Monthly Web Development Update 72018: Practical Accessibility, Design Mistakes, And Feature Control

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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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Staying up to date with the latest techniques, browser updates, and hot topics can be quite a challenge. Every month, Anselm Hannemann summarizes what’s been going on in the web industry, so you can easily catch up on everything new and important.

The web continues to amaze me. With all its variety and different changes to the platform, it’s hard to see a straight pattern — if there even is (just) one. But it’s wonderful to see what is being changed, which features are added to the platform, which ones get deprecated, and how browsers implement more and more technology to protect the user from malicious website attacks. It’s interesting to see that these security features nowadays are getting as much attention as a feature for developers; this shows the importance of privacy and security and how unstable and insecure the web was in the past.

But the best thing about all of this is that it shows how important it is to stick to the things that people give us. Instead of implementing our own solutions for everything, it’s often much better to re-use an existing system. Not only is it safer to rely on, but also less work while more inclusive to extend a native DOM element with a custom element (instead of writing our own custom element from scratch). If we think about whether we should build our own version of SSL or use an existing software for this, why would we build a clickable element based on nothing instead of altering the behavior of an a or button element? And why would we check for resource host validation on our own, if the browser already gives us an API for that? This week’s articles are all dedicated to these topics.

Another thing that has been stuck in my head is Andrea Giammarchi’s article, “A Bloatless Web,” in which he describes how we blindly use Babel as developers when we write JavaScript to be able to write modern ECMAScript. But we usually don’t realize that transpiling all of our modern code in modern browsers isn’t the most efficient way. I’m glad that Andrea offers some ideas on how we can improve that situation and improve our web apps’ performance. Wouldn’t it be amazing to just serve a third of the bundle size by not transpiling the code anymore for each and every browser?


  • Site Isolation effectively makes it harder for untrusted websites to access or steal information from your accounts on other websites. Chrome 67 is now shipping with it and Cross-Origin Read Blocking (CORB) will no longer load, e.g. a JSON file as image. But even further, these changes mean that full-page layout is no longer guaranteed to be synchronous. This new feature affects you if you read out calculated sizes from an element in JavaScript or use unload event listeners. Ensure that you know about this and check if your sites still work as expected.
  • By now, we know a bit about Content Security Policies — a feature that lets developers limit the load of certain resources by hostnames. But browser vendors have come up with something new now: Feature Policy. This allows web developers to selectively enable, disable, or modify the behavior of certain APIs and web features in the browser. It’s like CSP but instead of controlling security, it controls features and Eric Bidelman wrote an introduction to Feature Policy explaining everything.
  • The Brave browser team shows their latest feature to protect their users’ privacy: Tabs that connect via the Tor network.


  • Anton Sten asks if Tech Sector Values are Broken? Analyzing the marketing strategies by Apple, Microsoft, Google, Amazon but also small other companies and how we can do really purposeful work and stick to our values instead of treating them as marketing-material that we don’t need to respect or stick to.
  • Now that the technology sector of the world is rapidly transforming all of the world’s things into digital things, many have called for more ethics in our field. That is in many instances quite a vague goal, so let’s apply it to one part of digital: front-end development. How can we be more ethical as front-end developers, what kinds of things can we do? Hidde de Vries wrote an article about that.



what we design vs. what a user needs
Users do not have time to read more than necessary, and yet designers still tend to put a lot of text because they think people need to know that. (Image source)


  • This is an interesting report about how Google allows outside app developers to read people’s Google emails when they grant permission during app authorization. The issue with that is that there is no way to easily prevent that and it might have quite some impact if you use Gmail for your company as it might affect privacy policies and is under subject of GDPR.

Web Performance

  • Max Böck on how we can build components that react to the actual device connection speed using the Network Information API. And despite it’s currently only available in Chrome and Samsung Internet browsers, it’s worth trying it out and maybe already serve it to these users.
  • From time to time, we can still read articles mentioning the importance of optimizing CSS selectors in order to improve performance. This originates in research done several years ago but Ivan Čurić researched this again and found out it doesn’t matter.


A form with color-based indicators
In her article, Sara Novak explains why it's important not to rely on color alone as an indicator. Symbols and error message can be much more helpful to users. (The image above shows a form with color-based indicators. Left: How a person with normal vision sees a form with color-based indicators. Right: How a deuteranomalous person sees the same form.) (Image source)



Work & Life

Further Reading

Smashing Editorial (il, mrn)