What’s happening in the industry? What important techniques have emerged recently? What about new case studies, insights, techniques and tools? Our dear friend Anselm Hannemann is keeping track of everything so you don’t have to. The result is a carefully collected list of articles that popped up over the last week and which might interest you. Starting from today, we are happy and honored to feature a bi-monthly web development reading list here on Smashing Magazine. Now it should be a bit easier to stay up to date. — Ed.
Welcome to the one hundredth edition of the Web Development Reading List1 and the first one to appear on Smashing Magazine. I am very happy to extend my audience and keep you up to date with what’s going on in the web development industry. If you have any feedback, please let me know in the comments or write me an email.
- You can now test Microsoft’s new Edge browser in a virtual machine2. Finally, a Windows 10 VM image is up on the testing website and you are able to natively test for compatibility.
link rel="preconnect"3 meta property is now supported by Chromium, and will soon be available in Chrome and Opera.
- The first feature-complete beta of PHP7 has been released4 and it is great to see the massive performance impovements, better error handling, 64-bit support and many more cool things you should check out if you are using PHP as your language of choice.
- Ember 2.0 is out5. It’s less about new shiny features but much more about removing all the old cruft from the code without breaking older codebases. Very cool to read about their clever deprecation and release plan.
- Pointer Events have landed in Firefox Nightly6. They have been part of Firefox Mobile for a long time but now desktop has support, too, leaving only WebKit browsers not supporting it.
- The WebKit project now has a roadmap/feature status page7 as well. This is great news as it suggests techniques that Apple might integrate into their OS X and iOS Safari browsers in near future. I am glad that social media pressure seems to work again and WebKit joins a more open process of development.
- The problem is not that we are moving too fast with the web platform8 but that we still lack ways of providing developers easy ways to do basic things. We’re focusing on the wrong stuff. And that is what we need to fix. Wise words by Nicolas Bevacqua.
- Aaron Gustafson, meanwhile, has summed up the quest for better interoperability instead of features9.
Concepts And Design Link
- Petro Salema’s beyondtellerrand video is up and it’s worth watching: “Designing Interfaces That Think10”. A good primer on user experience design and clever thought interfaces.
- Why we should take more time creating empty states11 in our applications. They are key to user happiness.
- An introduction to Git12. If you haven’t used it yet or still don’t get the basics, this is a series worth reading. For example, learn the differences between
rebase13 or how to deal with conflicts14.
- Never, ever expose your Git repository15 on a public webserver. It will leak not only code but passwords, keys and more.
- Most of us use npm or Bower together with Grunt or Gulp nowadays. But for some projects the latter are often not necessary. Within your npm package.json it is possible to run scripts and complete basic tasks without the additional abstraction of Gulp or Grunt. Hans Christian Reinl shares how he approaches task automation in projects using some simple scripts with just npm.
- Hui Jing learned web languages three years ago. Now he is sharing why it’s important to know the basics of web development before you use a framework16. The problem isn’t with the frameworks but often the lazy people using them.
- If you use Windows, you probably have a hard time with Node and npm. But now there is this little tool called npm-windows-upgrade17 that ensures your command line will find the new npm version right away.
- To use several newer browser APIs it is essential to have an HTTPS connection. ServiceWorkers, for example, require a TLS connection to work. Andrea Giammarchi shares how to set up a TLS certificate for your localhost18.
- Windows 10 has been out a few weeks now and while it finally nails user experience, it introduces a couple of not so cool privacy issues19 you should be aware of, like the auto-backup of your private encryption key to OneDrive (you know that officials have access to Microsoft products), customized ad fingerprinting, and possible data disclosure. Take care if you upgrade.
- The LetsEncrypt initiative shared their new launch schedule20 with general availability in the week of November 16th this year. While it’s being pushed back a little, to me this is a good thing: more stability and probably a better product. I think the key to its success is that hosting companies are able to implement it seamlessly, which is going to be hard.
- Mark McDonnell shares his research on what the security basics of the web21 mean. He explains PGP, SSL, SSH, certificates, and the general purpose of public and private key methods.
Web Performance Link
- DNS: the heart of the internet. If you never really understood how DNS works internally to resolve a domain name, you should be entertained by these comic strips on how DNS works22.
- An approach used not only by Facebook, but this article explains their image optimization technique in detail25: when a user loads a profile, first a 200byte preview image is loaded to bridge the time gap until the real image is loaded.
- The web sucks. Well, maybe advertising-dependent websites suck: a plea from Jeremy Keith to focus on users26 and not blame the web for being slow and clunky. Meanwhile, Google opened Contributor27 in the US. To be honest, I think replacing the ad canvas with a pattern or cat content and adding supercookies for paying users is not the way to reduce ads on the web.
- “The Difference Between Minification and Gzipping28” shows how important it is to properly configure your server and why minifying your resources gives the last bit to a performance boost.
- Typekit is now pushing a new font embed code that is set to asynchronous29 loading by default.
- Lea Verou shows you how to create pie charts with SVG and CSS30.
- I have written a bit about native or custom elements and why we need web components but shouldn’t misuse them for what they can’t do.
- The accessibility tool Tenon is now free for open source projects31. Big ups for that!
- And while better tools for accessibility arrive, Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter, Adobe, LinkedIn and more just announced that they will prefer people who do accessibility in their hiring process32. This is a great step in the right direction and I would love to see similar approaches in other companies around the world.
- That said, it is a good idea to start implementing accessibility in incremental steps to your app or website. It’s natural not to start off with 100% and it’s not necessary, but if you start with small steps33 you will see how much fun it can be to implement accessibility in your project.
- Knwl.js34 is a small script that parses natural language inputs into computer-readable formats. That way you can offer users the ability to input dates like “Tomorrow 9am.” It works with dates, times, emails, URLs and phone numbers.
- Dr Axel Rauschmayer has created a quick introduction to ES635 for beginners that is great to start learning it.
- If you write about front-end browser compatibility, caniuse36 is our reference of choice. A clever script called getCaniuse37 parses browser compatibility for you and adds a caniuse reference to the post.
- Hugo Giraudel wrote a great piece on how to learn regular expressions in a practical way40. For people struggling with complex regular expressions (like me) this is a very helpful guide.
- “Constructing CSS Quantity Queries On The Fly41”. Tools are here to help.
- I guess you have used the
floatproperty a couple times. And I bet you wondered about some of its weird behavior, too. “How Floating Works42” provides a very visual and clear explanation of floated element behavior.
- “What The Flexbox?!43” by Wes Bos is a series of twenty short videos teaching you the details of the flexbox technique.
Work life Link
- Every one of us gets annoyed by our current job. But it isn’t easy to decide when and if it’s time to leave44 or if addressing the issues that concern us is enough.
- Working remotely isn’t always a dream45. But you can learn to get around most problems with some simple tricks.
- We can’t let our fear of the future rob us of the joy of the present46. Next time you feel in need of a break and you hear your fear whispering that it could all fall apart, take that break anyway.
- Rachel Andrew shares how important it is to stay confident and deal with what seems overwhelming47 in the massive amount of new technologies and the fast pace of change in web development. What’s really important is to have solid core skills. Frameworks come and go, but understanding the basics and building sensible infrastructure will be helpful throughout your whole career.
- While only a few years back people said ‘fire anyone who is not a workaholic, this is startup life,’ since then we have grown up and realized that we need to help workaholics to avoid burn-out48.
Go beyond… Link
- We all try to learn new things. Sometimes this works fine, sometimes we get bored and give up. But there is a reason why you learn some things more easily than others: interest. When you build something new, make sure it interests you49.
- Reports about working for Amazon, the biggest online store in the world, are not new. But this summary on The Next Web50, based on a new report by the New York Times51 shows how bad it really is as an Amazon employee. People with cancer or caring for family members get fired. Maybe it’s time to rethink the ‘just buy on Amazon, it’s convenient’ stance.
- Agile: a term hated by many, loved by many. So, ask yourself what agile is52. Then question if agile is agile53, and then decide which way to go with your projects.
And with that, I’ll close for this week. If you like this news round-up, please support me via Flattr54, gratipay55 or share this resource with other people. You can also subscribe to the newsletter56 and get the links right to your inbox.
Thanks and all the best,
- 1 https://wdrl.info/
- 2 https://blogs.windows.com/msedgedev/2015/08/17/windows-10-virtual-machines-now-available-on-microsoft-edge-dev/
- 3 https://codereview.chromium.org/1226203003/
- 4 http://www.hongkiat.com/blog/php7/
- 5 http://emberjs.com/blog/2015/08/13/ember-2-0-released.html
- 6 https://hacks.mozilla.org/2015/08/pointer-events-now-in-firefox-nightly/
- 7 http://www.webkit.org/status.html
- 8 http://ponyfoo.com/articles/fast-forwarding-the-web-platform
- 9 http://www.aaron-gustafson.com/notebook/ramblings-on-new-browser-features-interoperability-craft-and-the-future-of-the-web/
- 10 http://beyondtellerrand.com/events/duesseldorf-2015/speakers/petro-salema
- 11 https://medium.com/@InVisionApp/why-empty-states-deserve-more-design-time-44b5adc7eb52
- 12 http://blog.mwaysolutions.com/2015/07/16/a-short-introduction-to-git/
- 13 http://blog.mwaysolutions.com/2015/07/23/git-merge-and-rebase-part-2-of-3/
- 14 http://blog.mwaysolutions.com/2015/08/04/git-conflicts-part-3-of-3/
- 15 http://thenextweb.com/insider/2015/07/27/a-simple-developer-error-is-exposing-private-information-on-thousands-of-websites/
- 16 http://www.chenhuijing.com/blog/people-are-the-problem/
- 17 https://www.npmjs.com/package/npm-windows-upgrade
- 18 https://www.webreflection.co.uk/blog/2015/08/08/bringing-ssl-to-your-private-network
- 19 http://thenextweb.com/microsoft/2015/07/29/wind-nos/
- 20 https://letsencrypt.org/2015/08/07/updated-lets-encrypt-launch-schedule.html
- 21 http://www.integralist.co.uk/posts/security-basics.html
- 22 https://howdns.works/
- 23 https://howdns.works/
- 24 https://howdns.works/
- 25 https://code.facebook.com/posts/991252547593574/the-technology-behind-preview-photos/
- 26 https://adactio.com/journal/9312
- 27 https://www.google.com/contributor/welcome/
- 28 https://css-tricks.com/the-difference-between-minification-and-gzipping/
- 29 http://blog.typekit.com/2015/08/04/new-embed-code-for-asynchronous-font-loading/
- 30 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2015/07/designing-simple-pie-charts-with-css/
- 31 http://us2.campaign-archive1.com/?u=db90adfcd71356341118b0a41&id=de77e18b90&e=4de96f8850
- 32 https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2015/07/23/this-small-change-could-make-a-big-difference-for-accessible-technology/
- 33 https://the-pastry-box-project.net/charlotte-spencer/2015-july-31
- 34 http://loadfive.com/os/knwl/
- 35 http://www.2ality.com/2015/08/getting-started-es6.html
- 36 http://caniuse.com/
- 37 https://github.com/tevko/getCaniuse
- 40 http://hugogiraudel.com/2015/08/19/learning-regular-expressions-the-practical-way/
- 41 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2015/07/constructing-css-quantity-queries-on-the-fly/
- 42 http://bitsofco.de/2015/how-floating-works/
- 43 http://flexbox.io/#/
- 44 http://alistapart.com/column/job-hunting-for-web-designers-and-developers
- 45 https://medium.com/digital-nomad-stories/working-remotely-isn-t-always-a-dream-151619ae45dc
- 46 http://us3.campaign-archive1.com/?u=cefae11d379c411a337d2df24&id=979daa91ac&e=40d1d9694f
- 47 https://rachelandrew.co.uk/archives/2015/08/14/confidence-and-overwhelm
- 48 https://signalvnoise.com/posts/902-fire-the-workaholics
- 49 http://alistapart.com/blog/post/building-to-learn
- 50 http://thenextweb.com/opinion/2015/08/15/the-real-deathstar/
- 51 http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/16/technology/inside-amazon-wrestling-big-ideas-in-a-bruising-workplace.html
- 52 http://blog.generalassemb.ly/agile/
- 53 https://vimeo.com/131410262
- 54 http://goo.gl/dDWsTF
- 55 http://goo.gl/cnqtOc
- 56 https://wdrl.info/