Archive: June, 2016 sparkline

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Thursday, June 30th, 2016

Brighton Astro

The website for Brighton’s astronomy meet up:

Every month we will have one or two talks aimed at beginners with an interest in learning more about astronomy, but assuming no prior knowledge.

Also, we will take our telescopes out to observe in and around Brighton on clear evenings - on the seafront, Hove and Preston Park, Devil’s Dyke and beyond.

Wednesday, June 29th, 2016

Audacious Fox: Mini Interview: Loren Brichter on the Sale of Letterpress to Solebon

Colin pointed out this interesting perspective from an iOS developer moving to the web:

My work for the last few years has been on the web, and honestly, it’s a breath of fresh air. Instant refreshing, surprisingly good debugging / perf tools, intrinsically multi-platform, and most importantly, open.

Web tech gets a lot of shit from native devs (some of it deserved). But the alternatives are worse. I find the entire concept of App Review morally questionable despite Apple’s good intentions. So I sleep better at night not being part of that anymore. Sure, the web is messy, and it’s delicate, but it’s important and good and getting better fast.

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016

Remarks at the SASE Panel On The Moral Economy of Tech

People who excel at software design become convinced that they have a unique ability to understand any kind of system at all, from first principles, without prior training, thanks to their superior powers of analysis. Success in the artificially constructed world of software design promotes a dangerous confidence.

Great stuff as usual from Maciej, ending with a rallying cry for us to pay attention to history:

This is not the first time an enthusiastic group of nerds has decided to treat the rest of the world as a science experiment. Earlier attempts to create a rationalist Utopia failed for interesting reasons, and since we bought those lessons at a great price, it would be a shame not to learn them.

There is also prior art in attempts at achieving immortality, limitless wealth, and Galactic domination. We even know what happens if you try to keep dossiers on an entire country.

If we’re going to try all these things again, let’s at least learn from our past, so we can fail in interesting new ways, instead of failing in the same exasperating ways as last time.

Monday, June 27th, 2016

Sunday, June 26th, 2016

Screw Mastery

The joy of starting from scratch:

I remembered a really nice thing: how to be goofily, absurdly proud of myself for figuring something out, a kind of pride I usually reserve for my children. This is the best part of dropping back to zero. The list of things you have to master is endless. And when you get one right — even a little, tiny one — everyone notices and gives you an adult version of an extra candy in your lunchbox.

Saturday, June 25th, 2016

Progressive Web Apps Dev Summit |

Hidde’s write-up of the Progressive Web App Dev Summit:

It was exciting to hear about the technologies, and to see that a lot of them already work on a great deal of platforms. Most of the major browser vendors expressed how much they liked the idea, so it is realistic to say support will increase in the short term. This, and the fact that all PWA techniques can be regarded as a ‘progressive enhancement’ (with some leniency as to what that term means), entails that we can build Progressive Web Apps today.

Hopefully, we will do so responsibly. Native apps really only work on their particular platforms. PWAs, in theory, can be built to work universally. For everyone with a web enabled device. This is awesome! Major browser vendors are behind the idea, and I think as developers we should be, too.

Thursday, June 23rd, 2016

Designing Modular UI Systems Via Style Guide-Driven Development – Smashing Magazine

Striking that balance between the reusability of modular components and maintaining a big-picture vision of the overall design:

We should always strive to use patterns in an application. For example, consistent use of colors and font sizes can quickly indicate to the user elements in the UI that can be interacted with. However, avoid using a pattern just because it has been implemented before; rather, use it because it really solves the problem at hand.

Apps are dying by Cameron Moll

Cameron looks back on his 2007 Mobile Web Design book:

I don’t anticipate native apps will die off anytime soon. But I’m warming to the idea that they may be less relevant to the future of the web, and I reaffirm that “a browser will be — or should be — sufficient for interacting with web content.”

Progressive web apps are poised to be remarkably relevant to the future of the web. Let’s not screw it up.

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016

Democratize the Internet Now! | New Republic

It is a sad and beautiful world wide web:

The technology that let people make web sites never went away. You can still set up a site as if it were 1995. But culture changes, as do expectations. It takes a certain set of skills to create your own web site, populate it with cool stuff, set up a web server, and publish your own cool-stuff web pages. I would argue that those skills should be a basic part of living in a transparent and open culture where individuals are able to communicate on an equal field of play. Some fellow nerds would argue the same. But most everyone else, statistically, just uses Facebook and plays along.

Paul Ford shines a light on the solution:

Standing against this tide of centralization is the indie web movement. Perhaps “movement” is too strong—it’s more an aesthetic of independence and decentralization. The IndieWebCamp web page states: “When you post something on the web, it should belong to you, not a corporation.” You should own your information and profit from it. You should have your own servers. Your destiny, which you signed over to Facebook in order to avoid learning a few lines of code, would once again be your own.

Beautiful, beautiful writing:

We could still live in that decentralized world, if we wanted to. Despite the rise of the all-seeing database, the core of the internet remains profoundly open. I can host it from my apartment, on a machine that costs $35. You can link to me from your site. Just the two of us. This is an age of great enterprise, no time to think small. Yet whatever enormous explosion tears through our digital world next will come from exactly that: an individual recognizing the potential of the small, where others see only scale.

Saturday, June 18th, 2016

Tuesday, June 14th, 2016

Monday, June 13th, 2016

Human scale technology — Medium

A wonderful rallying cry for the indie web:

Do it yourself. Strip it down. Keep control. Make it for your community. Don’t do it for the money.

And this is where I start to understand what my friend Rebecca Gates means when she says that technologists and designers have a lot to learn from punk and indie rock. Leave the expensive, large scale, commercial arena rock to Facebook, Google, and Twitter.

We can be The Ramones.

And Bad Brains.

We can press our own records, and run our own labels.

We can make our own spaces based on our own values.

Such a shame that it’s only on Medium—the MOR of online publishing.

Sunday, June 12th, 2016

Declarative Design Tools | Jon Gold

Jon introduces a new tool with a very interesting observation: up until now, all our graphic design tools have been imperative rather than declarative

With our current tools we’re telling the computer how to design the vision we have in our head (by tapping on our input devices for every element on the screen); in our future tools we will tell our computers what we want to see, and let them figure out how to move elements around to get there.

Research with blind users on mobile devices | Accessibility

Some interesting outcomes from testing with blind users of touchscreen devices:

Rather than reading out the hierarchy of the page, some of the users navigated by moving their finger around to ‘discover’ content.

This was really interesting - traditionally good structure for screen readers is about order and hierarchy. But for these users, the physical placement on the screen was also really important (just as it is for sighted users).

Saturday, June 11th, 2016

The web is catching up on mobile

A good impartial overview of progressive web apps, as described at the most recent Google I/O. This is very telling:

At the start I found the term a bit confusing as some PWA examples are single page applications (SPA) controlled by JavaScript. These apps are not strictly using progressive enhancement where JavaScript is added on top to enhance the experience.

The term also begs the question; what is the difference between websites and apps? It seems many of the new capabilities fit well for any dynamic website, not just apps.

Anyhow. It’s good to have an umbrella term to talk about these things.

Apprenticeship: A better path to mastering our craft | Louder Than Ten

I’ve been thinking a lot about learning, teaching, mentoring, coaching …this article by Ivana McConnell from last year is packed with gold nuggets of wisdom concerning apprenticeships.

As lifelong learners, we may be reluctant to call ourselves “masters.” But that’s missing the point, and it discounts the fact that teaching is learning. We’re not there to guarantee mastery—we’re there to give our apprentices fundamentals, to foster their respect, and make journeymen (or women) out of them. Mastery will come; we just offer the tools.

Friday, June 10th, 2016

Thursday, June 9th, 2016

Tuesday, June 7th, 2016

Progressive web apps – let’s not repeat the errors from the beginning of responsive web design | justmarkup

Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it:

When people learned about responsive design, there were many wrong assumptions. The iPhone and early Android phones all had the same screen size (320x480px) and people thought it is a good idea to change the design based on these device-specific sizes.

We wouldn’t do that now, right? We wouldn’t attempt to create something that’s supposed to be a progressive web app, only to make it device-specific, right?

We are still at the beginning of learning about the best ways to build Progressive Web Apps. I hope it will make many more people aware of progressive enhancement. I hope that nobody makes the error again and concentrates on the device part.

PWA Discovery: You Ain’t Seen Nothin Yet | Infrequently Noted

Smart thinking from Alex on how browsers could better indicate that a website is a progressive web app (and would therefore benefit from being added to the home screen). Ambient badging, he calls it.

Wouldn’t it be great if there were a button in the URL bar that appeared whenever you landed on a PWA that you could always tap to save it to your homescreen? A button that showed up in the top-level UI only when on a PWA? Something that didn’t require digging through menus and guessing about “is this thing going to work well when launched from the homescreen?”

Monday, June 6th, 2016

Sunday, June 5th, 2016

Good intentions are not enough |

Online discourse:

Wouldn’t it be nice if we had an x-ray that could peer into the true intention behind words on a screen? Sadly we don’t have that x-ray yet (for most of humanity’s existence, we had body language to enrich our words and enhance understanding, but we live in interesting times where so much, perhaps even the majority, of our communication lacks body language) and so we have to be mindful of how our words might be perceived, and what the ramifications of publishing them might be. That’s not to say we should hold off completely, but it does mean we should be mindful if we’re to be most effective.

Network Effect

The latest piece from Jonathan Harris explores online life in all its mundanity, presenting it in an engaging way, all the while trying to make you feel bad for doing exactly what the site is encouraging you to do.

Progressively less progressive | Andrew Betts

I agree with everything Andrew says here. Progressive web apps are great, but as long as Google heap praise on mobile-only solutions (like the Washington Post doorslam) and also encourage separate AMP sites, they’re doing a great disservice to the web.

More features arrive regularly to make this “one web” even better and easier to maintain. Service worker, streams, app manifests, payment request, to name a few. But adding these features one at a time to large, mature applications like WaPo or FT or Nikkei is a slow and painstaking process. That’s why it’s taking us a long time for us to tick off all these new features, and why it seems like madness to try and build the entire app several times over.

However, by creating the concept of PWAs and marketing them as they do, Google is encouraging publishers to ‘start again’. And they’re doing exactly the same thing with AMP.

Saturday, June 4th, 2016

Thursday, June 2nd, 2016

Progressive Enhancement and Modern JavaScript ― Caolan

I think JavaScript frameworks have been blinkered to the needs of many developers (most websites are not SPAs or run by Node, nor should they be) for too long. We need to find a way to apply the lessons of modern frameworks to the rest of the web - it would be sad if everyone had to run JavaScript on their server and good-old resilient HTML was considered only as a fallback.

Yet another blog about the state and future of Progressive Web App - The blog of Ada Rose Edwards


In the web developer community’s collective drive to be more App Like and compete with native apps we may lose or weaken some of the web’s strongest features and we need to consider carefully before we throw away urls or the entire browser chrome in an effort to look like and behave like the cool kids of native.

You can hear more of Ada’s thoughts on progressive web apps on a recent episode of JavaScript Air.

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016