Chris Wright’s experiments

Today I used Chris Wright’s fantastic Flexbox and animation experiments in one of my workshops to inspire a design team that needed some inspiration. Chris is a genius. His examples are beautiful, and the explanations he writes with his examples are the best. I was lucky enough to meet him in Oxford at Smashing Conf this year where he gave this brilliant talk about enhancing floats with flexbox, and enhancing flexbox with CSS Grid Layout in order to keep things simple.

The Active Idler #3

I just sent out my third newsletter via e-mail. In it I have some announcements about upcoming (and past) events, some updates about (the depressing) books I read, I highlighted a few blog posts I wrote, I mentioned a thing or two I enjoyed, and I updated the books-published-by-vasilis-counter. If you don’t like e-mail (like I do), you can read the newsletter on the web. But if you do like e-mail, you should subscribe to The Active Idler directly.

Read nothing

There are certain websites whose content I’d rather not read. But every now and then I do visit them, either by accidentally clicking on a disguised link on Twitter, or just to check if the site still exists. I’ve never written a browser plugin before, but I am tempted to create one that replaces the fonts on a list of sites of your choosing with this brilliant Nothing Font. All of a sudden the most offensive texts will turn into lovely looking weird curly works of art.

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Future Simple Steps

Last week Five Simple Steps, publisher of books about creating things for the web, shut down. This means that they stop selling their books, and the rights of selling the books go back to the authors. Lucky for us, someone created this website with links to the new places where you can get the books now. Some authors chose to sell their books, and others offer them for free. Not all books are listed here (yet), but it’s a good start.

Can we learn from other professions? Sure!

On the 27th of May, in the beautiful city of Leiden, I will be one of the speakers at the wonderfully eclectic GeeUp conference. I am very much looking forward to listening to all these fantastic speakers. There will be talks about some very, very interesting subjects: what about the legal side of writing code? And what does it mean to provide support for the code you wrote? There’s a talk about ethics and clients. There’s one about making sure your responsive design keeps working once it touches a CMS. A talk about things we can learn from other professions when it comes to responsive design — by yours truly. There’s a talk about automated testing. And there’s a talk about guerilla user testing.

What’s more?

Talking about the material of the web

I gave a talk on Smashing Conf in Oxford a few weeks ago. For me as a lecturer doing a lecture in Oxford is of course a fantastic honour. But doing a lecture in Oxford on Smashing Conf is double the honour. The talk is about different ways to create (responsive) layouts on the web. It is also about the idea that we should be playing with CSS a bit more. There are so many new(ish) features that we haven’t fully explored yet, which probably means that there are amazing things we can do that we can’t even imagine yet. (You can watch the video here. I’d love to hear what you think about it)

So, the material

A simple list of HTML, CSS and JavaScript examples

I really like this simple list of HTML, CSS and JavaScript examples. If I ever need the Vibration API, or if I ever want to make things with speech synthesis, I now know where to find a basic example. Which is nice.

An exciting year in type

The ever brilliant typography blog Alphabettes — probably the most brilliant blog in recent years — published this brilliant article about their favourite typefaces from the exciting year in type, 1915. It’s brilliant. It’s surprising — I thought company mergers were a more recent invention, don’t ever ask me anything about business — it’s recognisable when it comes to technological innovations, and it’s shocking. A hundred years ago there was this insane First World War in Europe which of course had its destructive and completely useless influence on typography as well. Did I mention that it’s a brilliant post?

No Analytics

I think that analytics are the reason why some quality newspapers turn into cheap populist leaflets over time. They focus on this is what people want to read instead of on this is what we want to tell people. If I wrote about the things you want to read about, this blog would be about cats. That’s why, every time I have to write a column, I ask on Twitter what I should write about. And that’s why I always ignore your suggestions. That’s also one of the reasons why I don’t use any analytics on this site. Ben Brooks wrote down a few more reasons why you should kill the analytics scripts on your site.

Love Letters by the Alphabettes

I’m a bit behind with my RSS-feeds so it’s only now that I stumbled upon the wonderful Love Letters on the ever brilliant typography website Alphabettes. I read about the things you can find out about your great great great grandparents by reading these beautiful Greek notaries. I learned a thing or two about languages I know nothing about, like Hebrew and Chinese. Such an inspiring series, you should really take your time to read them all.

There’s much more

Progressive enhancement is saddening. Don’t use it.

I’ve always been a proponent of progressive enhancement. I promoted it with clients when I still had those, and I teach it to my students now that I’m a lecturer. But this will have to change. Heydon Pickering, a true master in using valid arguments, wrote this very convincing article called Progressive Enhancement Makes Me Sad. Here’s one final reason not to use it: We do not want sad Heydons.

The Principles of web development

I really like these Principles of Web Development. For some reason Adam Scott, the author of these principles, thought it necessary to add the word ethical to the name, but to me that seems redundant. These are simply the Principles of Web Development.

What are they?

About a new web typography

My neck hurts a bit. I’ve been nodding along while reading this essay about typography on the web by Robin Rendle. It starts with a nice introduction about Jan Tschichold. About his life, and more importantly, about the context of his ideas. And then he goes on to translate these ideas about book typography to our current time, to web typography.

Exciting!

Parsing CSS

I remember the first time I wrote some JavaScript I was very, very disappointed in how stupid computers are. They only understand loops, ifs, and elses. That’s it. And if you type esle instead of else it doesn’t understand what you mean. On the other hand I was surprised that I was able to create wonderful stuff with just these ifs, elses and loops. Breaking a problem down to these building blocks made me understand the issue better. I had a similar aha-erlebnis while I was reading the part in this article about parsing CSS with JavaScript by supernerd Peter van der Zee.

That’s a very nerdy article