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The Web Platform Is Back

So much ink spilled supposedly explaining what “the web platform” is …when the truth is you can just swap in the “the web” every time that phrase is used here or anywhere else.

Anyway, the gist of this piece is: the web is good, actually.

Shift Happens

Marcin’s book is coming along nicely—you just know it’ll be a labour of love.

You’ve never seen a book on technology like this. Shift Happens is full of stories – some never before told – interleaved with 1,000+ beautiful full-color photos across two volumes.

The Kickstarter project launches in February. In the meantime, there are some keyboard-based games here for you to enjoy.

Transient Frameworks · Matthias Ott – User Experience Designer

Frameworks come and go. They are transient. Web standards, on the other hand, are the reason the Web is good now and it will become even better in the future.

Harnessing groupthink: fine-tuning CSS specifications | Clearleft

In order to thoroughly attend to every pertinent aspect of the spec, fantasai asked us each to read one sentence aloud to the group. At which point we were all asked whether we thought the sentence made sense, and to speak up if we didn’t understand any of it or if it wasn’t clear.

Rich documents the excellent and fascinating process used in a recent W3C workshop (though what he describes is the very opposite of groupthink, so don’t let the title mislead you):

I’d never come across the person-by-person, sentence-by-sentence approach before. I found it particularly effective as a way of engaging a group of people, ensuring collective understanding, and gathering structured feedback on a shared document.

When Our Tools Hold Us Back | OddBird

What happens if the ‘pace layers’ get out of sync?

A very thoughtful post by Miriam on how tools can adversely affect the pace of progress in the world of web standards.

When tools intervene between you and your access to the web platform, proceed with caution. Ask not only: How well does it work? But also: How well does it fail? Not only: What features do they provide? But also: What features do they prevent?

CSS Timeline

Here’s a remarkably in-depth timeline of the web’s finest programming language, from before it existed to today’s thriving ecosystem. And the timeline is repsonsive too—lovely!

Chrome 108 beta - Chrome Developers

I think this might be the most excited I’ve been in quite some time about an update to browser support, which probably says a lot about my priorities:

Support for the avoid value of the CSS fragmentation properties break-before, break-after, and break-inside when printing.

Finally!

The transitional web | Go Make Things

I’ve smelt the same change in the wind that Chris describes here—there’s finally a reckoning happening in the world of JavaScript frameworks and single page apps.

Why we need CSS Speech - Tink - Léonie Watson

I was talking about this with Léonie just yesterday. I, for one, would love to have CSS speech support. You know who else would love it? Content designers!

In these days of voice interaction on every platform, there is a growing expectation that it should be possible to design that experience just like we can the visual experience. In the same way an organisation chooses a logo and colour palette for its website, it stands to reason that they may also choose a particular voice that represents their brand.

It’s wild that there’s no way to do this on the web.

The Proprietary Syndication Formats - Chris Coyier

Guess which format is going to outlast all these proprietary syndication formats. I’d say RSS, which I believe to be true, but really, it’s HTML.

Wired.com: 20 years later | Stopdesign

Doug casts an eye back on the Wired redesign he worked on 20 years ago. It’s hard to overstate the impact this had on the adoption of web standards.

We’ve come a long way:

We’ve come so far since this redesign in 2002. We no longer trip ourselves up trying to fit everything above an imaginable fold. Designs respond to various screen sizes. Text is comfortably larger and screens display at a much higher resolution. We tend to give everything more breathing room.

The Thorny Problem of Keeping the Internet’s Time | The New Yorker

This story of the Network Time Protocol hammers home the importance of infrastructure and its maintenance:

Technology companies worth billions rely on open-source code, including N.T.P., and the maintenance of that code is often handled by a small group of individuals toiling away without pay.

A Web Component Story

I get it. React feels good and it’s sticky. But all frameworks eventually fizzle out.

Thanks to Web Components, large companies are realizing you don’t need to rebuild buttons and other UI primitives every few years. Teams don’t need to argue about frameworks anymore. You can have your cake and eat it too!

I think this may be the best long-term argument for web components:

Any org that goes all in on a single framework will eventually find themselves swimming upstream to hire talent to maintain legacy code and avoid framework rot. But you can reduce this burden (and the associated costs) by using Web Components in your design system.

A long-term plan for logical properties? | Miriam Eric Suzanne

Well, now I’m really glad I wrote that post about logical properties!

We’re not there yet. So how do we get there?

Well, I don’t know for sure – but articles like this are very helpful as we try to work it out!

Modern alternatives to BEM - daverupert.com

Dave rounds up some of the acronymtastic ways of scoping your CSS now that we’ve got a whole new toolkit at our disposal.

If your goal is to reduce specificity, new native CSS tools make reducing specificity a lot easier. You can author your CSS with near-zero specificity and even control the order in which your rules cascade.

as days pass by — Farmbound, or how I built an app in 2022

Stuart writes up the process up making a mobile game as a web app—not a native app. The Wordle effect reverberates.

It’s a web app. Works for everyone. And I thought it would be useful to explain why it is, why I think that’s the way to do things, and some of the interesting parts of building an app for everyone to play which is delivered over the web rather than via app stores and downloads.

What it’s like working with an editor

This piece by Giles is a spot-on description of what I do in my role as content buddy at Clearleft. Especially this bit:

Your editor will explain why things need changing

As a writer, it’s really helpful to understand the why of each edit. It’s easier to re-write if you know precisely what the problem is. And often, it’s less bruising to the ego. It’s not that you’re a bad writer, but just that one particular thing could be expressed more simply, or more clearly, than your first effort.

Using :has() as a CSS Parent Selector and much more | WebKit

A terrific tour of just some of the fantastic ways you can use :has() in CSS.

The section on using it with sibling selectors blew my mind:

How often have you wanted to adjust the margins on a headline based on the element following it? Now it’s easy. This code allows us to select any h2 with a p immediately after it.

h2:has(+ p) { margin-bottom: 0; }

Amazing.

The Real Novelty of the ARPANET

Setting the scene:

The Washington Hilton stands near the top of a small rise about a mile and a half northeast of the National Mall. Its two white-painted modern facades sweep out in broad semicircles like the wings of a bird. The New York Times, reporting on the hotel’s completion in 1965, remarked that the building looks “like a sea gull perched on a hilltop nest.”

The hotel hides its most famous feature below ground. Underneath the driveway roundabout is an enormous ovoid event space known as the International Ballroom, which was for many years the largest pillar-less ballroom in DC. In 1967, the Doors played a concert there. In 1968, Jimi Hendrix also played a concert there. In 1972, a somewhat more sedate act took over the ballroom to put on the inaugural International Conference on Computing Communication, where a promising research project known as the ARPANET was demonstrated publicly for the first time.

It turns out that the most important innovation of the ARPANET isn’t obvious in hindsight:

So what I’m trying to drive home here is that there is an important distinction between statement A, “the ARPANET connected people in different locations via computers for the first time,” and statement B, “the ARPANET connected computer systems to each other for the first time.” That might seem like splitting hairs, but statement A elides some illuminating history in a way that statement B does not.