It’s already 6 weeks into the new year, but it’s not too late to get a start on the new things I want to learn this year. I’m continually humbled and perplexed by the constant volume of new tips, techniques, and tools in this field, but at the end of each year, I usually look back and can’t believe how far I’ve come in the last 365 days.
I’m a firm believer in creating goals, but not necessarily in sticking with them. What I think is a great idea at the beginning of a year might clearly not be the best idea 6 months in. Technologies fade, new topics emerge, and I have to stay adaptive. The important thing for me is to stay busy and stay learning. We’ll see how the list shakes up at the end of the year, but right now I want to tackle:
- Angular.js – After hearing a lot about both Backbone and Angular in the last few months of 2013, I did some preliminary research and found that Angular is outpacing Backbone in the developer community. It seems immensely powerful and I’m excited to build an app with it.
- Mobify – I’m currently engaged in my first Mobify project at work, and it’s going swimmingly. This really cool front-end tool allows for complete mobile site building without needing responsive stylesheets or domain redirects.
- Soy/Google Closures – This templating tool is now used almost exclusively by Jive, which is used almost exclusively at my job, so I better get good at this!
I attended the Milwaukee Web Design Meetup May event which featured Dale Sande of Getty Images talking about Object Oriented CSS and modular web design. It was really an incredible event for me as Dale’s history and current topics mirrored my own experiences and it was great to hear from someone else who thinks along the same lines that I do. OOCSS is something that I sort of figured out on my own as it was first starting to appear as a term, and it was great to hear it discussed as a fully-fledged concept. The CSS metalanguages Less and SASS tied perfectly into the OOCSS and modular concepts, and are definitely something I’m going to start using. Overall, it was one of the most informative 2 hours I’ve spent.
A few weeks before Thanksgiving I was brought on board a brain-storming team as the lead designer for the next big thing the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel was working on. The idea at the time was very nebulous, but the basic premise was completely overhauling JSOnline’s entertainment section and launching it as a new site. I was eager to work on the project, excited for the opportunity, and had no idea what I was in for. Read the rest of this entry »
The only thing worse than a friend overstaying their welcome is an odd acquaintance you never really liked overstaying their welcome. The same is true when it comes to web technologies and design practices. Some things are just so awful it’s tough to imagine them ever being conceived, much less sticking around for a decade. Here are the top 5 things I’d like to see go away forever. Read the rest of this entry »
I recently updated the tooltips that pop up on the header and footer links so that they have a slick little animation rather than just appearing after a slight delay. It’s a small change but I think it makes a big difference and to be honest, I’m always looking for an excuse to spend some more time with jQuery.
First of all, what is the plural form of CMS? Anyone? Anyone?
As part of the never-ending learning process I have decided to dedicate the next few weeks to a lot of projects I should have started years ago. To begin, I finally installed a working WAMP environment on my machine so that I can test server -side code, including CMS installations, locally. This should save me hours upon hours in development time in the future.
I also finally finished developing my own front-end web framework. It’s a hybrid of the 960 Grid System, my own default style preferences which I use in the vast majority of my projects, and 6 jQuery plugins which I always reuse. I realized after a while that I just kept running into and spending hours solving the same problems with each project I started, so I instead decided to work out all of the nitty-gritty details and create one clean web page with all the bells and whistles that works in all the major browsers. Now I should be able to just copy that source folder and apply project-specific colors and images and be done with most of the markup.
I’m also finally taking the time to learn all that there is in Photoshop and to learn Illustrator. I’ve never done vector illustrations before but as I’m doing more and more design work it’s becoming a dire necessity. I’ve only been at it a week and it’s been a bit more difficult than I would have hoped, but within a few weeks I should have the basics conquered.
Getting more familiar with the various CMS systems available is also a major item on my to-do list over the next few weeks. I’ve been using CMS Made Simple and WordPress, and I’ve decided that I just plain don’t like Joomla. I think I’ll take a look at the latest offerings from WordPress and CMS Made Simple as well as checking out Cushy CMS and maybe Drupal. Does anybody have any CMS recommendations?
Ok, a lot of Flash. That’s what I’ve been doing lately. I miss my beloved XHTML, CSS and jQuery quite a lot but I’m starting to do some more fun things with Flash at least. One of my recent projects involves creating a dynamically generated scrolling image gallery. When working on this I realized I needed some kind of a formula to calculate the horizontal spacing of each image so that they would appropriately spread no matter how many images were there. It took me hours to finally work out because, well, I ams not so goods with the maths anymore.
If anybody is looking to do something similar, I’ll save you the time by sharing with you the formula I finally worked out.
(TotalWidth – 2 * padding – LastPictureWidth) /(NumberOfPictures – 1)
Well, the blog has been live on this site for just over a year now. It’s crazy to think that at this time last year I had never touched any blog software, had not yet programmed any database interactions, didn’t even know what jQuery was, and could barely remember how to make a simple tween in Flash.
In this next year I hope to keep learning, get more involved in the local development scene, and maybe make some better use of this blog. Hopefully I’ll find the time to post some code tutorials and more snippets of wisdom.
Although I’ve always been astounded by how differently the various browsers treat code and how one developer’s approach to a problem can differ so greatly from another’s, it’s only recently really, I mean really truly, dawned on me how ridiculous this all is. At the heart of the problem comes the fact that so much of the W3’s work is ignored whether it’s by major corporations releasing browsers or by stubborn developers who are just going to stick with what the know. If a restaurant blatantly disregards an FDA guideline they are closed down but if company providing half the world with an internet browser blows off the W3 nobody thinks twice. If a lawyer tries to make an argument that violates the Constitution his argument is dismissed but if a developer blatantly disregards a W3 recommendation there’s no consequence. Just imagine all of the frustration and pointless bickering we would rid ourselves of if we all just listened to what the experts are telling us.