicking on a button!
The Fullscreen API has the same restriction. You can’t make the browser go fullscreen unless you’re responding to user gesture, like a click. So why not have
button type="fullscreen" in HTML to encapsulate that? And again, the fallback in non-supporting browsers is predictable—it behaves like a regular button—so this is trivial to polyfill. I should probably whip up a polyfill to demonstrate this.
button type value.
The only potential flaw in this thinking is that some APIs that require a user gesture might also require a secure context (either being served over HTTPS or
localhost). But as far as I know, HTML has never had the concept of features being restricted by context. An element is either supported or it isn’t.
That said, there is some prior art here. If you use
input type="password" in a non-secure context—like a page being served over HTTP—the browser updates the interface to provide scary warnings. Perhaps browsers could do something similar for any new
Replying to a tweet from @ThisIsJoFrank
Monday, March 7th, 2022
Is HTML A Programming Language? (Webbed Briefs)
I’m glad that Heydon has answered this question once and for all.
I’m sure that’ll be the end of it now.
Web notifications on iOS
I’ve mentioned before that I don’t enable notifications on my phone. Text messages are the only exception. I don’t want to get notified if a new email arrives (I avoid email on my phone completely) and I certainly don’t want some social media app telling me somebody liked or faved something.
But the number one feature I’d like to see in Safari on iOS is web notifications.
It’s not for me personally, see. It’s because it’s the number one reason why people are choosing not to go all in progressive web apps.
Safari on iOS is the last holdout. But that equates to enough marketshare that many companies feel they can’t treat notifications as a progressive enhancement. While I may not agree with that decision myself, I get it.
When I’m evangelising the benefits of building on the open web instead of making separate iOS and Android apps, I inevitably get asked about notifications. As long as mobile Safari doesn’t support them—even though desktop Safari does—I’m somewhat stumped. There’s no polyfill for this feature other than building an entire native app, which is a bit extreme as polyfills go.
And of course, unlike on your Mac, you don’t have the option of using a different browser on your iPhone. As long as mobile Safari doesn’t support web notifications, nothing on iOS can support web notifications.
I’ve got progressive web apps on the home screen of my phone that match their native equivalents feature-for-feature. Twitter. Instagram. They’re really good. In some ways they’re superior to the native apps; the Twitter website is much calmer, and the Instagram website has no advertising. But if I wanted to get notifications from any of those sites, I’d have to keep the native apps installed just for that one feature.
So in the spirit of complaining about web browsers in a productive way, I just want to throw this plea out there: Apple, please support web notifications in mobile Safari!
The good news is that web notifications on iOS might be on their way. Huzzah!
Alas, we’re reliant on Maximiliano’s detective work to even get a glimpse of a future feature like this. Apple has no public roadmap for Safari. There’s this status page on the Webkit blog but it’s incomplete—web notifications don’t appear at all. In any case, WebKit and Safari aren’t the same thing. The only way of knowing if a feature might be implemented in Safari is if it shows up in Safari Technology Preview, at which point it’s already pretty far along.
So while my number one feature request for mobile Safari is web notifications, a close second would be a public roadmap.
It only seems fair. If Apple devrels are asking us developers what features we’d like to see implemented—as they should!—then shouldn’t those same developers also be treated with enough respect to share a roadmap with them? There’s not much point in us asking for features if, unbeknownst to us, that feature is already being worked on.
But, like I said, my number one request remains: web notifications on iOS …please!
The cost of opinion – Dimitri Glazkov
This is a terrific analysis of why frameworks exist, with nods to David Hume’s is-ought problem: the native features are what is, and the framework features are what somebody thinks ought to be.
I’ve been saying at conferences for years now that if you choose to use a framework, you need to understand that you are also taking on the philosophy and worldview of the creators of that framework. This post does a great job of explaining that.
It’s great to see browsers working together to collectively implement a range of much-needed features.
These scores represent how browser engines are doing in 15 focus areas and 3 joint investigation efforts.
Sunday, March 6th, 2022
A bug with progressive web apps on iOS
Dave recently wrote some good advice about what to do—and what not to do—when it comes to complaining about web browsers. I wrote something on this topic a little while back:
If there’s something about a web browser that you’re not happy with (or, indeed, if there’s something you’re really happy with), take the time to write it down and publish it
To summarise Dave’s advice, avoid conspiracy theories and snark; stick to specifics instead.
It’s very good advice that I should heed (especially the bit about avoiding snark). In that spirit, I’d like to document what I think is a bug on iOS.
I don’t need to name the specific browser, because there is basically only one browser allowed on iOS. That’s not snark; that’s a statement of fact.
This bug involves navigating from a progressive web app that has been installed on your home screen to an external web view.
To illustrate the bug, I’ll use the example of The Session. If you want to recreate the bug, you’ll need to have an account on The Session. Let me know if you want to set up a temporary account—I can take care of deleting it afterwards.
Here are the steps:
- Navigate to thesession.org in Safari on an iOS device.
- Add the site to your home screen.
- Open the installed site from your home screen—it will launch in standalone mode.
- Log in with your username and password.
- Using the site menu, navigate to the links section of the site.
- Click on any external link.
- After the external link opens in a web view, tap on “Done” to close the web view.
Expected behaviour: you are returned to the page you were on with no change of state.
Actual behaviour: you are returned to the page you were on but you are logged out.
So the act of visiting an external link in a web view while in a progressive web app in standalone mode seems to cause a loss of cookie-based authentication.
This isn’t permanent. Clicking on any internal link restores the logged-in state.
It is surprising though. My mental model for opening an external link in a web view is that it sits “above” the progressive web app, which remains in stasis “behind” it. But the page must actually be reloading, either when the web view is opened or when the web view is closed. And that reload is behaving like a fetch event without credentials.
Anyway, that’s my bug report. It may already be listed somewhere on the WebKit Bugzilla but I lack the deductive skills to find it. I’m not even sure if that’s the right place for this kind of bug. It might be specific to the operating system rather than the rendering engine.
This isn’t a high priority bug, but it is one of those cumulatively annoying software paper cuts.
Hope this helps!
Both plagues on your one house
February is a tough month at the best of times. A February during The Situation is particularly grim.
At least in December you get Christmas, whose vibes can even carry you through most of January. But by the time February rolls around, it’s all grim winteriness with no respite in sight.
In the middle of February, Jessica caught the ’rona. On the bright side, this wasn’t the worst timing: if this had happened in December, our Christmas travel plans to visit family would’ve been ruined. On the not-so-bright side, catching a novel coronavirus is no fun.
Still, the vaccines did their job. Jessica felt pretty crap for a couple of days but was on the road to recovery before too long.
Amazingly, I did not catch the ’rona. We slept in separate rooms, but still, we were spending most of our days together in the same small flat. Given the virulence of The Omicron Variant, I’m counting my blessings.
But just in case I got any ideas about having some kind of superhuman immune system, right after Jessica had COVID-19, I proceeded to get gastroenteritis. I’ll spare you the details, but let me just say it was not pretty.
Amazingly, Jessica did not catch it. I guess two years of practicing intense hand-washing pays off when a stomach bug comes a-calling.
So all in all, not a great February, even by February’s already low standards.
The one bright spot that I get to enjoy every February is my birthday, just as the month is finishing up. Last year I spent my birthday—the big five oh—in lockdown. But two years ago, right before the world shut down, I had a lovely birthday weekend in Galway. This year, as The Situation began to unwind and de-escalate, I thought it would be good to reprieve that birthday trip.
We went to Galway. We ate wonderful food at Aniar. We listened to some great trad music. We drink some pints. It was good.
But it was hard to enjoy the trip knowing what was happening elsewhere in Europe. I’d blame February for being a bastard again, but in this case the bastard is clearly Vladimar Putin. Fucker.
Just as it’s hard to switch off for a birthday break, it’s equally challenging to go back to work and continue as usual. It feels very strange to be spending the days working on stuff that clearly, in the grand scheme of things, is utterly trivial.
I take some consolation in the fact that everyone else feels this way too, and everyone is united in solidarity with Ukraine. (There are some people in my social media timelines who also feel the need to point out that other countries have been invaded and bombed too. I know it’s not their intention but there’s a strong “all lives matter” vibe to that kind of whataboutism. Hush.)
Anyway. February’s gone. It’s March. Things still feel very grim indeed. But perhaps, just perhaps, there’s a hint of Spring in the air. Winter will not last forever.
Saturday, March 5th, 2022
Utopia - an introduction - YouTube
James and Trys have made this terrific explanatory video about Utopia. They pack a lot into less than twenty minutes but it’s all very clearly and methodically explained.
Progressive Enhancement, the New Hotness™ | Go Make Things
Here’s a great explanation of progressive enhancement, complete with practical examples and myth-busting. Pass it ‘round!
If you care about quality engineering, you want as much fault tolerance in the things you build as possible.
Friday, March 4th, 2022
How Websites Die ⁑ Wesley’s Notebook
This is like the Gashlycrumb Tinies but for websites:
It’s been interesting to see how websites die — from domain parking pages to timeouts to blank pages to outdated TLS cipher errors, there are a multitude of different ways.
Interoperable Personal Libraries and Ad Hoc Reading Groups
Speaking of hosting your own reading list, Maggie recently attended an indie web pop-up on personal libraries, which prompted these interesting thoughts on decentralised book clubs—ad hoc reading groups:
Taking a book-first, rather than a group-first approach would enable reading groups who don’t have to compromise on their book choices. They could gather only once or twice to discuss the book, then go their seperate ways. No long-term committment to organising and maintaining a bookclub required.
Nelson’s Weblog: Goodreads lost all of my reviews
Goodreads lost my entire account last week. Nine years as a user, some 600 books and 250 carefully written reviews all deleted and unrecoverable. Their support has not been helpful. In 35 years of being online I’ve never encountered a company with such callous disregard for their users’ data.
Ouch! Lesson learned:
My plan now is to host my own blog-like collection of all my reading notes like Tom does.
Write plain text files | Derek Sivers
If you rely on Word, Evernote or Notion, for example, then you can’t work unless you have Word, Evernote, or Notion. You are helpless without them. You are dependent.
But if you only use plain text, you can use any program on any device, forever. It gives great flexibility and peace of mind.
Thursday, March 3rd, 2022
An incoherent rant about design systems • Robin Rendle
No matter how fancy your Figma file is or how beautiful and lovingly well organized that Storybook documentation is; the front-end is always your source of truth. You can hate it as much as you like—all those weird buttons, variables, inaccessible form inputs—but that right there is your design system.
Some tough design system love from Robin.
Here’s my advice: take all that aspirational stuff out of your Figma design system file. Put it somewhere else. Your Figma docs should be a mirror of the front-end (because that’s really the source of truth).
Replying to a post on lucybellwood.com
Applying pace layers to career paths | Clagnut by Richard Rutter
Yes, I’m a sucker for pace layers, but I think Rich is onto something here, mapping a profession onto a pace layer diagram.
Wednesday, March 2nd, 2022
Replying to a tweet from @derheap
You can use this URL instead:
I’m trying to get @CERN to set up a redirect to that working site, but no response so far.
Tuesday, March 1st, 2022
Replying to a tweet from @ShabanaAhmedX
I remember learning a lovely word from @ThisIsJoFrank to describe that feeling: Firgun
genuine, unselfish delight or pride in the accomplishment of the other person.