I’ve spent a lot of time in my career writing and talking about future web features, from CSS3 to Web Components. But I’ve recently come to realise that, while I still think these features are important, I’ve been missing out on the bigger picture: the survival of the open web. That sounds hyperbolic, I know, but so many articles I’ve read, conversations I’ve had, and behaviours I’ve observed, have led me to the conclusion that the open web, in the form we know it now, is under threat.
My two books, The Book of CSS3 and The Modern Web, have been translated into many different languages, and I get sent courtesy copies of most of the translations. However, I’m running out of space on my bookshelves so I’m going to give some of them away to anyone who’s interested. Lists of all the spare copies I have are below; if you’d like one, email firstname.lastname@example.org with your postal address (nb: see criteria at the end of this post) and the edition you want.
Also, a quick reminder: The Book of CSS3, Second Edition is still on sale. Fully revised and updated, with two all-new chapters.
I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the clash between idealism and pragmatism. I’ve been working on the Web for many years, and for much of that time I’ve tried to do things the ‘right’ way; standards-compliant, validated, mobile-first, responsive, accessible, clean, extensible, etc. I’m definitely not claiming that I’ve always succeeded, but the intention and effort was there.
In the past few years the explosive growth of the Web, and the devices used to access it, has meant a parallel increase in the power and complexity of the tools needed to build it. And of course we want to make sites that are fast and light and perform competitively with native apps. But I think in this sharp focus on the technical side of building, we risk losing sight of why we are building, and who for.
It looks like custom elements, and web components in general, are beginning to break through into general developer consciousness, as I see more and more articles and talks discussing what they are, what they are good for, and how to make them.
As they’re not yet being used heavily in development, however, I think there’s a good opportunity to define best practices in the way we use them. In this post I want to propose a best practice method for writing custom elements: I’ll do that by comparing two methods for creating custom elements, along with the advantages and drawbacks of each.
Aside: it strikes me that I haven’t written about custom elements here on my own blog, despite having given a few talks and written a few published articles on the subject. In case you’re not sure what they are, I recommend you read my Detailed Introduction To Custom Elements first.
This is the latest of my semi-regular collections of links to the best writing about the web and technology, information, society, science, and philosophy. I also send this out as an email newsletter, a format better suited to the ‘slow web’ ethos I’m trying to support. If you agree, you can subscribe to the newsletter.
I promise I’ve read every single one of these, and can recommend them all.
The Interface Layer: Where Design Commoditizes Tech
Scott Belsky makes the case that the future of digital services lies in building a simple interface over convenient utilities and services — a reverse of the atomisation of apps and services we’re currently seeing.
No, not that mobile first. This is Ben Thompson’s theory that we’re seeing a shift where products and services — online and physical — are undergoing changes driven by smartphone culture. Based on some speculation about an unannounced product, but pretty sound theory nonetheless.
Technology Has Made Life Different, but Not Necessarily More Stressful
A study indicates that frequent internet and social media users are no more stressed than those who use technology less often, and some women even show a reduction in stress when using digital tools. By Claire Cain Miller. I love seeing data that goes against the general narrative.
The Internet of Things needs a few SMACS
Scott Jenson lays out the requirements for the ThingNet, and it’s more than just the things and a standard protocol.
Europe is Wrong to take a Sledgehammer to Big Google
Search becomes more useful the more it knows about you, and forcing a breakup of Google would make all of its services less useful. Evgeny Morozov argues that what we need is not to hobble big services, but to provide data regulations to allow thousands of smaller companies to compete.
I’ve been wasting a lot of time lately trying to decide which talk topic to do at which conference. Any tips, fellow speakers?