Archived entries for Front End Engineering

Test Suites for CSS 2.1, ARIA, and HTML5

Just hours ago Microsoft released an amazing new resource that helps the entire frontend engineering industry. Their Windows Internet Explorer Testing Center contains thousands of test cases covering CSS 2.1, HTML5, and WAI-ARIA.

CSS gets the most coverage with 7005 tests, 3784 of them developed just since IE8’s “beta 2″ a few months ago. IE8 passes all 7005, including, mysteriously, 52 tests that do not pass on any other major browser.

For HTML5, coverage includes 13 cross-document messaging and 30 DOM Storage tests. For WAI – ARIA they submitted new samples to support their previously-submitted ARIA to MSAA roles, events, and mappings.

While a great resource for the standardization movement in general, it also goes a long way to support their stated belief that “IE8 RC1 has the most complete implementation of the CSS 2.1 specification in the industry.” It will be very interesting to see if any of the other browsers care to comment. I’m hoping for a four-way tie.

Read more:

Wireframing with Balsamiq Mockups

Thanks to Pras for the pointer to Balsamiq’s Mockups application. I was sketching wireframes quickly within minutes of finding the product.

I believe in low-fidelity sketching at the wireframe stage. Balsamiq makes it easy with its large library of UI control stencils, its auto-complete driven keybroad stencil selection, on-screen snap-to alignment guides, a powerful inspector for precise control when rarely needed, and, more of all, a simplicity that makes it easy to start sketching or tweaking your mockup immediately.

The output is Balsamiq files, PGN or flattened image files, and XML. Because it exports XML it’s possible to use Balsamiq as a programmatic ingredient for downstream engineering systems and tools (such as partially automating the creation of detailed functional specifications, or using it as source for the automated building on the actual interface.

There is a rumor that they’ll be announcing clickable output files shortly, which might allow for the fast creation of clickable wireframes for usability testing (and other) needs.

I haven’t noticed, but it should be possible to customize what’s in the included UI Widget Library to a) take on a different visual skin; b) reflect new or fewer interface widget options.

All and all, I’m pretty intrigued. It seems there’s a market for consumer-friendly ways to design interfaces. Once more people catch on how to much fun we’re having, they’ll want a shot at designing and realizing all the apps they’re dreaming up, too!

I’d love to hear what you think of this approach. Have you tried it? Does it work for your teams”

Balsamiq Mockups For Desktop - * New Mockup

Slides: Professional Frontend Engineering

Update: Audio for this presentation is now available (mp3) from the conference’s site.

This year, my third presenting at @media in London (2006, 2007), Patrick offered me the morning plenary slot. I used the time to talk about a topic of great interest to me: Professional Frontend Engineering.

Over the last three or four years the role of Frontend Engineering has become more important, more respected, more challenging, and more in-demand than ever before, and so I wanted to put a stake in the ground clarifying what we do, how we do it, and why it’s so important to raise it to a professional level. I had four goals:

  • Put a stake in the ground.
  • Reiterate our values.
  • Advocate the discipline.
  • Nurture a healthy Web.

The goals were threaded throughout the four sections of the talk:

  • Historical Perspective
  • Our Beliefs & Principles
  • Knowledge Areas & Best Practices
  • Why It All Matters

The talk is embedded below (or download: keynote, pdf, quicktime).

I think this topic is critical to the advancement of the Internet. I’ll be writing more about this in these pages in the coming weeks and months, but for now enjoy the slides. And please share your thoughts and feedback in the comments.

Slides: High Performance Web Sites

The organizers of last month’s Kings of Code conference in Amsterdam asked me to talk about High Performance Web Sites. I discussed related material at last year’s @media conference, so for this new talk I was sure to use a bunch of new, updated, and expanded information. Luckily, the good people on Yahoo! Exceptional Performance team have been hard at work discovering new performance best practices.

The talk embedded below (or download: keynote, pdf, quicktime) covers several well-known optimization practices then quickly moves to review more recent findings and advancements. It concludes with a survey of tools for optimization and links for more information.

Enjoy, and please leave a comment with any thoughts you have.

London and Amsterdam

Update: Slides for these talks have been posted: Professional Frontend Engineering in London and High Performance Web Sites in Amsterdam.

Next week Tuesday I’ll be presenting an updated “High Performance Web Sites” talk at the inaugural Kings of Code conference in Amsterdam. From there I’m headed to the second half of London Web Week and will be giving a talk called “Professional Frontend Engineering” in the Friday plenary slot at the outstanding @media conference.

Kings of Code logo

The Kings of Code conference is shaping up to be a great event. I’m excited to hear what fellow speakers John Resig, Peter-Paul Koch (PPK), Folke Lemaitre, Nate Abele, Mark Birbeck, and host Robert Gaal have to share with us.

@media conference logo

The @media conference is equally impressive. It’s consistently been one of my very favorite events for the last few years. The speakers are insightful and generous, the attendees are smart and engaged, and Patrick and the rest of the organizers put on a warm, welcoming, and action-packed event with lots of time for networking, hallway conversations, and a wee bit of pub-based debauchery. Spread over two days it promises to saturate us all with inspiration and insight.

Please email me, leave a comment below, or shoot me a note of Twitter (follow me) if you’re going to be in the area and want to catch up. If you let me know in advance that our paths will cross I’ll be sure to bring you a little gift.

Now if somebody could please do something about the #$%#@$# exchange rate…

Five Taipei Events

I arrived in Taiwan a few hours ago and am settling into my hotel room in Taipei trying to figure out what time my body thinks it is. But regardless of my body’s ability to keep up with me I have a busy few days ahead.

Tomorrow afternoon I’m presenting an internal Tech Talk to designers and engineers at the Yahoo! Taiwan office, hosted by my friend and colleague Aaron Wu. I love the chance to talk to designers and engineers in the same room, and so I’m very much looking forward to the opportunity.

Taiwan magazine iTHome article

On Saturday I’m offering the keynote at the Open Source Developers’ Conference here in Taipei. My talk is titled “An Insider’s Tour of the YUI Library.” I’ve been experimenting with video clips in my talks lately, and so even though I’m the only member of the YUI team on this trip, I’ll have the video and voices of many from the team with me on stage. I’ve done something similar once before, and it went well then so I’m hoping it goes well again.

Here is some local press coverage of the conference. It’s a trip to see my face surrounded by words I can’t read. If anybody can translate for me, please send me a note or leave a comment (click the images for higher-res copies).

University talks in Taipei

The third event is an interview for that same publication scheduled by Yahoo!’s local “tech PR” team. I’m not used to giving in-person interviews, let alone via translator, so it should be a fun and unique (and flattering) experience. They sent over a few of the questions in advance to set expectations and I gotta say the questions are thought provoking and interesting. (Though I am a little worried about how to translate some of the more fuzzy terminology.)

The fun continues on Monday and Tuesday with my fourth and fifth even is as many days: I have the distinct privilege of address engineering and CS students from both National Taiwan University and the National Chiao Tung University. Each two hour session is part presentation, part on-stage interview with professors, and part question-and-answer. My message is that Frontend Engineering is a first-rate engineering discipline, that industry is hungry for more skills practitioners in the field, and that it’s quite likely the most interesting and stimulating role to play in web and internet development.

I’m exceptionally humbled to be able to speak at such esteemed institutions. I will do my best to live up to the honor. Taiwan: Thank you!



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