FEATURED STORY

The Once and Future SVG

Plugin-free vector graphics are now easier than ever before

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Thirteen years ago, in 2001, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) finalized the specification for Scalable Vector Graphics, version 1.0. A few months later, in early 2002, O’Reilly published the original SVG Essentials, describing both the basics and the wonderful potential of SVG. An open standard for vector graphics, with support for scripting and animation, was an area of boundless possibility.

From some perspectives, not much has changed. The official SVG specification is still at version 1.1, which was released in 2003 and edited in 2011. Neither update introduced new features to SVG, instead focusing on improving clarity and consistency in the details.

In practice, however, SVG has changed considerably. There are numerous tools for creating SVG, both full-featured graphics programs and online widgets. Most importantly, nearly every web browser out there treats SVG as a first-class citizen (some outdated mobile and Internet Explorer versions being exceptions), displaying SVG as an interactive part of your document with no need for plug-ins.

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Isomorphic JavaScript with LazoJS

In search of the holy grail, again

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When I started at @WalmartLabs I was placed on team that was tasked with creating a new web framework from scratch that could power large public facing web sites.

I recently had the opportunity to speak about this experience at OSCON. The title of the talk was “Satisfying Business and Engineering Requirements: Client-server JavaScript, SEO, and Optimized Page Load”, which is quite the mouthful.

What the title attempted to encapsulate and the talk communicated was how we solved the SEO and optimized page load issue for public facing web sites while keeping UI engineers, myself included, happy and productive. Let’s take a look at how we achieved this with the creation of a new isomorphic JavaScript web framework, LazoJS.

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Be a squeaky wheel, but always bring oil

Camille Fournier on becoming a “multiplier” — and why multipliers are more effective than managers.

There are times when we all wish we could clone ourselves so we could get more done at work. In a Velocity New York 2014 keynote, Camille Fournier, CTO at Rent the Runway, presented an alternative, practical solution, that she argued is far more effective (not to mention feasible): become a “multiplier” rather than a manager.

Technical skills are important, she said, but they’re not ultimately the bottlenecks you experience later in your career — eventually, time and focus become the main hurdles. To overcome these hurdles, Fournier argued that you need to take a step beyond managing and focusing on creating additive value, and focus on multiplying your value by increasing the effectiveness of the people working around you.

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It’s time for a “commitment escalation”

Mikey Dickerson on why he moved from Google to the West Wing, and where we need to be allocating our engineering resources.

In a keynote address at Velocity New York 2014, Mikey Dickerson described his journey from working for Google to working in the West Wing of the White House, leading the US Digital Services group. He told the story of how a three-day review turned into a nine-week “herculean effort” by a team working 17 hours per day, 7 days per week to get HealthCare.gov up and running. The challenges, he stressed, boiled down to a few big, though basic, things — building a monitoring system, creating a war room to provide development direction and organization, and establishing a sense of urgency to get the problems fixed. “This very formidable obstacle, when you pushed on it even a little bit, fell apart; it was made out of sand,” he said. “Nothing we did was that hard; it was labor intensive, but it was not hard.”

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The Future of AngularJS

Charting the progress towards AngularJS 2.0

sextantAngularJS, for me, was a revelation the first time I encountered it. I was coming from using GWT (Google Web Toolkit), and seeing our large application shrink in lines of code by 90% was close to a spiritual experience. I was a convert from day one, because I knew how bad things were otherwise. Ever since, I have been associated with AngularJS in one way or another, and have seen how it makes things absolutely simple with data binding, templating, routing, unit testing, and so much more. But the more I used it, some things didn’t make sense, from naming to concepts. I got the hang of it, but I never really got to like why directives needed to be so complex, or how the built-in routing was quite limiting. While AngularJS made it trivial to write applications, it also made it trivial to write slow, hard-to-maintain applications if you didn’t understand how it all worked together.

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Prepare for change now, and you’ll be ready for it later

Max Firtman on the future of mobile and the importance of embracing change.

Companies and developers have plenty of mobile development challenges — OS platforms, the growing number of devices and screen sizes, and the myriad requirements of browsers, to name a few. Soon — or already — the Internet of Things is going to muddy the waters further. In a recent interview, Max Firtman, founder of ITMaster, stressed the importance of the growing ubiquitousness of IoT and the necessity that companies embrace the future:

”Maybe in 10 years, we’re going to see devices everywhere sending input information to apps that might be in the server, in the cloud — and those apps will carry some kind of intelligence, and will bring us back information on other devices that could be a smart watch, smart glass, a phone; we don’t know, yet, exactly what will be here. But there are a lot of challenges there for content owners or companies because you need to understand that you’re going to be everywhere.

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