Learning the Web
Finding a gentle entry to a big space
Those aren’t the only barriers, though. Read more…
CSS fundamentally transforms
Enabling the creation of maintainable sites and apps that look great across a variety of different devices and contexts.
Choose your Learning Path. Our new Learning Paths will help you get where you want to go, whether it’s learning a programming language, developing new skills, or getting started with something entirely new.
CSS’ declarative model can be uniquely efficient, but requires an understanding not only of the features you want to use but the approach you want to take in decorating a document tree. That means understanding the document tree (and there may be many variations as you apply the same style sheet to multiple documents), the selectors used to identify points on the tree, the cascade that resolves conflicts among selectors, and the properties applied to that tree. Of course, the properties interact with each other and a shared model, so you’ll need to understand how the properties how to make those interactions produce your vision.
Abstraction in web apps: an idea, not an ideology
Create the Web instead of colonizing it.
Some weeks ago, when it was still wintry in one half of U.S.A. and anything but in the other half, I encountered the following Tweet:
The old man seemed lost and friendless. “I miss static HTML,” he said.
— Jeffrey Zeldman (@zeldman) March 12, 2015
I’m grateful to call Jeffrey Zeldman a friend, seeing as he’s a terrific guy in addition to being one of the foremost doyens of web design. In that sentiment and with the wish to call attention to his lament, I replied:
@zeldman Story of my last five years, that. When did simplification & removal of dependencies become subversive?
— Ben Henick (@bhenick) March 12, 2015
…And now I get to unpack all of that, as briefly as possible.
Full-stack tensions on the Web
How much do you need to know?
I expected that CSSDevConf would be primarily a show about front-end work, focused on work in clients and specifically in browsers. I kept running into conversations, though, about the challenges of moving between the front and back end, the client and the server side. Some were from developers suddenly told that they had to become “full-stack developers” covering the whole spectrum, while others were from front-end engineers suddenly finding a flood of back-end developers tinkering with the client side of their applications. “Full-stack” isn’t always a cheerful story.
In the early days of the Web, “full-stack” was normal. While there were certainly people who focused on running web servers or designing sites as beautiful as the technology would allow, there were lots of webmasters who knew how to design a site, write HTML, manage a server, and maybe write some CGI code for early applications.
Even as the bust set in, specialization remained the trend because Web projects — especially on the server side — had grown far more complicated. They weren’t just a server and a few scripts, but a complete stack, including templates, logic, and usually a database. Whether you preferred the LAMP stack, a Microsoft ASP stack, or perhaps Java servlets and JSP, the server side rapidly became its own complex arena. Intranet development in particular exploded as a way to build server-based applications that could (cheaply) connect data sources to users on multiple platforms. Writing web apps was faster and cheaper than writing desktop apps, with more tolerance for platform variation.
How to build up to good CSS
Avoid problems associated with a quick fix by creating a stable workflow.
A long time ago (circa 1999) a creative director tried very hard to convince me how great working in print design was compared to web design. One afternoon before a big event for a Fortune 100 company, she showed me an invitation her team had been working on for the past 2 weeks. It had folds, panels, and colors that would wow anyone. It had just come back from the printing press and she was excited to show me how amazing it was. She began reading me the big invitation title first — to her horror she found that there was a spelling mistake on the cover. The entire set of 10,000 invites would have to be thrown in the trash and at the cost of $15,000 — that would be hard mistake to swallow. She was speechless.
My response to what had just happened was this…”That’s why I like designing for the web. I would have been able to change that spelling mistake in 5 minutes…”
At that point in the web’s history anyone with a web connection, an FTP program and a text editor could edit HTML code on the fly. It really was the wild wild west of web development — this was the web’s best and worst attribute. For many young developers and designers it gave us a chance to create, edit, and publish web pages as fast as we could code them.
It’s time for a web page diet
Site speed is essential to business success, yet many pages are getting bigger and slower.
Earlier this year, I was researching online consumer preferences for a client and discovered, somewhat unsurprisingly, that people expect web sites to be fast and responsive, particularly when they’re shopping. What did surprised me, however, were findings in Radware’s “State of the Union Report Spring 2014” (registration required) that showed web sites, on average, were becoming bigger in bytes and slower in response time every year. In fact, the average Alexa 1000 web page has grown from around 780KB and 86 resources in 2011 to more than 1.4MB and 99 resources by the time of the early “2014 State of the Union Winter Report.”
As an experiment, I measured the resources loaded for Amazon.com on my own computer: 2.6MB loaded with 252 requests!
This seemed so odd. Faster is more profitable, yet companies were actually building fatter and slower web sites. What was behind all these bytes? Had web development become so sophisticated that all the technology would bust the seams of the browser window? Read more…
A new mantra for your next (programming) meditation session.
It’s the end of the web as we knew it
You might feel fine.
A few best practices for when you're learning the language