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Sparkbox Foundry: The Hammer and The Chisel

We’ve been experimenting with how we work at Sparkbox recently. Our big push has been in understanding where so-called hybrid designer/developers fit in our process. For a long time, these folks have had the title of Developer, with all the other developers. Last Fall, that changed and several of, including me, changed titles to Frontend Designer. The goal was to push the hybrids more into initiating the design work and build up our overall design quality.

Our Content Director, Emily Gray, realized a way for the hybrids to focus on the design-end of coding without the bearing the weight of a full frontend stack. She dubbed this approach the Hammer and the Chisel. Weve had a bit of practice with this approach, and so I decided to write about it since I am someone who has filled both roles on different projects. This is the second in a multi-part series on revamping our design process at Sparkbox.

Grid Garden

Thomas Park followed up followed up his terrific Flexbox Froggy game with Grid Garden. Where Flexbox Froggy gets you well acquainted with the ins and outs of Flexbox, Grid Garden dives into the intricacies of CSS Grids.

Now that most of the major browsers support CSS Grids, now is the perfect time to get some practice. Practical use is right around the corner.

Be a good video call citizen

I participate in remote meetings nearly every day. My co-Sparkboxer Adam Simpson put together this terrific list of just a few things to keep in mind joining a video call in a professional setting.

Exponent Anniversary Episode

I’ve heard Ben Thompson pop up on The Talk Show every now and then, but last summer I was introduced to his podcast, Exponent. In their 100th episode, Ben and co-host James Allworth give detail the world since the introduction of the iPhone ten years ago. This is possibly the most quintessential episode of Exponent. If you have never listened to the podcast, this is a great place to start.

The reality behind scrambling names

It’s not related to a bad memory or to aging, but rather to how the brain categorizes names. It’s like having special folders for family names and friends names stored in the brain. When people used the wrong name, overwhelmingly the name that was used was in the same category, Deffler says. It was in the same folder.

Sparkbox Foundry: Aaron Gustafson’s Maker Series Recap

For the last Maker Series of 2016, we brought in Aaron Gustafson. I was thrilled to be in attendance and doubly so to write the recap for the workshop on the Sparkbox Foundry.

Sparkbox Foundry: Working With Templates and Other People’s Code

Purchased templates get a bad wrap. Up until early this summer I was on the bandwagon, deriding the use of templates. But, then my colleagues and I had an instance where it made since on a project. My mind has shifted to understand why and how agencies can utilize prefab web templates to meet the needs of their clients. However, there are things to keep in mind when choosing this approach. Hopefully my article on the Sparkbox Foundry we be a useful guide for those weighing such a decision.

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 effect typewriters had on typography

Marcin Wichary of the Medium design team tackles how the typewriter set back advances in typography, and now with recent web technologies, how we are working to take back beautiful words.

You see, I blame typewriters for double-handedly setting typography back by centuries. Type before typewriters was a beautiful world filled with hard-earned nuance and richness, a universe of tradition and craftsmanship where letters and their arrangement could tell as many stories as the words and passages they portrayed.

My heart laid bare on the Sparkbox Foundry

Most of my writing over the last year and a half has not occurred on this site, but rather over at the Sparkbox Foundry. My latest article was posted there yesterday and it dives into some deeper, less discussed topics covered on the Foundry. In the article I discuss several lies I have internalized and how I have dealt with them throughout my career. While I am wearing my heart on my sleeve in this article, my expectations were low to see any reaction to what I wrote. I have received a lot of encouragement and positive reception in the last 24 hours, and I am so glad this has resonated with others.

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