Jank Busters – Chrome Rendering Performance

Published 3 weeks ago on March 24, 2014 — 0 min read

Talks like these fascinate me. I personally have not gotten so far into frame rate performance testing to make use of the (awesome looking) dev tools that support such a practice, but I want to. I really enjoyed hearing from two of the engineers that actually deal with the low level implementations of browser rendering, there are some overarching tips that can be super helpful.

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Usability in Icons | Stiern

Published 3 weeks ago on March 24, 2014 — 1 min read

Icons have always fascinated me. I think they fascinate everyone to be honest. When used well, an icon (and only an icon) can effectively replace a label, which inherently de-clutters what you’re looking at, all the while giving you an aesthetically pleasing alternative.

It’s funny, some icons we see very consistently in 2014 have been there for decades and really don’t even make sense anymore. The classic example is a ‘save’ icon — 9 times out of 10 it’s a floppy disk. Young kids faced with such an icon don’t have the context of it, but likely have just associated it with ‘save’ simply due to repetition. What else are we “used” to, what else can be improved?

This leads me to also link to one of the most fascinating icon projects I’ve ever seen: Iconic. If you haven’t checked out what this project is all about I highly encourage you to do so.

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Designing Healthcare Websites for Seniors

Published 3 weeks ago on March 24, 2014 — 2 min read

This is an interesting piece that deals with a very specific demographic, but in all reality the advice can be extrapolated to any potential audience member.

Design is ever changing. Take a look at the trends of today compared even to three years ago; it’s a different world. We don’t need to wax poetic about why it’s different. This time around it so happens to be responsive web design but last time it was something else and next time it’ll be something we can’t imagine quite yet. Design constantly evolves, and when it comes to user interface, we’re still learning a lot.

Every few years we get this surge and conglomeration around seemingly obvious talking points that for one reason or another went ‘unnoticed’ until now. The name of the game today is simplify. Everyone loves it, how can you not? There are many ways to simplify a design and even more reasons behind the effort to do so. I think both the reasons and the ways are called out effectively in this piece, but I can’t stress enough how much the bullet points resonate with me as ‘good practice’ as opposed to exclusive ways to better support seniors.

It’s true that seniors are not familiar with what we know as the modern web, but at the same time we do a lot of wacky stuff with the modern web just because we can. Those novelties rarely catch on if ever and we find ourselves catching a breath of fresh air when we see something that gets back to ‘the roots’ of being simple after being so enamored with the latest and greatest thing.

I think there’s a lot of great advice in this article, things we can all take note of the next time we’re trying to help out a family member or friend who may not be as well versed as us when it comes to the web. It’s a constant struggle for me, trying to put my experience aside to truly evaluate whether a design decision is effective, but I’m going to keep trying.

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Sass 3.3 (Maptastic Maple)

Published 1 month ago on March 16, 2014 — 1 min read

Sass 3.3 has arrived, and there is a lot to like! If I had to pick out something I’d like to focus on in 3.3 it’s gotta be source maps. I haven’t really ingrained that into my workflow quite yet, but I really see the value in such a feature and it’s something I’ve been meaning to do for a while.

Sass sources

Source maps are the happy medium between compiled styles and human readability. Using source maps you can quickly figure out which file/partial a particular rule comes from. I think it’s supremely valuable when working on a team.

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The Importance of Mentors: How a High School Student Became a Professional WordPress Developer

Published 1 month ago on March 16, 2014 — 2 min read

Stories like this make me wicked happy, then a bit depressed, and then a bit hopeful.

Whether your focus is on design or development, it’s always a bit unnerving to see absolutely killer work and then realize it was put together by someone seemingly so much younger than yourself. Not that age should be any sort of limiting factor, there’s just something about seeing awesomeness coming from such young people that inevitably has you asking yourself what makes you so special. There was likely a time in your young age where you were praised for your artistic and/or technical ability, but it absolutely pales in comparison to stories like this. No? Maybe it’s just me then.

Either way, Sunny is one of those success stories that makes me excited for him, jealous of him, and inspired by him all at once. This guy is 17 years old but already lightyears ahead of where I was at his age. I was pumped that I knew how to make framesets work together when building websites, yet Sunny is working on one of the biggest platforms to shake up WordPress ecommerce yet. I was spending nights and weekends washing dishes because I thought “that’s what you do when you’re a kid” but Sunny has already taken on paying clients and is selling products.

Sure, the world is a bit different now than it was a decade ago, but Sunny is doing great things for himself and I think we can all take a page out of that book no matter how old we are. Sunny’s age is obviously not his defining factor, and it doesn’t need to be ours. The great thing about WordPress is that anyone can jump in at any time, regardless of background, and make great contributions in their areas of interest.

All that to say, I enjoy reading these stories even though they humble me like crazy. It’s awesome to reflect on the great things others are doing by way of community, contributing, and sticking to it. Great job Sunny, it’s awesome to see you breaking a mold, I absolutely cannot wait to see what you’re doing when you’re my age.

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You Might Not Need jQuery

Published 2 months ago on January 30, 2014 — 1 min read

The JavaScript world is, for the most part, kind of weird. It’s been around for a really long time, but comparatively it’s only been “accepted” in recent years. I was at an event not long ago, chatting with a gentleman who left for South Africa five years ago, leaving behind a career in computer science to do something not related to computers. It took a solid 10 minutes for a table full of developers to convince him that we weren’t kidding when we told him he should brush up on his JavaScript skills.

Once JavaScript was accepted, it quickly became embraced, followed almost immediately by it being required for a lot of properties on the Web.

There was a time not long ago where requiring JavaScript was considered short-sighted and quite honestly offensive.

As of late, however, it seems as though the world of JavaScript is undergoing another paradigm shift. We were once advised to simply ‘use a library’ to avoid dealing with cross browser issues, but now libraries are beginning to be labeled as ‘bloated’, a word we all love using even though many times it’s our way of calling something old.

We’ve come full circle, thanks in part to the advancement of JavaScript, the adaptation of browser makers, and the prominence of mobile. “Use jQuery, you’ll love it” seems to be morphing into “You don’t care about all that overhead?!

It’s interesting to me, jQuery changed the world quite honestly. It’s still extremely applicable in my daily life with my projects, but sites like this are a neat and applicable way to keep a knowledgable finger on the pulse of upcoming work and the target environments I have to deal with. Cool informational project, well done.

/via @michaeldick

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How I Lost My $50,000 Twitter Username

Published 2 months ago on January 29, 2014 — 1 min read

This is blatantly terrifying. Many times when the average person thinks about “hackers” they think of the persona portrayed by Hollywood and the media. Many times that persona is wiped away when you read even slightly detailed stories about modern security compromises that happen and the explanations behind them. You get just a small glimpse into how clever some people are, and it’s amazing.

Then you read stories like this. Stories that outline that there’s a completely different vector that not many of us think about. Sometimes security blunders have nothing at all to do with the technology, but instead with the people put in charge of maintaining and supporting that technology. It’s not always the software that’s the weak link, but instead something so seemingly unrelated as a customer support employee.

I am blown away that social engineering is still as applicable as it is.

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joehoyle/Time-Stack

Published 3 months ago on January 3, 2014 — 1 min read

While everyone is spending time reflecting on 2013 with heartfelt goals for next year, I’ve been spending time reflecting on my toolset. Again.

I’ve been a big fan of PhpStorm for the past year or so, but I couldn’t help myself from revisiting the last editor I used: Sublime Text 3. What prompted this? I can sum it up in a single link: http://sublimelinter.readthedocs.org/en/latest/. Linting is something I’ve come to heavily rely on, and this Sublime Text Package blew my mind; I love good docs.

But I sat down to work this morning and have a number of high priority things to get done in the short term, so switching editors and shaking up my life that much right now doesn’t make a ton of sense.

Then I saw this:

Which lead me to this

Screenshot of TimeStack

One of my favorite things about working in PhpStorm is it’s direct integration with Xdebug, a tool I’ve come to know and love dearly when working on complex code.

The biggest drawback with a system like this in comparison to something like Xdebug is that Xdebug makes it a lot easier to step through code as it’s actually happening, regardless if you wrote it or not. You can tack on a breakpoint and follow everything line-by-line. Either way, TimeStack looks awesome.

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Better Search Results Counts in WordPress

Published 3 months ago on December 31, 2013 — 2 min read

I recently stumbled on the following snippet of code in your average WordPress theme:

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<?php if ( is_home() ) : ?>
<h2><?php echo the_title(); ?></h2>
<?php elseif ( is_search() ): ?>
<h1><?php
$search_count = 0;
$search = new WP_Query("s=$s&showposts=-1");
if($search->have_posts()) {
while($search->have_posts()) {
$search->the_post();
$search_count++;
}
}
echo $search_count;
?> <?php _e('Search results'); ?></h1>
<?php endif; ?>
view raw gistfile1.php hosted with ❤ by GitHub

It’s truncated, but the basic job of this file was to check to see which page we were on, and output a proper heading on the page. At first glance it might seem harmless, but if you take a look at the part getting executed on search pages you might notice there is some room for improvement.

When is_search() is true the code spins up a new WP_Query, passing along the search query and disabling pagination. From there it loops through the results and increments a variable, effectively determining how many total posts were returned from the search. It gets the job done, but there’s extra overhead we don’t need in the form of an additional query in addition to looping through (what could be) a ton of Post objects.

This implementation can be improved by instead relying on some work WordPress already did for us. Every time WP_Query does it’s job, it sets a number of properties that are often useful elsewhere. In this case we’ll pay particular attention to $wp_query->found_posts, which does exactly what’s on the tin: stores how many total posts were found for that query. The above snippet can be reduced to:

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<?php if ( is_home() ) : ?>
<h2><?php echo the_title(); ?></h2>
<?php elseif ( is_search() ): ?>
<h1><?php echo $wp_query->found_posts; ?> <?php _e('Search results'); ?></h1>
<?php endif; ?>
view raw gistfile1.php hosted with ❤ by GitHub

Which saves both a database call in addition to the overhead of looping through any number of post objects.

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SVG Drawing Animation

Published 3 months ago on December 30, 2013 — 0 min read

This is wicked slick. I’ve been working more and more with SVG over the past year or so for a number of reasons. We’re all wise to the numerous reasons SVG rocks, and this demo/walkthrough is a great illustration of that.

Demo screenshot

This, however, is one of those effects that we might get slammed with everywhere we look because it’s so slick. What I’m most excited about is dissecting it and applying it to unique assets in client work. I’m impressed.

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