A Bit on Buttons

Here's three recent things that have come across my desk in recent days regarding buttons. One, an accessibility flub that needed to be fixed. Two, an article about the fundamental differences between links and buttons but how they can look too similar for our own good. Three, the logical extreme of the button element: never use them outside of forms unless injected with JavaScript.

Writing Smarter Animation Code

If you've ever coded an animation that's longer than 10 seconds with dozens or even hundreds of choreographed elements, you know how challenging it can be to avoid the dreaded "wall of code". Worse yet, editing an animation that was built by someone else (or even yourself 2 months ago) can be nightmarish.

In these videos, I'll show you the techniques that the pros use keep their code clean, manageable, and easy to revise. Scripted animation provides you the opportunity to create animations that are incredibly dynamic and flexible. My goal is for you to have fun without getting bogged down by the process.

We'll be using GSAP for all the animation. If you haven't used it yet, you'll quickly see why it's so popular - the workflow benefits are substantial.

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Let There Be Peace on CSS

Cristiano Rastelli:

In the last few months there’s been a growing friction between those who see CSS as an untouchable layer in the “separation of concerns” paradigm, and those who have simply ignored this golden rule and have found different ways to style the UI, typically applying CSS styles via JavaScript.

He does a great job of framing the "problem", exploring the history, and pointing to things that make this seem rather war-like, including one of my own!

As Cristiano also makes clear that it's not so much a war but a young community still figuring out things, solving problems for ourselves, and zigzagging through time waiting for this to shake out.

So, here are my suggestions:

  1. Embrace the ever-changing nature of the web.
  2. Be careful with your words: they can hurt.
  3. Be pragmatic, non dogmatic. But most of all, be curious.

You can get pretty far in making a slider with just HTML and CSS

A "slider", as in, a bunch of boxes set in a row that you can navigate between. You know what a slider is. There are loads of features you may want in a slider. Just as one example, you might want the slider to be swiped or scrolled. Or, you might not want that, and to have the slider only respond to click or tappable buttons that navigate to slides. Or you might want both. Or you might want to combine all that with autoplay.

I'm gonna go ahead and say that sliders are complicated enough of a UI component that it's use JavaScript territory. Flickity being a fine example. I'd also say that you can get pretty far with a nice looking functional slider with HTML and CSS alone. Starting that way makes the JavaScript easier and, dare I say, a decent example of progressive enhancement.

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Wufoo

When asked "Why Wufoo?" they say:

Because you’re busy and want your form up and running yesterday.

Wufoo is a form builder that not only makes it fast and easy to build a form so you really can get it up and running in just minutes, but also has all the power you need. What makes forms hard are things like preventing spam, adding logic, making them mobile friendly, and integrating what you collect with other services. Wufoo also makes that stuff easy. If your at least curious, head over there and browse the template or play with the demo form builder.

Exploring Data with Serverless and Vue: Filtering and Using the Data

In this second article of this tutorial, we'll take the data we got from our serverless function and use Vue and Vuex to disseminate the data, update our table, and modify the data to use in our WebGL globe. This article assumes some base knowledge of Vue. By far the coolest/most useful thing we'll address in this article is the use of the computed properties in Vue.js to create the performant filtering of the table. Read on!

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Exploring Data with Serverless and Vue: Automatically Update GitHub Files With Serverless Functions

I work on a large team with amazing people like Simona Cotin, John Papa, Jessie Frazelle, Burke Holland, and Paige Bailey. We all speak a lot, as it's part of a developer advocate's job, and we're also frequently asked where we'll be speaking. For the most part, we each manage our own sites where we list all of this speaking, but that's not a very good experience for people trying to explore, so I made a demo that makes it easy to see who's speaking, at which conferences, when, with links to all of this information. Just for fun, I made use of three.js so that you can quickly visualize how many places we're all visiting.

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Building a Progress Ring, Quickly

On some particularly heavy sites, the user needs to see a visual cue temporarily to indicate that resources and assets are still loading before they taking in a finished site. There are different kinds of approaches to solving for this kind of UX, from spinners to skeleton screens.

If we are using an out-of-the-box solution that provides us the current progress, like preloader package by Jam3 does, building a loading indicator becomes easier.

For this, we will make a ring/circle, style it, animate given a progress, and then wrap it in a component for development use.

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Mētis

Kelly Sutton writes about programming, working with teams and the relationship to the Greek word Mētis:

Mētis is typically translated into English as “cunning” or “cunning intelligence.” While not wrong, this translation fails to do justice to the range of knowledge and skills represented by mētis. Broadly understood, mētis represents a wide array of practical skills and acquired intelligence in responding to a constantly changing natural and human environment.

Kelly continues:

In some ways, mētis is at direct odds with processes that need a majority of the design up-front. Instead, it prefers an evolutionary design. This system of organization and building can be maddening to an organization looking to suss out structure. The question of “When will Project X ship?” seems to be always met with weasel words and hedges.

A more effective question—although equally infuriating to the non-engineering members of the company—would be “When will our understanding of the problem increase an order of magnitude, and when will that understanding be built into the product?”

Gutenberg

I've only just been catching up with the news about Gutenberg, the name for a revamp of the WordPress editor. You can use it right now, as it's being built as a plugin first, with the idea that eventually it goes into core. The repo has better information.

It seems to me this is the most major change to the WordPress editor in WordPress history. It also seems particularly relevant here as we were just talking about content blocks and how different CMS's handle them. That's exactly what Gutenberg is: a content block editor.

Rather than the content area being a glorified <textarea></textarea> (perhaps one of the most valid criticisms of WordPress), the content area becomes a wrapper for whatever different "blocks" you want to put there. Blocks are things like headings, text, lists, and images. They are also more elaborate things like galleries and embeds. Crucially, blocks are extensible and really could be anything. Like a [shortcode], I imagine.

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Making a Pure CSS Play/Pause Button

Globally, the media control icons are some of the most universally understood visual language in any kind of interface. A designer can simply assume that every user not only knows ▶️ = play, but that users will seek out the icon in order to watch any video or animation.

Reportedly introduced in the 1960s by Swedish engineer Philip Olsson the play arrow was first designed to indicate the direction where the tape would go when reading on reel-to-reel tape players. Since then, we switched from cassettes to CDs, from the iPod to Spotify, but the media controls icons remain the same.

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