Article Archives

The WordPress Template Hierarchy

A visual and linked-up version of the template hierarchy. If you work on WordPress sites, it's good to know how everything kinda waterfalls down towards the index.php file. That file is what will be be used to render any page, unless there is a more specific one present. It looks complicated, but it allows you get pretty specific with your templating without having to do much other than plop a file in.

The newest member is `singular.php`, coming in 4.3, …

How DNS Works

A cleverly illustrated website that takes a look at what happens after you enter a URL into the browser. This answers questions like what is a root server and what the heck is an IP address?…

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Scroll Drawing

We've taken an in-depth look at how SVG line drawing works before. It's a clever trick where you use dashed lines for the stroke, but the gap in the dash is so long it covers the entire path. Then you can move it such that it covers the entire path again, which makes it appear as if it's drawing itself.

Using a bit of JavaScript, we can get a little fancier, drawing the shape to completion as page is scrolled …

Push Notifications for the Web

This isn't the regular Notifications API, this is more like phone notifications, where you don't even have to (have the app open || be on the website) for it to work. Uses the fancy new Service Workers.

It requires and opt-in, so it's only as spammy as you let it be. I can imagine some pretty useful stuff: "Your bus is behind schedule", "You've got a new match", "Your website isn't responding"... things you want to know faster than …

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After building (probably) the most popular WordPress theme of 2015, the team at Themeisle used everything they learned to release something even better: ParallaxOne.

You don't even need to read the documentation. Everything is customizable and built with developers in mind. No framework to learn, no custom functions or a special file system. Just plain ol' WordPress. Take a look for yourself at the GitHub Repository and checkout the demo.

Dynamic Web Typography with Typekit

Typekit has started to roll out a new feature called Dynamic Subsetting which greatly reduces the size of each font file that's sent over the network. This post Tom Newton describes the current solution for doing this with Latin fonts. The process is a little hacky at the moment but I'm sure they'll be spreading this feature to other languages properly in the future.…

Designing for Performance

Lara Hogan has just published her excellent book Designing for Performance for free online. She takes a good look at what makes a website feel slow and how that experience affects design and business goals:

Page speed is increasingly important for websites. If you're looking for a page load time benchmark for your site, this is it: users expect pages to load in two seconds, and after three seconds, up to 40% of users will abandon your site. Moreover, …

Quantity Queries

Using :nth-child (and friends), you can write selectors that target elements when they have a certain number of siblings. So you can write CSS that, for example, styles widgets to be 33.33% wide if there are exactly 3 of them.

The selectors are a bit complicated though, so this tool by Drew Minns is pretty helpful.

And perhaps controversially, a PostCSS plugin for the same.…

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The Gray Gray Ghost That I Call Home

There is a great scene in Cold Mountain where Inman, who is AWOL from the army in The Civil War, is walking through the woods on a horse opposite Bosie, the deputy charged with catching people like Inman. The two are at a gunpoint standoff:

Bosie: Tell you what I got on my side.
Inman: What have you got on your side?
Bosie: The confidence of youth.

Bosie is absolute in his convictions. Inman had done wrong and for that …

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Debugging CSS Keyframe Animations

Creating CSS animations may be about learning the syntax, but mastering a beautiful and intuitive-feeling animation requires a bit more nuance. Since animations command so much attention, it's important to refine our code to get the timing right and debug things when they go wrong. After tackling this problem myself, I thought I'd collect some of the tools that exist to aid in this process.…

Understanding Proxy Browsers

A new series of posts by Tim Kadlec on proxy browsers and why some people need them:

I'd venture to say that most developers and designers are not big fans of proxy browsers—assuming they pay attention to them at all. They don't behave in ways a typical browser does, which leads to frustration as we see our carefully created sites fall apart for seemingly no reason at all. And frankly, most of us don't really need to use them on …

Motion along path in CSS

From the "I barely knew this was a thing and you can already play with it in browsers" files:

Motion paths allow authors to animate any graphical object along an author-specified path.

I suspect Chrome jumped on this because it's something that was only otherwise doable in SMIL, which they are ditching. I believe this is the first time the full path syntax has made it into CSS? (e.g. motion-path: path('M100,250 C 100,50 400,50 400,250');).

There are some demos

On The Verge

A fun bit of #hotdrama around mobile web performance.

Apparently it's possible to be of the opinion that slow, sucky websites are the fault of browsers and not the fact that the websites are jam packed with garbage assets.…

Position an element relatively to another element

Not possible currently in CSS, but there is a discussion happening around syntax like:

.el { position: element(#target) }

Of course there are tons of details, gotchas, and edge cases, but it sounds likely.…

Scroll-to-top-then-fixed

Chrome yanked position: sticky;, but Firefox and Safari still have it. Dudley Storey shows how to do the common sidebar pattern where a chunk follows you as you scroll down, but only when there is room for it. He does it in CSS, and the demo polyfills support with stickyfill.…

Modern CSS Layout, power and responsibility

Rachel Andrew reminds us that the power new CSS layout methods gives us could be used to form new anti-patterns:

With this power comes great responsibility. For just as it will be possible for a developer to start out with a beautifully semantic, well structured document and use Grid and Flexbox to meet the design requirements, it will be possible for them to stop caring about the document structure at all. Worse, I believe there will be a strong temptation, …

Thinking Ahead: CSS Scroll Snap Points

Guil Hernandez introduces how easy sliders (with nice UX) will be with very simple HTML and CSS' brand new scroll-snap-* properties. CSS is moving fairly fast these days, with features like this moving from "never heard of it" to:

... browser support for CSS scroll snap points is limited to IE10+ and Firefox 39+. But it looks like Safari 9 will include support, and you can enable scroll snap points in Chrome Canary.

before you know it. The Chrome support …

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The Difference Between Minification and Gzipping

These are both things that you do to assets on your website (things like .css files and .js files). They are both things that reduce the size of the file, making it more efficient in crossing the network between servers and browsers. As in, good for performance. The network is the speed bottleneck of the web and reducing file size helps.

But these two things are distinctly different. If you didn't already know that, it's worth understanding.…

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Front End Development is Development

There is some sentiment out there that front end development isn't real development. It's a swaggering, trollish sentiment. Still, it's fun to puff our chests back sometimes. Let's try to put a point on why front end development is every bit as difficult and worthy of the title as any other subset.…

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Animations: the Angular Way

The following is a guest post by Ben Simmons (@bdsimmons15). Ben gives us a hand here in wrapping our heads around how to think about approaching animations on a website using Angular. Angular has a helper module for animation, but doesn't actually do the animation for you. Which turns out to be pretty smart.

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The Trouble With Preprocessing Based on Future Specs

Let's say there are rumblings from the deep (read: early Editor's Drafts of potential future web tech specifications) that demonstrate some potential future code syntax. Say that syntax looks pretty awesome and we want it to be useable right now. That's the idea behind some preprocessing these days. …

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The Asset Handover

When working in teams made up of designers and front end developers, there can be a lot of frustration and confusion when it comes to handing assets over from one team member to another. These might be design mockups or icons or high fidelity imagery for banners and the like. Regardless of the content of these handovers, there can always be improvements to this process.…

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At the upcoming Chicago show, Dave Rupert …

jQuery 3.0 (alpha)

Lots of great stuff in this release, like animations taking advantage of requestAnimationFrame.

You should do serious testing before upgrading though. Not just because this is alpha, but because .show() and .hide() work a lot differently now. They don't do any fancy stuff to work with the CSS or return elements to the display type they were before hidden. These are hugely used methods. Chances are you have a few in your code base.

The best practice has become: …

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Print Stylesheet Approaches: Blacklist vs Whitelist

The "blacklist" is a common approach to print stylesheets. We know that people probably don't need to see our site navigation if they print out an article on our site. So we hide it from print like we would hide it from the screen (display: none;).

Is there a way to reverse that?…

CodeNewbie

I joined Saron Yitbarek on her podcast where we had a wonderful conversation about some of my history and the projects I work on.…

I Left My System Fonts in San Francisco

A post by Craig Hockenberry that details how to use the San Francisco system font for your website if you're running El Capitan.

I especially like Craig's suggestion for a new syntax when using any operating system's font, so for example in iOS that would probably be San Francisco or Helvetica Neue whilst in Android it would be Roboto. He suggests that we declare a system keyword in the font-family rule (although this won't work in any browsers today):

body
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The Front End Developer’s Dilemma

Hello, my name is Geoff and I am a web designer. At least, that's what I tell people I do for a living, because it's what most people understand.

The truth is, I am a front end developer. If you read this blog with any sort of regularity, then I don't even need to bother explaining that job title.

Or do I?…

React.js Introduction For People Who Know Just Enough jQuery To Get By

Here's an eloquent, step-by-step intro to React.js that takes a different approach then a lot of the other tutorials out there:

Of people who have never tried out React, some are comfortable with frontend JS frameworks like Backbone, Ember, or Angular. Some know JavaScript pretty well. Some know just enough jQuery to get by. A tutorial that's effective for one group may not be optimal for the other groups.

In this tutorial, I'm targeting the third group I mentioned: people …

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Over on Inbound.org, Chris will be answering anything you want to know. Got questions about HTML, CSS, podcasting, the marketing of Chris' projects, or anything else? …

Atomic OOBEMITSCSS

It sounds tounge-in-cheek, but it's not. As Una Kravets says:

That sounds crazy, but it makes sense when you break it down.

You (usually) need a naming strategy, abstractions, and a plan to keep specificity in check, so these ideas all together make sense.…

YWebCA

YWeb Career Academy (YWebCA) is a training program that targets women and people of color who are underrepresented in technology careers. The goal of YWebCA is to prepare students for family-sustaining jobs while meeting a gap in the labor market for these positions.

I'm a fan. In fact I'm headed to Madison later today to stop and and see if I can be useful. It's a wonderful program, and you can help out in a variety of ways if you …

The Web’s Cruft Problem

We're in an era where web tech is absolutely amazing. Yet, most of us practitioners are absolutely shocked at how full of garbage so many websites are, especially on mobile. Intrusive, rude, sometimes dangerous ads, ill-considered layouts, "social" garbage everywhere, and the worst offense: being slow. It's very weird choice companies make. Brad Forst has a special way of putting it.

Some browsers will even be taking things into their own hands.

TJ VanToll takes a look at …

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Swapping a WordPress core meta box to speed up editing

The CSS-Tricks front end is usually pretty darn fast, because most pages are cached (and don't need to be dynamically generated when requested). However, up until recently, the CSS-Tricks WordPress admin didn't have the same luck.

In particular, the post editing screen was slow. Painfully slow. Saving a draft took several seconds, which is enough to break your flow in the middle of writing an article.

Working on a tip from Pete Sorensen, who posted a performance question on the …

Developers and Designers

Excerpt from an Andrew Norcross article on how designers and developers might understand each other (and thus work together) better:

If you remember nothing else about developers, remember this: our core nature is to streamline, automate, and basically reduce things to their smallest possible element. This ethos drives almost every decision a developer makes.

I like how Tim Brown linked to the article:

Developers are your prepress folks.

Before I was in web, I was prepress for many years. …

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What a CSS Code Review Might Look Like

Many programming languages go through a code review before deployment. Whether it's a quick once-over, in-depth peer review, or complete unit testing, code reviews help us release code into the wild with confidence.

I started to imagine what a CSS code review might look like. CSS can be written in a number of ways, and the best way is often subjective to the project. I'm definitely not trying to get dogmatic with a post like this, but instead lay the …

CSS-Tricks Chronicle XXIII

Oh ya know, just some THINGS that have been going on lately that seem to make sense to round up into a Chronicle post.
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The Eighth Fourth

It just so happens the United States birthday is the same as CSS-Tricks birthday! It was on this day, eight years ago I first launched the site. Since then, I do a bit of a commemorative post each year. …

Native CSS Scroll Snap Points

The newly-introduced CSS “snap points” properties could make it a whole lot easier to create CSS-only scroll effects (once browser support catches up). This post from Sergey Gospodarets' blog includes demos of snappy scrolling for image galleries and full-page vertical scrolling.

Scroll snapping is used widely for a better separation of the provided content (vertical full height pages) or, for example, to emulate galleries behavior... Can you imagine how easy would be creating such effects using CSS only?

The full

Accessible Footnotes with CSS

Nice demo from Hugo Giraudel where the footnotes are order-labeled with CSS counters and provide jump-down and jump-back links.…

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Working with Shapes in Web Design

When we make a new component on a website, we’re effectively creating rectangles of different sizes, whether we realise it or not. But what happens if we want to experiment a little? How many different ways are there to make shapes?

In this post I want to roughly outline some of the most common ways to make circles, triangles, and polygons, as well jot down the advantages and disadvantages for these methods so we can experiment with those that might …

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