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Contrast Ratio Tool

Lea Verou:

I was always interested in accessibility, but I never had to comply with any guidelines before. At W3C, accessibility is considered very important, so everything we make needs to pass WCAG 2.0 AA level. Therefore, I found myself calculating color contrast ratios very frequently.

There are plenty of tools out there for this. However, I found that my workflow for checking a contrast ratio with them was far from ideal. I had to convert my CSS colors to hex notation (which I don’t often use myself anymore), check the contrast ratio, then adjust the colors as necessary, covert again etc. In addition, I had to adjust the lightness of the colors with a blindfold, without being able to see the difference my adjustments would make to the contrast ratio. When using semi-transparent colors, it was even worse: Since WCAG only describes an algorithm for opaque colors, all contrast tools only expect that. So, I had to calculate the resulting opaque colors after alpha blending had taken place. After doing that for a few days, I got so fed up that I decided to make my own tool.

You can read more about the Contrast Ration tool on Lea’s blog.

I absolutely dig how Lea just builds, builds, builds. Go Lea!

Epic list of Frontend Development Tools

A great collection of tool for frontend development by Cody Lindley. The list covers coding tools, references, guides, pollyfills, generator tools and performance links. All that is missing is a newsletter section…

WebPlatform.org — Your Web, documented

Web Platform Docs is a new community-driven site that aims to become a comprehensive and authoritative source for web developer documentation. Even though Web Platform Docs is still in alpha, you can already find lots of valuable content on the site, including information on:

  • How to use features of the open web, with syntax and examples
  • What platforms and devices you can use various technologies on
  • What is the current standardization, stability and implementation status of each technology specification

In the future, Web Platform Docs will include even more content for you to explore such as live code examples, resources for educators and much more.

If you want to get involved in making the documentation better, just sign up, it’s super easy.

Responsive Web Design Makes It Hard To Be Fast

Guy Podjarny:

I like Responsive Design. Heck, I LOVE Responsive Design. I think it’s a brilliant methodology, which address true challenges in a very good way. But no matter how fond you are of RWD, I think you have to face the music – RWD makes it very hard to write a fast website.

I’m not saying you can’t write a high performance responsive website. I’m not saying you shouldn’t use RWD (Responsive Web Design) – I would actually recommend it to most organizations. However, RWD makes pages inherently more complicated, and all in all would make the mobile web slower.

The Web Behind

John Allsopp joins Eric Meyer and Jen Simmons for the first episode in The Web Behind series. The idea is to take a look back at where the web came from and the people who created it.

I think this is a really great idea for thinking forward. It’s a strange way to look at it, but if we don’t document the history there is no way we can learn from our mistakes. History is as important as the future.

Get behind The Web Behind. It’s good for the web.

Backstage: Basecamp for mobile

Jason Zimdars:

Today we’re announcing mobile web because it’s the right thing to do. Devices and platforms will come and go, but the web browser is here to stay. Does this mean there will never be native apps? Of course not, this isn’t our final word on mobile.

Once again, 37 Signals continue to deliver the goods.

Yeoman

Yeoman is now available. It’s an opinionated set of tools aimed at improving your workflow and productivity in building web apps.

CSS-Tricks – v10

Huge congratulations to Chirs Coyier with the redesign and the roll out of ‘The Lodge’. If you didn’t get behind his Kick Starter project, head over and signup now!

There is no such thing as CSS4

Tab Atkins:

The term “CSS3″ refers to everything published after CSS 2.1.

CSS is on its last version as a language as a whole, so it would be appropriate to just drop the number entirely and refer to everything from now on as just “CSS”.

The Flowing Standard

Robin Berjon joins the WC3 staff to work on HTML full time and the HTML Working Group has also moved development of its various specifications to a GitHub repository.

Robin Berjon:

For all that the HTML adventure may be fun to watch with some popcorn though, one of my hopes is that heading forward all parties in the HTML community can move towards more effective debates about focused technical issues while resolving sources of dissent. In other words: less drama, more work.

Over the coming weeks we will be detailing the way in which this repository is organised and used. The current plan revolves around adapting the well-known git flow model to specification development. Git’s flexible and powerful branching model allows us to maintain multiple branches, some headed for stabilisation in view of a tested and reviewed release, others carrying more future-fetching features; this while remaining able to apply bug fixes across the board.

I’m not a big fan of reading and keeping up to date with the ugly mailing lists that the W3C use. Thankfully, the GitHub news feed is more appealing. A big win in my eyes.

HTML5 Boilerplate v4.0.0

The web’s most popular front-end template just hit version v4.0.0.

The site has had a major refresh. The latest version of jQuery is included. Same goes with the inclusion of the latest Modernizr and lots, lots more. Huge congrats to all involved.

Tweetpolice

Jeremy Keith:

Apparently the display guideline requirements do apply to me. If I want to quote a tweet on my website, I’m supposed to use the embed code to make sure that people can favourite / retweet / follow, etc.

Fuck. That. Shit.

If I want to quote something from another URL, I will do it. I’ll use a blockquote element of course, but I will not be told what markup and JavaScript I must include on my site.

The faith that the web development community has in Twitter seems to be flying away rather quickly.

CSS-Tricks Chronicles

Chris Coyier is starting a new weekly roundup on his blog about all the relevant happenings around his main site CSS-Tricks site and the stuff he’s been doing.

Bring on Vol. II.

Twitter Bootstrap 2.1.0 released

Twitter Bootstrap Blog:

New docs, affix plugin, submenus on dropdowns, block buttons, image styles, fluid grid offsets, new navbar, increased font-size and line-height, 120+ closed bugs, and more. Go get it.

Understanding technical debt

Nicholas C. Zakas:

In the worst case, tech debt can accumulate to the point where the web application is destined to fail. A classic tech debt issue is scalability. Initially, the goal is to get the web application up and running so that anyone can use it. Decisions are made to allow that to happen. But an app that can handle 100 users isn’t built the same way as an app to handle 1,000,000 users. In the back of the developers’ minds are a list of things that need to happen in order to scale out: hit the database less, implementing several layers of caching, reduce the size of responses, figure out a faster way to process orders, and so on.

Just like monetary debt, tech debt is best dealt with before it gets too large and overwhelming. Regularly tending to tech debt is a process I like to call code hygiene. If you don’t go to the dentist for ten years and then finally go, chances are you’ll be in for a nasty surprise by not practicing proper dental hygiene. Code hygiene is the same. Keeping on top of your tech debt means regularly going in and addressing what you can with the time available.

Great article to pass onto your manager.

Lea Verou joins W3C

Lea:

Working at W3C had been a dream of mine ever since I learned what a web standard is. As you probably know if you’ve been following my work, I’m a strong believer in open web standards. Even though proprietary technology might offer some short term benefits, in the long run only open standards can allow the Web to reach its full potential.

The web is in good hands!

Mass-unprefixing in Firefox 16

Paul Rouget:

In Firefox 16, we are unprefixing:

  • CSS3 Animations
  • CSS3 Transitions
  • CSS3 Transforms
  • CSS3 Gradients
  • IndexedDB

Also calc() might be unprefixed as well if time permits.

The Firefox team have been working hard!

iOS has a :hover problem

Nicholas C. Zakas:

So don’t believe people when they tell you that hover doesn’t exist on touch devices. At least on iOS, hover does exist and needs to be planned for accordingly. If you are using a :hover rule to show something in your interface, you may want to hide that rule when serving your page to a touch device. It might be a good idea to just completely remove all :hover rules for any experience that’s going to be served to a touch device. The touch-based world doesn’t need hover, so be careful not to inject it accidentally.

Idiomatic CSS

Principles of writing consistent, idiomatic CSS. The days of a simple web page seem to be long gone for me so reading documents and adopting the best practices are a must to improve as a developer. This document is in its early days and will no-doubt evolve and become a “go-to” source.

The document is broken down into 8 sections:

  • General principles
  • Whitespace
  • Comments
  • Format
  • Naming
  • Practical example
  • Organization
  • Build and deployment

Each section is explained very clearly and the practical example ties all the explained styles/patterns into one very simple example.

If you are a passionate developer and don’t have a consistent styles/patterns when writing your code then head over to the Idiomatic CSS document on GitHub and maybe try to adopt some of the principles into your current or future projects.

“Part of being a good steward to a successful project is realizing that writing code for yourself is a Bad Idea™. If thousands of people are using your code, then write your code for maximum clarity, not your personal preference of how to get clever within the spec.”

– Idan Gazit

Responsive Workflow

Viljami Salminen, a UI/Web Designer and Developer from Finland explains his responsive workflow. He offers some great thoughtful descriptions on each individual step. His responsive workflow is broken down into the following steps:

Discover, Plan, Text Design, Sketch, Prototype, Visual Design, Test, Discuss and Iterate.

Some highlights included the free ‘Device Breakpoint Diagram’, the Text Design step (which was a new concept to me) and the Visual Design step which included some great typography tips.

‘Text design’ here means that we write (design) all the contents of the website down in textual form. This is one of the most important stages in the whole process, and yet it’s probably also the most underrated step.

Visual design. This step happens in iterations before and after prototyping. I still use Photoshop to do most of the design, but I’m moving more and more towards design in a browser. Especially typography seems to be something which is really hard to get working anywhere else than inside the browser (Although at the same time I have noticed that if I do the jump too early, everything will end up looking flat, uninspiring and somehow cluttered).