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Tag: software

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What is a web developer? asks @ppk. As a long standing expert in all things web design and development, he's known to provoke interesting discussion about his trade over on his blog and on Twitter. In this latest article he suggests that web developers should be able to work without tools (i.e. frameworks, libraries etc) and be able to produce everything that's required to develop a website with raw HTML, CSS and JavaScript. We wholeheartedly agree here at Doepud, it's the same argument that an artist should be able to draw properly before becoming the next Jackson Pollock.

The latest version of HTML, HTML 5.1, has recently become a W3C Recommendation, which means we can expect to see some nifty new features available in our browsers quite soon (if they're not already available - the two examples I describe below are both implemented in my version of Firefox (v50.0.1)).

One new feature involves Context Menus, and introduces new elements <menu> and <menuitem>. With some simple markup we can now include links and options within a right-click context menu.

Another nice addition is elements for <details> and <summary>, which replaces functionality we had to resort to JavaScript to reproduce. All markup within a <details> section will automatically be hidden except the <summary> content. Then clicking the <summary> text will toggle the rest of the <details>.

Check out What’s New in HTML 5.1 for more info and working examples.

Cloudinary provide a service to let you manage your images (e.g. within a website admin). Using their simple JavaScript-powered API, you can crop, re-size, pixelate faces, add watermarks and all sorts of other manipulations before they get saved to their servers. With a selection of pricing options, there's plenty of scope to run a small business site for free.

Faster websites with HTTP/2

Since Google paved the way for HTTP/2 with SPDY, the future is looking brighter for web developers. HTTP/2, the new protocol that will replace HTTP/1.1 (which was published in 1999) will help to make websites load faster while bringing an extra layer of security.

Although not a requirement, ensuring your website uses Transport Layer Security (TLS) is the recommendation given by Rachel Andrew in her article Getting Ready For HTTP/2: A Guide For Web Designers And Developers. As well as gaining an extra notch on Google's indexing radar, it means your website content (and any form submissions from your site) will be done so securely by encrypting the data passing between your server and the site visitor.

Multiple Simultaneous Requests

The real benefits of HTTP/2 though appear to be in the delivery of multiple simultaneous requests. The new multiplexing ability of HTTP/2 means that content-blocking requests, like images, CSS and JavaScript could be a thing of the past. Instead of worrying about the time it takes to load numerous images, this new protocol handles everything simultaneously. As Andrew says: HTTP requests are cheap in the world of HTTP/2.

The implications of this though, move outside the realm of our current best practises. For example, rather than compress all our site JavaScript into one file and let the end user download and cache it, it might be a better solution to load only the JavaScript needed for a particular page. Likewise with images and style sheets.

Switch to HTTP/2 today?

Two things are required to start using HTTP/2 today:

  1. Your server needs to provide the software that supports HTTP/2
  2. The browsers your website visitors use need to support HTTP/2 *

* shouldn't be a hurdle as all major browsers support the new protocol.

Further reading

Daniel Sternberg has written a useful looking free ebook called http2 explained which goes into all the details you need to know.

In The Future of Loading CSS, Jake Archibald takes a look at how best to load CSS. Up to now, as CSS normally blocks page rendering, we've usually combined all styles into one file and loaded them after the main content has been downloaded. However, an update to the Chrome browser, bringing it into line with Microsoft's Edge browser, could help to change CSS loading best practise. The general idea is that we load multiple smaller CSS files that in turn render the content that directly follows it, resulting in a more progessive page render.

Craft looks like it could be a useful plug-in for Photoshop. It lets you grab real data from external sources (i.e. websites or your own data sets) to use within your mockups.

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