25 Mar 2015, 09:30

Around the Web - March 2015

Browser

Responsive Web Design (RWD)

HTML5/CSS/Javascript

  • This API is so Fetching : fetch API is to be used for asynchronous actions and is to be more resilient than a XHR (ie ajax) call. Some exemples are given in the blog post ; it can be used from Firefox 39 and Chrome 42 (currently in dev status) but a Fetch Polyfill exists to start using this API from now.
  • CSS Reference which introduces itself as an extensive CSS reference with all the important properties and info to learn CSS from the basics ; this article gives a more introduction on its purpose and how to use it.
  • Meteor, develop faster than a rocket (in French) : an introduction to Meteor  a full stack and isomorphic javascript framework in which you use Javascript both on client and server side. It also uses MongoDB (NoSQL Document Oriented database & schemaless) to store data and it's based on Node.JS. A second article will show how you can create a mobile app easily.

Thoughts

  • Your job is not to write code : Engineers' job is not to write code, Project Managers' job is not to manage project and so on. Our job is to make a better product.
  • A Bug Hero to fight against bug invasion (in French): in an agile team, in each sprint, a developper is commited to do the 1st level support, fix bug and manage incident to avoid disturbing the whole team and sacrifice the sprint. If no bugs, developer is aimed to fix small tasks that are not on the critical path for the sprint dlivery. Interesting both for the disturbing management effect and as it enforces developpers to have a global knowledge of the system, not only his own part.  

SQL

  • Understanding SQL's null : because querying null is not as easy as it may be and also null may not mean null in the way you expect.
  • PoWa (Postgresql Workload Analyser), released as a 2.0 version, provides a better (from what it is said, not tested) monitoring and performance tools on your Postgres 9.4 cluster.

Virtualisation

Compose is a way of defining and running multi-container distributed applications with Docker. Back in December we opened up its design to the community. Based on the feedback from that, Compose will be based on Fig, a tool for running development environments with Docker.

Machine takes you from “zero-to-Docker” with a single command. It lets you easily deploy Docker Engines on your computer, on cloud providers, and in your own data center

Swarm is native clustering for Docker containers. It pools together several Docker Engines into a single, virtual host. Point a Docker client or third party tool (e.g., Compose, Dokku, Shipyard, Jenkins, the Docker client, etc.) at Swarm and it will transparently scale to multiple hosts. A beta version of Swarm is now available, and we’re working on integrations with Amazon Web Services, IBM Bluemix, Joyent, Kubernetes, Mesos, and Microsoft Azure.

  • so now you can orchestrate all your process from zero to production using docker (based) solutions. Even if some products are still in beta so far, a very interesting move !

 

26 Nov 2014, 09:30

Around the Web - November 2014

DNS

HTTPS

MySQL

HTML5/CSS/Responsive Web Design

  • 7 CSS Units you may not know about : rem, vh, vm, vmin, vmax, ex and ch. I did not know the two latter. Some more examples for the vh/vm and vmin/vmax.
  • About rem and em more specially, if you want to move from a fixed approach (ie pixel one) to a more fluid/adaptive one (em/rem), you should read this article  and then this one which explain the issue with pixels and the new way to manage it. You can also use em/rem for positionning content ; em/rem are not only about text.
  • 5 obsolete features in HTML5: hgroups tag, pubdate and scope attributes, command and center elements. With the good way to implement them and/or some workaround if you still need them.
  • RWD adoption 2014 : top 100/1000/10.000 sites are evaluated - from to what extend is RWD implemented to mobile site vs RWD benchmarks in terms of performance.
  • 6 technologies that will change the web platform : asm.js, paralleljs, ECMAScript 6, web components, installable webapps, CSS Grid layout
  • The state of Web Animation 2014 : Between the post-Flash area and the Web Animation API to be implemented in all browsers, a review of current challenges and polyfill to bring animations into the browsers. Comments are also worth to read to get more resources.
  • If you are interested in a book about RWD, seems the latest book from A book apart may interested you : Responsible responsive web design (related review)

Browser

Web Performance

  • M6 Tech team made a review of their participation to Velocity conf (day 1, day 2, day 3), a web performance oriented conference. Even if their synthesis is in French, related slides and video are in English. You can also find the one of 2013 (day 1, day 2, day 3)

AngularJS

React (Facebook)

  • React through the ages : an interesting introduction (from origin to what's coming) about React, a JS library to build user interfaces.

23 Apr 2014, 09:30

Web Roundup - 23/4

This blog is not (yet) dead ; some links :

  • Internet Explorer Web Platform Status and Roadmap : To know if/when some features of HTML5/CSS3/JS have been implemented in Internet Explorer from IE9 to "Under Consideration" or "Not currently planned"
  • If you want to build Windows 8 apps in JS (instead of .net technologies) but also more general UI in HTML/CSS/JS (more sceptical on this one), you may be interested by WinJS, recently opensourced by Microsoft. You can even try it first and then look at the code/project.
  • HTML5 Security Cheat sheet : some security points to have in mind
  • WTF, HTML and CSS? : Reasons HTML and CSS might make you say what the fuck. A curated list of commonly frustrating HTML and CSS quandaries, miscues, and dilemmas.
  • A "Should I use" in French about some ergonomic pitfalls like caroussel, intrusive pop-in, fixed headers/footers, etc with samples. Still work in progress but with some good examples.

Till next time !

08 Jan 2014, 09:30

[Book] Maintainable CSS with Sass & Compass

This week, a review of the book "CSS maintenables avec Sass & Compass" (in French), I recommend reading if you want to review / challenge the way you code your CSS files and introduce to Sass/Compass. It will require you have some knowledge of CSS.

Globally what I liked in the book is the author's pragmatism to give you tips and recipes to get your work done in a sustainable way. It's not about the CSS state of the art as in traditional book but more a collection of best practices to improve your CSS code and skills. The book will give you the required overview to understand what is said but only the required part to have a good overview of the CSS world when the book was published (June 2012 - more on this at the end).

You will see through the book :

  • How to "strengthen" your head section with the use of the right doctype and how it impacts the rendering in browsrrs, the use of Modernizr, how to reset style (with reset.css or  normalize.css) and of course, the charset declaration (unicode).
  • How to organise your CSS files (reset.css, layout.css, typo.css, global.css, forms.css, application.css AND print.css)
  • How to structure your code (code styling)
  • How to manage graceful degradation / progressive enhancements
  • How to build a library/portfolio with your main components to have a quick and global review of all your "widgets/components" to ease your regression tests at least
  • Introduction to the main CSS frameworks (at that time) and in particular OOCSS which provides more a methodology than a finalised product.
    • The idea behind OOCSS is to apply "Object Oriented Principes" to CSS ; thus you will split your code in two parts. What is about the "structure" and what is about the "appearence / look / skin" of your content. By structure, I mean size (height/width), margin/padding and position (fixed, absolute, relative). By skin, it will be borders, colors, font, images, etc. It aims also to separate container and content.
    • By doing this, you may write more html code as you will use two CSS classses to define one global behaviour (structure + look) but you will get a more flexible/reusable code.
  • Introduce to CSS preprocessors and Sass/Compass in particular. Such tools will help you to structure your code, validate it (when compiled to CSS), etc.
    • Sass provides you some variables (you define for example the color of your site in one place and then use the related variable when needed. If you need to adjust the color, you do it once for all) / function with arguments (ex : you can compute some formula like sizing items based on some criterion) /  mixins (a block of css code you can call/include where you want) / class inheritence to extend one CSS class from another one / ...)
    • Compass is to be seen as a meta framework for Sass. It will provide you some features (reset.css, pre-defined mixins, etc) and also a full toolchain (code validation, sprites management, concatenation, minification, etc.

So if  you need to build CSS coding styles, challenge the way you code CSS and introduce you to Sass/Compass and see what you can benefit from them. It's definitely the book to read. For a more detailled usage of Sass/compass, you may be interested by "Saas & Compass avancé" (in French - not yet read but with very good feedbacks so far)

Nevertheless a V2 of the book is on going but not yet published. I will recommend you to wait for these new version as in the last 12/18 months, many things happened in the CSS world.

And yes, read the physical book instead of the ebook. Some pages are organised with some content face to face on two pages. When you read vertically from one page to another one, it does not fit as well in ebook.

06 Nov 2013, 09:30

Web Roundup - 6/11

Keeping on frontend side to change from my current backend tasks (SSO/Kerberos, Postgresql, etc) :

  • Touch and Mouse : together again for the first time :
    • You may consider so far that your application is either used in a touch context (on a tablet) or a mouse on (on the desktop). However with the rise of Touch & Mouse devices (think Microsot Surface, ChromeBooks, etc), you will have to consider both at the same time.
    • Often developers also consider that mouse and touch events are similar, the article will show you some differences. Fortunately, with Pointer Events initiated by Microsoft, there is a standard in progress for managing both at the same time through a standardised API.
    • You can start using Pointer Events with these JS libraries : PointerEvents.js and Hand.js
  • Icon & Pictogram (in French) : a very interesting article to distinguish icons / pictograms and the right way to use them. Not as obvious as we may think first. A good pictogram = icon illustrating the right concept in the right context, being meaninful for most people with/without the associated label, etc.

  • Reminder : do not use @import to load your css files ; prefer the link notation as files would be downloaded in parralel and not one after another.
  • Still about webperf, a "latency for dummies" article to learn more about latency (what is it ? how it impacts my site ? etc.)
  • And to finish, if you want to hightlight differences between HTML4 and HTML5, there is an app a web page for that.

16 Oct 2013, 09:30

Paris Web 2013

I had the opportunity to attend Paris Web last week. For those who don't know Paris Web, it's a conference about webdesign, accessibility and quality, but not only/strictly and 2013 was the 8th edition, gathering 600 people in Palais Brongnart and almost 600 online too with the live. All the conferences were recorded, so if you are interested, you'll be able to watch them online later.

For me, It was 2 days with a lot of insights, values and beliefs on what the web should be and how we should work and somehow live with the Web.

Below a summary of the talks I attended.

Day 1:
  • "La folle journée ou la fourberie d'un projet" : a funny introduction with a story with all the "clichés" about a web project : use of trainee, lack of specs, lack of organisation, etc.
  • "API Best practices" by Eric Daspet (slides) : Eric provides some feedbacks about his own exprience on builind API ; a few lessions he learnt and shared :
    • Dates are ambigous, especially when you deal with timezones ; be the most defensive as you can against date (don't assume lazy people will provide UTC based date for example but more a local date with timezone)
    • Plan additional langues to avoid breaking your JSON object and more globally your API when adding a new languages
    • Pagination : your collection can change between two requests ; so implement a strict filter and some before/after pagination than using offset and limits/quantity
    • Enforce pagination and limits to avoid a client making a query on the whole collection
    • Versioning : be compatible but not that much. You will fail to some extend, assume you will have to redesign your API and have a v1, v2, etc
    • Structure : be predictible with your URI schema ; don't have more than 3 levels (collection / item / link)
    • Encoding : avoid special characters to avoid some double encoding in some code (yours or the one of your client)
    • Security : never implement your own system, rely on standards like HTTP-Baisc and oAuth ; provide a mandatory SSL/TLS channel.
    • Make your API simple to start with but the most flexible/opened also to be easily extended later
    • Mix a bunch of state of the art, standards and pragmatism to have the right balance to build your API
  • "I code so I test" :
    • Remember that Ariane 5 rocket exploded for a cost of 370 millions $ for a code from Ariane 4 which was not tested and for a test estimation about 300.000$
    • Review of the main tools for testing (unit / integration / functionnal / UI / validity / compatibility testing)
    • Aim is not to improve code quality by the test ifself but the process it requires
    • Imrprove code resilience, maintenance and evolutivity
    • Imrpove the trust you have in the code, even if you are not the one who developed it
    • There is a learning curve which is not that much about the tools but about the experience on how/what to test
    • Be realistic/pragmatic in your tests but always tests
    • Start better with a wrong test than with none. Never wait for the perfect test and you will improve them over time.
  • HTML5 accessibility (slides) :
    • There is still a long way to go even if browsers do mostly their job. It's because of the WIP status of HTML5 but also the fact that browser are not always connected to the "Assistant tools" to which they should provide information. Even if not up to date, you can check HTML5Accessibility.com.
    • Overuse of "section" tag in HTML5 is what we had with "div" tag in HTML4, whereas "section" are visible in audio system (and not always div, creating too much noise but at least being visible)
    • Aria is to make the bridge for accessibility when native tags are not sufficient. It will use shadow dom
    • Tip 1 : if you use a "section", provide a heading to make your section meaningful for audio/screen reader devices
    • Tip 2 : if you try to enhance some native html tags (like input) to make it looks fine for non paired people, think about accessiblity
    • Tip 3 : Use native html tag instead of Aria components when possible
    • Tip 4 : Do not change/alter native HTML semantics
    • Tip 5 : all interactive ARIA controls must be able to use with keyboard
  • Subtile accessibility :
    • On mobile, you have no keyboard nor short description ("infobulle"). So you need to find alternatives to make your content accessible.
    • Some patterns (navigation, links management, etc) are reviewed with a few tips to improve the accessibility. Some tips can be used also to improve UX for non paired users.
  • Learning to love : crash course in emotional ux design
    • Starts with reminding that design is not just about how it looks like but also how it works (cf Steve Jobs quote)
    • Impaired people have difficulties to choose because of this lack of "emotion".
    • Before an application can create an emational relation with user, it must meet basic needs first.
    • It's not because a product is useful that a product is usable.
    • When for email you use the "no-reply@domain.com", you just say you users you don"t care about them ; you should better use a please-reply@domain.com
    • Introduce emotional design smoothly with a progressive adoption, starting by fixing an issue so that you have a first rolling point for emotional design.
  • A small step for "em", a big step for the Web by Nicolas Hoizey (slides)
    • Start with a reminder that we should allow user to set his own preferences (font size, etc) to adapt the site to its needs, and thus we need to give them control on the site but with keeping the control on main layout.
    • For these need, please enter "em"  (and "rem") units both for font-size but also for vertical and horizontal grid. Idea is to adopt proportional/relative size and adopt the elastic rendering (which is not the same as fluid which was more a fixed side but set in percentage)
    • If you also mix an "em" approach with responsive web design, you should both offer a good accessibility and user experience with an adaptated rendering.
    • Promotion of the Future Friendly movement, which I'm also really fan about and share the vision of the web.
  • Impactful user experience user strategy : thoughts about UX based on a delivery issue use cases, making think about the whole process and the vision of each participants and how it impacted the whole user experience.
  • HTML5 Javascript API : based on a memo game html/js/css based, the author introduced some CSS/JS/HTML5 - I did not find it that interesting but maybe because it was end of the 1st day.

Day 2 :

  • Adaptive images for responsive webdesign : a review of some techniques to make adaptive images and for each of them a review in termes of performance, complexity (use of dependencies, etc). We can conclude so far that there is no obvious solution and that so far you need to find the solution adpated for your needs. So it's still a nightmare to some extend for a frontend developer and the fact that CMS would also have to manage it for end contributors, is another challenge.
  • Integration, the "it depends" universe (slides) : Frontend devs needs to know from day 1 the requirements and the constraints of the project to make the right assumptions on how they will integrate the site at a HTML/CSS/JS point of view and choose the right solutions. The latter you provide information/constraints to him, the more impacts it can have.
  • Retroactions loops or how to customise your application :
  • Think Mobile UX (slides) : a very interesting talk on mobile UX by focusing on "degrated" moments (when waiting, when out of connection, etc)
    • Challenge : need to think about interruption and breaks, with a requirement of efficiency, on a short and narrow screen
    • Work on the waiting time the user felt and not the real waiting time to allow him keeping focus on his task and without making him angry about your app. like trying to provide an app skeleton to make feel the app is loading, or provide first local features or assume your connection and transaction will succeed and provides an immediate feedback and do the transaction asynchronously (like when the like is displayed in instragram)
    • Focus on the main task of the app to make it damend simple and fask. Secondary task can then be sub-optimised
  • Rusy web (slides) : a "philosophical" talk about data resilience, what should be kept/deleted, who should do that, etc. More open questions than anything else but an interesting talk as the web is only 20 years. What may seem useless now may be useful later for historians but you also have the privacy issues and your digital legacy.
  • Designing with sensors, creating adaptive experience
    • Not really related with web topics but was very interesting especially for the issue it raised about use of data, if robots could make human dumb, etc.
    • Adaptive design is to make a user experience dependant on context and user (so it's not responsive design)
    • Sensors and related intelligence start to be everywhere from Google Now to your Heating system sensors or if you enter a shop, your device would awake, open the app of the shop and become a personnal shoping assistant.
  • Mobile and accessibilty, a trojan game (slides) :
    • Accessibility aspect of projects were often neglected making the assumption impaired people were not using your website.
    • When you look closely to mobile web, it makes us feel as impaired people. So web mobile is a great opportunity to make site accessible by meeting the mobile requirement
    • Tip : if you allow transaction on mobile, increase session and use local storage to allow people to go through their transaction even if they are disturbed or punctually disconnected
  • Paradox of choice :
    • The more choice you have, the more disappointed you will be. Indeed the right choice seems impossible to make. For e-commerce, you need then to filter/sort/narrow user's choices to make him chose the right solution for his needs.
    • Tip : instead of suggesting similar products for which you can create a higher deception, better suggest additional products.
    • Focus on the end of the transaction process to provide a feeling of satisfaction ; what happens before does not matter that much
  • Lighning talks session (people to present 1 topic in 4 minutes)
    • Two devs from Microsoft made two live coding talks with the BabylonJS framework, one to show how to implement a tetris game in HTML/JS/CSS and one about building a first version of the solar system. It was really impressive !
    • I stopped to save the world : what happens when you stop being a hero in all your projects and that even if it may explode to some extent, gains are higher than keeping being a hero both for you and your firm and projects.
    • Others were nice but not that worth to be mentionned :)


What I liked by attending Paris Web :

  • It makes you think about your job, your values/beliefs, your vision of the Web. I should definitely have attended earlier and I need to find how to stay close to these microcosm/universe to sustain skills/values/beliefs.
  • Some topics seems very far away from my current challenges but who knows...
  • It confirms/extend your knowledge on some topics but also let you discover new ones

Videos of each conferences should be available soon - I strongly encourage you to watch them and attend the 2014 edition.

Extra resources :

09 Oct 2013, 09:30

Web Roundup - 9/10

Responsive web design

  • Viewport resizer, which defines itself as follow : Viewport resizer is a browser-based tool to test any website’s responsiveness. Just save the bookmarklet, go to the page you want to test, click on your created bookmarklet and check all kinds of screen resolutions of the page
  • RWD Bookmarklet : a bookmarklet which allow to see you to what extend your site is responsive with some features like making a keyboard appear, etc.

User Experience

Javascript

HTML/CSS

  • Clipping & Masking in CSS or how to use CSS to apply some "filters" on your images.
  • CSS @supports (CSS & JS) to detect browser support for a given (CSS) style directive. It means you will structure your code based on feature detection. Not fully convinced but worth to know it exists.

02 Oct 2013, 09:30

Web Roundup - 02/10

A bunch of things, not really classified this time :

On Javascript side :

On tools side :

  • Google just released a new WYSIWYG authoring tool called Web Designer ; so far I always remained far away from such tools (remember  Dreamweaver in the early 2000s ?), but first feedback seems positive so far. Even Mozilla evangelist Christian Heilman is positive about it.
  • If you are a Raspberry Pi owner, you can also have a look at another Google's project called "coder". It aims to make you learn about web development.
  • The top 25 (responsive) design tools : a bunch of tools to ease the way you will build your site, not all are about responsive and can be used for "traditional" needs or not only for responsive designs.
  • Telize is a JSON IP and GeoIP REST API for IP Geolocation : This service offers a REST API allowing to get a visitor IP address and to query location information from any IP address. It outputs JSON-encoded IP geolocation data, and supports both JSON and JSONP.
  • Jq, a lightweight and flexible command-line JSON processor.

On HTML/CSS side

On tests side :

  • Test first : you could sum up the article with You should write tests. You should write tests first. You should write clean tests first! and test are specs (as in the RSpecs language where tests can be read as a specification)

On webperf side :

One day I hope I'll have enough time to write about AngularJS, Web Components Grunt/Yeoman and ElasticSearch, which I find promising and interesting, but need some time to dive in.

04 Sep 2013, 09:30

Web Roundup 4/9
  • Great Responsive Web Design is a Matter of Process - Design for Content not for Devices : the web was originally fluid and adaptive until the box and table model came. A good reminder and the promotion of the best practice that you should think about content and not about devices.You have to focus on two axes :
    •  Visual design : ie not focusing on the global layout but ,on a component perspective and think on how your content will be presented.
    • Content hierarchy : your mockups will no longer be based on the layout but on the hierachy of the content ; indeed, on mobile, due to the narrower screen, you will organise your content based on their importance (most importent content on the top and the rest below)
  • An event apart : The long web : notes from a conference with a lot of best practices and food for thoughts ; a few one I would highlight :
    • Importance of the URL schema you will develop as URL is the base to access information. URL is the API of your site.
    • Mobile first is to prioritise content / tasks
    • Mobile first is content first, navigation second
    • Have a component approach from which you will build your HTML pages
    • ...
  • Javascript design patterns : where the author reminds why patterns are important and introduce each of them with an example and additional resources.
  • CSS units you should be using now : we all know the "px" and "em" units on CSS but there are a few more like "rem" and "vh"/"vw" ones. The article will remind the issue with em based approach and introduce why "rem" based approach is better. It also introdue the vh/vw units which are based on the viewport (~ size resolution) of the screen.
  • Testing your frontend javascript with mocha, chai and sinon : introduction to unit test your javascript code with the 3 tools.

28 Aug 2013, 23:45

Web Roundup - 28/8

A few links I found interesting and would like to share with you :

  • Javascript Best Practices Part 1 and part 2 : title is self explainatory ;-)
  • The CSS/JS/HTML framework Boostrap (initiated and used by Twitter) is released in his 3rd version with a huge amount of rewrite, improvements, more mobile first oriented, etc. You can use it only if you do not plan to have people using IE7. But who still uses this prehistorical browser (execpt France ??)
  • Decoupling your HTML / CSS / Javascript code : the author shares some best practices he adopted to decouple his html / css / js code to avoid that an impact on the style breaks a javascript event and vice versa or avoid that a change in the html markup would break some JS/CSS rules. He uses prefix  (like js-*) or uses of is-* to refer to state on an event. Even if it would lead to increase the amount of code, at least regression should be avoided.
  • Remember also that id & classes were created for HTML first for itself and then were used by CSS to apply style and not the opposite ; Read this article (in French) for the full version on this.