The Shift: Progressive Enhancement

I joined several of my Sparkbox teammates this month a helped write a joint article for The Shift on the topic of Progressive Enhancement. I love the topic and I dive into what I love about CSS, the cascade makes progressive enhancement a natural aspect of the development process. The tl;dr on utilizing the cascade for progressive enhancement is to put styles for older browsers near the top of the selector block with newer properties toward the bottom. This works especially well for Flexbox properties, which I get go into detail in the article, so check it out!

Be sure to keep up with what others are writing for The Shift, with my list of Shift articles.

Container/Element Query Demos Collection

Last week I attend the CodePen Show & Tell at ConvergeSE. While there, I demoed Container Queries using a collection of demos I posted on CodePen. If you’re not familiar with Container Queries (a.k.a. Element Queries) I highly recommend checking out my talk on the subject from CSS Dev Conf last October, or checkout this list of resources.

Container Queries are still in an early concept state. More work needs done to make this a browser standard, but things still seem optimistic. There is need for more and more use cases though, and polyfills are a great start. Consider taking one of the polyfills from the collection for a spin. Hit me up on Twitter if you have a new demo to add to the collection.

How to Make the Web Better

Who Browsers Are For

The most pivitol tool a web developer uses day in and day out is a browser. They are what we develop for. Browsers can equally enstill excitement and dread throughout a project. As a web developer, it can be hard to maintain perspective of the purpose of browser—to meet the needs of the typical user.

As developers we want the browsers’ primary focus to be on making feature-packed, standards-based browsers. We want really great built-in tools to debug our HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. And when we come across bugs in one browser and not another we curse its name be declaring it the new IE! The perspective we have to keep in mind though is that most users of a browser, are not developers.

Browsers are justsoftware and there are bound to be bugs and issues. Thankfully most browser makers have instituted short release timeframes to take care of minor bugs quickly. But even so, the browser makers’ priority is a feature rich experience for the user. These are features that aren’t associated to any standards, but instead provide the user with preferencial features. One of the reasons I prefer to use Safari has my main browser is the built-in feed reader and tabs syncing. Other browsers offer these features as well, but I like how Safari does it.

Browsers aren’t primarily made for developers, but they are a vital community to a browsers survival. At that web developers are completely reliant on the existance of state of browsers to accomplish their job. We need to maintain constant dialogue between web developers and browser makers.

Report Bugs

All the major browser makers have teams dedicated to reviewing and prioritizing bugs. Browsers are probably the biggest form of customizable software, taking in a set of parameters from HTML, CSS, and JavaScript and rendering them on the page. They cannot account for all problems, nor may they experience the same pain points you are running into day after day. Instead of lementing that the current browser is the new IE, log a bug report and make the web better.

Here is where you can log a bug for each major browser maker:

Follow The Browsers

Additionally consider following the Twitter accounts, blogs, and mailing lists of all the browsers to be aware of what they are up to. WebKit has a great blog, Chromium has a very active community forum, and Opera is quite intent on tweeting all kinds of things.

Make The Web Better Through Engagement

The voice of the developer is important to the browser maker. Lamenting short-comings and complaing about a lack of support doesn’t help fix those problems. We can tweet twelve times a day how much we don’t like Safari’s JavaScript tools, but won’t fix it. Tell the browser makers what you don’t like, what will help you make better websites. They have avenues to listen, but they need to be utilized, otherwise we’re just yelling at inanimate screens.

Take the time to document and report a bug, and make the web better.

Net Magazine: Element Query Tutorial

I wrote a tutorial covering Element Queries for Net Magazine that appeared in last month’s issue. The web version of the tutorial is now available on their website. If you haven’t looked into element queries, it isn’t too bad of a place to start. In the article I give an overview of what element queries are, some simple use cases, and an explanation of using a polyfill.

The online version leaves out some aside content from the print edition, so below you can find some resources to further explore the wonders of element queries.


Articles and Websites

Responsive Issues Community Group (RICG)

RICG is helping push element queries forward as a web standard.

Media Queries Are Not The Answer: Element Query Polyfill

By Tyson Matanich

Working around a lack of element queries

By Scott Jehl

Media Queries are a Hack

By Ian Storm Taylor

Element Queries

By Tab Atkins, Jr

Element Queries, From the Feet Up

By Daniel Buchner

Element Queries for CSS

By Tommy Hodgins

The Shift

Today, Sparkbox launched a community writing project called The Shift. Each month a new topic is selected and the whole web industry is then invited to write on that topic. Whether it be posted on a company blog, as a Facebook post, or a Medium article, the hope is to spur a large conversation with diverse thoughts and responses.

From Sparkbox:

Here’s how it works:

  • a topic is announced on the first Monday of each month
  • if you’re able to contribute, you announce publicly that you’re participating in this shift using “#startYourShift” hashtag -everyone is invited to research, consider, and publish about that topic on the last Friday of the month at noon Eastern
  • all contributors share a link to their piece using “#startYourShift” hashtag on Twitter and any other platforms where they please
  • we all get to be part of an industry-wide conversation on a specific topic

The inaugural topic is “How to Make the Web Better.” You can sign up to be notified about The Shift topic for the month, and get reminders as the deadline approaches for each topic. I plan on participating as much as I can on this site, I hope you will as well. Be sure to follow The Shift’s Twitter and checkout The Foundry to see what a Sparkboxer might have to say.