Editing the W3C HTML5 spec

Bruce Lawson has been tapped to co-edit the W3C HTML5 spec and, in his announcement post, clarified the difference between that and the WHATWG spec:

The WHATWG spec is a future-facing document; lots of ideas are incubated there. The W3C spec is a snapshot of what works interoperably – authors who don’t care much about what may or may not be round the corner, but who need solid advice on what works now may find this spec easier to use.

I was honestly unfamiliar with the WHATWG spec and now I find it super interesting to know there are two working groups pushing HTML forward in distinct but (somewhat) cooperative ways.

Kudos to you, Bruce! And, yes, Vive open standards!

HTML Email and Accessibility

You love HTML emails, don't you?

As a developer, probably not... but subscribers absolutely do. They devour them, consume them on every device known to man, and drive a hell of a lot of revenue for companies that take their email marketing seriously.

But most web developers tasked with building HTML emails merely want to get them out the door as quickly as possible and move on to more interesting assignments. Despite email's perennial value for subscribers, tight timelines, and a general loathing of the work result in things falling by the wayside; and, just like in the web world, one of the first things to be set aside in email is accessibility.

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Declining Complexity in CSS

The fourth edition of Eric Meyer and Estelle Weyl's CSS: The Definitive Guide was recently released. The new book weighs in at 1,016 pages, which is up drastically from 447 in the third edition, which was up slightly from 436 in the second edition.

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Styleable

The Wix dev team throws their hat into the CSS preprocessor ring:

Stylable is a CSS preprocessor that enables you to write reusable, highly-performant, styled components. Each component exposes a style API that maps its internal parts so you can reuse components across teams without sacrificing stylability.

  • Scopes styles to components so they don’t “leak” and clash with other styles.
  • Enables custom pseudo-classes and pseudo-elements that abstract the internal structure of a component. These can then be styled externally.
  • Uses themes so you can apply different look and feel across your web application.

At build time, the preprocessor converts the Stylable CSS into flat, static, valid, vanilla CSS that works cross-browser.

Looks like Sass luminary Chris Eppstein is getting in on the game of scoped styles with the not-yet-released CSS Blocks. And think of Vue's support for <style scoped>, and the popularity of utility libraries. I think scoped styles might be the hottest CSS topic in 2018.

Advocating for Accessible UI Design

Accessibility is a hot topic these days, and the older we web-makers get, the hotter it's going to become! That might be a snarky outlook, but what I'm trying to say is that it's about time we start designing the web for everyone because the web was meant to be for everyone, and less and less are we able to predict where, when, and how our work will be consumed.

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Happier HTML5 Form Validation

HTML has given us loads of form validation stuff in the last few years. Dave Rupert puts a point on the UX problems with it:

If you’ve ever experimented with HTML5 Form Validation, you’ve probably been disappointed. The out-of-box experience isn’t quite what you want. Adding the required attribute to inputs works wonderfully. However the styling portion with input:invalid sorta sucks because empty inputs are trigger the :invalid state, even before the user has interacted with the page.

Fortunately, there is an invalid DOM event that does fire with useful timing: when the form is submitted. Remember this doesn't buy you super deep browser support though. If you need that, look into polyfilling. I imagine the future of form validation is either HTML/CSS offering better and more controllable UX, or this.

Airplanes and Ashtrays

Harry Roberts wrote about design systems and how compromise has to be baked into them from the very start. He argues that we can’t be dictatorial about what is and isn’t permitted because design, whether that’s the design of a product, service or system, is always about compromise.

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Live Share / Teletype

Amanda Silver introduces "Visual Studio Live Share", which:

enables developers using Visual Studio 2017 or Visual Studio Code to collaborate in real-time!

This goes a bit deeper than just a multiple-cursors thing. Both people get all the same fancy VS code UI stuff like IntelliSense and Peek.

GitHub's Atom editor also has Teletype, which:

lets developers share their workspace with team members and collaborate on code in real time.

Atom has the concept of a host, in which:

As the host moves between files, collaborators follow along with the active tab automatically.

I'd be remiss not to mention CodePen has Collab Mode and Professor Mode, which require zero setup. Shoot someone a URL and go!

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