There is a famous Portuguese-English phrasebook, published in the 19th Century, with the title “English As She Is Spoke”. It contains many unintentionally hilarious translations of words and expressions, including such familiar phrases as “that are the dishes whose you must be and to abstain”, and “I not make what to coughand spit”. The author, Pedro Carolino, had the best of intentions in producing this book, but suffered from one major drawback: he didn’t speak English. The book was apparently translated from an earlier Portuguese-French phrasebook, using a French-English dictionary.
The reason I bring this up is that I think this is a fairly common problem in coding. Many people know how to write code in order to get a result, but they don’t know the language at hand in enough depth to realise that the result doesn’t always make sense.
It’s almost the end of 2012 and I’m winding down for the holidays, so in lieu of new content I thought I’d share a few interesting quotations I’ve seen/heard/read recently, on professionalism, pride in your work, and being creative. Cheers to you all, see you in 2013.
Aesthetics are your problem and mine. Nobody else’s. I want everything we do — that I do personally, that our office does — to be beautiful. I don’t give a damn whether the client understands that that’s worth anything, or whether the client thinks it’s worth anything, or whether it is worth anything; it’s worth it to me. It’s the way I want to live my life. I want to make beautiful things, even if nobody cares.
Once [Steve Jobs and his adoptive father Paul] were building a fence. And [Paul] said, “You got to make the back of the fence that nobody will see just as good looking as the front of the fence. Even though nobody will see it, you will know, and that will show that you’re dedicated to making something perfect.“
To be really creative you have to deal with loneliness and pointlessness and you need to be brutally honest and critical of your own thoughts and actions. It’s what makes great creators, inventors and entrepreneurs.
A new, lightweight datepicker widget, Pickadate.js, was released recently, and caused a few people to contact its creator, @Amsul, regarding a lack of accessibility features in the code. His reply was quite depressing:
Our target market doesn’t need it [accessibility], so its safe for us to use.
Most of us, I’m sure, would admit that we could do a better job of making our websites accessible, but to actively state that a11y isn’t required seems wilfully stupid. I don’t know how you get to serve pages only to your target market. I mean, this is the web; it’s public; stuff gets everywhere.
Through sheer serendipity I read an article by Karl Groves about an hour later, which states clearly why a11y should be something you concern yourself with: Yes, actually, it may be you one day. He sums it up perfectly:
If you market or develop ICT products and services and you’re still ignoring accessibility, you’re ignoring the coming reality. One day it will be you, or someone you know and love.
Prompted by the announcement on 37Signals that their next platform update would not support IE7 or IE8 (or many other older browsers), a vigorous debate took place on Twitter around the subject of for how long we should support browsers which don’t have the most modern features. For all its many positives, Twitter is no place for nuanced argument, so this article is for me to try to frame my opinion a little better.
Part of my contribution to tutsplus.com’s experts(!) review of 2011.
Henri Sivonen has written a fantastically well-considered post called Vendor Prefixes Are Hurting The Web which I urge you to read in full, as I’m about to discuss it. I think some of his points are absolutely right, but I disagree on the final conclusion. The points that I think he nails are:
However, I still think using prefixed properties is the right approach. If we do as Henri suggests and leave experimental features in experimental builds (an eminently sensible suggestion, I might add), the pace of progress will be much slower. I believe that having these features out there and getting people using them encourages competition (and collaboration) between browser makers, and the benefits of that competition are given to us, the developers, and passed on to the audiences of the sites we build.
That doesn’t mean that the current situation is ideal; far from it. But improving things will involve more effort from us, the developers and writers, the community in general. Chief responsibilities will be:
As an author and writer I’m guilty of some of the faults that are pointed out in his article, and I promise to do better in the future.
In closing, I want to congratulate Henri on writing this thought-provoking post. I was ready to dismiss it as one of the lazy articles criticising prefixes that occur regularly, but the argument was very well thought and well made, and made me change my mind a few times while I was writing this post.