Archived entries for Front End Engineering

Dojo 0.4.1 RC2 Just Released

I know how hard it can be to get a release out the door, so I offer my congrats to Dojo on shipping Dojo 0.4.1 RC2 just a few minutes ago.

I wasn’t able to find release notes anywhere, so it will take some time to dig around and see what’s new. (Granted, I didn’t look that hard – but where’s the readme?) There were just a few clues on their blog announcement, but otherwise just grab the download.

My Two Refresh06 Presentations

Phil Palmieri, Chad Cole, and the Refresh Orlando team put on a great web conference this month in Orlando, Florida, called Refresh06. I presented two talks, “Creating Accessible DHTML” and “The Yahoo! User Interface (YUI) Library”. Descriptions and download links for both talks are below.

Creating Accessible DHTML

The Internet’s dramatic shift from static to dynamic sites presents a series of new challenges to those committed to and dependent upon accessibility.

The Yahoo! User Interface (YUI) Library

The YUI Library (http://developer.yahoo.com/yui, http://yuiblog.com) is an open-source, a la carte JavaScript library for building richly interactive web apps using techniques such as DOM scripting, DHTML and AJAX. This library – free for the world to use – contains the exact same code that we use on globally and at massive scale on scores of Yahoo sites.

Conference Review

I really enjoyed myself at this conference because it reminded me how lucky we are to have such a passionate and dedicated community in our profession. In my experience, the web design and web development communities are earnest, passionate, and collaborative. (btw, cookies to the person who identifies the origin of that triplet phrase.) Given a choice, I’d always rather surround myself with people who love what they do. It’s fun learning, it’s fun sharing what we learn, and it’s fun bonding over common struggles.

I appreciated all the conversations at this conference. Because it was a relatively small event – about 65 people I guess – we all got lots of quality time. The big group dinners of 40 and 50 people were good, as were the 10-top lunch outing and obligatory pub duty. Here are just a few of the people I wanted to give a thank-you shout-out too (with apologies to the many I’m fogetting right now: Cyndi and Brian Fling from Blue Flavor in Seattle. Bruce Cooke, Varick , Joey and all the cool guys at nGenWorks, and Varick in particular for the great sketch (above) and permission to use it. Cindy Li, the Design Rabbit herself. Mike Girouard, aka Mike G, had a nice style full of passion for the web (he teaches at Full Sail, among other things). Janet Lynn Ford came down from Minnesota (midwest represent!), and we had a great talk about the ongoing stuggle for Accessibility. She and I have definitely been through some of the same things. Dave Hime and Rhodes Gibson were great contacts to meet. Their company, go9media does good work with an Accessibility focus – I look forward to working with them in the future. Jared Smith and I have some nice talks – though not as much as I’d have liked. He posted his User-center, Standards-driven Web Accessibility presentation on the WebAIM site. Faruk Ates, Jeremy Keith, Paul Boag, Andy Budd, Cameron Moll (great chat – happy for your plans!), Jina Bolton, Garret Dimon, Dan Rubin, Jason Garber. Last but not least, I was very happy to finally meet Stephen Anderson in person. Sharp guy, and his talk on the last day was one of the very top highlights for me.

For more about the conference, try a technorati search for “refresh06″, the event page on Upcoming.org, and the flickr tag for “refresh06″ sorted by interestingness.

Notes on the New YUI Library Update

I hope you already saw the good news over on the YUI Blog: We just released a new version of the YUI Library, bringing it to v0.12. We’ve been releasing updates about monthly, but this is a substantial one with several changes, and moves us beyond the v0.11 branch after several rounds of dot releases at that level.

What’s new in YUI v0.12? Thanks for asking:

  1. Matt Sweeney has contributed a potent new control, TabView, built with the same high-quality thinking obvious in his Dom and Animation utilities. Want to progressively enhance existing markup with useful but unobtrusive JavaScript? Us too. Prefer completely built-from-script controls? No problem. Want the tabs on the top, right, bottom, or left? All supported out of the box. You can populate the tabs with static on-the-page content, or, of course, pull it down on-demand with Ajax. It’s all good.
  2. Adam Moore has completely reworked our generated-docs API documentation system (see the API docs for Dom), and it’s pretty damn slick. It’s much smarter now, and provides richer information cross-linked in more usable ways. Don’t miss the autocomplete-powered search on the API Docs main page. I was happy to read Carson’s comment on the YUIBlog: “[the] new documentation about brought a tear to my eye.”
  3. Steven Peterson revisited his Calendar control in a serious way, and the results are great. In addition to the new and improved multi-calendar interface, he created in-depth tutorial-style examples of YUI Calendar highlighting all the key features and use cases for Calendar (as well as for the entire Container family). There has been more than one question on the ydn-javascript mailing list about how to do this or that with Calendar of Container, and he’s taken many of those and answers them definitively in the new well-written tutorials.
  4. Eric Miraglia did selfless work, as always, to offer some key new features on the YUI site. Don’t miss the YUI Theater, with its ever-growing collection of video lectures and instruction (including great content from Yahoo!’s Douglas Crockford, and Firebug’s Joe Hewitt). On the home page itself, notice the piped-in live content from the mailing list and our blog; I hope that will bring even more people into the conversation. On each component’s landing page, notice one-click access to all the examples from the right column under the component’s cheat sheet. Eric has also brought all the cheat sheets up-to-date to this release; there’s a new cheat sheets for YUI’s CSS foundation files (Reset, Fonts, Grids), and for TabView.
  5. The rest of the team has been busy too. Our director, Thomas Sha, improved Connection so that when you’re uploading files via setForm() and the asyncRequest includes a POST data argument, the appendPostData() method will automagically create hidden input fields for each postData label/value and append each field to the form object. Niiice. Jenny Han modified AutoComplete so that it’s a bit more efficient (always-on container don’t send show and hide events), and a bit more powerful (minQueryLength now supports zero and negative numbers). If the zillion options weren’t enough before, now you’ve got a zillion plus two. Todd Kloots didn’t rest either, and Menu now has more elegant internals, and a bit more functionality exposed.
  6. For my part, I completed a pretty substantial rewiring of YUI Grids. The most exciting change is that Grids now offers Liquid/Fluid Layouts out of the box. At what cost? Just seven-tenths of a kb of new page weight. In addition, there’s more power, more stability, and more flexibility across the board. I’m a big fan of fluid layouts, but if Fluid isn’t your thing this release also has 950px page widths baked in, in addition to the original 750px width. Best of all, if you don’t want to use Fluid or the two preset sizes, it’s super easy to set your own custom width. The Template Presets and Nesting Grids offer the same functionality as always, but they’re a bit more bulletproof now, and they now enjoy spreading their wings within the new page widths. As before, the entire system is in ems and percents, so it breathes with the user’s font size – a favorite accessibility and usability feature of mine. The new system is fully backward-compatible, so give it a shot and let me know how it goes.

I hope you enjoy all the new features in this release. I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below, or straight on the ydn-javascript mailing list.

Thanks,
Nate

Breakfast Tomorrow?

I’ll be at the Future of Web Apps conference in San Francisco Wednesday (tomorrow) and Thursday this week. In addition to general roaming, chatting, and geeking, I’ll be helping Yahoo! host breakfast on Wednesday morning. (It’s just been extended until 10am, but I’ll be there for 8am on.)

If you’re around, please come say hi.

Announcing: Nate’s Job List

It’s because I’m busy and lazy that I’m announcing this new “one-to-many” channel. Though I truly want to help all my friends, colleagues, and contacts hook up [employment], I unfortunately don’t have time for personalized matchmaking.

My new list, perfect if you’re looking for employees or employers, is a newsletter not a message board. This means you can all subscribe but I’ll be the only one posting. I’ll post to it every time I get questions like these, which lately has been frequently:

  • Can you introduce me to good web developers looking for work?
  • Know a good visual designer?
  • Know anybody that matches this job description?
  • I’m looking to switch employers, who’s hiring?
  • I’m looking for freelance work, know any cool projects?

So, if you’re looking for work or workers, sign up for the list either online or by sending an email to nates-job-list-subscribe@yahoogroups.com.

Unless explicitly instructed otherwise, I’ll strip contact info from offers before posting them to the list. This will protect the innocent and allow for quality control while cutting down spam.

If you are interested in a job or person that I’ve posted to the list, send me an email (at my-firstname at my-lastname dot com) and I’ll put you in contact with the potential employee or employer. Please take a moment to ensure you’re sending me something useful and user-friendly (remember: I’m lazy!). Best case scenario: I can just forward your email without modification. Therefore, include a cover letter, url to your resume or job listing, any tracking info (such as the unique identifier for the job), etc.

I hope this is a good system, and better than spamming my blog with all the postings. Feedback very welcome.

Thanks,
Nate

Dave Hyatt on the FOUC Problem

I read anything Dave Hyatt writes. He’s a smart and influential guy in the world of browsers. He was key at Gecko for many years, and now heads up the Safari team. (I’m not sure if this is how his resume/CV lists it, but it’s how I think of him.) He posted late this past Friday night about the Flash Of Unstyled Content problem.

(FOUC = “This situation occurs whenever a Web browser ends up showing your Web page’s content without having any style information yet.”).

He’s thinking about it from a browser perspective. Should the browser pause parsing while style info is processed and calculated? Shoud it pass incorrect values to curious scripts, or bottleneck everything until correct values are illuminated?

Here’s the post: The FOUC Problem. Here’s another classic from him: Testing Page Load Speed.



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