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Russ spoke at our Respond Front End Design conference, and this profile first appeared in Scroll magazine. You can follow Russ on Twitter, and find him at http://maxdesign.com.au/. Q Describe your family. A I live with my long term partner, our two children and two dogs. Both my partner and I were born and raised in Sydney. Our oldest son is obsessed with video games of all varieties, to the point where we have to set time limits. He is also a passionate musician - playing the trombone. Our younger son is interested in a range of activities including competition swimming and dance. Q What book has changed your life in some way? A At different times of my life, different books have inspired me, or caused me to change how I thought about a specific topic. When I was around 20 years old a book called Zen in the Martial Arts by Joe Hyams was a big influence. As a print designer, many typography books helped me change the way I saw type in design. I cannot remember a lot of the earlier books, but one that comes to mind is The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst. When I moved into web design, a lot of books were influential but one stood out as it approached HTML and CSS in a very different way: Pro CSS and HTML Design Patterns by Michael Bowers. These days, I often get more inspiration from other media rather than books. I listen to a lot of podcasts and I watch a fair amount of YouTube movies on all sorts of topics from comedy to secularism and rationalism. Q What formal qualifications do you have How did you end up doing web work? A When I left school, I decided that I wanted to go to Art college as I was very interested in drawing and cartooning. Sadly, I did very little painting at the Art School so they decided to fob me off to a new “Design School” which was just about to start at the College. It was there that I learned about design. I learned from a grumpy typographer who constantly berated us about kerning and letter spacing. I still have nightmares about incorrectly spaced letters to this day. As part of the program, students had to do work experience. I refused to find my own, so the College found me a place with the Australian Museum design team. I worked there for two weeks and thought “Well, luckily I'll never have to come back here”. Soon afterwards, I was employed by the Museum and worked there for 29 years. Q Describe what you do. What’s your job? Is presenting at web conferences part of that job? A My work falls into four different areas: 1. I am a UX/UI professional. I work mainly on web applications - sketching, wireframing, prototyping, user testing etc. 2. I am a front end developer - specialising in HTML/CSS/SCSS pattern libraries. 3. I also work in Accessibility - often working with other developers to advise them on how to make applications more accessible. 4. I do a fair amount of on-site training - where I work with team members to build up their skills in aspects of HTML, CSS, SCSS, Responsive Web Design and Accessibility. Q Do you give much thought to the title you apply to yourself? Does it matter? A It’s very hard to work out a title across these four disciplines. The closest I have seen is “UI Developer” - which theoretically covers aspects of UX/UI, design and front end. The problem is that individual teams use different titles, and they use them in different ways. There is no canonical reference point for titles. Q Describe the first time you gave a presentation on a web topic. A I began presenting around 2003. I think my first presentation was to a Web Standards Group meeting in Sydney on some aspect of CSS. I felt very little nerves as I had presented a lot before becoming a web designer/developer. I really enjoyed the idea that I could help people understand an topic. Q In The Graduate, Mr McGuire has just one word to say to aimless college graduate Benjamin Braddock: “Plastics”. What one word would you give to today’s prospective web professional? A Basics. I see many front end developers who have fast-tracked their knowledge. They can use Bootstrap and multiple different JavaScript frameworks but many lack even basic knowledge of HTML and CSS - or concepts like Progressive Enhancement. BONUS! When Russ first responded to our interview questions, he couldn't resist having a bit of fun with the questions. Here are his original answers to the first three questions. Q Describe your family. A My family comes from a long line of criminals - thieves, robbers, pickpockets and the like. My father and mother actually met in jail - staring at each other across the exercise yard. They had three boys, all by accident. Our young lives were spent in and out of juvenile detention centres. It is amazing that any of us have managed to stay out of prison. I now have two boys of my own ... well, I part-own them along with my partner. And the bank. I try to bring them up in the same way that I was brought up. Needless to say, they could shoot before they could walk and perform card tricks by the time they could speak. We have high hopes for their future. Q What book has changed your life in some way? A Probably the most important book I ever read was Put 'Em Down, Take 'Em Out! Knife Fighting Techniques from Folsom Prison". It taught me many of the lessons that I still use in business meetings to this day. Q What formal qualifications do you have How did you end up doing web work? A Unlike my brothers, I pretty much failed high school. As we surveyed the wreckage that was my HSC score, it became apparent that there was very little I could do except go to art school. It was either that or Humanities.
Like to watch and read more like this? Be the first to score invitations to our events? Then jump on our once a week mailing list where we round up the week's best reading and watching on all things Web. And you'll get a complimentary digital copy of our Scroll magazine.
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Part I

Part II

Part III

Like to watch and read more like this? Be the first to score invitations to our events? Then jump on our once a week mailing list where we round up the week's best reading and watching on all things Web. And you'll get a complimentary digital copy of our brand new magazine, Scroll.

Further reading and ideas

Transcript

John

So, Rachel Andrew, who writes a column in A List Apart recently, talked about the challenge of, basically, free. And how a lot of the time, people who have a profile in our industry, and often people who don't, are kinda asked and even expected to do lots of things for free. Speaking at conferences, sharing their thoughts online. I think that it also connects with the open-source ethos and philosophy where a lot of people are devoting an enormous amount of time and rarely being particularly well recompensed. But, by the same token, I think it's something very special and important about our industry is that we've collectively developed our expertise and our skills and shared that. Most people, I know, including myself, have learned a great deal from other experts who have learned something and shared it. So what are your thoughts around that dilemma? You know there are obviously benefits of giving your time, raising your profile with the opportunity, then, to perhaps publish a book or gain a client.

Sara

Exactly.

John

What are your feelings around that whole issue?

Sara

I don't have anything particularly against it, if you get to do it on your own account. For example, if I have some time and I feel like writing, I write. If, like, you know, recently I read this article by Daniel Mall, where he talks about the difference between being busy and between setting priorities. So, instead of saying, "Okay, I'm too busy to do this," you shift your mindset and you think, "This is not a priority." So, when you don't have a lot of work to do, which is what I used to be like the first year when I started out. I spent a lot of my time learning and I loved writing and I loved teaching so I spent a big part of my time writing as well. So, whenever I learned something, I shared it, I wrote an article. People liked the way I write my stuff and sort of related with it, so I kept doing it for awhile. And there's this beautiful sense of satisfaction when someone comes, for example, sends you a Tweet or email and says, "Thank you, your article gave me this ah-ha moment and I finally understood the concept that I couldn't understand before." This is very satisfactory and sometimes this is enough for me to do what I do. But, in the last, like, few months actually, it only started maybe in September last year, I started setting priorities like Daniel said and ever since then, I've been writing less. I've also been speaking for free less. I used to speak, I spent my entire first year, probably, speaking for free. But then, I also used to make the mistake of making a new talk for every single conference.

John

Yes, that's a good habit to break.

Sara

Yeah, I definitely broke that. So, there are definitely disadvantages to that. But if you have the time, and it helps you build your profile, it helps you get connected to people, then definitely I don't have anything against that. But, people on the other side, people who are receiving your stuff, they shouldn't set expectations that you might not be able to meet. Like, I see a lot of, for example, I'm one of the people, I'm pretty sure there's gonna be some criticisms to me saying that, I don't wear open-source as a badge. Like, hey I'm a proud open-sourcer. I do have some things on GitHub. My activity is, I'm not really that active on GitHub, but I've seen a lot of people who are and who get a lot of nasty comments from people who are like, "You have to fix this." I used to get those via email. Before I started writing tutorials on how to or how to explain things, I used to write tutorials on how to create certain demos and then after a few months when browser support changed and some demos broke, I used to get a lot of emails from people asking me to fix it for them. And some developers even used to send me emails asking me to fix their projects for them and without even offering anything. I was like, okay, there's a limit to the amount of things, or the kinds of things that you can do for free. And people just need to understand that. Behind the web, there are people, and people tend to forget that there are people on the other side of the screen.

John

It's really interesting, so I started on the web, actually pre-web days even, and one of our primary mechanisms of connecting with people were news groups. That's how I met, for example, Eric Meyer many, many years ago. And what was really, what was always very interesting to observe in news groups is that people would behave towards someone, and if people aren't familiar with news groups, I guess the closest analog these days is Slack, a bit like Twitter, in a sense as well. But typically, the difference between a news group is that they were relatively small communities on the whole. There also anybody could largely join in. And what you would find is that people just weren't capable of imagining they were in a room having a conversation with someone and, therefore, they would, I remember one person when I made a suggestion on something he says, "Literally made me sick." Like your suggestion, I was like yeah, seriously? You know, if you're in my house and we're having a beer or a cup of tea or whatever, would you say that?

Sara

You wouldn't say that.

John

And I think that's a really good analogy that we've sort of somewhat lost. It's almost like we have to keep learning over and over again the same analogies. I guess my feeling, to some extent, around the whole free thing is, you have, sort of, two consumers or, you've obviously got the producer of the presentation, the writing, often the software, the code. You have the audience who will use it as part of their project or learn something from it and grow from it. But then you have either the people who employ those people or you have the companies who gain tremendous advantage from that code base or they may be publishers, they might be a conference company. And I think the balance is tricky. And I think it, probably, I mean one of things, one of our guiding principles with when we ask people to speak, that we want people to leave better for it and often financially is a part of that, right And I do, somewhat, sometimes feel that, particularly amongst those commercial entities that are benefiting really significantly from that work, there is this kind of expectation that, well, it's all open-source or it's all free and it's all part of the giving community and what have you. I think that's probably, we're gonna burn out, I think, a lot of people this way. And I really, if I had a call to any activity around this, would be, to the people who really have the resources, to contribute those resources back to ensuring that this is, what I use the term, sustainable. I don't think right now sometimes that it's a sustainable ecosystem because we really do, really take for granted a lot of the excess, you know, surplus intellectual property people put into it.

Sara

I've only recently setting limitations and saying no more to conference invitations because, like half or more than half of the invitations that I got for this year, I got more than 30 invitations.

John

Right, wow.

Sara

And I said no to most of them because, it's not mainly because of the money, but it was a big part of it. Like a lot of conferences would ask me to travel for, there was this conference that asked me to travel all the way to San Francisco, to the other side of the world. They would only pay for two nights to stay there. That's not enough to even get over my jet lag.

John

Right, yeah.

Sara

And to give a 15-minute keynote for free.

John

Yeah, and I'm not gonna necessarily ask who the names are but I've found that actually some well-established, successful, large companies have that expectation.

Sara

Exactly.

John

And, you know, to me, I think that's unsustainable, really.

John

Not these people.

John

There are people who definitely wanna do the right thing. And it makes it very hard to, essentially, in one sense, compete when other people aren't necessarily wearing the costs that you are and going to the efforts that you are. Anyway, as I said, I don't wanna make it about us, thanks for those sorts and I guess the broader point is, and I think as an industry, we really do have to value probably more, the contributions that a relatively small number of people are making. Often, not necessarily the most well-known. I think, in open-source, the very high-profile founders of a project will get recognition, rightly so, and maybe well employed or maybe start a company around what they're doing. But there are plenty of other people who will make contributions that don't necessarily do nearly as well out of that, right?

Sara

Don't get recognition.

John

And I'm not sheeting that responsibility home to the people who started that project, by any means. But I think definitely, if your company does well out of other people's work, you should be compensating them for that is my broad philosophy in life.

Sara

Definitely.

John

Anyway. So, you're, I guess, most well-known, in many respects, for scalable vector graphics for SVG. So, how did you come to have a particular passion for, interest in, expertise around SVG?

Sara

It's actually weird because I spent an entire year focusing on CSS only and nobody even sometimes remembers that. Even though I--

John

I guess there were lots of people who did that. You know, that was a field that was pretty saturated even ten years ago in a way.

Sara

I got into SVG--

John

Lea Verou pretty much cornered that market I think.

Sara

The way I got into SVG was totally unplanned. I gave my first talk a couple of years ago at CSSconf in Miami, so, I was supposed to give a talk about textured text and certain effects and I lost my inspiration for the talk a few weeks before the talk and so I wanted something new. I always like to challenge myself and I always like to put myself under pressure before I give a talk, otherwise, I'm not gonna come up with something creative. So, I had been reading about SVG for a couple of months before that here and there. There were only like a few articles, including one from Chris Coyier. So, everyone's talking about this new image format and I don't really

John

When you say new, were you talking about 12 years ago?

Sara

Yeah, yeah (laughs)

John

When did you, when was it you, what year are we talking about here?

Sara

That was two years ago.

John

All right.

Sara

Yeah.

John

It's very interesting to me that SVG has been supported since IE9 I think.

Sara

Yeah.

John

So kinda many years before. We'll get on to, perhaps, why it's taken so long. But anyway, this reasonably, moderately new technology in 2014

Sara

So, the new technology called SVG, I didn't know anything about it. I don't like not knowing anything about something.

John

So, you'd heard of it, it was like (mumbles)

Sara

Yeah, just articles here and there.

John

Right, right.

Sara

It has something to do with resolution independence and responsive design is really the big thing today so, I was like, okay. I started reading an article, reading a little more about it and then, this is how it starts with me all the time. Like, I start reading about something, I start taking notes for myself, and then these notes pile up, and then they turn into an article. But with that instance, they turned into a talk. So, I talked to Nicole Sullivan at that time and I said that I'm not really feeling inspired by the textured text talk and I'm thinking about changing it to styling and animating SVGs with CSS. And I didn't even know that was going to be popular. Like, it was just a new topic, and I didn't see a lot of people talk about it, so I thought I'd do it. I did and the feedback was amazing. Right now when I think about the slides I feel incredibly proud about them, because there weren't really that amount of information about SVG gathered in one place like that. Okay, so because of the excitement that I got, and Kristina Schneider, she asked me to give the same talk at CSSconf EU and I wanted it to be updated for that conference, so I started digging more. And that's when, whenever, if I don't understand something from the inside out, I can't really work with it. So I started looking into the viewbox attribute and that was like a black box. It didn't get, it started changing the values and the image changed in ways that I didn't even anticipate or expect. I had no idea how it worked and that drove me crazy. So, I spent two weeks, researching, reading. I didn't find any good articles to make me understand it well.

John

So you had to go back to the spec.

Sara

The spec had, like, nothing about the viewbox. So, the only way I knew that I could understand it is to visualize it and that's exactly what I did. I started, I created an instructive demo. I then, after awhile, I refined it and made it public, but at first I started with, for me. So, I started changing the values of the viewbox and seeing how it changed until one day it clicked and I was able to make the comparison between how the viewbox works, the positioning and the scaling, in how the positioning and scaling of background images works in CSS. They are very similar in that aspect. And that's when I got the ah-ha moment and ever since then, I always say the same thing, if you understand the viewbox, your SVG codes are taken to a totally new level. And I started falling in love with it, especially the viewbox. Everyone knows how much I love the viewbox. A lot, like in every, I would have mentioned it tomorrow, but there's nothing really to talk, it's not really related to the content of my talk tomorrow. Yeah, so I got hooked and I started learning more. And the idea of having an image and being able to control the content of that image. When I used to be a kid, I used to draw a lot. And I used to draw cartoons a lot. And I used to dream about traveling to Japan some day, maybe, and working as an anime, you know, animator, basically. So, you have these images and you get to animate them. And, I didn't get to do that, so I found SVG where I have an image, and I literally get to animate it using code and that was enough to get me hooked. The more I learned about it, the more I loved it. And I'm still learning. There's so much more that I'm lagging behind.

John

So, I think there's two things I wanna say about that. The first thing is, if you're interested in becoming a presenter and doing presentations at conferences, I think that path is a really good example of how to do it. We ask lots of people to speak. We're constantly looking for new speakers. We do speaker workshops and really, one of our missions is to help people become speakers. And time and again people will say, "I don't know if I've got something to say. "I'm not sure what I've got to say is really interesting." But I think a lot of people also think, "Oh, I have to be the world expert in something "in order to come to speak about it."

Sara

No.

John

The fact of the matter is, there are so many undiscovered aspects, even in something like SVG which has been incredibly widely supported since IE9. IE9 was the last holdout. That's 2009, I think, that we've had and I've been promoting SVG since long before that and continuing to bang my head against the table as to why people are not adopting, but I guess the point is, here's a technology that's been around a long time, incredibly powerful, incredibly exciting and capable, and yet, you've found aspects of it that will be valuable to people. No one else could teach you that. You had to work that and then you shared that with other people. I think that's a really great example of the sort of thing people who are interested in presenting should look at but not think of themselves as having spent 10 years becoming a master.

Sara

They don't have to know everything.

John

You can learn by teaching it to people.

Sara

By teaching it. Exactly, like when you're learning, you start getting these moments and you start seeing things from a very different perspective that even experts don't see them that way. So, you're able to simplify things because the way you would get them is by simplifying them and, for example, if I or if some experts. I had this teacher back in college. He was a genius. He was incredibly smart. He got the highest not grades, average in college. Yeah, he was incredibly smart but he was the worst teacher. He was the worst at explaining things. So, what I'm trying to say is you don't have to be really, really an expert in something and know it inside out to talk about it. When I started with SVG, like I said, I learned it two weeks before my talk. And the amount of information that I gave during the talk was all I knew about SVG back then. So, definitely don't wait to become an expert. And I don't really think the word expert, people sometimes call me an SVG expert and I'm like, no, I'm not an expert. It's very hard to define yourself or to define other people as an expert so, if you're gonna wait for yourself to become one, especially if you have the impostor syndrome, you're never gonna speak. Because you're never gonna think of yourself as an expert.

John

Yeah, absolutely. I studied mathematics and I found that I had dozens of professors over a three-year period and I'm terribly sorry to say that one of them was a good teacher. The rest were, literally, terrible teachers. Because they knew how to do mathematics and so they usually stand there and do it on the blackboard and walk away.

Sara

Exactly.

John

Whereas I've always, I probably had a similar journey compared with you nearly 20 years ago with CSS, where I had that ah-ha moment and I thought this is brilliant technology. It was only a matter of months old. And when you were telling the story, I felt like, that's so similar in many respects to the story I had. Although I didn't necessarily, there weren't conferences back then. So the way people communicated were very much, there weren't even blogs back then. You would write articles and you'd post them, often in news groups like that's what you did. But, it was the fact that I was struggling myself with an idea and had to find a way of understanding and coming at it as you've done with the viewbox. So, I guess why I've labored on this a little bit is to try and really get people interested in speaking. So, as you say, don't wait. Don't think you have to be an expert. In fact, your journey of, not necessarily your personal journey, but your journey of learning about the technology or the practice is actually probably similar to what other people are kinda wanna go through. And so telling that will be very valuable to them.

Sara

Yes, especially like, I also, there's another thing that I had, one of the speakers, SmashingConf a couple of weeks ago, he was talking about a topic he wanted to talk about and then he said that someone else was talking about the same topic. So, that made him not talk about it anymore. And I was like, why? Don't, a lot of, a lot of people on Twitter say I wanted to write this article about that something but then I realized there are a million articles about that so I decided not to do it. That's so wrong. Everyone has their different aspect, different perspective, I mean, and the way you explain things, as they say, it's all about style. So, everyone has their own style. And some people can relate to that person's style and other people will be able to relate to yours not that person's. So, definitely don't let that stand in the way.

John

And in three months I will have inevitably forgotten that article (laughs)

Sara

Exactly.

John

We have a very short memory on the web a lot of the time. So, shifting things a little bit. I guess at the moment what we're seeing is an increasing complexity of what we do on the front end. We were using pre-processors, we're using lots of libraries and frameworks and they're doing more and more of the heavy lifting. Are you a person who tends to go toward those layers of abstraction, or you tend to stay with the core foundational technologies?

Sara

I stay with the core. I've always liked staying with the core. Even in college, we had this assembly course, assembly language and then we had the C and C++ courses. Assembly is like the lower level and C is not. I was super comfortable dealing with assembly and really not comfortable with C and I'm still like that with CSS Javascript. I don't know Angular. I don't know React. I know Javascript. I know CSS. I only use a pre-processor. I used Less for a while. It didn't really feel like it was for me. So, I tried Sass. It was simpler, sort of. I do use it these days, but I only use it for variables and nesting which hopefully will come to CSS some day.

John

Variables is they've landed a WebKit now. So, WebKit had an implementation at Con a decade ago of variables.

Sara

So, the only reason I use Sass is for variables and nesting.

John

I suspect that's probably 99% of the use cases with them.

Sara

Yeah.

John

And I tend to like to keep my workflow as simple as possible, and probably pay a bit more of a high cost at the other side. Like I do miss, the variables and nesting are probably the two things that I would hanker after. But still not enough to actually go and actually use a pre-processor.

Sara

No, I do think they are worth it because they're time savers and especially when it comes to organizing things. I do like to use them. But frameworks, I've never used Bootstrap. I've never used, I don't even know a lot of CSS frameworks actually.

John

Well, there tend to be less emphasis on them now than there was certainly, I think, three, two, three, four years ago. I think, now why it is because everyone just uses Bootstrap, I don't know. Or maybe they've, sort of, come and they've somewhat gone again. Because we were talking a little bit before we were on camera around whether or not in the Arabic world is web design very similar or different? So, I made the observation that, in my experience, certainly some years ago Japanese web design was quite different from what you might call western web design. Amongst my Japanese friends, we'd just discuss why that be different. But you sort of suggested the Arabic way of designing isn't really too distinct.

Sara

It's not really that different, no. And I still get a lot of requests from people, Arabic and non-Arabic, who ask me to build a web site, and one of their requirements is always use Bootstrap. And that's actually one of the reasons I don't do it. I don't wanna be forced to use a framework. I prefer to write my CSS from scratch, from knowing exactly what everything is for, paying attention to progressive enhancement accessibility and all of that stuff without having to worry about being restricted by what Bootstrap has to offer. If you want me to build a web site, I'll build it the way you want it, but I can do it from scratch. I don't wanna be restricted by some CSS framework. CSS is simple enough to be written from scratch. Plus there's a lot of accessibility problems with frameworks and spending time fixing those frameworks is a lot more than doing things from scratch.

John

Well, I was having a similar conversation with Russ Weekly yesterday. And Russ I've known for many years and has been a passionate advocate for accessibility in all that time. And we talked about how it's kind of ironic, now that we have in the front end things like React, and somebody said Angular, Bootstrap, we're actually getting worse accessibility rather than better, in some respects. Even though, in a sense, if these tools implemented accessibility well, then it'd almost completely come for free. There wouldn't be, and yet people seem to find ways of using these technologies in ways that are less accessible, not more. And it's almost like we don't care about accessibility as much as we might have ten years ago.

Sara

Yeah, I hear this. I do hear this from certain developers.

John

I think old people. Because our eyes are getting worse, right (laughs).

Sara

Well, so are mine.

John

That's what happens, I used to joke and now it's not a joke anymore that, if you're lucky you will become disabled, because you will get older and you will become less mobile and you will be, and when you're, I probably first said that when I was 29 and now I'm 49 and I think it's hard to, it's harder to empathize broadly when you're young and able-bodied and fit, and your eyes work well. I think it can be a bit more challenging. We can understand theoretically the challenges of accessibility, but I think we need to be, empathy can often come with personal experience or maybe going in, as Russ talked about yesterday, going and watching people use your web site and being humiliated by how you've made someone's life more difficult than it should have been.

Sara

Yes, you know, I think it gets dangerous when certain developers, which happened yesterday, one of them said, "I don't care about that one person out of 1300." And that's when I personally, where I personally draw the line. I mean, why wouldn't you care? Maybe you're that person. Maybe you're the one having that problem. So, how would you feel if someone treated you the same way?

Sara

Yeah, I certainly think we all lose sight of the fact that the w-w bit of world wide web is worldwide and Tim Berners-Lee, so I sort of have this idea that Tim Berners-Lee gave the world an enormous gift. And it came with, and we've got this enormous privilege of being involved with it and helping make it happen and it's rewarded us individually as professionals, enormously.

Sara

True.

John

And the kind of reciprocal responsibility is that always should, we should listen to and try to embody it's values. And there are a set of values that Tim Berners-Lee has expressly enunciated about the web. And they are about inclusiveness and the very name, worldwide, access regardless of disability, to information. I think those are really important things. So, my blood does, literally, boil, well it doesn't literally, figuratively boils (laughs) when I hear things like that. Because we've been hearing that for 20 years. And it's a shame, here we go, we have to start all over again. And where do I, how do I, what? You know, maybe we just have to do that. It's part of our responsibility is to educate newer generations.

Sara

Exactly, we need more speakers speaking about accessibility at conferences, because I don't see those a lot.

John

It went away, right? It used to be a big thing and it's gone away. We've got a bit of it coming up in this conference and the one we've got later in the year. But, one of the reasons why we didn't really have as much in our conferences for a long time, we're sort of like, that's all done, people have got it now. People get it. It's a set of practices. And to me, the challenge is less the practices, that's part, it's actually the belief that it is fundamentally important.

Sara

Sure.

John

I feel it's no different to when we started our first conference in 2004. We've almost gotta go back and start again. But, maybe that's just, as I said, the price, that we pay for for our place in the industry. I'll finish by looking to the future. So, how long would you consider yourself as being professionally doing web things? How long?

Sara

Two years.

John

Two years? Only two years?

Sara

Maybe three, two and a half, or something.

John

Okay, so, and you've been using the web, so when was the first time the web became really a significant part of your day-to-day life?

Sara

Three years ago.

John

Really, so before that you really weren't much of a web user or?

Sara

I'm not that into tech.

John

All right.

Sara

Yeah, so it's kinda ironic how I ended up as a geek.

John

Yeah?

Sara

Yes, so but I like it. I love it, actually.

John

You say that, this is the woman who said, "Yeah, I prefer assembly over C." That is a pretty geeky thing to say. I think the geek kind of genes were deeply in you there. I don't think it happened, the web just came along and found you. But you were ready for it.

Sara

Absolutely. The first time I ever touched HTML was in eighth grade and it felt like a natural language. My teacher started talking, putting the P paragraph tags and as soon as I saw them, I was like, wow, I can use these few lines and I have a web page in front of me. So, I did that and I ended up making the best project in school and I did a couple of side projects at home. I got a book from college, from a friend of mine was in college, that was all about HTML and I started reading and reading and reading, and I made, you know the holy grail layout? You have main, sidebar, and header?

John

I think I have a whole chapter in one of my books on it.

Sara

I did that using iframes and I felt so proud.

John

With iframe?

Sara

Yes.

John

Right, okay.

Sara

Yeah, so I fell in love but then the next year, we didn't take a computer course, so for like four, five years after that I didn't touch any HTML. I didn't do anything. And then in college, I didn't have a lot of options to choose from because we weren't the richest people in Lebanon, so, there were only a few colleges that I could go to. And so only a few options for majors. Computer science was the least bad, like, I didn't like the others, so it was like, okay. I'll just take computer science. I almost switched majors to architecture, to physics, halfway through but then things happened that led me to this path and I'm more than thankful to be here.

John

All right, so looking forward then those two to three years, so that's like looking forward the same period of time as looking back, what do you see yourself doing? What do you imagine?

Sara

What I see myself doing? I don't know.

John

Will it still be SVG a big part of that? Or other aspects of web interesting you right now?

Sara

I'm already shifting away from SVG a little bit. I was talking to a friend of mine awhile back and I was talking about, I used to focus a lot on SVG itself in the last couple of years, and now I'm just focusing at SVG as being part of the bigger tool set, as how it can be used alongside other tools to help us solve bigger design problems and development problems. I'm very much, very much excited about progressive web apps. It's fantastic. I can't wait to see it, with the manifest, with HTML5 manifest, the service workers, and just the ability to have that an icon on your home screen that opens the web site that looks exactly like an application that works off-line. That's incredibly exciting. So, I'm excited about that. I see myself working on side projects more, less speaking. I was actually supposed to not speak a lot this year. I ended up with more than ten speaking engagements. So, maybe next year, I'll speak less. I wanna focus more on client projects. They are my priority now. That's why I've been writing less recently because I'm setting priorities. I can write if I want, but I don't wanna sacrifice time from my personal life or from other activities. I've given those a priority and writing slightly less. So, I will be writing not as frequently, but I like to focus on new topics. I need to find something to inspire me and progressive web apps is probably gonna be part of that.

John

Excellent, all right. Well thank you very much for coming all this way.

Sara

Thank you for having me.
" ["post_title"]=> string(41) "Video: In Conversation with Sara Soueidan" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(6) "closed" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(32) "video-conversation-sara-soueidan" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2016-06-23 14:02:41" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2016-06-23 04:02:41" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(37) "https://www.webdirections.org/?p=6365" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" ["post_category"]=> string(1) "0" } [3]=> object(WP_Post)#224 (25) { ["ID"]=> int(6364) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "3" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2016-06-22 14:43:22" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2016-06-22 04:43:22" ["post_content"]=> string(2606) "At the heart of Progressive Web Apps from the perspective of a developer are two pieces of technology: Web Manifests and Service Workers. We've covered Service Worker more than once at Web Directions, and I suspect we'll do so again, but this week we bring you the most succinct session we've had on it to date, from Code 2015, by Chris Roberts. So if you've not bitten the bullet and delved into it more deeply, now's your chance. And when you're done, why not register for our Code conference, in Sydney or Melbourne, where we cover all sorts of stuff like this in depth, including Web Manifests, the other key technology enabling Progressive Web Apps. Like to see and read more like this? Be the first to score invitations to our events? Then jump on our once-a-week mailing list where we round up the week's best reading and watching on all things Web. And you'll get a complimentary digital copy of our brand new magazine, Scroll.
" ["post_title"]=> string(46) "Video Ristretto: Service Worker, Chris Roberts" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(6) "closed" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(30) "video-ristretto-service-worker" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2016-06-23 08:39:53" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2016-06-22 22:39:53" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(37) "https://www.webdirections.org/?p=6364" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" ["post_category"]=> string(1) "0" } [4]=> object(WP_Post)#223 (25) { ["ID"]=> int(6362) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "3" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2016-06-21 09:58:15" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2016-06-20 23:58:15" ["post_content"]=> string(6081) "Craig SharkieCraig Sharkie's presentation at our Respond conference was on how viewport units can make web typography responsive. And a great talk it was. But when we asked him to write an article for our new Scroll magazine, Sharkie went off at a bit of a tangent. He refers in the talk to "contextomy", the word for taking something out of context, changing its meaning. His article explores that further, digging into how changes in context can affect search results and ultimately what we think of as knowledge and truth. We've made that our Idea of the Week. You can also read this article in the first edition of our rebooted Scroll Magazine.

Searching for Truth

by Craig Sharkie


You can google it. You can bing it. You can even let me google that for you. Google themselves would prefer that you didn’t google it. And Yahoo would love anyone to have yahooed it. “It”, of course, is using a search engine, and we’ve all done it. In all likelihood, everyone you know has done it, although you probably see a handful of people each week that haven’t, and wouldn’t. Figures show that 86.9% of Australians are computer literate, which is well above the global computer literacy rate of 39.0%, and safely under the Australian literacy rate of 96%. I know all those figures because I googled them. And Google happily gave me 2,870,000 results, in a breathtaking 0.51 seconds. And we don’t question that. Although perhaps you’re starting to, now. We’re comfortable receiving our search results in batches of 10, and if we make it 10 pages deep in a search, there’s something awry. When Jerry Yang and David Filo launched Yahoo last century, it was a search directory and not a search engine. That just meant that human beings made recommendations about what would be the best results for your search, and not a Web bot with a flashy algorithm. And somewhere along the line we traded human input for a spider’s index. If you’re familiar with the genre you’re searching, and can recognise key personalities in your results, you actually start to apply some directory filtering back over the bot’s results. Interested in Web Development? If you see Mozilla Developer Network or the W3C in your results you’ll be confident you’re heading in the right direction. Interested in Semantic Web Development and you’ll likely skip past W3Schools, but you’ll often take a look at Stack Overflow, just to be sure. Names like Paul Irish, Chris Coyier, Remy Sharp, Eric Meyer, and Peter-Paul Koch will make you more comfortable again. Although for two of those, CSS-Tricks and Quirksmode might be more familiar. Search for “search?q=most+popular+search” and you’ll get 415,000,000 results in a quarter of a second, and there’s frankly no way for you to comprehend that much data in that small an amount of time. We’ve long ago traded quantity and speed for quality and fidelity. Voracity for veracity. And if you take brands out of the mix - think Kardashians, Kanye, Kleenex, or My Kitchen Rules - and pornography from the mix - think ... well you know what to think - the most searched for term in 2015 was “weather”. 45.5 million people per month searched for weather, and the smart money says folks wanted to know the forecast, and not the science behind the weather. In our hunger for information we often overlook quality. We opt for common usage, over uncommon precision. And we’re happy to do it for searches as we’ve become used to doing it for so many other parts of our shared experience. We have precedent for it and we’re familiar with it, and it’s almost an expectation. Great minds think alike, after all. And even the saying “Great minds think alike” has fallen victim to the race for more results. It’s become a contextomy - the selective excerpting of words from their original linguistic context in a way that distorts the source’s intended meaning. Ask Wikipedia what a contextomy is. “Great minds think alike, small minds rarely differ” or “Great minds think alike, and fools seldom differ” are the directory versions, and the more idiomatic “Great minds think alike” is the search engine version. Millions of people misquote this saying and in that misquotation change the meaning we take from the quote. When we find answers that fit the shape of our question, and in the face of potentially millions of answers, we excuse ourselves from the need to investigate the answers too thoroughly. Often, there is little harm in our expedience; occasionally, though that expedience is the root of our lament. Were we to take the time to investigate, the answer would be closer than we think, and more useful than we expect. Allow yourself to only need an image search for “Great minds think alike” and you’d be told the saying originated in Ancient Greece. Don’t settle for the picture-telling-a-thousand-words option, and Google can lead you to a Stack Overflow result where you’d learn that the idiom wasn’t quite that old and likely comes from the 17th Century. We don’t always need to go back to the source or specification to get the truth behind the answers we need, but we do need to be sure that someone has done the hard yards there for us. The answer that we desperately need might be the 11th result on Google and can save us hours of work. Had Jesse James Garrett not been going back to the specification, he might not have been among the drive that saw Asynchronous JavaScript + XML push the use of the Internet in new directions. Arguably, you don’t need to know that Garrett coined the term Ajax in the shower, but then that might be the information that’s your tipping point. And, as they say, “the rest is science”. Or do they? Maybe we should google that. " ["post_title"]=> string(32) "Idea of the Week - Craig Sharkie" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(6) "closed" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(23) "idea-week-craig-sharkie" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2016-06-20 23:02:56" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2016-06-20 13:02:56" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(37) "https://www.webdirections.org/?p=6362" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" ["post_category"]=> string(1) "0" } [5]=> object(WP_Post)#222 (25) { ["ID"]=> int(6361) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "3" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2016-06-20 12:16:53" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2016-06-20 02:16:53" ["post_content"]=> string(8810) "jen simmonsThis week's Monday profile is Jen Simmons: web designer, front-end developer, Designer Advocate at Mozilla and host of The Web Ahead podcast. Jen spoke at our Respond Front End Design conference, and this profile appeared in our magazine, Scroll, which you can download right now. You can follow Jen on Twitter, and find her at http://jensimmons.com/. Q Describe your family. A I come from a long line of English folks, some of whom immigrated to Massachusetts in the days of the Mayflower, others who moved to Washington D.C. in the early 20th century, with a bunch in between. While there’s a bit of Scottish and a bit of German in my ancestry, it’s mostly English, English and English. There must be something to the sense of where you are from, way back, as the U.K. is now one of my favourite places to be. It does seem familiar somehow. Comfortable. Q What book has changed your life in some way? A There have been several books that have changed my life: A Separate Peace; Designing with Web Standards; Bulletproof Web Design; anything by Judy Blume. But if I were to pick one, I’d say There is Nothing Wrong with You: Going Beyond Self Hate by Cheri Huber. It’s a funny little book. Big hand-written-style text. Lots of drawings. It walks you through one particular idea–there’s a voice in your head that’s telling you crappy stuff all the time. And that voice is lying to you. Cheri Huber is a meditation teacher in the tradition of Zen Buddhism. She’s written a pile of books, including The Fear Book and The Depression Book. The Fear Book is another that changed me. And The Depression Book is the best book on depression I’ve ever seen. I think I’ve bought There is Nothing Wrong with You a half dozen times. I keep giving away my copy and buying it again. Really all of Cheri Huber’s many books teach the same simple truth about life and who we are. But it’s a truth that’s both the hardest thing to learn and the most helpful. Q What formal qualifications do you have? How did you end up doing web work? A I have a BA in Sociology with minors in Mathematics and Theatre from Gordon College. And an MFA in Film and Media Arts from Temple University. In neither did I set out to study web design or computer science. I did computer science in junior high and high school (and did very well), but dropped out because of the culture of harassment. I got into the web years later as a natural progression of living a career as an artist. I was designing lighting, sets and sound for theatre, producing events, teaching high school (and later college) students, and doing freelance graphic design. When the web came along, it was only natural that I also make the websites, so I taught myself HTML. Eventually, I stopped doing print because I was bored with it. After I moved to New York in 2008, I focused on a full-time career as a designer and front-end developer, shifting to larger budget projects with teams. And I eventually evolved my role as a teacher into what I do today. I love being both creative and technical. I find being on the forefront of a medium very exciting. Q Describe what you do. What’s your job? Is presenting at web conferences part of that job? A I am a Designer Advocate for Mozilla–as a member of their Developer Relations team. So yes, it is part of my job to travel around and present at conferences. I was doing so long before I got this job at Mozilla. But it’s great now to have the backing of an institution to help make it possible. It’s also my job to collect ideas and feedback from the web industry and take those requests back to Mozilla. The folks who make browsers usually don’t also make websites. It’s my job to research the field and bring my findings back, to advocate for designers and developers within Mozilla. I’m also the host and executive producer of “The Web Ahead”, a podcast about new technology and the future of the web. I started the show in 2011, and have been thrilled to reach such a large audience, bringing many of the ideas and guests we see at web conferences to folks around the world. Q Do you give much thought to the title you apply to yourself? Does it matter? A I do think titles can matter. They carry power. At Mozilla we can chose our own titles, and I put a lot of thought into mine. The job opening for my position was titled “Technical Evangelist”, but I don’t believe this is really about the technology. It’s about people, and what people can do with technology–not the technology for its own sake. Our department is called “Developer Relations” but I believe designers are just as important as developers–perhaps more so, since their work impacts the humans who use our sites and products more directly. Advocate is a great word, and more accurately reflects the responsibilities I have. So Designer Advocate it is. Or Designer and Developer Advocate on more wordy days. Q Describe the first time you gave a presentation on a web topic. A I think the first presentation I gave at a tech industry event was in 2006 at Vloggercon. I showed people how to customise their Blogger blog using CSS. I’d been on panels at conferences a few times before, but that was the first time I prepared a talk with slides, and gave it on my own. The conference was a gathering of the folks who invented the techniques for putting video on the web. It was a great community that I was honoured to be part of. Of course I was incredibly nervous. I didn’t feel prepared. I’d taught college courses for three years by then, so I was used to lecturing, but somehow a conference presentation seems much higher stakes. I think it went well. I likely left wanting to have done a much better job. I’ve been striving to get better and better ever since. Q In The Graduate, Mr McGuire has just one word to say to aimless college graduate Benjamin Braddock: “Plastics”. What one word would you give to today’s prospective web professional? A Layout. If an aimless college grad wanted to break into the web industry today, and wanted to know what they should focus on to get ahead–I’d tell them “layout!” There’s incredible opportunity coming to invent some truly new design patterns. Once CSS Grid Layout hits browsers, everything about layout will change. Anyone who knows what’s coming will have lots of work.
Like to watch and read more like this? Be the first to score invitations to our events? Then jump on our once a week mailing list where we round up the week's best reading and watching on all things Web. And you'll get a complimentary digital copy of our Scroll magazine.
" ["post_title"]=> string(27) "Monday Profile: Jen Simmons" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(6) "closed" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(26) "monday-profile-jen-simmons" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2016-06-20 12:17:29" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2016-06-20 02:17:29" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(37) "https://www.webdirections.org/?p=6361" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" ["post_category"]=> string(1) "0" } [6]=> object(WP_Post)#221 (25) { ["ID"]=> int(6359) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "3" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2016-06-17 09:40:54" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2016-06-16 23:40:54" ["post_content"]=> string(2619) "For some time now at our conferences we've been covering HTTP2, the first major update to HTTP since, well, just about the start of the Web. Its widespread adoption came more quickly than just about anyone might have thought, and now the majority of the world's browsers, and more recent versions of servers support it. But we still have a significant percentage of users using the older HTTP1.1 (fortunately servers fall back automatically, so there's no extra work to do to serve both via HTTP1.1 and HTTP2) and this does have some performance implications. Confused? No need to be. Peter Wilson makes sense of it all in this week's presentation from our recent Respond conference Performance–HTTP2 in a 1.5 world. Like to watch and read more like this? Be the first to score invitations to our events? Then jump on our once a week mailing list where we round up the week's best reading and watching on all things Web. And you'll get a complimentary digital copy of our brand new magazine, Scroll.
" ["post_title"]=> string(53) "Video of the Week: Performance–HTTP2 in a 1.5 world" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(6) "closed" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(38) "video-week-performance-http2-1-5-world" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2016-06-16 16:55:07" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2016-06-16 06:55:07" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(37) "https://www.webdirections.org/?p=6359" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" ["post_category"]=> string(1) "0" } [7]=> object(WP_Post)#220 (25) { ["ID"]=> int(6358) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "3" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2016-06-16 09:20:17" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2016-06-15 23:20:17" ["post_content"]=> string(4747) "

While she was out here in Australia to run some workshops and keynote at our Respond conference, Karen McGrane generously gave us some of her time to chat about the past present and future of content, the Web and much more.

About Karen McGrane

If the internet is more awesome than it was in 1995, Karen would like to claim a very tiny piece of the credit. For nearly 20 years Karen has helped businesses create better digital products through the power of user experience design and content strategy. She is Managing Partner at Bond Art + Science, a UX consultancy she founded in 2006, and formerly VP and National Lead for User Experience at Razorfish.

She's led projects for dozens of publishing clients, including The New York Times, Condé Nast, The Atlantic, and Hearst. Karen teaches Design Management in the MFA in Interaction Design program at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan, which educates students on how to run successful projects, teams, and businesses. Her book, Content Strategy for Mobile, was published in 2012 by A Book Apart, and she is the co-host of A Responsive Web Design Podcast with Ethan Marcotte.

We interviewed Karen for Scroll Magazine, and that appears at our website

Part I

Part II

Part III

Conversation Notes

All tomorrows jetpacks
An article I first wrote back in 2012, when Google Glass was first launched, where I used the term "jetpack futurism" and identified some of the staples of this way of looking at the future, like voice activation and video calls.
The Jetsons
The Hannah Barbera cartoon of the 1960s, with flying cars, food pills, and robot maids
Google Glass Video
The video that showcased the awesome future of Google Glass. Possibly the most annoying product video ever. You were warned.
Luddites
The much maligned followers of Captain Ludd, the Luddites reacted to a dramatically changing world where many lost their place, their livelihoods and their lives.
Like to watch and read more like this? Be the first to score invitations to our events? Then jump on our once a week mailing list where we round up the week's best reading and watching on all things Web. And you'll get a complimentary digital copy of our brand new magazine, Scroll.
" ["post_title"]=> string(41) "Video: In Conversation with Karen McGrane" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(6) "closed" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(32) "video-conversation-karen-mcgrane" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2016-06-15 22:21:09" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2016-06-15 12:21:09" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(37) "https://www.webdirections.org/?p=6358" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" ["post_category"]=> string(1) "0" } [8]=> object(WP_Post)#219 (25) { ["ID"]=> int(6357) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "3" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2016-06-15 10:35:03" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2016-06-15 00:35:03" ["post_content"]=> string(3058) "Managing asynchronous actions in a code base is one of the hard problems in programming. Since the beginning, we've done this in JavaScript with callbacks (well for a long time we didn't much care about asynchronous programming at all!) But this approach is unwieldy, particularly as our application logic gets more complex, and so recent innovations in the JavaScript language have attempted to address this. It's an area of innovation that is ongoing, and not without some controversy, and it's also something we've covered in multiple sessions at our conferences the last few years (and I fully expect to for some time to come) Recently, we posted Domenic Denicola's keynote from last year's Code on the present and future of asynchronous JavaScript, but for this week's super concentrated dose of Web goodness, we have James Hunter diving more deeply into some specific asynchronous features of ES6, including generators, promises and iterables. In 20 minutes you'll get a much clearer understanding of one of JavaScripts most interesting aspects. So what are you waiting for? Like to see and read more like this? Be the first to score invitations to our events? Then jump on our once-a-week mailing list where we round up the week's best reading and watching on all things Web. And you'll get a complimentary digital copy of our brand new magazine, Scroll.
" ["post_title"]=> string(42) "Video Ristretto: Asynch programming in ES6" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(6) "closed" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(38) "video-ristretto-asynch-programming-es6" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2016-06-15 10:35:50" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2016-06-15 00:35:50" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(37) "https://www.webdirections.org/?p=6357" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" ["post_category"]=> string(1) "0" } [9]=> object(WP_Post)#218 (25) { ["ID"]=> int(6352) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "3" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2016-06-14 10:00:19" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2016-06-14 00:00:19" ["post_content"]=> string(16329) "One of the informal benchmarks for a conference presentation is the number of tweets referencing it - and what they say, of course. The presentation Peter Wilson gave at Respond prompted many tweets, almost all of them expressing some surprise at how little they knew about HTTP2 and how clearly important it is. And that's why Peter's presentation is our Idea of the Week. We know too little about web performance in general and we need to know much more about the transition to HTTP2. You can also read this abbreviated version of his live presentation in the first edition of our rebooted Scroll Magazine.

Performance: HTTP2 in a 1.5 World

For most of us, the year 1969 is incredibly important. In some ways, it could be seen as the most important year of our working lives, even though - for many of us, anyway - it happened some time before we were born. At around 9:30 on the night of 29 October 1969, a group of researchers from UCLA sent the first message on the ARPANET, predecessor to the internet, to the University of Stanford in San Francisco. That message, sent about half the length of California, was simple: “login”. With the sending of that five letter message the path to the internet and, eventually, the World Wide Web, had begun. It was an inauspicious beginning, because the message that actually made it to Stanford was: “lo”. Yes. Performance issues have been with us from the start.

Performance is a two part issue

I started developing sites in the 1990s. Back then, we had a maximum download speed of 56 kilobits per second. Very much a theoretical maximum, at best. When this old man talks about caring about every byte on a page back in the day, it’s because we had no choice. I still think about bytes on the page in my role as WordPress engineer at Human Made [https://hmn.md/is/], making high-end WordPress sites, often using it as a headless CMS and delivering content via an API. As far as performance goes, we’re now in a transitional period. With the release of the spec for HTTP version 2 and increasing but not universal browser support, we need to consider how server configuration influences the performance of our front-end code. Because we’re in transition, code for one circumstance may cause problems for another. We find ourselves in dire straits. However, as professional web designers and developers we don’t get our money for nothing, or - in terms of conversions - our clicks for free. We need to accept that front-end code and HTTP protocols have become the brothers in arms of performance. (Thank you, thank you, I’ll be here til Thursday.)

The internet is slow

Since late 2011, the HTTP Archive - run by the Internet Archive - has collected statistics on the Alexia top one million sites. Dozens of data points are collected visiting the one million sites both on a desktop using broadband and on a mobile phone simulating a mobile connection. The stated aim is to record not just the content in the Internet Archive, but how this content is delivered and served in the HTTP Archive. It focuses our attention on the state of front end web development, including how we as designers and developers are changing the web. With this focus on the front end, let’s take a look at what has happened to bytes on the page in recent years. In April last year, we passed an average of 2 megabytes per page and we have not looked back. We currently sit at a little under 2.3 Mb per page and we will pass an average of 2.5 Mb by the end of this year. That’s for every page. Mobile users fare slightly better with the current average weight of a page accessed via a mobile device sitting at 1.2 Mb. The average weight of each web page is 250% of what is was in 2011. There are any number of statistics I could show you to demonstrate what we as web designers and developers have done to damage the web. I could show you the increasing number of assets we’re using (around 100 per page), the tenfold increase in the use of web fonts, or any number of the 44 data points made available by the HTTP Archive. However, while factual, they’re all abstract. Try waiting out the typical web page loading in awkward silence. To demonstrate what that feels like, without the payoff of a web page at the end, I’ve created a video at http://pwcc.cc/respond/wait. When you visit this, you’ll see it’s 4.2 seconds before the page starts rendering, 12.7 seconds before the page is visually complete and 15.2 seconds before the page has fully loaded. It’s worth remembering this is the average load time on a desktop using a fast, wired connection. On mobile connections, surrounded by EMF interference on a train or a tram, or when connecting to a server overseas, it will be slower.

Why speed matters

As a user, the internet being slow is an inconvenience. We sit on public transport looking at a screen with a blue progress bar apparently going backwards and, after a few moments, we give up and jump over to a competing site. It’s at this point that performance starts costing you – yes, you the internet professional reading this – money. Without meaning to get all neoliberal trickle-down economics on you, even for the employed reading this, an effect on your company’s bottom line affects how much they can pay you. Case study after case study has revealed the effect of performance on revenue through declining conversions. A few years ago, Walmart acknowledged internally that their site had performance issues. These performance issues became particularly apparent on high traffic days - when the opportunity for turnover is at its greatest - such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Walmart found their conversion rate declined exponentially as their users waited for the page to load, with the first four seconds being a real killer. Amazon discovered it would cost them an inhumane amount of money - $1.6 billion in sales annually - were their site to slow down for a mere second. To put that into perspective, in 2013 Jeff Bezos purchased the Washington Post company for 250 million dollars. The one second slowdown would cost them that amount every 55 days. In percentage terms, Amazon’s drop in sales is 1% for every additional 100 milliseconds of load time. Shopzilla increased revenue by 12% by improving their load time by just a few seconds. Yahoo increased page views by 9% with an improvement of 400ms. And they’re Yahoo! It doesn’t take a great deal of imagination to see why improving your site’s performance could lead to a tidy little bonus come Christmas time, which is a nice side effect of helping to make the web a better place.

How we measure speed

The facts about performance are all very interesting but, without knowing where your site stands, largely useless. Once you decide to improve performance, you need to check what is slowing down your site to discover where the easier wins are. Why refactor code to save 100 ms if removing a blocking request will save 300? While you’ll hear people talking about page-speed score as a convenient shorthand (me included), it’s a single number that provides minimal insights. For more meaningful metrics, WebPageTest is the most convenient tool for measuring the effect of a change. It’s pretty much enter the URL and go. There are a bunch of locations and other settings you can change, but when measuring the effect of a change, consistency is key. When choosing a browser to test in, I tend to take my lead from Google Analytics. For my own site that means Chrome on iPads and iPhones. For a client site not visited exclusively by middle-class internet professionals, the browser selection may vary. When you first run WebPageTest, you are presented with some key metrics. The three I consider most important, all related to the user’s experience, are: time to render starting, render completing and the document loading. These are the three I highlighted earlier while we were waiting for the average web page to load. On WebPageTest, I tend to spend most time looking at the filmstrip view. My biggest concern is how visitors experience the site loading, often referred to as perceived performance. As long as text is readable and calls to action are working within the user’s viewport, it doesn’t really matter what is happening elsewhere on the page.

What causes the delays?

At the time of writing, over 90% of web servers use HTTP 1.1 (w3tech.com). If you work in client services, or on a product installed on client servers, the chances are your work will ultimately be delivered from a server running HTTP 1.1. The first step is for the browser to look up the IP address of the server, and for the name server to respond. Figure 1 The browser then makes the first of two round trips to the web server by connecting and waiting for the web server to respond with the open connection: Figure 2 Once connected, the browser requests the web page in a protocol it understands, in this case HTTP 1.1. The browser includes the name of the site as there can be multiple sites on any one server, and the server responds with the web page. Figure 3 When requesting the web page, the browser includes a bunch of other details we don’t need to worry about when simulating the connection from the command line. For HTTP 1.1, the browser needs to initiate every connection. It can make multiple parallel connections and reuse them when needs be, but for each connection it needs to go through the original round trip when connecting. As the browser needs to initiate every connection over HTTP 1.1, the number of assets on a page affects how quickly it can load. The browser needs to download and begin processing the HTML before it knows to download the CSS. Once the browser downloads and starts processing the CSS, it discovers images and other assets it needs to download. By downloading the images, etc, the browser blocks itself from downloading some JavaScript. While processing the JavaScript, the browser discovers an iframe it needs to load. The browser downloads the iframe (assuming it’s not blocked by other assets) only to discover CSS, images and other assets. Something had to be done. That something is HTTP 2. As you research HTTP 2, you’ll come across articles and podcasts telling you it’s time to forget everything you know about performance. I think it’s too early for such grand declarations, when over 90% of web-servers are running HTTP 1. And if you’re lucky enough to have a site running on an HTTP 2 server, a little under 40% of your visitors will still be stuck using HTTP 1, according to caniuse.com. HTTP 2 is a binary protocol so, unlike HTTP 1.1, we can’t run the commands in the browser to emulate a connection, we’re limited to describing it. Although it’s not part of the protocol, all browsers currently offering support require a secure connection for HTTP 2. The process is as follows: 1. The first round trip to the server is for the browser to open the connection, and for the web server to respond. As happens in HTTP 1.1 2. On the second round trip, the browser requests details about the server’s SSL certificate, and the server responds with those details. If the server supports HTTP 2, it includes this as additional information in the reply. 3. On the third round trip, the browser calculates an encryption key and sends it to the server. Without waiting for a reply, it starts using the encryption key to request the first asset from the server, the web page the user requested. As the web server has indicated HTTP 2 support, the browser requests it in this protocol. So far, no real difference from the earlier protocol. It’s once the browser starts processing the page and discovers the other assets, that it finds it can request these over the same connection without waiting for the connection to clear. Instead of three round trips to the server to request the CSS, it takes one. As the browser requests assets, it can continue to request others without other assets blocking the connection. If downloading a web page was a conversation, HTTP 1.1 would be over a CB radio allowing only one person to talk at a time; whereas HTTP 2 would be a crowded room with multiple conversations happening in one place at any one time. Where HTTP 2 really provides a performance boost is with HTTP 2 server push. This is a technique in which both the browser and the server can initiate sending a resource across the wire. This allows the server to include the CSS and other files when a browser requests the web page. Including an asset via server push is incredibly easy. The convention is to trigger the browser to send the additional resource using a link in the HTTP header. In PHP (the language I usually use), this becomes:
if ( is_http2() ) {
	// Set HTTP Push headers, do not replace
header( 'link:;	rel=preload', false );
header( 'link:; rel=preload', false );
} 
However, this presents a problem. It instructs the server to push the two additional files on every load, without considering the state of the browser cache. If the files are in the browser’s cache, our efforts to speed up our website’s load time have resulted in unnecessary data being transmitted. Server push is unsophisticated; it lacks the smarts to determine if a file is in the browser’s cache. Browsers can cancel the transmission but by the time they do, the server has already started sending data down the line. The solution is to check if the file is cached in the browser and only push the file if it is not:
if ( ! is_cached( '/style.css' ) ) {
  header( 'link:; rel=preload',    false );
}
Regrettably, there is no is_cached function in any programming language to check if the browser is caching a file. It’s not something the browsers report, and for security reasons nor will they.
if ( ! is_cached( '/style.css' ) ) {
  header( 'link:; rel=preload',    false );
  setcookie( '/style.css', 'cached', 0, '/' );
}
To fake the cache detection, we need to set a cookie indicating the file is likely to be in the browser cache. In this example I’m setting the word cached to test against, if the file version changes regularly, then you may want to use the version number.
function is_cached( $filename ) {
  if ( 'cached' === $_COOKIE[ $filename ] ) {
    return true;
  }
  else {
    return false;
  }
}
Our function is_cached becomes a check for the existence of a cookie against the file name. I’d write some additional code for a production version, and as a first step I’d hash the file name, but exactly what the code would look like depends on the site specifics.

What the transition to HTTP 2 means

Over the next two or three years, to keep our sites performant, we’re all going to have to consider the impact of every byte we put on the page. Once we have an HTTP 2 enabled server - and we should all argue for this to happen sooner rather than later - we have to think how bytes on the page impact visitors to a site on a fast or slow connection, and to think about the impact under both HTTP versions 1 and 2. At times it will be annoying, at times frustrating, but it will keep our jobs interesting. And that’s why I love working in the industry we do." ["post_title"]=> string(31) "Idea of the Week - Peter Wilson" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(6) "closed" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(22) "idea-week-peter-wilson" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2016-06-13 22:32:02" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2016-06-13 12:32:02" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(37) "https://www.webdirections.org/?p=6352" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" ["post_category"]=> string(1) "0" } [10]=> object(WP_Post)#217 (25) { ["ID"]=> int(6350) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "3" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2016-06-13 09:30:34" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2016-06-12 23:30:34" ["post_content"]=> string(10276) "sara soueidanThis week's Monday profile is Sara Soueidan, a freelance front-end web developer, writer and speaker from Lebanon - and SVG Guru. Sara spoke at our Respond Front End Design conference, and this profile appeared in our magazine, Scroll, which you can download right now. You can follow Sara on Twitter, and find her at https://sarasoueidan.com/. Q Describe your family. A I'm 29 years old and the fourth in a family of five children. My family currently lives in Lebanon and has been for the past 21 years. Before that, my parents moved a lot from one country to another, until they finally settled down for eight years in Dortmund, Germany, a short while after I was born. I was born in Lebanon but spent the first eight years of my life in Germany. My sister has three kids and she lives in a house close to my parents' house. I have a brother who works in Africa, and the rest of the family lives in Lebanon. I work freelance from my home office there. Q What book has changed your life in some way? A The Quran has the biggest influence on my life. It’s the light of my heart and is what gives me peace and keeps me in good balance whenever I feel lost. Apart from that, I’m not much of a book reader since I am more of a visual learner and prefer watching things instead of reading them. That said, I did get more into the book reading world in the last few months, and one book that has changed the way I think about user interfaces in general, and web interfaces in particular, is Seductive Interaction Design by Stephen Anderson. Even though I’m not a designer, that book has changed the way I perceive interfaces as a user, and has changed the way I approach “designing” my own pages, making sure I always think from a user’s perspective. This, in turn, has led me to focus more on all aspects of accessibility, from tone to color and everything in between. Removing yourself from the position of a developer or designer and changing perspective has an immense result when it comes to designing successful user interfaces and experiences. Q What formal qualifications do you have? How did you end up doing web work? A Web-wise: I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Sciences. Though I can confidently say that I am self-taught, because I never attended any front-end development classes in college. Almost everything I know today I learned online. Outside the web, I’m quite good at drawing—drawing people, to be more specific. Whenever I draw someone using charcoal, I almost always get a comment from someone saying “you didn’t draw that—you printed it off the computer”. So I suppose that kinda counts as a qualification, right? The first time I ever saw HTML markup was in eighth grade. I loved it so much that it felt like a second language I never knew I could speak. I took one class in school and that was it. Years later, I reluctantly chose Computer Sciences as my major, and that’s how I got introduced to programming concepts and a bit of back-end development using PHP and mySQL. After graduation, I wasn’t sure which path to take and what to do for a living. A year and a half after that, my best friend—who at the time also worked as a web designer and developer—gave me the push I never knew would change my entire life. He suggested I get into web development, knowing how much I loved it when I was younger. I gave it a shot, started learning CSS from Point Zero, and in 2013, I was approached by an American client to build the front-end of a web application they were working on at the time. I started writing on my blog right around that time as well, and my writing is what encouraged people to approach me and invite me to give talks at conferences. So you could say I never planned it, but am more than thankful to God for choosing the best path for me I could ever have wished for. Q Describe what you do. What’s your job? Is presenting at web conferences part of that job? A I’m a freelance front-end web developer. I work with design and development agencies around the globe, building websites and applications, focusing on HTML5, SVG, CSS and JavaScript. I don’t do any back-end coding. I also write articles and speak at conferences, and like to consider both as facets of my work that I very much enjoy. Q Do you give much thought to the title you apply to yourself? Does it matter? A Not so much, no. I like a lot of titles that I hear here and there, and find myself in quite a few of them. “Front-End Developer” conveys my skills quite well to my clients, so I stick to that, along with some extra elaboration on my website to make sure my clients don’t have any incorrect expectations. I definitely avoid the word “Designer” though, even though I know that many people with my skills would call themselves “front-end designers”—which I like, but would definitely confuse my clients, some of whom already mistake me for a designer and send me design requests that I don’t normally do. I do think titles matter, but it’s too controversial and usually both sides of the controversy have quite valid points, so personally, frankly I don’t bother giving this too much thought. Q Describe the first time you gave a presentation on a web topic. A Oh, that was a fantastically scary time!! It was so exciting but also so intimidating that I had a moment on stage where I forgot the word that I wanted to say and ended up with a thought in my head that said “What are you doing here?! Just get off the stage and go sit back at the table”. Ha ha. It was the first time I ever spoke in English continuously for more than 30 minutes, so it wasn’t easy and I forgot quite a lot of words on stage, but one of them was the worst, so that idea did cross my mind. But then I remembered the a tip my friend Bruce Lawson told me via Twitter right before I went on stage: “Just breathe. And keep going.” So I literally did that: I took a deep breath, rephrased what I was going to say and just kept going. By the time I reached the last section I couldn’t believe it, so I ended up saying “I can’t believe I’m at the last section”... out loud ... to the audience! After the talk, I felt absolutely nothing. It was like I hadn’t even give a talk. You know how you feel numb after a dentist’s visit and only start feeling the pain after the pain-killer effect goes away? That’s exactly how I felt. For about an hour, I felt like I hadn’t even been on stage at all. It was the fantastic feedback from the super nice attendees after the talk that sort of “woke me up” from my trance, and that’s when I realized I must of done a fairly good job. I hated watching myself speak and said I’d never speak again after watching the video because I was too embarrassed. But, well you get over it after a while, and the excitement of being on stage sucked me back in just 4 months after the first talk, and I’ve kept going since. Q In The Graduate, Mr McGuire has just one word to say to aimless college graduate Benjamin Braddock: “Plastics”. What word would you give to today’s prospective web professional? A ‘Intempathy’. OK, that’s not a word. But I had to choose only one when I would actually say two: Integrity & Empathy. I believe anyone can master (almost) any skill they want, but the truth is that what makes a good web community is the people behind it, not those people’s skills; and the only way it can grow positively is if people understand each other and feel for each other and are nice and kind to each other. It’s very common for people to forget that there is another person sitting on the other side of the screen. We’re not robots. It’s our behavior that defines who we are, and that eventually defines our community. Having strong moral values and empathising with people goes a long way in pushing the Web forward in the right direction.
Like to watch and read more like this? Be the first to score invitations to our events? Then jump on our once a week mailing list where we round up the week's best reading and watching on all things Web. And you'll get a complimentary digital copy of our Scroll magazine.
" ["post_title"]=> string(29) "Monday Profile: Sara Soueidan" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(6) "closed" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(28) "monday-profile-sara-soueidan" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2016-06-12 19:29:51" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2016-06-12 09:29:51" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(37) "https://www.webdirections.org/?p=6350" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" ["post_category"]=> string(1) "0" } [11]=> object(WP_Post)#216 (25) { ["ID"]=> int(6347) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "3" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2016-06-10 09:42:11" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2016-06-09 23:42:11" ["post_content"]=> string(4187) "Recently, someone who'll remain nameless, but who holds something of an engineering leadership role at a high-profile financial institution in Australia, said to me "It's not like this is rocket science. It's only JavaScript". This is someone who works with JavaScript day to day. But this attitude has somewhat overshadowed the language since its inception. Partly, it's that word "script", and the marginal place scripting has traditionally had in the computing world. Partly it's because for a long time, the Web has been seen as primarily a communications medium, not a computing platform. Associated with this is that we've often built things for the Web in "quick and dirty" ways, rather than taking the time to engineer them properly. Perhaps that approach made sense when the Web was primarily "owned" by marketing and communications teams, and what we built was more campaign (made to do a specific communications job for a limited period of time) than product focussed (built to deliver ongoing value for users and the organisation). But times have certainly changed, and the sort of challenges software engineers have long faced with traditional software systems are our problem on the Web, too. So, a more engineering mindset and approach has been something of a focus at Web Directions for some time now, particularly with our conference Code. And this week's Video of the Week, from last year's Code is a perfect and incredibly useful example of this. In it, Elijah Manor talks about JavaScript "code smells" - those often common patterns or approaches that can, in the words of Martin Fowler - who coined the term, indicate "deeper problem[s] in the system"[1]. Elijah takes this idea and applies it specifically to JavaScript. I found this one of the most useful sessions we've had at one of our conferences for a long time, and really recommend it. In fact, I found it so valuable much that this year at Code, we'll have a session on CSS Code Smells, from Fiona Chan. If you want to be a better Front End Engineer, you should definitely get along. This year Code is coming to both Sydney and Melbourne.

Notes

Martin Fowler: CodeSmell Like to watch and read more like this? Be the first to score invitations to our events? Then jump on our once-a-week mailing list where we round up the week's best reading and watching on all things Web. And you'll get a complimentary digital copy of our brand new magazine, Scroll.
" ["post_title"]=> string(56) "Video of the Week: Elijah Manor–JavaScript Code Smells" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(6) "closed" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(46) "video-week-elijah-manor-javascript-code-smells" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2016-06-10 00:44:51" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2016-06-09 14:44:51" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(37) "https://www.webdirections.org/?p=6347" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" ["post_category"]=> string(1) "0" } [12]=> object(WP_Post)#215 (25) { ["ID"]=> int(6345) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "3" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2016-06-09 09:32:22" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2016-06-08 23:32:22" ["post_content"]=> string(6095) "Recently we had the great privilege of having Ethan Marcotte speak at Respond, our Web design focussed conference. While Ethan (and other speakers) were in town, we tried a bit of an experiment. Why not record conversations with the speakers about their work, their ideas and their interests? We think it turned out pretty well, and over the coming weeks we'll be releasing not only my conversation with Ethan (videos this week, and a slightly longer podcast version next week), but conversations with Sara Soueidan, Jen Simmons, Karen McGrane, Rachel Simpson and Russ Weakley as well. All fully captioned too. Enjoy my conversation with Ethan, on the past, present and future of the Web–I certainly did.

Part I

Part II

Part III

Like to watch and read more like this? Be the first to score invitations to our events? Then jump on our once a week mailing list where we round up the week's best reading and watching on all things Web. And you'll get a complimentary digital copy of our brand new magazine, Scroll.

Notes, links and ideas

Responsive Web Design.
The A List Apart article by Ethan that gave the name to the phenomenon, and which outlined the key patterns and practices, with examples from Ethan's redesign of the Boston Globe.
Image Replacement Techniques
"IR" techniques were developed to allow images to be used in place of text, in ways that were still accessible. [editorial, I always thought they were a terrible idea]
Sydney Morning Herald (December 29, 2004 Edition)
The Sydney Morning Herald, a Fairfax Media newspaper is considered one of Australia's key newspapers. Their 2004 redesign was a very early, CSS and standards based design for such a significant, large scale publication.
Emulating Network conditions
Using tools to emulate network conditions, in this case Chrome's developer tools. Other browsers developer tools similarly allow you to test your site as viewers of networs of various speeds might.
Trent Walton Device agnostic
Trent Walton's article that refers among other things to "hostile browsers".
Dao of Web Design
My article in A List Apart that Ethan (very kindly) remembers, and from which this podcast takes its name.
Stewart Brand
From the Whole Earth Catalogue to the Long Now foundation, and much in between, Brand's influence on the internet, the Web, and the wider world is impossible to overstate.
How Building Learn
Brand's 1997 work on architecture thatEthan refers to.
Shearing layers
and their applicability to web site design
Brian Rieger's article on Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality
What are these things, and how do they relate to the Web?
VR nausea research
it even has a name, "Virtual Reality Sickness"
Jetpack Futurism
My article on "jetpack futurism", and the common tropes of visions of the future that I argue in many ways constrain our ability to predict, and invent the future.
" ["post_title"]=> string(42) "Video: In conversation with Ethan Marcotte" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(6) "closed" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(27) "conversation-ethan-marcotte" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2016-06-09 12:54:23" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2016-06-09 02:54:23" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(37) "https://www.webdirections.org/?p=6345" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" ["post_category"]=> string(1) "0" } [13]=> object(WP_Post)#214 (25) { ["ID"]=> int(6339) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "3" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2016-06-08 09:27:05" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2016-06-07 23:27:05" ["post_content"]=> string(2653) "The largest ever update to JavaScript, ECMAScript 6, AKA ES 2015 has been rapidly adopted by browsers, and features a significant number of big changes to the language. One of which is a fully fledged syntax for classes, akin to more traditional Object Orientation. We've got a whole day workshop on ES6 at Code 2016 Sydney, as well as plenty of JavaScript related content. This week's "video ristretto" is from last year's Code conference, and feature's Yahoo Australia's head of Front End Engineering, Andy Sharman giving is the low down on classes in ES6. And much more like this is coming up in July and August at Code 16, in Sydney as well as Melbourne this year! Like to watch and read more like this? Be the first to score invitations to our events? Then jump on our once a week mailing list where we round up the week's best reading and watching on all things Web. And you'll get a complimentary digital copy of our brand new magazine, Scroll.
" ["post_title"]=> string(46) "Video Ristretto: Andy Sharman–Classes in ES6" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(6) "closed" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(40) "video-ristretto-andy-sharman-classes-es6" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2016-06-09 10:19:19" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2016-06-09 00:19:19" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(37) "https://www.webdirections.org/?p=6339" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" ["post_category"]=> string(1) "0" } [14]=> object(WP_Post)#131 (25) { ["ID"]=> int(6335) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "3" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2016-06-07 09:58:15" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2016-06-06 23:58:15" ["post_content"]=> string(6433) "Jeremy Keith If you don't know of Jeremy Keith, well now is a great time to get acquainted. Writer of such seminal books as DOM Scripting and HTML for Web Designers, he speaks frequently at conference around the World, including more than once at one of ours. He wrote for the first incarnation of our magazine, Scroll, back in 2009, and it made perfect sense for him to write the foreword to our reboot of Scroll Magazine earlier this year.

I REMEMBER WHEN I WAS TRYING TO MAKE MY FIRST WEBSITE. I WAS LIvING IN GERMANY AND PLAYING IN A BAND. WE DECIDED THE BAND SHOuLD HAvE ITS OWN LITTLE CORNER OF THE WORLD WIDE WEB.

I said I’d give it a go. I remember finding everything I needed. It was all on the web. Designers, developers, webmasters ... whatever you want to call them, they were selflessly sharing everything that they had learned. I lapped it up. I learned the lovely little language of HTML. I learned about using tables for layout and using 1 pixel by 1 pixel blank .gifs for fine-grained control. I even learned some Perl just so that people could fill in a form to contact us. Before long, our band had its own website. I remember showing the web to the singer in my band. I showed him fan sites dedicated to his favourite musicians, sites filled with discographies and lyrics. I remember how impressed he was, but I also remember him asking “Why? Why are these people sharing all of this?” I suppose it was a good question but it was one I had never stopped to ask. I had just accepted the open flow of ideas and information as being part and parcel of the World Wide Web. When I decided to make a personal website for myself, I knew that it would be a place for sharing. I use my website to share things that I’ve learned myself, but I also use it to point to wonderful things that other people are sharing. It feels like the hyperlink was invented for just that purpose. One section of my site is simply called “links”. I add to it every day. The web is a constant source of bounty. There seems to be no end to the people who want to share what they’ve learned. “Here”, they say, “I made something. You can use it if you like.” I try to remember just how remarkable that is. This spirit of generosity has even spilled over into the world beyond the web. I remember when Web Essentials was the first conference outside the US dedicated to sharing the knowledge and skills of the web’s practitioners. Later it became Web Directions. It served as a template and an inspiration for people all over the world. It’s hard to imagine now in this age of wall-to-wall conferences, but there was a time when the idea of a web conference was untested. Without the pioneering—and risky—work of the Web Directions crew, who knows where we would be today? A good event reflects the best qualities of the web itself. Designers, developers, UXers ... whatever you want to call them, they conquer their fears to get up in front of their peers and share what they’ve learned. “Here”, they say, “you can use this if you like.” I remember how intimidating that can be. I remember how honoured I was to be asked to speak at Web Directions in 2006. A decade can feel like a century on the web, but my memories of that event are still fresh in my mind. Not only was it my first trip to the Southern hemisphere, it was the furthest from home I had ever travelled in my life. I remember how warmly I was welcomed. I remember the wonderful spirit of sharing that infused my time in Australia. It reminded me of the web. And now that same spirit of the web is spilling over into these pages. Designers, developers, baristas ... whatever you want to call them, they’ve written down words for you. “Here”, they say, “you can read this if you like.” I try to remember—but sometimes I forget—to say “thank you.” I try to remember to say “thank you” to those early pioneers on the web who shared their experience with me: Steve Champeon, Jeffrey Zeldman, Molly Holzschlag, Jeff Veen, Eric Meyer, and of course, John Allsopp. I try to remember to say “thank you” to anyone who has ever put on an event—it’s hard work (just ask John). I try to remember to say “thank you” to the people who are making the web a better place for all of us through their incredible work: Ethan Marcotte, Sara Soueidan, Karen McGrane, and so many more. And when I’m filling up the “links” section of my website on a daily basis, I try to remember to say “thank you” to everyone who has ever shared anything on the web. I never did come up with an answer to that question my bandmate asked. “Why? Why are these people sharing all of this?” After all these years, I don’t think the answer matters. What matters is that I don’t forget how remarkable this spirit of the web is. I remember.
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Russ spoke at our Respond Front End Design conference, and this profile first appeared in Scroll magazine. You can follow Russ on Twitter, and find him at http://maxdesign.com.au/. Q Describe your family. A I live with my long term partner, our two children and two dogs. Both my partner and I were born and raised in Sydney. Our oldest son is obsessed with video games of all varieties, to the point where we have to set time limits. He is also a passionate musician - playing the trombone. Our younger son is interested in a range of activities including competition swimming and dance. Q What book has changed your life in some way? A At different times of my life, different books have inspired me, or caused me to change how I thought about a specific topic. When I was around 20 years old a book called Zen in the Martial Arts by Joe Hyams was a big influence. As a print designer, many typography books helped me change the way I saw type in design. I cannot remember a lot of the earlier books, but one that comes to mind is The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst. When I moved into web design, a lot of books were influential but one stood out as it approached HTML and CSS in a very different way: Pro CSS and HTML Design Patterns by Michael Bowers. These days, I often get more inspiration from other media rather than books. I listen to a lot of podcasts and I watch a fair amount of YouTube movies on all sorts of topics from comedy to secularism and rationalism. Q What formal qualifications do you have How did you end up doing web work? A When I left school, I decided that I wanted to go to Art college as I was very interested in drawing and cartooning. Sadly, I did very little painting at the Art School so they decided to fob me off to a new “Design School” which was just about to start at the College. It was there that I learned about design. I learned from a grumpy typographer who constantly berated us about kerning and letter spacing. I still have nightmares about incorrectly spaced letters to this day. As part of the program, students had to do work experience. I refused to find my own, so the College found me a place with the Australian Museum design team. I worked there for two weeks and thought “Well, luckily I'll never have to come back here”. Soon afterwards, I was employed by the Museum and worked there for 29 years. Q Describe what you do. What’s your job? Is presenting at web conferences part of that job? A My work falls into four different areas: 1. I am a UX/UI professional. I work mainly on web applications - sketching, wireframing, prototyping, user testing etc. 2. I am a front end developer - specialising in HTML/CSS/SCSS pattern libraries. 3. I also work in Accessibility - often working with other developers to advise them on how to make applications more accessible. 4. I do a fair amount of on-site training - where I work with team members to build up their skills in aspects of HTML, CSS, SCSS, Responsive Web Design and Accessibility. Q Do you give much thought to the title you apply to yourself? Does it matter? A It’s very hard to work out a title across these four disciplines. The closest I have seen is “UI Developer” - which theoretically covers aspects of UX/UI, design and front end. The problem is that individual teams use different titles, and they use them in different ways. There is no canonical reference point for titles. Q Describe the first time you gave a presentation on a web topic. A I began presenting around 2003. I think my first presentation was to a Web Standards Group meeting in Sydney on some aspect of CSS. I felt very little nerves as I had presented a lot before becoming a web designer/developer. I really enjoyed the idea that I could help people understand an topic. Q In The Graduate, Mr McGuire has just one word to say to aimless college graduate Benjamin Braddock: “Plastics”. What one word would you give to today’s prospective web professional? A Basics. I see many front end developers who have fast-tracked their knowledge. They can use Bootstrap and multiple different JavaScript frameworks but many lack even basic knowledge of HTML and CSS - or concepts like Progressive Enhancement. BONUS! When Russ first responded to our interview questions, he couldn't resist having a bit of fun with the questions. Here are his original answers to the first three questions. Q Describe your family. A My family comes from a long line of criminals - thieves, robbers, pickpockets and the like. My father and mother actually met in jail - staring at each other across the exercise yard. They had three boys, all by accident. Our young lives were spent in and out of juvenile detention centres. It is amazing that any of us have managed to stay out of prison. I now have two boys of my own ... well, I part-own them along with my partner. And the bank. I try to bring them up in the same way that I was brought up. Needless to say, they could shoot before they could walk and perform card tricks by the time they could speak. We have high hopes for their future. Q What book has changed your life in some way? A Probably the most important book I ever read was Put 'Em Down, Take 'Em Out! Knife Fighting Techniques from Folsom Prison". It taught me many of the lessons that I still use in business meetings to this day. Q What formal qualifications do you have How did you end up doing web work? A Unlike my brothers, I pretty much failed high school. As we surveyed the wreckage that was my HSC score, it became apparent that there was very little I could do except go to art school. It was either that or Humanities.
Like to watch and read more like this? Be the first to score invitations to our events? Then jump on our once a week mailing list where we round up the week's best reading and watching on all things Web. And you'll get a complimentary digital copy of our Scroll magazine.
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Monday Profile: Russ Weakley

russ weakleyThis week’s Monday profile is Russ Weakley: front end developer, web designer and trainer, with particular expertise in CSS, UX and accessibility.

Russ spoke at our Respond Front End Design conference, and this profile first appeared in Scroll magazine.

You can … Read more »

Video of the Week: What does HTTP2 mean for Front End Engineers

Last week’s video of the week looked at the implications of HTTP2 for what we might loosely call “Web designers”. This week, we dive even deeper, with a more technical look at the implications for Front End engineers of HTTP2.

And there’s literally no more knowledgeable person to speak … Read more »

Video: In Conversation with Sara Soueidan

As with Karen McGrane, Ethan Marcotte, and a number of other speakers at our recent Respond Conference whom we’ll feature in coming weeks, I had the privilege of sitting down and chatting with Sara Soueidan while she was here. We talked about how she became a speaker (great … Read more »

Video Ristretto: Service Worker, Chris Roberts

At the heart of Progressive Web Apps from the perspective of a developer are two pieces of technology: Web Manifests and Service Workers.

We’ve covered Service Worker more than once at Web Directions, and I suspect we’ll do so again, but this week we bring you the most succinct session we’ve … Read more »

Idea of the Week – Craig Sharkie

Craig SharkieCraig Sharkie’s presentation at our Respond conference was on how viewport units can make web typography responsive. And a great talk it was.

But when we asked him to write an article for our new Scroll magazine, Sharkie went off at a bit … Read more »

Monday Profile: Jen Simmons

jen simmonsThis week’s Monday profile is Jen Simmons: web designer, front-end developer, Designer Advocate at Mozilla and host of The Web Ahead podcast.

Jen spoke at our Respond Front End Design conference, and this profile appeared in our magazine, Scroll, which you … Read more »

Video of the Week: Performance–HTTP2 in a 1.5 world

For some time now at our conferences we’ve been covering HTTP2, the first major update to HTTP since, well, just about the start of the Web.

Its widespread adoption came more quickly than just about anyone might have thought, and now the majority of the world’s browsers, and more recent versions … Read more »

Video: In Conversation with Karen McGrane

While she was out here in Australia to run some workshops and keynote at our Respond conference, Karen McGrane generously gave us some of her time to chat about the past present and future of content, the Web and much more.

About Karen McGrane

If the internet is more awesome than … Read more »

Video Ristretto: Asynch programming in ES6

Managing asynchronous actions in a code base is one of the hard problems in programming. Since the beginning, we’ve done this in JavaScript with callbacks (well for a long time we didn’t much care about asynchronous programming at all!)

But this approach is unwieldy, particularly as our application logic gets more … Read more »

Idea of the Week – Peter Wilson

One of the informal benchmarks for a conference presentation is the number of tweets referencing it – and what they say, of course. The presentation Peter Wilson gave at Respond prompted many tweets, almost all of them expressing some surprise at how little they knew about HTTP2 and how clearly … Read more »

Monday Profile: Sara Soueidan

sara soueidanThis week’s Monday profile is Sara Soueidan, a freelance front-end web developer, writer and speaker from Lebanon – and SVG Guru.

Sara spoke at our Respond Front End Design conference, and this profile appeared in our magazine, Scroll, which you can … Read more »

Video of the Week: Elijah Manor–JavaScript Code Smells

Recently, someone who’ll remain nameless, but who holds something of an engineering leadership role at a high-profile financial institution in Australia, said to me “It’s not like this is rocket science. It’s only JavaScript”.

This is someone who works with JavaScript day to day. But this attitude has somewhat overshadowed the … Read more »

Video: In conversation with Ethan Marcotte

Recently we had the great privilege of having Ethan Marcotte speak at Respond, our Web design focussed conference.

While Ethan (and other speakers) were in town, we tried a bit of an experiment. Why not record conversations with the speakers about their work, their ideas and their interests?

We think it turned … Read more »

Video Ristretto: Andy Sharman–Classes in ES6

The largest ever update to JavaScript, ECMAScript 6, AKA ES 2015 has been rapidly adopted by browsers, and features a significant number of big changes to the language. One of which is a fully fledged syntax for classes, akin to more traditional Object Orientation.

We’ve got a whole day workshop … Read more »

Idea of the Week–Jeremy Keith

Jeremy Keith

If you don’t know of Jeremy Keith, well now is a great time to get acquainted. Writer of such seminal books as DOM Scripting and HTML for Web Designers, he speaks frequently at conference around the World, including more than once at one … Read more »