Starting a local simple http server (and Articles that I liked: May 2015)

Github pages are amazing. Best thing ever. Well, second best thing after git, anyway.

More and more javascript work that I do (such as creating slide deck using remark, for example), less and less I need heavy dependency on servers, but I just need to serve up markup and javascript. In the past I have used Mac installed Apache or MAMP type solution, but that is even much more than I need. Then I came across Python 2’s SimpleHTTPServer. Mac OS (at least ones on my machines) comes with it.

All you need to do is:

python -m SimpleHTTPServer 8088

then you can access http://localhost:8088. Nice.

I am constantly running vagrant machines, so usually port 8080 is taken. Being able to specify port like that is actually really cool.

Also, I’ve been posting links that I liked at my tumblr blog. Here are few weeks worth of links:

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May all living beings be happy

English
Japanese
Pali
  • Mettā Bhāvanā

    May I be happy. May I be well. May I be free from suffering and safe. May I be peaceful and at ease.

    May you be happy. May you be well. May you be free from suffering and safe. May you be peaceful and at ease.

    May my loved ones be happy. May my loved ones be well. May my loved ones be free from suffering and safe. May my loved ones be peaceful and at ease.

    May all living beings be happy. May all living beings be well. May all living beings be free from suffering and safe. May all living beings be peaceful and at ease.

    May people with whom I have difficulty be happy. May people with whom I have difficulty be well. May people with whom I have difficulty be free from suffering and safe. May people with whom I have difficulty be peaceful and at ease.


Using Font Events to speed up your perceived performance.

I’ve been lucky to work with Mat “Wilto” Marquis from Bocoup on web performance issues around Harvard Business Review, and it has been a blast learning new stuff.

One of the approach that we are taking is that we will be using “Font Events” approach to avoid “FOIT” (Flash of Invisible Text). This is pretty cool.

More info on this in an excellent write up by Scott Jehl: “Font Loading Revisited with Font Events”

TLDR here.

Our current situation: Using good old standard @font-face

The browser registers the font, but the font is not immediately availabe to the browser. FOIT. Each font files could be ~100KB per weight/variation of the font, we have 12 files, about to be 14!

Perceived performance = poor.

After our re-factor is done, each css is actually just referencing fall back font stack, so no FOIT. Contents are rendered and immediately readable in a fall back font. For example, our National fonts will appear as Helvetica or Arial.

We’ll use fontfaceobserver.js to check to see if the fonts have been loaded, then add .fonts-loaded class to html tag as successful callback.

CSS rules will look like this (* this is grossly simplified css, but you get the point)

h1 {
font-family: sans-serif;
}
.fonts-loaded h1 {
font-family: National, sans-serif;
}

Fortunately, using sass’s nesting, this is pretty easy:

h1 {
font-family: sans-serif;
.fonts-loaded & {
font-family: $national-ff;
}
}

On the subsequent request though, I am hoping that server can just add .fonts-loaded class to the html tag. For now, we can bake this right into js/cookie, but eventually we would like to work with backend.

Another thing that Wilto uncovered was Foundation out of the box prefers optimizeLegibility as default text-rendering. Just switching this paragraph setting to optimizeSpeed and headers (i.e h1, h2, h3 etc) to auto, we made almost a full second perceived performance improvement on the slower network. Did not know that made that kind of impact.


OpenVis Conf 2015 (and articles that I liked: April 2015)

openvis2015

Bocoup’s OpenVis conference is by far my favorite conference of all time. I was only able to go one day in 2014, but I participated fully in 2013 and 2015, and I’ve loved every session. Before I forget (which I did last year…) I am going to write down/copy over my notes here.

Languages and libraries to checkout:

Ideas, cool presentations, quotes etc:

  • “Treat user input as first-class streaming data” – Jeffrey Heer
  • “Scrollytelling” “Web is a story telling medium” – Jim Vallandingham (and here is how, and thought on that by Mike Bostock)
  • “Editing is not simplifying, but clarifying.” – Nigel Holms on “Context”
  • “Million, billion and trillion is confusing. It should be mln, billion, trillllllllllion.” – Holms
  • “Getting your web development environment ready = Mise en place” – Alyson Hurt

This conference is awesome and looking forward to next years!
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Articles that I liked: March 2015

I’ve been posting links that I liked at my tumblr blog. Below are the month worth of links:

An excellent and brilliant “Quotes on Design,” a creation by Mr. Chris Coyer:

… Loading quotes from “Quotes on Design” …

And other links that caught my eye.
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It’s not too late to sign up for 2015 Baseball Hack Day

cp-banner2

It is almost here. A fun, friendly one-day hacking/coding/designing competition for baseball fans. If you have not signed up yet, it is not too late, follow this link

MLB.com is graciously back as our sponsor, continuing our four-year partnership. We are happy to report that winning teams of each local Baseball Hack Day will win an annual MLB.TV Premium subscription! Also the winners of each city will be judged for Baseball Hack Day grand prize, RBI Baseball 15, and major bragging rights.

Details on each city pages:
Boston
Philly
Montreal

Not interested in competing? No problem. To encourage participation of developers and designers of all levels, there will be three tracks? (*In Boston)?:

  1. “Hacking track” is our usual, Baseball Hack Day track. You come with a project and recruit people, or come and find a project to join and work on it for the day.
  2. “Project track,” we’ll have a project/challenge ready to be worked on. There will be a “project manager” who will lead the team(s) to solve the challenge.
  3. “Learning track” is designed for first-time hackathon attendees (no coding experience necessary). This is where you can learn how to hack from our mentor volunteers. This will be less competitive and more like a workshop. You will be eligible for the “Rookie of the Year” award!

We’d like to give shoutout to our sponsors, for without their generous support, this event would not be possible:
Act Blue Tech Services, Boston Globe Media, Chez Boris, CitiCoHo, DraftKings, evenko.ca, Forge Conference, General Assembly, Plank Design, Seat Geek, Shado Sports, Shopify, Sports Data LLC, thoughtbot, TicketLeap, TiqIQ, View From My Seat, Vitamin T, Yelp


Desiderata

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be critical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy.

Max Ehrmann 1927


Introducing “daisy” a sass/pattern-lab workflow solution using Vagrant

daisy-vagrant

I have been a big fan of Brad Frost and Dave Olsen‘s project, Pattern Lab.

Anyone that knows me heard me say “Embrace the fluidity of the web!”. Atomic Web Design is a concept that I always circle back to whenever I’m talking about web. I am also a big fan of sass, and also of Zurb Foundation.

We were able to use a lot of those ideas on a hbr.org’s new responsive site, which launched November 10. My colleagues, Kevin Newman, Fred Lalande, Matt Wagner, Kevin Davis and I just did a presentation on SASS and Pattern-Lab team workflow using Vagrant/Puppet at our Boston CSS meetup, Cascade Bos. Topic was really wide, we talked about anything from Object-Oriented CSS to Web-based Style Guide to deployment method to… everything. You can go through our slide deck here.

But for the “workflow” part, here is the gist of it.

HBR’s pattern-lab work flow

  • Instead of installing all our dependencies — such as php and apache for pattern lab, ruby and compass for css preprocessor and node for grunt and bower — into each of our individual computers, we have a Vagrant/VirtualBox virtual machine that are committed in our github repo.
  • What is really nice about Vagrant is its pass-through file system. Meaning you can edit the file on your OS (be it Mac, Windows, or Linux) using your favorite text editor locally (without going through virtual window), and it can be accessed by both host and virtual machine.
  • So we edit our www/source/scss folder, and www/source/_pattern folder right on our machines. Then, with power of grunt, you can view your changes appear on your browser, served right from your VM.
  • After we like what we see on our local machine, we make a pull request (we commit the whole thing, Vagrant and everything) in github. We have a internal agreement that you don’t merge your own request… so it gets reviewed by peers and then, eventually, gets merged to the master branch.
  • Then our hardest working member of the team, Mr. Jenkins, who watches the changes on the master branch, sees that it changed. And he pulls the latest, compile sass, compile pattern lab, and then he puts the public folder part of the pattern lab onto our internally available web server (is “intranet” still a word?). This is our living style guide. Our backend developers uses it to grab markup code out of it. Designers and editors, as well as marketing people, can access it any time they want.
  • Only part that goes directly out of our pattern lab to production is compiled CSS (it gets minified on its way to our production). But CSS HAS TO BE EDITED IN pattern lab, which forces everyone to first create a new pattern inside our pattern lab. This also ensures that our style guide is most up to date. Win-win!

That’s basically our workflow. I understand that pattern lab is not the silver bullet that works for everyone, but I am pretty proud of how it turned out for us. Another nice thing about committing your entire dev environment in the repo like this, is, say, if you spilled a full glass of red wine on your MacBook Pro by accident (Oops!). All you have to do next day is to get a loaner from IT and download your text editor and you are right back at it. If I had to install node on my machine again ON A DEADLINE, I think I am going to cry. But anyhow…

One of the thing that I wanted to do was release public version of our pattern lab github repo. One without styles in it, and one that is a stand alone virtual machine which runs Pattern Lab.

And, lo and behold, (Thanks to Matt Wagner and Kevin Davis) we were able to release it. It is available for you to download.

Introducing daisy.

Check it out. Star it, fork it. Comment it. File issues on it. Even make pull request on it!

I would absolutely love for you to try it out and let us know what you think.

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