WordPress User Survey Data for 2015-2017

A grand total of 77,609 responses from WordPress users and professionals collected by Automattic between 2015 and 2017. The stats for 2015 and 2016 have been shared at the annual State of the Word address and 2017 marks the first time they have been published on WordPress News.

A few items that caught my attention at first glance:

  • Between 66% and 75% of WordPress users installed WordPress on their own. In other words, they were savvy enough to do it without the help of a developer. Hosting providers were next up and clocked in at 13-14% of installs.
  • WordPress professionals described their clients as large and enterprise companies only 6-7% of the time. I guess this makes sense if those companies are relying on in-house resourcing, but I still would have pegged this higher.
  • What do users love most about WordPress? It’s simple and user-friendly (49-52%). What frustrates them most about it? Plugins and themes (19-28%). Seems like those two would go hand-in-hand to some degree.

I’m not a statistician and have no idea how much the results of these surveys accurately reflect the 26% of all sites on the internet that are powered by WordPress, but it sure is interesting.

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WordPress User Survey Data for 2015-2017 is a post from CSS-Tricks

Careful Now

Tom Warren’s “Chrome is turning into the new Internet Explorer 6” for The Verge has a title that, to us front-end web developers, suggests that Chrome is turning into a browser far behind in technology and replete with tricky bugs. Aside from the occasional offhand generic, “Chrome is getting so bad lately,” comments you hear, we know that’s not true. Chrome often leads the pack for good web tech.

Instead, it’s about another equally concerning danger: developers building sites specifically for Chrome. In theory, that’s not really a thing, because if you build a website with web standards (of which there isn’t really much of an alternative) it’ll work in Chrome like any other modern web browser. But it is a thing if you build the site to somehow block other browsers and only allow Chrome. Warren:

Google has been at the center of a lot of “works best with Chrome” messages we’re starting to see appear on the web. Google Meet, Allo, YouTube TV, Google Earth, and YouTube Studio Beta all block Windows 10’s default browser, Microsoft Edge, from accessing them and they all point users to download Chrome instead. Google Meet, Google Earth, and YouTube TV are also not supported on Firefox with messages to download Chrome.

I wouldn’t call it an epidemic but it’s not a good trend. Best I can tell, it’s server-side UA sniffing that entirely blocks the sites:

Sheesh.

If anything, I’d think you’d just let people use the site and display a warning if you’re really worried some particular feature might not work. Or even better, fix it. I have no behind-the-scenes knowledge of why they made the choice to block certain browsers, but it’s hard to imagine a technical limitation that would force it. And if it is, I’d suggest letting it be very publicly known to incentivize the other browsers to support what is needed, assuming it’s an established standard.

Even more concerning than browser-specific websites is seeing browsers ship non-standardized features just because they want them, not behind any vendor prefix or flag. There was a time when web developers would have got out the pitchforks if a browser was doing this, but I sense some complacency seeping in.

These days, the vibe is more centered around complaining about other browsers lack of support for things. For example, one browser ships something, we see one green dot in caniuse, and we lambast the other browsers to catch up. Instead, we might ask, was it a good idea to ship that feature yet?

No modern browser is shipping vendor prefixes anymore since we all ultimately decided that was a bad idea. A side effect of that is that shipping a new feature in CSS or JavaScript is all the riskier. I would think shipping an unprefixed feature to a stable version of the browser would mean the feature is standardized and not going to significantly change. Yet, it’s been happening.

In CSS, Chrome shipped motion-* properties, but then that all changed to offset-*, and the old motion-* properties just stopped working. That’s more than just annoying, that kind of thing helps developers justify saying, “I just build this site for Chrome, if you wanna use it, use Chrome.” Fine for a demo, perhaps, but bad for the web industry as a whole. Again, I have no special insight into why this happens, I’m just a developer looking in from the outside.

Here’s another CSS one I just saw the other day. People are excited about text-decoration-skip: ink; because it looks great and helps people. They are using it a lot. But apparently, that’s not the correct name for it? It’s been changed to text-decoration-skip-ink: auto; and so Chrome 64 is canning text-decoration-skip: ink;. This stuff is hard to keep up with even while actively trying.

Chris Krycho had a take on it recently as well:

Over the past few years, I’ve increasingly seen articles with headlines that run something like, “New Feature Coming To the Web” — followed by content which described how Chrome had implemented an experimental new feature. “You’ll be able to use this soon!” has been the promise.

The reality is a bit more complicated. Sometimes, ideas the Chrome team pioneers make their way out to the rest of the browsers and become tools we can all use. Sometimes… they get shelved because none of the other browsers decide to implement them.

Many times, when this latter tack happens, developers grouse about the other browser makers who are “holding the web back.” But there is a fundamental problem in this way of looking at things: Chrome isn’t the standard. The fact that Chrome proposes something, and even the fact that a bunch of developers like it, does not a standard make. Nor does it impose an obligation to other browsers to prioritize it, or even to ship it.

This isn’t all to throw Chrome under the bus. I’m a Chrome fan. I’m sure there are examples from all the major vendors in the same vein. I’d just like my two cents to be careful now. The web is the best platform to build for and generally heading in a direction that makes that even truer. The easiest way to screw that up is not being careful with standards.


Careful Now is a post from CSS-Tricks

Tales of a Non-Unicorn: A Story About the Roller Coaster of Job Searching

Hey there! It’s Lara, author of the infamous”Tales of a Non-Unicorn: A Story About the Trouble with Job Titles and Descriptions” from a couple years back. If you haven’t read that original article, I recommend skimming it to give you some context for this one, but I think you’ll still find value here even if you don’t.

A lot has happened since I wrote that article in 2015, and this follow-up has been in the works for a good six months. I ended up, not with a solution for the job titles conundrum or a manifesto about the importance of HTML and CSS, rather a simple, honest story about my roller coaster ride.

Okay, enough dilly-dally. Let’s go!

<story>

In the aftermath of the FizzBuzz drama in 2015, I doubled down on my freelance business and did really well. I got a great contract gig with startup in New York refactoring a Haml/Bootstrap situation that paid the bills and then some. I hired an assistant and started the Tackle Box, an online school sort-of-thing where I taught web development and WordPress. I made a little money off that one, too. I spoke at a handful of conferences and meetups, taught a bunch of classes, and generally had the pedal to the metal.

Then I got really, really tired.

I was sick of writing emails, sick of sending invoices, and sick of being on the computer all the damn time. I wanted to go to work and then leave work at work; something that is very hard to do in our industry, and extra difficult when you are your own boss. I enjoyed coding sometimes, but it was all about the billable hour. Why should I write code or be on the computer at all if I’m not being paid for it? This was burnout, that thing that’s become a weird, convoluted rite of passage in our industry.

I wanted to shut down Lara Schenck, LLC and be a ski bum. And you know what? I did. It was time for a break, and I took one for about six months.

Ski Bum Sabbatical

I left New York City in August of 2016 and moved back to my family’s farm near Pittsburgh. I got a job cleaning horse stalls for $7/hr at the stable where I used to ride when I was a kid. My plan was to gradually ramp down business while I lived rent-free and prepared myself for the simple life. That December, I would be starting work as a bartender at Goldminer’s Daughter Lodge in Alta, Utah, a tiny ski town outside of Salt Lake City. Room and board were included in the job; I’d make enough pocket money for booze, and my life would consist of skiing, sleeping, and socializing. No emails.

Image of a sign for the Town of Alta, population 370, elevation 8,460
Just down the winding road from Alta Ski Area.

The simple life was okay for a little bit, but bartending at a 3:2 beer bar and skiing every day wasn’t as fulfilling as I’d hoped. I cut the season short and moved to Los Angeles in March with my partner at the time. We had a mutual friend with an open room in Hollywood, and I was starved for city-living. (I have since learned that LA is not the city-living I expected, at all, but that’s another conversation.)

Time to Get a Job (for real this time)

I formally announced I was back on the scene, reached out to old clients and people from my New York network, and was even on a podcast out of the gate. None of that translated into much paying work. Luckily, I had a cushion of savings to float me for a few months (Freelancing Rule #1: You must have savings), but my heart just wasn’t in the freelance hustle this time. The prospect of negotiating contracts and engaging new leads was nauseating rather than exciting, and the small business website work I did was no longer the challenging and invigorating experience it had been before.

I decided to get a full-time job, for real this time. Once again, I wanted to work on a team and on bigger projects. I was tired of doing everything myself, and I wanted to learn from and share my experience with others. And, you know, a regular paycheck.

I set to work applying for jobs, putting long hours into carefully crafted cover letters. I had several promising interviews, got my hopes way up a couple of times, and received zero job offers. For one particular role, I’d gotten as far as discussing salary requirements and start dates, and was expecting an offer letter within the week. Then, the next week they were all of a sudden no longer hiring. I didn’t run into any FizzBuzz, for better or for worse.

I started to question why my designer/developer skillset appeared to hold so little value now when I’d felt so in demand just a year ago. I stubbornly refused to learn React just so I could have it on my resume—I’m great at other important things, why can’t people see that?! I wondered whether the five years of self-employment was a hindrance, or was there something fundamentally wrong with how I interviewed? Did I shoot myself in the foot with this whole “non-unicorn” thing in the first place?

These months were a major ego-check. It turns out, full-time jobs aren’t something you can just “get.” It’s just not that easy, for me at least.

The Value of HTML and CSS

Responding to job posts with those carefully crafted cover letters had a very low return on investment so I decided to change my approach. Instead of putting my time into writing said cover letters, I would focus on writing about real things and becoming a better developer, and the jobs would come to me. I launched a well-thought-out redesign of my website, published a Reverse Job Post, and buckled down on my JavaScript studies.

This was right around the time Mandy Michael wrote “Is there any value in people who cannot write JavaScript?” which hit the nail on the head. I wrote a question into ShopTalk show about this phenomenon and mentioned to Chris that I’d love to come on the show and talk about it if they’d like. The next day, Chris invited both Mandy and me to come on the show and hash it out:

HTML and CSS are valuable, but intimate knowledge of them has become more of a specialist role. Perhaps, one can position their skills as HTML, CSS, plus something else (e.g. UI design or WordPress). The nature of products and rapid feature releases deem quality HTML and CSS an afterthought at many companies so at the moment, maybe the demand just isn’t there. Perhaps the rise in accessibility awareness, design systems, and time lost debugging bad CSS will change the tide?

The episode was well received; I was obviously not the only one struggling with this issue. I made a Github repository called Front-end Discourse with the intention of gathering and synthesizing opinions and coming up with a plan of action on the job titles front. Chris even wrote about the job titles conundrum here on CSS-Tricks. The momentum was there; this could be my thing!

But then…I let it die.

An Unexpected Twist

A few days after the ShopTalk episode came out, I received this tweet:

Image of tweet asking Lara if she is still looking for a job, with a link to job post at careers.google.com/jobs

Umm…that’s a link to a Google job post.

I thought it was a joke at first, but nope, the tweet author sent me an email later that day, and it was the real deal! They’d been referred to me by a benevolent figure in the web industry whom I’d never met. I had a call with them and another member of their team, and it was magical. They told me all about a new team starting within Developer Relations at Google that would be working to improve the “Web Content Ecosystem.” Web Content Ecosystem? That’s WordPress! And they were recruiting me! Holy sh#t, this actually happens!

This was my dream job, not a front-end designer/developer role. I didn’t even know this was a job! I had already been doing this work on my own time for several years: teaching and speaking about WordPress, writing informational blog posts, recording videos, and helping people use WordPress more responsibly. And they would move me to San Francisco! I was not a huge fan of Los Angeles.

Unfortunately, Google doesn’t just “give” people jobs…you have to interview.

Computer Science Bootcamp

Now we have me, the designer who applied for a JS job and failed FizzBuzz, preparing for the Google interview otherwise known as the grandparent of all technical white-boarding interviews. It was time to swallow any feelings I had toward this interviewing style and get to work.

I had three weeks until a “coaching call” that would unofficially determine whether or not I could skip the technical phone screening and jump straight to the day of on-site interviews because, duh, this was meant to be. Luckily, this coincided with a lull in freelance work, which had also been picking up, so for about a week and a half, I put myself through a self-directed computer science bootcamp. On the way, I wrote a bunch of blog posts about what I learned.

Oh, how I longed to write that Tales of a Non-Unicorn: I GOT A JOB AT GOOGLE, F@#KERS!!! follow-up for all those Reddit haters after it was said and done!

The day of the coaching call arrived, and it was fantastic! I was a little slow on the coding question, but it wasn’t as hard as I’d thought, I aced the role-related questions, and the interviewer was excellent. I heard back from the recruiter who was coordinating with me, and he said I could go straight to the on-site interviews.

In the meantime, I went to WordCamp US in Nashville where this particular team at Google was a sponsor. I got to meet a few of the folks I’d be working with, and it seemed like such a great fit. This Google interest and being at WordCamp made me question why, at the beginning of my job search, I had seen my knowledge of WordPress as such a secondary skillset. WordPress is everywhere! And its awesome! I mean, sure, it’s not that “cool” yet, but mark my words, it will be in the “cool” ranks soon enough.

The Non-Unicorn Interviews at Google

In the week leading up to the interview, I focused on researching the role and beefing up my passion for improving WordPress and helping those who work with it. This was not a software engineering role, after all; in Developer Relations, passion for and knowledge of your subject is more important than knowing binary tree traversal, right?

Google flew me to San Francisco and put me up in a nice hotel. I had a full day of four interviews—usually, it’s five, one was canceled—and a long, enjoyable lunch with the folks I’d been in touch with from the get-go. I didn’t feel great about my performance in the technical parts of the interviews, but I did my best and my strategy was to come off as a great coworker who knows when to ask for help. When in doubt, I remembered the strong correlation between “hard interview” and “received offer” on Google’s Glassdoor profile.

Back in LA, freelance work kept me busy while I waited for a verdict, which wasn’t long. I felt relatively zen about the whole thing. Yes, I had my hopes up, but if it didn’t work out, I at least had work to pay the bills, and it wasn’t going half-bad. I’d been contracting with an agency and learning a lot; it wasn’t the small business WordPress sites I’d been building all by myself previously.

The Thursday after my Monday interview, I got a call from my recruiter contact. They were not going to proceed with the approval process at this time. He said I showed some very promising “Google-y” qualities, but my performance in the coding portion of the interviews wasn’t strong enough. He said he had it in his calendar to reconnect with me in six months, and that he would keep an eye out for less technical roles that might be a better fit.

…oof.

Incredibly, I was able to fend off the majority of the anger and the “I’m a failure and I suck at everything” thoughts that go hand-in-hand with rejection, maybe in part because I received such a nice email from one of the people I’d been in touch with throughout the process. He had applied three times before he got a job there—which apparently is not uncommon—and this simply meant I’d be taking a slightly different path. They were all bummed I didn’t make it.

This brings us back to the present. I don’t feel sour about algorithms or white-boarding interviews…I have another one to get ready for in six months! Unless, of course, another really awesome opportunity comes my way in the meantime. Who knows.

This whole job search has been such a ridiculous roller coaster of hopes slowly going up then crashing down. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that I still don’t know where I’ll end up, but I’m doing my best and I’ll keep doing it until the right thing comes along.

Silhouette of a car on a roller coaster about to go down a large hill

</story>

Whew, that was a lot! Thanks for making it this far. A+ for you, reader!

Post-Mortem

Before I wrap this thing up, I want to make a few observations about this whole job searching process that I hope can help others on their roller coaster ride.

  1. Algorithms and white-boarding interviews aren’t necessarily bad. I think they can be implemented badly. The Big Tech Companies are fully aware that they miss out on great candidates because of algorithm questions, but this interviewing strategy is so good at filtering out bad candidates that they keep it around. It sucks for us, but I don’t see that changing anytime soon. Plus, I learned a hell of a lot of stuff preparing for it, and it’s made me a better developer and better human being.
  2. Write a “Reverse Job Post.” I don’t recall where I learned about it, but here’s mine for reference. Even if no one reads it, it’s a great way to figure out what type of job and company you are looking for, and you could totally paste a link to it in the cover letter field for an application and call it a day.
  3. Learn computer science fundamentals. I know we are already inundated with things to learn, so it’s hard to preach this, but having context for what the tools we use actually are has helped me a lot. For example, two months ago I would have had a hard time wrapping my mind around GraphQL, but in my interview preparation I learned about graphs and tree data structures, so I was able to understand the concept relatively easily. Cracking the Coding Interview is not a good place to start, BaseCS and the Impostor’s Handbook are. Also, stay tuned for some relevant articles here on CSS-Tricks, from yours truly!
  4. Don’t spend all of your time on job boards. It’s a crapshoot. I think there are great job boards, but in general, no matter how quality the listing, whether or not the position is actually available or accurately represented in the post is a toss-up.
  5. Be vocal. I doubt any of this Google stuff would have happened if I hadn’t written into ShopTalk show and asked Chris to have me on the episode. If you have an impulse to write something or have a question or feel the urge to tweet at someone you don’t know, do it (but be a good person about it, obviously). The more web people that know you exist, the more likely it is that something will come your way.

Those are some things that helped me, but I still don’t have a job, so maybe don’t listen to what I say. I don’t know. It’s an incredibly difficult and demeaning process, and there’s no secret sauce that works for everyone. Our industry is a young one, and as far as I’m aware, there is no such thing as a surefire career path in web development.

I hope I don’t write another “Tales of a Non-Unicorn” installment. The whole idea of a “unicorn” is bogus, anyway. We are all just people, with different levels of knowledge in different areas, and if you can honestly say you’re doing your best then I think that’s all you can do.

What I will be writing, however, are some “Computer Science Study Guides” for the self-taught developer, here on CSS-Tricks, and maybe some stuff about how cool WordPress is nowadays. At the very least, “Intro To Algorithms” will be coming at you, soon!

How about you, reader?

Have you been on this roller coaster ride, too? Where did you end up? What advice can you offer to those of us who are still in the midst of our journey?


Tales of a Non-Unicorn: A Story About the Roller Coaster of Job Searching is a post from CSS-Tricks

Monitoring unused CSS by unleashing the raw power of the DevTools Protocol

From Johnny’s dev blog:

The challenge: Calculate the real percentage of unused CSS

Our goal is to create a script that will measure the percentage of unused CSS of this page. Notice that the user can interact with the page and navigate using the different tabs.

DevTools can be used to measure the amount of unused CSS in the page using the Coverage tab. Notice that the percentage of unused CSS after the page loads is ~55%, but after clicking on each of the tabs, more CSS rules are applied and the percentage drops down to just ~15%.

That’s why I’m so skeptical of anything that attempts to measure “unused CSS.” This is an incredibly simple demo (all it does is click some tabs) and the amount of unused CSS changes dramatically.

If you are looking for accurate data on how much unused CSS is in your codebase, in an automated fashion, you’ll need to visit every single URL on your site and trigger every possible event on every element and continue doing that until things stop changing. Then do that for every possible state a user could be in—in every possible browser.

Here’s another incredibly exotic way I’ve heard of it being done:

  1. Wait a random amount of time after the page loads
  2. Loop through all the selectors in the CSSOM
  3. Put a querySelector on them and see if it finds anything or not
  4. Report those findings back to a central database
  5. Run this for enough time on a random set of visitors (or all visitors) that you’re certain is a solid amount of data representing everywhere on your site
  6. Take your set of selectors that never matched anything and add a tiny 1px transparent GIF background image to them
  7. Run that modified CSS for an equal amount of time
  8. Check your server logs to make sure those images were never requested. If they were, you were wrong about that selector being unused, so remove it from the list
  9. And the end of all that, you have a set of selectors in your CSS that are very likely to be unused.

Clever, but highly unlikely that anyone is using either of these methods in a consistent and useful way.

I’m a little scared for tools like Lighthouse that claim to audit your unused CSS telling you to “remove unused rules from stylesheets to reduce unnecessary bytes consumed by network activity.” The chances seem dangerously high that someone runs this, finds this so-called unused CSS and deletes it only to discover it wasn’t really unused.

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Monitoring unused CSS by unleashing the raw power of the DevTools Protocol is a post from CSS-Tricks

`font-size` With All Viewport Units

We’ve covered fluid type a number of times. This page probably covers it in the best detail. It’s a little more complicated than simply using a vw unit to set the font-size since that’s far too dramatic. Ideally, the font-size is literally fluid between minimum and maximum values.

Someday there will be min-font-size and max-font-size (probably), but until then, our fluid type implementations will probably need to resort to some @media queries to lock those mins/maxes.

Or…

Around a year ago Matt Smith documented a technique I had missed. It calculates font-size using a little bit of vw, a little bit of vh, and a little bit of the smaller of the two…

:root { font-size: calc(1vw + 1vh + .5vmin);
}

Of course, it depends on the font and what you are doing with it, but it seems to me this tempers the curve such that you might not really need a min and max.

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`font-size` With All Viewport Units is a post from CSS-Tricks

A Round-Up of 2017 Round-Ups

This week marked the beginning of a new year and with it came a slew of excellent write-ups from folks in our industry reflecting on the year past. We thought it would be nice to compile them together for easy reference. If you know of any others that should be on everyone’s radar, please leave it in the comments.

Now on to the round-up of round-ups!

Rachel Andrew

Having been wandering the globe talking about CSS Grid for almost five years, Grid finally shipped in browsers in 2017. This was good, as I didn’t really want to be some kind of CSS vapourware lady. I knew Grid was important the first time I read the initial spec. I had no idea how my championing of the specification would change my life, and allow me to get to work with so many interesting people.

Read More

Geri Coady

One of my biggest achievements this year was the release of my second book, Color Accessibility Workflows, published by A Book Apart. I’m hugely grateful for any opportunity to talk about color and how it can impact people in the digital world, and writing for A Book Apart has long been a dream of mine.

Read More

Monica Dinculescu

You can tell I hate writing year in reviews because this one is really, really late. I tend to hate bragging, and I definitely hate introspective and, in particular, I always think I am underperforming (and that’s fine). However, that’s usually not true, and writing a year in review forces me to see the awesome things I did, so even if I did end up underperforming, at least I can learn from that. That’s the whole point of post-mortems, right?

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Sarah Drasner

This year has been a surreal one for me. I’ve had years that were particularly tough, years that trended more cheerfully, but 2017 was unique and bizarre because I felt an immense guilt in my happiness.

I think this might have been the year I found the most personal happiness, but the giant caveat in everything was watching the world divide, watching racism, sexism and hatred rise, and seeing some real damage that incurred on people’s lives around the world.

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Brad Frost

Throughout 2017, when people asked how I was doing, I’d say “Great…for the things I can control.” 2017 was a rough year at a macro level for everybody, and I found myself coping with the state of the world in a number of different ways. But on a personal level, I had a rewarding year full of a lot of work, a lot of travel, and even some major life changes.

Read More

Geoff Graham

It feels kind of weird to include my own round-up, but whatever.

I’ve typically set goals for myself at the start of each year and followed up on them somewhere towards the end of the year. Unfortunately, the last time I did that out loud was in 2014. I’ve been pretty quiet about my goals and general life updates since then and it’s certainly not for lack of things to write about. So, I’m giving this whole reflection thing the ol’ college go once again.

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Jeremy Keith

Jeremy published 78 blog posts in 2017 (or 6.5 per month as he calculates it) and noted his personal favorites.

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Zach Leatherman

I had an incredibly productive year of side projects, learning, and blog posts—I can attribute almost all of that rediscovered time and energy to quitting Facebook very early in the year. It’s also been amazing to see my daughter grow and learn—she turned two this year and I really love being a dad. We now have our own secret handshake and it’s my favorite thing.

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Ethan Marcotte

And finally, one of the things I’m most proud of is, well, this little website, which I launched hastily just over a year ago. And over the last entirely-too-eventful year, I’ve surprised myself with just how much it helped to be blogging again. Because while the world’s been not-so-lightly smoldering, it felt—and feels—good to put words in a place where I can write, think, and tinker, a place that isn’t Twitter, a place that’s mine.

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Eric Meyer

While this is not so much a reflection on the past year, Eric did mark the new year with a livestream redesign of his personal website—the first design update in 13 years.

My core goal was to make the site, particularly blog posts, more readable and inviting. I think I achieved that, and I hope you agree. The design should be more responsive-friendly than before, and I think all my flex and grid uses are progressively enhanced. I do still need to better optimize my use of images, something I hope to start working on this week.

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Dave Rupert

My big work task this year was building a Pattern Library and it’s exciting to see that work beginning to roll out. The most gratifying aspect is seeing the ultimate Pattern Library thesis proven out: Speed. Pages load faster, CMS integrations are faster, and we can successfully turn out new production pages within a 1-day turnaround.

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David Walsh

David used the new year to think about and plot upcoming goals.

Every turn of the year is a new opportunity to start over, set goals, and renew optimism that time can heal wounds and drive us to change and achieve. For me 2018 is my most important year in a long time; 2018 needs to serve as a turning point for this blog and my career.

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Trent Walton

Dave, Reagan, and I celebrated our 10th official year as Paravel. In addition to some shorter-term projects, we undertook a large-scale pattern library and front-end update that is rolling out in phases this year. We’ve also enjoyed bringing in 6+ collaborators/teams to assist with projects when the need has arisen. I bet we do more of this in 2018—collaborating with friends has been fun.

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CSS-Tricks

Think we’d leave out our own round-up? Of all the site stats Chris shared in this post, this one nicely summed up the action around here in 2017:

We were on a publishing roll though! We published 595 posts, blowing away last year with only 442, the previous record. We also published 50 pages (i.e. snippets/videos/almanac entries) beating 43 last year. Certainly, we’re in favor of quality over quantity, but I think this is a healthy publishing pace when our goal is to be read, in a sense, like a magazine.

Read More


A Round-Up of 2017 Round-Ups is a post from CSS-Tricks

Front-End Performance Checklist

Vitaly Friedman swings wide with a massive list of performance considerations. It’s a well-considered mix of old tactics (cutting the mustard, progressive enhancement, etc.) and newer considerations (tree shaking, prefetching, etc.). I like the inclusion of a quick wins section since so much can be done for little effort; it’s important to do those things before getting buried in more difficult performance tasks.

Speaking of considering performance, Philip Walton recently dug into what interactive actually means, in a world where we throw around acronyms like Front-End Checklist.

Direct Link to Article — Permalink


Front-End Performance Checklist is a post from CSS-Tricks

26 Fabulous Scripts Fonts

(This is a sponsored post.)

Just $9.

They are nicely constructed as well, with stylistic alternates, ligatures, punctuation, extra characters, and multilingual support.

Direct Link to Article — Permalink


26 Fabulous Scripts Fonts is a post from CSS-Tricks

What You Build

I tweeted this yesterday and it seemed to resonate with some folks:

What I was feeling when I wrote that was a little tired of endless discussions on tech minutia and yearning for more focus on what we are building and discussion about why.

If you’re a reader of this site, you and I live in the same bubble. It’s a nice bubble. It’s full of smart people who like to chat about web design and development. I live it and love it.

It’s easy to get into a heated discussion about frameworks, what type of class names make the most sense, which optimization techniques are most important, or what part of your code base is should be responsible for styling. Those are great discussions that guide our industry.

But what is more important? The naming convention you chose or if your user can actually book a flight? Which state store library you picked or if you actually had the scarf your user was looking for? Which command line tool pulled your dependencies or whether someone was able to find and read the instructions to send in their court appeal?

I was trying to encourage people to build and think about what they are building rather than get too discouraged about the how. You’re building things for people and that’s such a big responsibility. One that outweighs technical choices, as important as they seem.

I enjoyed the pushback I got on it though.

Most of it centered around the fact that if you make poor tech choices, that limits the quality of what you build and slows your ability to change and adapt to changing user needs. Fair enough.

Good tech just might lead to directly better features and UX for your users. Fair enough. Good tech might be a differentiator between you and your competition. Fair enough.

My favorite was calling out the story of the three little pigs. If you aren’t familiar, there is a Big Bad Wolf that is trying to eat the piggies. Each of them built a house to protect themselves. I imagine you can guess which of the pigs did better: the one who built their house out of hay, or the pig who built their house out of bricks.

Fair enough.

Drew McLellan gets into this in All That Glisters, but focuses on the old vs new tech issue:

There are so many new tools, frameworks, techniques, styles and libraries to learn. You know what? You don’t have to use them. You’re not a bad developer if you use Grunt even though others have switched to Gulp or Brunch or Webpack or Banana Sandwich. It’s probably misguided to spend lots of project time messing around with build tool fashions when your so last year build tool is already doing what you need.

And this gem:

Software, much like people, is born with a whole lot of potential and not much utility. Newborns — both digital and meaty — are exciting and cute but they also lead to sleepless nights and pools of vomit.

He goes on to say that what you are building might help dictate your tech choices. Ah yes, the what. Not only is what your things does litearlly the only thing people care about, it also helps guide tech choices.


What You Build is a post from CSS-Tricks

Auto-Sizing Columns in CSS Grid: `auto-fill` vs `auto-fit`

One of the most powerful and convenient CSS Grid features is that, in addition to explicit column sizing, we have the option to repeat-to-fill columns in a Grid, and then auto-place items in them. More specifically, our ability to specify how many columns we want in the grid and then letting the browser handle the responsiveness of those columns for us, showing fewer columns on smaller viewport sizes, and more columns as the screen estate allows for more, without needing to write a single media query to dictate this responsive behavior.

We’re able to do that using just one line of CSS — the one-liner that reminds me of when Dumbledore just waved his wand in Horace’s apartment and “the furniture flew back to its original places; ornaments reformed in midair, feathers zoomed into their cushions; torn books repaired themselves as they landed upon their shelves…”.

This magical, media-query-less responsiveness is achieved using the repeat() function and the auto placement keywords.

Much has been written about this particular one-liner, so I won’t be elaborating on how it works. Tim Wright has a great writeup on this that I recommend reading.

To summarize, the repeat() function allows you to repeat columns as many times as needed. For example, if you’re creating a 12-columns grid, you could write the following one-liner:

.grid { display: grid; /* define the number of grid columns */ grid-template-columns: repeat(12, 1fr);
}

The 1fr is what tells the browser to distribute the space between the columns so that each column equally gets one fraction of that space. That is, they’re all fluid, equal-width columns. And the grid will, in this example, always have 12 columns regardless of how wide it is. This, as you have probably guessed, is not good enough, as the content will be too squished on smaller viewports.

So we need to start by specifying a minimum width for the columns, making sure they don’t get too narrow. We can do that using the minmax() function.

grid-template-columns: repeat( 12, minmax(250px, 1fr) );

But the way CSS Grid works, this will cause overflow in the row. The columns will not wrap into new rows if the viewport width is too narrow to fit them all with the new minimum width requirement, because we’re explicitly telling the browser to repeat the columns 12 times per row.

To achieve wrapping, we can use the auto-fit or auto-fill keywords.

grid-template-columns: repeat( auto-fit, minmax(250px, 1fr) );

These keywords tell the browser to handle the column sizing and element wrapping for us, so that the elements will wrap into rows when the width is not large enough to fit them in without any overflow. The fraction unit we used also ensures that, in case the width allows for a fraction of a column to fit but not a full column, that space will instead be distributed over the column or columns that already fit, making sure we aren’t left with any empty space at the end of the row.

At first glace of the names, it might seem like auto-fill and auto-fit are opposites. But in fact, the difference between is quite subtle.

Maybe it seems like you are getting extra space at the end of the column with auto-fit. But when and how?

Let’s take a look at what is really happening under the hood.

Fill or Fit? What’s the difference?

In a recent CSS workshop, I summarized the difference between auto-fill and auto-fit as follows:

auto-fill FILLS the row with as many columns as it can fit. So it creates implicit columns whenever a new column can fit, because it’s trying to FILL the row with as many columns as it can. The newly added columns can and may be empty, but they will still occupy a designated space in the row.

auto-fit FITS the CURRENTLY AVAILABLE columns into the space by expanding them so that they take up any available space. The browser does that after FILLING that extra space with extra columns (as with auto-fill ) and then collapsing the empty ones.

This may sound confusing at first, but it makes a lot more sense when you visualize this behavior. So we’ll be doing exactly that, with the Firefox DevTools’ Grid Inspector helping us visualize the size and position of our Grid items and columns.

Consider the following demo as an example.

See the Pen auto-fill vs auto-fit by Sara Soueidan (@SaraSoueidan) on CodePen.

The columns are defined using the repeat() function and have a minimum width of 100px, and a maximum set to 1fr , so that they would expand and equally share any extra space when it is available. As for the number of columns per row, we’re going to use the auto-placement keywords, so that we let the browser take care of the responsiveness of the grid and will wrap the columns into new rows when needed.

The browser will place and size the columns in the first example using the auto-fill keyword, and it will use auto-fit for the second.

.grid-container--fill { grid-template-columns: repeat(auto-fill, minmax(100px, 1fr));
} .grid-container--fit { grid-template-columns: repeat(auto-fit, minmax(100px, 1fr));
}

Up to a certain point, both auto-fill and auto-fit show identical results.

But they don’t have identical behavior under the hood. It just so happens that they will give the same result up to a certain viewport width.

The point at which these two keywords start exhibiting different behaviors depends on the number and size of columns defined in grid-template-columns, so it will differ from one example to another.

The difference between these two keywords is made apparent when the viewport gets wide enough to fit one (or more) extra column(s) (that) into the row. At that point, the browser is presented with two ways to handle the situation, and how it handles it largely depends on whether or not there is content to be placed into that extra column.

So, when the row can fit a new column, the browser goes like:

  1. “I have some space to fit a new column in there. Do I have any content (i.e. grid items) to go into that extra column? Yes? OK, all good. I’ll add the column into the row, and it will wrap into a new row on smaller viewports.”
  2. In the case where there is no content to place into a new column: “Do I allow this new column to occupy space in the row (and, therefore, affect the position and size of the rest of the rows)? or do I collapse that column and use its space to expand the other columns?”

auto-fill and auto-fit provide the answer to that last question in particular, and dictate how the browser should handle this scenario. To collapse or not to collapse, that is the question. And that is also the answer.
Whether you want it to collapse or not depends on your content, and how you want that content to behave in the context of a responsive design.

Let’s see how this works. To visualize the difference between auto-fill and auto-fit, take a look at the following screen recording. I’m resizing the viewport enough to create horizontal space that’s enough to fit one (or more) column(s) into the row. Remember that these two rows are identical, and have the exact same of content and column number. The only difference in this demo is that I’m using auto-fill for the first one and auto-fit for the second.

Notice what is happening there? If it’s still not clear, the following recording should make it clearer:

auto-fill behavior: “fill that row up! Add as many columns as you can. I don’t care if they’re empty — they should all still show up. If you have enough space to add a column, add it. I don’t care if it’s empty or not, it’s still occupying space in the row as if it were filled (as in: filled with content/grid items).”

While auto-fill fills the row with as many columns as it can, even if those columns are empty, auto-fit behaves a little differently.
auto-fit does, too, fill the row with more columns are the viewport width increases, but the only difference is that the newly added columns (and any column gaps associated with them) are collapsed. The Grid inspector is a fantastic way to visualize this. You’ll notice that columns are being added when you keep your eye on the Grid line numbers, which will increase as the viewport width increases.

auto-fit behavior: “make whatever columns you have fit into the available space. Expand them as much as you need to fit the row size. Empty columns must not occupy any space. Put that space to better use by expanding the filled (as in: filled with content/grid items) columns to fit the available row space.”

A useful tip to remember here is that the columns added in both cases (whether collapsed or not) are not implicit columns — that has specific meaning in the spec. In our case, we are adding/creating columns in the explicit grid in the same way as if we declared you wanted 12 columns, for example. So column number -1 will work to target the end of this grid, which it doesn’t if you are creating columns in the implicit grid. Props to Rachel Andrew for this tip.

Summing Up

The difference between auto-fill and auto-fit for sizing columns is only noticeable when the row is wide enough to fit more columns in it.

If you’re using auto-fit, the content will stretch to fill the entire row width. Whereas with auto-fill, the browser will allow empty columns to occupy space in the row like their non-empty neighbors — they will be allocated a fraction of the space even if they have no grid items in them, thus affecting the size/width of the latter.

Which behavior you want or prefer is completely up to you. I have yet to think of a use case where auto-fill would make more sense than auto-fit. Do you have any use cases? If you do, please feel free to share them in the comments below.


Auto-Sizing Columns in CSS Grid: `auto-fill` vs `auto-fit` is a post from CSS-Tricks