Category: Opinion

Web Components: concerns and opportunities

On the 21st of March I had the pleasure of participating in the Web Components panel at Edge Conf, and the privilege of giving the introduction to the panel. I’m a strong advocate of Web Components and it was great to be able to provide my opinion on them, alongside some real experts in the field, as well as hear questions and feedback from the community. The main concern which was raised is that, as developers create their own elements, some important considerations — accessibility not least — could get forgotten about.

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Code as she is wrote

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.

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Pride and Professionalism

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.

- Saul Bass

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.“

- Walter Isaacson

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.

- Nicolas Roope

Accessibility isn’t Optional

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.

Where do we draw the line for browser support?

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.

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A Year in Web Design

I think it’s been a really exciting year for our industry; the explosion of web browsing away from the desktop, HTML5 beginning to prove itself as the best option for cross-platform development, the newly-resurgent Microsoft making good browsers again… if you make your living from building the web you can’t fail to be heartened by this flourish of new life. There’s been a great appetite for discovery of new browser features, with lots of demos being made using cutting-edge and experimental CSS, HTML and JavaScript, so the curious amongst us have had plenty to satisfy us.

Part of my contribution to’s experts(!) review of 2011.



I’ve updated my Speaking page to include more conferences, more videos, and a little on my speaking requirements and preferences. I’m planning to cut down on the number of talks I give in 2014 (twelve is too many), but am always open to interesting offers and opportunities, so please get in touch if you’re organising an event.

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