Web Development Reading List #100

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Anselm is a freelance front-end developer who cares about sustainable front-end experiences and ethical choices in life. He writes the WDRL, and is co-founder … More about Anselm ↬

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Our dear friend Anselm Hannemann is keeping track of everything that’s happening in the industry so you don’t have to. 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! Welcome to the one hundredth edition and the first one to appear on Smashing Magazine. Anselm is very happy to keep you up to date with the web development industry. If you have any feedback, please let us know in the comments or write him an email.

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 List 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 machine. Finally, a Windows 10 VM image is up on the testing website and you are able to natively test for compatibility.
  • The link rel="preconnect" 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 released 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 out. 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 Nightly. They have been part of Firefox Mobile for a long time but now desktop has support, too, leaving only WebKit browsers not supporting it.


Concepts And Design


  • An introduction to Git. 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 git merge and rebase or how to deal with conflicts.
  • Never, ever expose your Git repository 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 framework. 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-upgrade 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 localhost.
  • 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 issues 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 schedule 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 web mean. He explains PGP, SSL, SSH, certificates, and the general purpose of public and private key methods.

Web Performance

  • 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 works.
How DNS works
If you've never really understood how DNS works to resolve a domain name, you should find these comic strips entertaining and educational: How DNS Works.
  • An approach used not only by Facebook, but this article explains their image optimization technique in detail: 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 users and not blame the web for being slow and clunky. Meanwhile, Google opened Contributor 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 Gzipping” 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 asynchronous loading by default.


  • Lea Verou shows you how to create pie charts with SVG and CSS.
  • 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 projects. 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 process. 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 steps you will see how much fun it can be to implement accessibility in your project.


  • Knwl.js 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 ES6 for beginners that is great to start learning it.
  • If you write about front-end browser compatibility, caniuse is our reference of choice. A clever script called getCaniuse parses browser compatibility for you and adds a caniuse reference to the post.
  • It can be helpful to have a real-time search on your page. Osvaldas Valutis shares how he built a simple JavaScript live search without jQuery or other dependencies.
  • Nicolas Bevacqua explains why plain JavaScript modules are better than framework-dependent modules, sharing his approach on how to be framework-independent while not needing much more effort to create a module.
  • Kitty Giraudel wrote a great piece on how to learn regular expressions in a practical way. For people struggling with complex regular expressions (like me) this is a very helpful guide.


  • Constructing CSS Quantity Queries On The Fly”. Tools are here to help.
  • I guess you have used the float property a couple times. And I bet you wondered about some of its weird behavior, too. “How Floating Works” provides a very visual and clear explanation of floated element behavior.
  • What The Flexbox?!” by Wes Bos is a series of twenty short videos teaching you the details of the flexbox technique.

Work life

Go beyond…

And with that, I’ll close for this week. If you like this news round-up, please support me via Flattr, or share this resource with other people. You can also subscribe to the newsletter and get the links right to your inbox.

Thanks and all the best, Ansel

Further Reading

Smashing Editorial (mrn)