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


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


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 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:

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,, Forge Conference, General Assembly, Plank Design, Seat Geek, Shado Sports, Shopify, Sports Data LLC, thoughtbot, TicketLeap, TiqIQ, View From My Seat, Vitamin T, Yelp


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


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’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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Hackathon Memo: How to put Foundation SASS site working with Ruby on Rails backend

Ruby on Rails is pretty cool. Pretty magical. If you need a site up for the duration of weekend hackathon, it is an amazing tool.

I had a pleasure of joining a team over the weekend on AthenaHealth’s More Disruption Please and MIT Hacking Medicine’s well-organized and well-funded hackathon. (Unfortunately my contributed github code is in a private repo… a bummer. I should have told them that open repo would be preferred… that’s the thing about some people’s approach of hackathon. But that is beside the point) Though I was only there for only the part of Saturday, I got a bit done and learned (and re-learned) a lot of things that I wanted to do, working with Ruby on Rails developers. I love working with smart people.
Here is my runnig notes. Probably doesn’t make sense, but I am hoping to revisit and edit later to make some sense, eventually make it into how to put Foundation SASS site working with Ruby on Rails backend
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Using Tumblr API to put the latest update on a static website

Helping an old friend with good cause making his website update much simpler and more efficient. WordPress site is even too complicated, but twitter was too simple (though probably could have done the job). What we decided to do was use Tumblr.

Using Tumblr API, I made this very simple jquery ajax jsonp call to get the posts, then dump it right on the site. Crude? Yes. But it does the job. First you need to get a key.

Here is the code:


<p>Latest from <a href="">our Tumblr blog</a>...</p>
<h2 id="blog-headline"></h2>
<div id="blog-body"></div>
<p><a href=""><i class="fa fa-tumblr-square"></i> READ MORE POSTS</a></p>
<ul id="blog-more">


	// Get tumblr post
	function getTumblr() {

			type: 'GET',
			url: "",
			async: false,
			jsonpCallback: 'jsonCallback',
			contentType: "application/json",
			dataType: 'jsonp',
			success: function(json) {
				var latest = json.response.posts[0];
				json.response.posts.forEach(function(el, i) {
					if(i > 4) return false;
					$("#blog-more").append("<li><a href='"+ el.post_url +"'>"+ el.title +"</li>");
			error: function(e) {

Flexbox justify-content and Internet Explorer

UPDATE: March 20, 2015. The answer is using vh to set the height and min-height.

A CSS layout challenge from a colleague: We have two columns, longer (taller) div on left, couple of divs on the right. But the designer wants right side contents to align bottom with the left div.


  • Cross browser responsive website. Modern browsers, plus graceful fall back (“can read content”) to IE 8.
  • Right side contents, while most likely be shorter than left, can be any height. But must show the contents/not hide.
  • Do it with CSS, and (try) not use JS
  • As this will be part of template, make it as flexible/extensible as possible.

“Sure, you can do that” I said, “You can use the flexbox.. Every modern browser supports that. Even IE!

Or does it?

Here is my code pen:

See the Pen Flexbox justify-content by Daigo Fujiwara (@daigofuji) on CodePen.

What I found was not pretty. But here are my findings.

Mac Chrome (Version 37.0.2062.94)

Mac Firefox (Version 31.0)

Mac Safari (Version 7.0.6)

Windows Chrome (Version

Windows Firefox (Version 31.0)

and finally,

Windows IE11 (Version 11.0.9600.17239)


What happened there? After playing around with IE’s inspector, it seems the issue is with “min-height” rather than the flexbox itself.

So, if you give, say, a height: 1px; in the .flex-container-column, it works (then the height will be min-height). However, height of 100%, or height of auto will not. Mmmm.

So, I tried old trick featured on Chris Coyers site (Love CSS-Tricks!), but since it defaults to auto, it still doesn’t work.

Setting height would work, for example in the pen above, if you comment out line 14 in css (height: 250px;), flex would behave as expected. But since now the height is set, and not flexible, say if the right-one div had a height of 300px, right-two div will disappear. We can’t have that.

Continuing the investigation