#280: One Thing

Chris here filling in for Robin, your normal CSS-Tricks newsletter correspondent. And now I shall pepper you with interesting things I have in my piggy bank of links.

? What is one thing people can do to make their website better?

First, know that we’ve launched our end-of-the-year series again this year.

It’s here.

You’re in for a treat. I’ve asked a bunch of web designers and developers I admire all the same question: what is one thing people can do to make their website better? We’re publishing their answers all month, and already have a number of them up.

???? Eat your veetamins.

I’d say people are largely stoked at this upcoming cohort of dev tools. A smidge of drama:

Devon Govett: I’m worried that in the current rush to improve developer experience and make dev tools faster we are forgetting to improve the end user experience.

You can have the fastest tool, but if it produces larger bundles or loads more HTTP requests, that’s not a good trade off.
Woah my Buffer extension is extra thirsty today

By which Devon means Vite (pronounced veet, lol), which is frickin’ taking off. Vite is under the hood of lots of frameworks (at least their “starter packs”) lately, as Rich says… Vue, Astro, Solid, Svelte, etc. You can make Vite do just about anything with amazing speed. I don’t know enough to agree or argue with Devon, but there needs to be watchdogs with all this, as with anything, so I’ll always welcome pushback. My new Astro site doesn’t even have a bundle so… I think I’m cool.

Then along comes Bun. Didn’t see that one coming. I didn’t even know Zig was a thing, but that’s what Bun is written in. I thought the magic behind all these things was either Go or Rust. I also didn’t know SWC was a thing until Next 12 started talking it up. That’s what I mean by new cohort — there is a lot of this new stuff all at once.

? Everybody is doing it.

Ya know, speaking of Bun, I notice that the main way to engage with it is to join the Discord. Discord really seems to be taking over webdev community spaces. I mentioned when I first started playing with Astro that the Discord was poppin’. Our Discord via Patreon on ShopTalk is a wonderful place. I just saw this basically Rails-for-Node framework Adonis that really leans into it. I’m in a handful of others (e.g. Cloudflare and 11ty). Feels like the #1 way to get a community cooking these days — far more community-oriented than Slack ever wanted to be.

??? Don’t put curly quotes in your code samples unless you literally want me to cry.

<a href=“https://css-tricks.com”>😭</a>

I will notice it from outer space, laugh, then cry because I know some developer somewhere will copy and paste this code and not understand why it doesn’t work. But also, did you know it’s actually valid? Unquoted attributes are valid, so the browser sees the curly open quote as the first character of an unquoted attribute. Which is… maybe worse? My VS Code setup doesn’t lint it as an error at all in HTML (but it does in JSX).

? Vaccines are cool.

Nothing to do with webdev but Popular Science’s 100 greatest innovations of 2021 is a fun read. What a year for vaccines. I’ve been into watching the electric pickup truck thing (because I’m kind of a pickup kinda guy and my lease on my Tundra is up next year). Rivian’s are so cool looking, Ford’s F150’s are more small-town practical for me though and their Maverick is way more affordable, but I might end up with a damn Cybertruck (if it ever ships for real) because I can’t stop looking at how weird it is.

? Anyway, here are some pixelated pandas walking around and bumping into each other.

Great stuff, Masahito Leo Takeuchi.

Oh hey, there is a holiday episode of Stillwater and it’s great.

Unlock the full power of Raygun Alerting

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[Chris, uh, still]: I love a good direct comparison across different fields. I’m partial to learning techniques across tech and music, myself. So many aligned expectations, like the fact that you have to practice to get good. For example, “I’m a terrible cook” is a culturally normal thing to say where “I’m a terrible violinist” sounds weird. Everybody knows to get better at the violin (and building websites) it means putting in a bunch of hours, but for whatever reason, that doesn’t hold over for cooking.

I saw another good cross-field article with super direct cross-field usefulness (via Dave, I’m sure): INDIE GAME DEV: GETTING FEEDBACK. The directness is that an in-development video game needs feedback just like an in-development tech product needs feedback. It’s fun to read through that, seeing it through both the lens of a game developer (who is being written for directly), and the lens of, say, a startup CEO.

At some point, you may have to rescope your project. Usually, this involves making the project smaller, since it’s easier to be overambitious than under-ambitious when it comes to game development. Feedback can help you make these decisions. Depending on how your game is received, you may want to scale down and try to release earlier.

The article spends a lot of time talking about “sympathetic” vs. “unsympathetic” feedback, which is a tremendous way to categorize and contextualize feedback. Neither is better than the other all the time. Sympathetic feedback (from friends, family, or people close to the project) is likely to be more detailed but through rose-colored glasses) while unsympathetic feedback is likely to be brief (and perhaps rude) but at least unfiltered. There is more nuanced there so check out Derek Yu’s article for sure.

More cross-field stuff in “Exploit or explore?” by Austin Kleon.

There’s a never-ending tension in creative work between “exploring new ideas and exploiting old certainties.”

Just as car companies need to balance their research and development spending doing what they know works this year to maximizing profit, a web developer needs to balance trying new tech and using stuff they just know works for now. I hear that kind of thing from people who have been building WordPress websites for north of a decade and only have to pop their head out of that world when they are looking for a new job and get worried that the world of building websites these days involves tech markedly different from the tech you encounter with day-to-day WordPress agency work. (I’m sure there are plenty of exceptions, but you know what I mean.) Lots more juicy examples in Austin’s article.