How to use variable fonts in the real world

Yesterday Richard Rutter posted a great piece that explores how the team at Clearleft built the new Ampersand conference website using variable fonts (that’s the technology that allows us to bundle multiple widths and weights into a single font file). Here’s the really exciting part though:

Two months ago browser support for variable fonts was only 7%, but as of this morning, support was at over 60%. This means font variations is a usable technology right now.

And the nifty thing is that there’s a relatively large number of variable fonts to experiment with, not only in browsers but also in desktop design apps, too:

Variable font capable software is already more pervasive than you might think. For example, the latest versions of Photoshop and Illustrator support them, and if you’re using macOS 10.13+ or iOS 11+ the system font San Francisco uses font variations extensively. That said, the availability of variable fonts for use is extremely limited. At the time of writing there are not really any commercial variable webfonts available, but there is a growing number of free and experimental variable webfonts, as showcased in the Axis Praxis playground.

Adobe also made a bunch of variable fonts available a while back, if you’re looking for more typefaces.

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How to use variable fonts in the real world is a post from CSS-Tricks

The Wix Code Database and Data Modeling

I happen to know many of the readers of CSS-Tricks are strong web designers and developers. Most of you probably don’t use website builders very often, as you are a website builder. You love the control. You love the possibilities. You want to be close to the metal because that’s your expertise.

But you also know the costs. Everything you chose to yourself piles on to the responsibility you take on. Technical debt. Using a site builder like Wix can dramatically reduce that technical debt, and you might be surprised at how little control you have to give up. The following post is about some new and very powerful new features of Wix right up that alley.


One of the cool features of Wix Code is the ability to separate your site’s design and layout from its content. This means you can create and maintain your information in a database and then have your pages dynamically retrieve and display this information in whatever way you like.

Let’s take an in-depth look at what you can do with the Wix Code database, including the types of information you can store, ways you can manipulate data with code, and how you can dynamically display the information on your site.

Throughout this article, we’ll use a simplified example of an art school that stores and displays information about its courses and teachers.

The Wix Code Database

Like all databases, the Wix Code database is made up of individual tables, which we call collections. In our example of the art school (see image below), we have two collections, one each for the courses and teachers.

You can create as many collections as you need and populate them with a near unending amount of data. A robust permissions model means you have complete control over who can access your information and what they can do with it.

You can work directly with your Live data, which is the information your visitors see when they view your pages. You can also work with Sandbox data, so you can try stuff out without affecting your live site. You can sync with them at any time.

Populating Collections

You have several options for populating your collections. You can manually enter data directly in the Wix Content Manager, either to your Live data or your Sandbox data.

If you’re an Excel ace, you can do all the work in Excel (or whatever spreadsheet program you prefer), save your sheet as a CSV file, and then import it into the Wix Code database. In fact, you can create your entire collection this way, schema and all. You can import to your Live data or your Sandbox data.

You can also export your Wix data to CSV files. If you make sure to include the built-in ID system field, you will be able to modify your content in your spreadsheet and then re-import it into your Wix Code database so that each record, or what we call item, is updated.

A third option is to build a form to capture user input and store it in your database.

Using External Databases

If you already have a database somewhere, you might be thinking that you don’t want to recreate it in Wix. The good news is that you don’t have to. As long as your database exposes an API, you can access it from your Wix site.

For simple applications, you can use the wix-fetch module—an implementation of the standard JavaScript Fetch API—to access your external database with an HTTP request and use that data in your Wix site’s pages.

You can also pair the wix-fetch module with another Wix module, wix-router, that lets you control the routing of incoming requests. Using the functionality provided by both of these modules, you can create SEO-friendly dynamic pages that show different data depending on the URLs used to reach them.

For example, you can design a single member profile page that can be used by all of your site’s members.

Using wix-router and wix-fetch you can write code that pulls information from incoming requests for the profile page, queries an external database to retrieve the information for the page, and then injects that data into the profile page. You can even add security to your page by using the wix-users module.

So if you create another page for users to update their profile pages, you can check who is trying to access it and only allow users to update their own profiles.

Data Hooks

You can add hooks to actions on your collections using the wix-data API.

For example, in our Teachers collection, we have two separate fields: First name and Last name. To make displaying names on our pages easier, we also want to have one field that has both names together. To do this, we can add a beforeInsert hook to our Teachers collection that hooks into the insert action, reads the contents of the First name and Last name fields, and then concatenates them and populates the Full name field.

Modeling Your Data

Now that we’ve covered the database itself, let’s talk about modeling your data in the Wix Code database.

Collection Schemas
Like all databases, each collection has a schema to define its fields. All standard field types are supported, including text, image, boolean, number, date and time, and rich text.

There is also a field type specifically designed for URLs. It automatically formats the URL into clickable links that you can add to your pages. For example, teachers in your school could supply the URL of their portfolio website, and you could include that link on their dynamic page.

You can also use the document field type to store a wide range of file types. You can allow your users to download files stored in your collections (such as reading lists for each course) or to upload their own files.

ID Fields and Primary Fields

Each collection has an _ID field, which is the primary key for that table. Collections also have a primary field (indicated by a lock icon), which is the display key for each item.

When you create joins using reference fields (see the next section), the values come from the primary field. The reference itself uses the _ID field, of course. If you plan on using reference fields, it’s a good idea to make sure the data you store in the primary field is unique.

Reference Fields

Reference fields create a connection between collections that is defined in the collection schema itself. This is similar to foreign keys in relational databases.

Each reference field points to a specific collection. The value that is displayed in the reference field in each item in the collection is taken from the value of the primary field of the referenced collection.

In our example, we created a reference field in our Courses collection that points to our Teachers collection so that we can indicate who teaches each class.

The advantage of reference fields is three-fold. First, they help maintain data integrity because their value is taken directly from the referenced collection. Second, they help eliminate data duplication, which we all know is the enemy of good database design. And third, when we create our page layouts, reference fields let us access information in the referenced collection as well as in the main collection we are using. This allows us to create master-detail pages, such as a list of all the courses taught by each teacher.

Creating Pages from Your Content

Of course, storing and maintaining data is nice, but the real point of having a website is displaying content to visitors. So let’s talk about how that works with Wix Code.

Back to our art school example. We have two different types of information: courses and teachers. So you could start by designing a page layout to display all the information about each of the courses. Then you might want to create a master-detail page that lists all of your teachers and the courses they teach.

Setting Up the Dynamic Page

When you create dynamic pages in Wix Code, you first define the URL that will control what content your page can display. Some URLs can specify a single item and others can specify an entire category of items (such as all courses of a certain level).

You set up the URL pattern by picking a field (or fields) from your collection. One URL pattern you could use to display each of your courses could be https://…/Courses/<Title>. Each time a different page is generated, the field is replaced by the actual title of the item being retrieved. So one-course page’s URL would be https://…/Courses/Art-History, and another course page’s URL would be https://…/Courses/Intro-to-Painting.

Then you design your page layout in the Editor, putting different elements on the page and connecting the ones you want to use to display dynamic data to fields in your collection. You can use text elements, images, buttons, strips, and a variety of multi-item elements like repeaters, tables, and galleries. If you want some items to remain static, such as titles, just don’t connect them.

The image below is an example of what a dynamic page layout for our Courses page could look like in the Editor. The square brackets indicate that this content is dynamic.

The actual dynamic pages could look something like these.

Note how both pages have the same layout. However, some of the elements’ contents have been replaced with the information about the courses from our database. The page background is also different for each page. The container box even enlarged automatically to include the larger course description for the Art History course.

Note especially how the name and picture of each course’s teacher appear on the page, even though the details about each instructor are stored in a separate collection from the data about the course. This is because we connected the Courses and the Teachers collections using a reference field, which gave us access to information about the specific teacher for each course.

Finally, note how the page URLs are unique to each page. In essence, each of these pages is unique. And Wix Code creates them automatically for us. If we add a new course to our collection, a page for it is automatically created.

Master-Detail Pages

Another cool thing you can do with Wix Code is to create master-detail pages. For example, you could create a page to act as an index that lists all the teachers in your school and the courses each one teaches. This would require pulling information from more than one collection (Courses and Teachers) and then filtering the courses by their teacher so that only the relevant courses are displayed.

Our database collections are set up in a many-to-one structure; each teacher has many courses they teach. Whereas above we displayed each course and their individual teacher, now we are taking the opposite approach and displaying each teacher and all their courses.

Below is a sample of what an index page with master-detail information might look like using a repeater.

Because the repeater is connected to both our Teachers collection and our Courses collection, it can display the information from both collections dynamically. The embedded table element in each repeater item displays the list of courses each teacher teaches.

Summary

We’ve presented some high-level information about the Wix Code database and some of the capabilities it offers for storing your data, manipulating your data, and displaying your data dynamically to your visitors. We’ve also illustrated how the options available to you are controlled in part by the decisions you make when you create your collections and connect them. Before you get started creating your Wix Code database, it’s a good idea to spend some time thinking about what kind of information you have and how you want to display it so that you can most effectively model your data.


The Wix Code Database and Data Modeling is a post from CSS-Tricks

Tools for Thinking and Tools for Systems

I’ve been obsessed with design tools the past two years, with apps like as Sketch, Figma and Photoshop perhaps being the most prolific of the bunch. We use these tools to make high fidelity mockups and ensure high quality user experiences. These tools (and others) are awesome and are generally upping our game as designers and developers, but I believe that the way they’ve changed the way we produce work and define UX will soon produce yet another new wave of tools.

In the future, I predict two separate categories of design applications: tools for thinking and tools for systems.

Let me explain.

Tools for Thinking

A short while ago Oliver Reichenstein described why we like distractions and how, in order to make great things, we need dedicated moments of focus, discipline, and concentration:

Starting and finishing need courage. There is no app or tool that will give you courage. But there are environments that encourage distraction. And there are environments that encourage you to focus.

When I read that, I thought about how the design apps I use are wonderfully powerful and built for a specific purpose—but they also encourage distraction. I rarely need mockups of an interface to be as high fidelity as the apps are capable of producing, and any time spent moving pixels around in those apps is almost a complete waste on my part.

Instead, I need a tool to focus on the complex, UX sort of work that underpins all the visual aspects of a large website, and I desperately require focus to do that work. I don’t need to select a pretty typeface, I don’t want custom colors, and I don’t care about how accurate the typographic hierarchy is compared to what is actually released. At this stage of the design process, everything is a suggestion, everything is a sketch, and that’s okay. Also, the messier the sketch, the more freedom I’ve had to experiment wildly in all directions and, crucially, there’s a lot more time to truly understand the information that I’m manipulating.

Herein lies the problem: our current tools encourage me to design the finished product first. They beg me to mess with rounded corners, colors, typefaces and stroke styles. But it’s only when I’m working within a strict design system that I ever need to declare those things.

Let’s say we have a half-decent component library where we’ve decided on our typographic hierarchy, our border-radius options, and what sort of background color our buttons have. Do we really need to be so specific in our mockups? Can we be intentionally vague without using pixel-perfect mockups and instead ditch those wireframes in favor of real-life working prototypes built with components from our libraries? Others have suggested this sort of process in the past, of course, but what I find interesting here is the framing, or rather the identification of this new category of tools and the concept that a design can slowly gain fidelity over time. I reckon we shouldn’t expect one tool to carry us through the entire design process.

I believe that Balsamiq is quite possibly the closest example that we have today of what I have in mind: tools that help us think and that remove distractions so that we can focus on the larger and more important architectural, organizational and content problems that we ought to deal with first.

But there will always be a need for another set of tools as well.

Tools for Systems

I hear an awful lot of arguments against using Balsamiq-esque, low fidelity design mockups. The main complaint seems to be that they’re far too imprecise to be useful; they’re not interactive and they’re not responsive. They’re merely drawings of the final app.

A short wile ago, Dan Eden wrote an interesting piece called “The Burden of Precision” which digs into this issue a little bit:

Without engineers, our products are mere static pictures of products. A pale shadow of the finished result. At best, our designs are sandboxed emulations of the real thing; complex prototypes that demonstrate a small fraction of the real-world states the product may encounter. We spend all this time and energy using precise tools to produce perfect caricatures of things we rarely understand the complexities of making real.

I completely agree with Dan here, especially where he argues that:

The precision is introduced by the engineer, where it rightfully belongs. After all, our designs are completely useless until they are built—what exists in the users’ hands is the final design, and nothing less.

This argument reminds me of the scene in Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics where the author draws a number of faces on a line with a stickman drawing on one end and a realistic drawing of a human face on the other. McCloud argues that:

The ability of cartoons to focus our attention on an idea is, I think, an important part of their special power…

Likewise, with an app that provides the ability to focus on the necessary details can be hugely beneficial to improving the quality of the interfaces we create. If we already have a component library, then why do we need to make high fidelity mockups in the first place? We already have all those parts in place:

I think what we need are tools to help us translate our low fidelity mockups into real-life working code from component libraries. We can ditch a huge part of the design process that involves adding borders and choosing fonts, because all of those decisions have already been made before and we can lean on those previous decisions to focus on the UX instead.

</rant>

If we have tools to help us think, then the UX of our products, services and apps will improve exponentially because we’ll have an environment that encourages focus on the right things at the right time. We won’t be distracted by making pretty pictures.

Likewise, if we have tools to help us translate our low fidelity mockups into finished code examples—code from our own codebases mind you, not WYSIWYG generators—then we can work much faster and focus on improving our UI as a whole instead of burrowing our heads into one feature at a time. We’ll have fewer inconsistencies and our styleguides and component libraries can act as prototypes to test our designs quickly and iteratively. Airbnb’s recent explorations with Sketch is interesting but I can’t help but see those experiments as hacks on top of a complicated design tool. Instead, let us imagine an app built from the ground up that’s designed to do these sorts of system-y things and leaves the high fidelity mockup features behind.

With that being said, I think there’ll always be a demand for tools like Figma or Sketch and I know that I’ll certainly be using them for the foreseeable future. But I believe there are enormous opportunities to split our design tools up into the two categories I mentioned earlier: tools for thinking and tools for systems.


Tools for Thinking and Tools for Systems is a post from CSS-Tricks

Bend any Website’s CSS to Your Will With Stylish or Stylebot

As a self-professed CSS nerd, I take it upon myself to inject my own CSS onto websites when I need to to fix bugs or just fiddle them up to my liking.

This is a post that details how I do that using the Stylish and Stylebot browser extensions.

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New Features Coming Soon in Safari

Here’s a great thread by Ricky Mondello that outlines all of the nifty new features in the latest Safari across macOS and iOS. Some of my favorites include the ability to replace gifs with mp4s, the Payment Request API and support for the Web App Manifest.

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Routing and Route Protection in Server-Rendered Vue Apps Using Nuxt.js

This tutorial assumes basic knowledge of Vue. If you haven’t worked with it before, then you may want to check out this CSS-Tricks guide on getting started.

You might have had some experience trying to render an app built with Vue on a server. The concept and implementation details of Server-Side Rendering (from Github.

Why Should I Render to a Server?

If you already know why you should server-render and just want to learn about routing or route protection, then you can jump to Setting Up a Nuxt.js App from Scratch section.

Sarah Drasner wrote a great post on what Nuxt.js is and why you should use it. She also showed off some of the amazing things you can do with this tool like page routing and page transitions. Nuxt.js is a tool in the Vue ecosystem that you can use to build server-rendered apps from scratch without being bothered by the underlying complexities of rendering a JavaScript app to a server.

Nuxt.js is an option to what Vue already offers. It builds upon the Vue SSR and routing libraries to expose a seamless platform for your own apps. Nuxt.js boils down to one thing: to simplify your experience as a developer building SSR apps with Vue.

We already did a lot of talking (which they say is cheap); now let’s get our hands dirty.

Setting Up a Nuxt.js App from Scratch

You can quickly scaffold a new project using the Vue CLI tool by running the following command:

vue init nuxt-community/starter-template <project-name>

But that’s not the deal, and we want to get our hands dirty. This way, you would learn the underlying processes that powers the engine of a Nuxt project.

Start by creating an empty folder on your computer, open your terminal to point to this folder, and run the following command to start a new node project:

npm init -y # OR yarn init -y

This will generate a package.json file that looks like this:

{ "name": "nuxt-shop", "version": "1.0.0", "main": "index.js", "license": "MIT"
}

The name property is the same as the name of the folder you working in.

Install the Nuxt.js library via npm:

npm install --save nuxt # OR yarn add nuxt

Then configure a npm script to launch nuxt build process in the package.json file:

"scripts": { "dev": "nuxt"
}

You can then start-up by running the command you just created:

npm run dev # OR yarn dev

It’s OK to watch the build fail. This is because Nuxt.js looks into a pages folder for contents which it wills serve to the browser. At this point, this folder does not exist:

Exit the build process then create a pages folder in the root of your project and try running once more. This time your should get a successful build:

The app launches on Port 3000 but you get a 404 when you try to access it:

Nuxt.js maps page routes to file names in the pages folder. This implies that if you had a file named index.vue and another about.vue in the pages folder, the will resolve to / and /about, respectively. Right now, / is throwing a 404 because, index.vue does not exist in the pages folder.

Create the index.vue file with this dead simple snippet:

<template> <h1>Greetings from Vue + Nuxt</h1>
</template>

Now, restart the server and the 404 should be replaced with an index route showing the greetings message:

Project-Wide Layout and Assets

Before we get deep into routing, let’s take some time to discuss how to structure your project in such a way that you have a reusable layout as sharing global assets on all pages. Let’s start with the global assets. We need these two assets in our project:

  1. Favicon
  2. Base Styles

Nuxt.js provides two root folder options (depending on what you’re doing) for managing assets:

  1. assets: Files here are webpacked (bundled and transformed by webpack). Files like your CSS, global JS, LESS, SASS, images, should be here.
  2. static: Files here don’t go through webpack. They are served to the browser as is. Makes sense for robot.txt, favicons, Github CNAME file, etc.

In our case, our favicon belongs to static while the base style goes to the assets folder. Hence, create the two folders and add base.css in /assets/css/base.css. Also download this favicon file and put it in the static folder. We need normalize.css but we can install it via npm rather than putting it in assets:

yarn add normalize.css

Finally, tell Nuxt.js about all these assets in a config file. This config file should live in the root of your project as nuxt.config.js:

module.exports = { head: { titleTemplate: '%s - Nuxt Shop', meta: [ { charset: 'utf-8' }, { name: 'viewport', content: 'width=device-width, initial-scale=1' }, { hid: 'description', name: 'description', content: 'Nuxt online shop' } ], link: [ { rel: 'stylesheet', href: 'https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Raleway' }, { rel: 'icon', type: 'image/x-icon', href: 'https://cdn.css-tricks.com/favicon.ico' } ] }, css: ['normalize.css', '@/assets/css/base.css']
};

We just defined our title template, page meta information, fonts, favicon and all our styles. Nuxt.js will automatically include them all in the head of our pages.

Add this in the base.css file and let’s see if everything works as expected:

html, body, #__nuxt { height: 100%;
} html { font-size: 62.5%;
} body { font-size: 1.5em; line-height: 1.6; font-weight: 400; font-family: 'Raleway', 'HelveticaNeue', 'Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; color: #222;
}

You should see that the font of the greeting message has changed to reflect the CSS:

Now we can talk about layout. Nuxt.js already has a default layout you can customize. Create a layouts folder on the root and add a default.vue file in it with the following layout content:

<template> <div class="main"> <app-nav></app-nav> <!-- Mount the page content here --> <nuxt/> </div>
</template>
<style>
/* You can get the component styles from the Github repository for this demo */
</style> <script>
import nav from '@/components/nav';
export default { components: { 'app-nav': nav }
};
</script>

I am omitting all the styles in the style tag but you can get them from the code repository. I omitted them for brevity.

The layout file is also a component but wraps the nuxt component. Everything in the this file is shared among all other pages while each page content replaces the nuxt component. Speaking of shared contents, the app-nav component in the file should show a simple navigation.

Add the nav component by creating a components folder and adding a nav.vue file in it:

<template> <nav> <div class="logo"> <app-h1 is-brand="true">Nuxt Shop</app-h1> </div> <div class="menu"> <ul> <li> <nuxt-link to="/">Home</nuxt-link> </li> <li> <nuxt-link to="/about">About</nuxt-link> </li> </ul> </div> </nav>
</template>
<style>
/* You can get the component styles from the Github repository for this demo */
</style>
<script>
import h1 from './h1';
export default { components: { 'app-h1': h1 }
}
</script>

The component shows brand text and two links. Notice that for Nuxt to handle routing appropriately, we are not using the <a> tag but the <nuxt-link> component. The brand text is rendered using a reusable <h1> component that wraps and extends a <h1> tag. This component is in components/h1.vue:

<template> <h1 :class="{brand: isBrand}"> <slot></slot> </h1>
</template>
<style>
/* You can get the component styles from the Github repository for this demo
*/
</style>
<script>
export default { props: ['isBrand']
}
</script>

This is the output of the index page with the layout and these components added:

When you inspect the output, you should see the contents are rendered to the server:

Implicit Routing and Automatic Code Splitting

As mentioned earlier, Nuxt.js uses its file system to generate routes. All the files in the pages directory are mapped to a URL on the server. So, if I had this kind of directory structure:

pages/
--| product/
-----| index.vue
-----| new.vue
--| index.vue
--| about.vue

…then I would automatically get a Vue router object with the following structure:

router: { routes: [ { name: 'index', path: '/', component: 'pages/index.vue' }, { name: 'about', path: '/about', component: 'pages/about.vue' }, { name: 'product', path: '/product', component: 'pages/product/index.vue' }, { name: 'product-new', path: '/product/new', component: 'pages/product/new.vue' } ]
}

This is what I prefer to refer to as implicit routing.

On the other hand, each of these pages are not bundled in one
bundle.js. This would be the expectation when using webpack. In plain Vue projects, this is what we get and we would manually split the code for each route into their own files. With Nuxt.js, you get this out of the box and it’s referred to as automatic code splitting.

You can see this whole thing in action when you add another file in the pages folder. Name this file, about.vue with the following content:

<template> <div> <app-h1>About our Shop</app-h1> <p class="about">Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipisicing ...</p> <p class="about">Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipisicing ...</p> <p class="about">Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipisicing ...</p> <p class="about">Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipisicing ...</p> ... </div>
</template>
<style>
...
</style>
<script>
import h1 from '@/components/h1';
export default { components: { 'app-h1': h1 }
};
</script>

Now click on the About link in the navigation bar and it should take you to /about with the page content looking like this:

A look at the Network tab in DevTools will show you that no pages/index.[hash].js file was loaded, rather, a pages/about.[hash].js:

You should take out one thing from this: Routes === Pages. Therefore, you’re free to use them interchangeably in the server-side rendering world.

Data Fetching

This is where the game changes a bit. In plain Vue apps, we would usually wait for the component to load, then make a HTTP request in the created lifecycle method. Unfortunately, when you are also rendering to the server, the server is ready way before the component is ready. Therefore, if you stick to the created method, you can’t render fetched data to the server because it’s already too late.

For this reason, Nuxt.js exposes another instance method like created called asyncData. This method has access to two contexts: the client and the server. Therefore, when you make request in this method and return a data payload, the payload is automatically attached to the Vue instance.

Let’s see an example. Create a services folder in the root and add a data.js file to it. We are going to simulate data fetching by requesting data from this file:

export default [ { id: 1, price: 4, title: 'Drinks', imgUrl: 'http://res.cloudinary.com/christekh/image/upload/v1515183358/pro3_tqlsyl.png' }, { id: 2, price: 3, title: 'Home', imgUrl: 'http://res.cloudinary.com/christekh/image/upload/v1515183358/pro2_gpa4su.png' }, // Truncated for brevity. See repo for full code.
]

Next, update the index page to consume this file:

<template> <div> <app-banner></app-banner> <div class="cta"> <app-button>Start Shopping</app-button> </div> <app-product-list :products="products"></app-product-list> </div>
</template>
<style>
...
</style>
<script>
import h1 from '@/components/h1';
import banner from '@/components/banner';
import button from '@/components/button';
import productList from '@/components/product-list';
import data from '@/services/data';
export default { asyncData(ctx, callback) { setTimeout(() => { callback(null, { products: data }); }, 2000); }, components: { 'app-h1': h1, 'app-banner': banner, 'app-button': button, 'app-product-list': productList }
};
</script>

Ignore the imported components and focus on the asyncData method for now. I am simulating an async operation with setTimeout and fetching data after two seconds. The callback method is called with the data you want to expose to the component.

Now back to the imported components. You have already seen the <h1> component. I have created few more to serve as UI components for our app. All these components live in the components directory and you can get the code for them from the Github repo. Rest assured that they contain mostly HTML and CSS so you should be fine understanding what they do.

This is what the output should look like:

Guess what? The fetched data is still rendered to the server!

Parameterized (Dynamic) Routes

Sometimes the data you show in your page views are determined by the state of the routes. A common pattern in web apps is to have a dynamic parameter in a URL. This parameter is used to query data or a database for a given resource. The parameters can come in this form:

https://example.com/product/2

The value 2 in the URL can be 3 or 4 or any value. The most important thing is that your app would fetch that value and run a query against a dataset to retrieve relative information.

In Nuxt.js, you have the following structure in the pages folder:

pages/
--| product/
-----| _id.vue

This resolves to:

router: { routes: [ { name: 'product-id', path: '/product/:id?', component: 'pages/product/_id.vue' } ]
}

To see how that works out, create a product folder in the
pages directory and add a _id.vue file to it:

<template> <div class="product-page"> <app-h1>{{product.title}}</app-h1> <div class="product-sale"> <div class="image"> <img :src="product.imgUrl" :alt="product.title"> </div> <div class="description"> <app-h2>${{product.price}}</app-h2> <p>Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipisicing elit.</p> </div> </div> </div>
</template>
<style> </style>
<script>
import h1 from '@/components/h1';
import h2 from '@/components/h2';
import data from '@/services/data';
export default { asyncData({ params }, callback) { setTimeout(() => { callback(null,{product: data.find(v => v.id === parseInt(params.id))}) }, 2000) }, components: { 'app-h1': h1, 'app-h2': h2 },
};
</script>

What’s important is the asyncData again. We are simulating an async request with setTimout. The request uses the id received via the context object’s params to query our dataset for the first matching id. The rest is just the component rendering the product.

Protecting Routes With Middleware

It won’t take too long before you start realizing that you need to secure some of your website’s contents from unauthorized users. Yes, the data source might be secured (which is important) but user experience demands that you prevent users from accessing unauthorized contents. You can do this by showing a friendly walk-away error or redirecting them to a login page.

In Nuxt.js, you can use a middleware to protect your pages (and in turn your contents). A middleware is a piece of logic that is executed before a route is accessed. This logic can prevent the route from being accessed entirely (probably with redirections).

Create a middleware folder in the root of the project and add an auth.js file:

export default function (ctx) { if(!isAuth()) { return ctx.redirect('/login') }
}
function isAuth() { // Check if user session exists somehow return false;
}

The middleware checks if a method, isAuth, returns false. If that is the case, it implies that the user is not authenticated and would redirect the user to a login page. The isAuth method just returns false by default for test purposes. Usually, you would check a session to see if the user is logged in.

Don’t rely on localStorage because the server does not know that it exists.

You can use this middleware to protect pages by adding it as value to the middleware instance property. You can add it to the _id.vue file we just created:

export default { asyncData({ params }, callback) { setTimeout(() => { callback(null,{product: data.find(v => v.id === parseInt(params.id))}) }, 2000) }, components: { //... }, middleware: 'auth'
};

This automatically shuts this page out every single time we access it. This is because the isAuth method is always returning false.

Long Story, Short

I can safely assume that you have learned what Nuxt.js guide for more features and use cases. If you’re working on a React project and need this kind of tool, then I think you should try Next.js.


Routing and Route Protection in Server-Rendered Vue Apps Using Nuxt.js is a post from CSS-Tricks

2017/2018 JavaScript

There has been a lot of research on the landscape this year! Here are a few snippets from a bunch of articles. There is a ton of information in each, so I’m just picking out a few juicy quotes from each here.

Perhaps the most interesting bit is how different the data looked at is. Each of these is different: a big developer survey, npm data, GitHub data, and StackOverflow data. Yet, they mostly tell the same stories.

The Brutal Lifecycle of JavaScript Frameworks

Ian Allen of StackOverflow writes:

JavaScript UI frameworks and libraries work in cycles. Every six months or so, a new one pops up, claiming that it has revolutionized UI development. Thousands of developers adopt it into their new projects, blog posts are written, Stack Overflow questions are asked and answered, and then a newer (and even more revolutionary) framework pops up to usurp the throne.

Using the Stack Overflow Trends tool and some of our internal traffic data, we decided to take a look at some of the more prominent UI frameworks: Angular, React, Vue.js, Backbone, Knockout, and Ember.

Read More

The Top JavaScript Trends to Watch in 2018

Ryan Chartrand of X-Team for Hackernoon writes:

This time last year, not many had faith that Vue would ever become a big competitor to React when it comes to major companies adopting it, but it was impossible to ignore Vue this year, even sending Angular a bit into the shadows in terms of developer hype.

Read More

The State of JavaScript 2017

Sacha Greif uses a survey rather than usage data:

We asked over a hundred questions to more than 28,000 developers all over the world, covering topics going from front-end libraries all the way to back-end frameworks.

I particularly enjoyed the opinions. Lots of people who love working with JavaScript and find it to be moving in the right direction and find it overly complex.

Read More

The State of JavaScript Frameworks, 2017

This one is from Laurie Voss of npm, which is probably the best source of data for usage but faces interesting challenges with that data:

You can use npm’s download statistics to give you insight into the amount of people actively invested in using and maintaining a package. However, probably more important than absolute popularity is growth.

Packages, once incorporated into software, have very long lives. People very seldom rip packages out of software once they’re installed. Because of this very low “churn,” packages hardly ever decline in usage. Furthermore, nearly all packages in the npm Registry grow in usage as the number of total npm users continues to skyrocket. They vary only in how fast they’re growing.

This makes measuring growth harder, since measuring absolute growth in downloads all the time makes almost everything look popular.

All in all it tells a familiar story: React is incredibly popular and Vue is the one to watch.

Read More

Top JavaScript Libraries & Tech to Learn in 2018

Eric Elliott writes:

Vue.js did do very well in 2017. It got a lot of headlines and a lot of people got interested. As I predicted, it did not come close to unseating React, and I’m confident to predict it won’t unseat React in 2018, either. That said, it could overtake Angular in 2018.

Read More

2017 JavaScript Rising Stars

Michael Rambeau’s writes:

Once again, Vue.js is the trendiest project of the year, with more than 40,000 stars added on GitHub during the year.

It’s far more than in 2016 (26,000 stars), and the gap with the next contender (React) is even bigger.

Read More


2017/2018 JavaScript is a post from CSS-Tricks

Secure Contexts Everywhere

Anne van Kesteren for Mozilla says:

Effective immediately, all new features that are web-exposed are to be restricted to secure contexts. Web-exposed means that the feature is observable from a web page or server, whether through JavaScript, CSS, HTTP, media formats, etc. A feature can be anything from an extension of an existing IDL-defined object, a new CSS property, a new HTTP response header, to bigger features such as WebVR. In contrast, a new CSS color keyword would likely not be restricted to secure contexts.

In other words, if your site isn’t HTTPS, you won’t get new web tech features. Holy jeepers. The reasoning is the web should be using HTTPS, so this is our way of beating you with a stick if you try to use fancy features without going HTTPS first.

It’ll be fascinating to watch the first major feature drop and if they stick to their word here. The web dev forums of the internet will overflow with WHY DOESN’T grid-gap WORK WITH MY FLEXBOX? (or some likely coming-soon feature) questions and the answer will be: talk to your server team. What if they drop container queries behind this? That would be a hilarious devastating tornado of developer fury.

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Secure Contexts Everywhere is a post from CSS-Tricks

Creating a Vue.js Serverless Checkout Form: Configure the Checkout Component

This is the fourth post in a four-part series. In Part one, we set up a serverless Stripe function on Azure. Part two covered how we hosted the function on Github. The third part covered Stripe Elements in Vue. This last post shows how to configure the checkout component and make the shopping cart fully functional.

Article Series:

  1. Setup and Testing
  2. Stripe Function and Hosting
  3. Application and Checkout Component
  4. Configure the Checkout Component (This Post)

As a reminder, here’s where we are in our application at this point:

cart and checkout

Configuring the Checkout Component

We have to do a few things to adjust the component in order for it to meet our needs:

  • Make sure the form is only displaying if we haven’t submitted it—we’ll deal with the logic for this in our pay method in a moment
  • Allow the form to take a customer’s email address in case something is wrong with the order.
  • Disable the submit button until the required email address is provided
  • Finally and most importantly, change to our testing key

Here’s our updated checkout component with the changes to the original code highlighted:

<div v-if="!submitted" class="payment"> <h3>Please enter your payment details:</h3> <label for="email">Email</label> <input id="email" type="email" v-model="stripeEmail" placeholder="name@example.com"/> <label for="card">Credit Card</label> <p>Test using this credit card: <span class="cc-number">4242 4242 4242 4242</span>, and enter any 5 digits for the zip code</p> <card class='stripe-card' id="card" :class='{ complete }' stripe='pk_test_5ThYi0UvX3xwoNdgxxxTxxrG' :options='stripeOptions' @change='complete = $event.complete' /> <button class='pay-with-stripe' @click='pay' :disabled='!complete || !stripeEmail'>Pay with credit card</button>
</div>

There are a number of things we need to store and use for this component, so let’s add them to data or bring them in as props. The props that we need from our parent component will be total and success. We’ll need the total amount of the purchase so we can send it to Stripe, and the success will be something we need to coordinate between this component and the parent, because both components need to know if the payment was successful. I write out the datatypes as well as a default for my props.

props: { total: { type: [Number, String], default: '50.00' }, success: { type: Boolean, default: false }
},

Next, the data we need to store will be the stripeEmail we collected from the form, stripeOptions that I left in to show you can configure some options for your form, as well as status and response that we’ll get from communicating with the server and Stripe. We also want to hold whether or not the form was submitted, and whether the form was completed for enabling and disabling the submit button, which can both be booleans.

data() { return { submitted: false, complete: false, status: '', response: '', stripeOptions: { // you can configure that cc element. I liked the default, but you can // see https://stripe.com/docs/stripe.js#element-options for details }, stripeEmail: '' };
},

Now for the magic! We have everything we need—we just need to alter our pay() method, which will do all the heavy lifting for us. I’m going to use Axios for this, which will receive and transform the data:

npm i axios --save

…or using Yarn:

yarn add axios

If you’re not familiar with Axios and what it does, check out this article for some background information.

pay() { createToken().then(data => { this.submitted = true; // we'll change the flag to let ourselves know it was submitted console.log(data.token); // this is a token we would use for the stripeToken below axios .post( 'https://sdras-stripe.azurewebsites.net/api/charge?code=zWwbn6LLqMxuyvwbWpTFXdRxFd7a27KCRCEseL7zEqbM9ijAgj1c1w==', { stripeEmail: this.stripeEmail, // send the email stripeToken: data.token.id, // testing token stripeAmt: this.total // send the amount }, { headers: { 'Content-Type': 'application/json' } } ) .then(response => { this.status = 'success'; this.$emit('successSubmit'); this.$store.commit('clearCartCount'); // console logs for you 🙂 this.response = JSON.stringify(response, null, 2); console.log(this.response); }) .catch(error => { this.status = 'failure'; // console logs for you 🙂 this.response = 'Error: ' + JSON.stringify(error, null, 2); console.log(this.response); }); });
},

The code above does a number of things:

  • It allows us to track whether we’ve submitted the form or not, with this.submitted
  • It uses Axios to post to our function. We got this URL from going to where the function lives in the portal, and clicking “Get Function URL” on the right side of the screen.
    get function url
  • It sends the email, token, and total to the serverless function
  • If it’s successful, it changes the status to success, commits to our Vuex store, uses a mutation to clear our cart, and emits to the parent cart component that the payment was successful. It also logs the response to the console, though this is for educational purposes and should be deleted in production.
  • If it errors, it changes the status to failure, and logs the error response for help with debugging

If the payment fails, which we’ll know from our status, we need to let the user know something went wrong, clear our cart, and allow them to try again. In our template:

<div v-if="status === 'failure'"> <h3>Oh No!</h3> <p>Something went wrong!</p> <button @click="clearCheckout">Please try again</button>
</div>

The button executes the following clearCheckout method that clears a number of the fields and allow the customer to try again:

clearCheckout() { this.submitted = false; this.status = ''; this.complete = false; this.response = '';
}

If the payment succeeds, we will show a loading component, that will play an SVG animation until we hear back from the server. Sometimes this can take a couple of seconds, so it’s important that our animation make sense if it is seen for a short or long amount of time, and can loop as necessary.

<div v-else class="loadcontain"> <h4>Please hold, we're filling up your cart with goodies</h4> <app-loader />
</div>

Here’s what that looks like:

See the Pen shop loader by Sarah Drasner (@sdras) on CodePen.

Now if we revisit the first cart component we looked at in pages/cart.vue, we can fill that page based on the logic we set up before because it’s been completed:

<div v-if="cartTotal > 0"> <h1>Cart</h1> ... <app-checkout :total="total" @successSubmit="success = true"></app-checkout>
</div> <div v-else-if="cartTotal === 0 && success === false" class="empty"> <h1>Cart</h1> <h3>Your cart is empty.</h3> <nuxt-link exact to="/"><button>Fill 'er up!</button></nuxt-link>
</div> <div v-else> <app-success @restartCart="success = false"/> <h2>Success!</h2> <p>Your order has been processed, it will be delivered shortly.</p>
</div>

If we have items in our cart, we show the cart. If the cart is empty and the success is false, we’ll let them know that their cart is empty. Otherwise, if the checkout has just been processed, we’ll let them know that everything has been executed successfully!

We are now here:

success.vue in the application

In the AppSuccess.vue component, we have a small SVG animation designed to make them feel good about the purchase:

See the Pen success by Sarah Drasner (@sdras) on CodePen.

(You may have to hit “Rerun” to replay the animation.)

We also put a small timer in the mounted() lifecycle hook:

window.setTimeout(() => this.$emit('restartCart'), 3000);

This will show the success for three seconds while they read it then kick off the restartCart that was shown in the component above. This allows us to reset the cart in case they would like to continue shopping.

Conclusion

You learned how to make a serverless function, host it on Github, add required dependencies, communicate with Stripe, set up a Shopping Cart in a Vue application, establish a connection with the serverless function and Stripe, and handle the logic for all of the cart states. Whew, way to go!

It’s worth mentioning that the demo app we looked at is a sample application built for specifically for this purpose of this tutorial. There are a number of steps you’d want to go through for a production site, including testing, building the app’s dist folder, and using real Stripe keys. There are also so many ways to set this up, Serverless functions can be so flexible in tandem with something like Vue. Hopefully this gets you on track and saves you time as you try it out yourself.


Creating a Vue.js Serverless Checkout Form: Configure the Checkout Component is a post from CSS-Tricks

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