It’s been a while; since the last Reading List! Since then, Vadim Makeev and I recorded episode 6 of The F-Word, our podcast, on Mozilla layoffs, modals and focus, AVIF, AdBlock Plus lawsuit. We also chatted with co-inventor of CSS, Håkon Wium Lie, and Brian Kardell of Igalia about the health of the web ecosystem. Anyway, enough about me. Here’s what I’ve been reading about the web since the last mail.
Wikipedia Matters (PDF, 48pp) – “a randomized field experiment to
test whether additional content on Wikipedia pages about cities affects tourists’ choices of overnight visits. Our treatment of adding information to Wikipedia increases overnight stays in treated cities compared to non-treated cities”
Mozilla is hiring again after laying off 25% of their staff. It’s interesting to speculate on the new strategy; vacancies include a Strategic Finance Manager running mergers and acquisition, and a Head of Mobile who *must* be in USA, not Asia/ Africa where the action is.
Top 4 Dying Programming Languages of 2020 – “Don’t learn these 4 languages”. Eh? Learn them! You’ll be in demand when those systems need tweaking. I was offered loads of money because I know COBOL & Fortran. So the cool kids don’t talk about them, but they run Business.
we are beautiful – “Our photographer takes photos of volunteers and processes these photos to produce 3D models of their genitals and other body parts. These 3D models are freely available for viewing .. so that you may print them on your own 3D printer”
Intent to Prototype: Customizable <select> Element – “This feature introduces a customizable select HTMLElement, with the working name of <selectmenu>. The element will offer authors full control over its appearance without requiring them to rewrite the model and controller logic underpinning its function.” Exciting work from the Microsoft Edge team.
AVIF has landed – by Jank Architect – AVIF (pronounced [əˈ vif]) is a new image format that seriously outperforms JPG and PNG. Thanks to <picture>, you can use it now for performance wins.
RFC8890: The Internet is for End Users “when there is a conflict between the interests of end users of the Internet and other parties, IETF decisions should favor end users”. The author of this RFC, Mark Nottingham, blogs about why it is necessary to state this.
Algorithmic Colonization of Africa “Not only is Western-developed AI unfit for African problems, the West’s algorithmic invasion simultaneously impoverishes development of local products while also leaving the continent dependent on Western software & infrastructure.”
Enabling Custom Control UI – Interesting doc on potential standard to allow styling any arbitrary part of a native form control, add arbitrary content into any part of a native control while retaining native accessibility & browser behaviours.
Mobile devices are too expensive for billions of people — and it’s keeping them offline – Nearly 2.5 billion people live in countries where the cost of the cheapest available smartphone is a quarter or more of the average monthly income. This is equal to the share of monthly income the average European household spends on housing and utilities. In Sierra Leone, the average person needs to save six months’ salary to buy the cheapest available smartphone. In India, home to 18% of the world, the price of the cheapest smartphone from leading operator Jio was 206% of average monthly income.
The F-word Episode 5 – Wow, a sonic double whammy! Not only did Taylor Swift release Folklore, but Episode 5 of @fword_dev is just out. Vadim and I invited the George Clooney of web standards, Brian Kardell, to tell us about the Open Prioritization experiment, Igalia, MathML and the Web commons.
ARIA Grid As an Anti-Pattern – Uncle Aadrdian points out more more bad advice in the ARIA Authoring Practices note. Is there a good, trustworthy alternative to ARIA Authoring Practices guide that devs can copy/ paste from?
Web Accessibility Checklist – I updated my massive Web Accessibility checklist to include turning off smooth scroll if use prefers reduced motion and to warn against some bits of the ARIA authoring practices, and to trust Uncle Adrian instead
Google: Mobile-first Indexing – “we’ve begun experiments to make our index mobile-first … our algorithms will eventually primarily use the mobile version of a site’s content to rank pages … If you have a responsive site…you shouldn’t have to change anything.”
Me me me corner: The F-word episode 4 in which Vadim Makeev and I discuss Apple’s game of monopoly, form slappers, where’s Houdini, browser bugs and Web compat, chicken-killin’ Mike Taylor, and I make another Great Joke.
Thought Leadership o’the Week: Platform Adjacency Theory by Alex Russell. There’s a lot to get my head around in this article, so I don’t know what I think yet. But I’ll probably end up agreeing with him, because he’s always bloody right about everything (except fashion).
July’s CSS News – Wooo! Flexbox Gaps, Aspect Ratio Unit, Native Masonry Support, Subgrid in Chrome, prefers-reduced-data, :marker. Auntie Rachel has all the latest CSS news!
A/B Street – “Ever been stuck in traffic on a bus, wondering why is there legal street parking instead of a dedicated bus lane? A/B Street is a game exploring how small changes to a city affect the movement of drivers, cyclists, transit users, and pedestrians.”
Meaningful connectivity – Alliance for Affordable Internet pushes for its new standard: “We have meaningful connectivity when we can use the internet every day using an appropriate device with enough data and a fast connection.”
Google blew a ten-year lead – “something happened at Google. I’m not sure what. But they stopped innovating on cloud software. Docs and Sheets haven’t changed in a decade. Google Drive remains impossible to navigate. Sharing is complicated.”
SVGuitar – library to create beautiful SVG guitar chord charts directly in the browser
Machine learning-generated Peanuts comics and an interesting rumination on what Art is: “In some ways, the model represents the disembodied essence of the Peanuts aesthetic, but do I have Charles Shulz soul? For many obvious reasons, I do not – this model knows nothing of the motivations, desires and intentions behind Charles Shulz and his works.”
PHP Marks 25 Years – “This week the web is celebrating 25 years since Rasmus Lerdorf released version 1.0 of his “Personal Home Page Tools (PHP Tools).” PHP is now used by 78.9% of all the websites whose server-side programming language W3Techs can detect.” – I ❤️ PHP.
Me! Me! Me! corner: Beginners’ Guide To Writing Good HTML – my 5500 word article for beginners on writing good semantic HTML, using a Cheeky Girls fan site to walk through the thought process.
Disclosure widgets – details and summary, ARIA widgets for IE11, accordions and accessibility by Adrian Roselli
The Valuable 500 – “The global movement putting disability on the business leadership agenda. We need 500 national and multinational, private sector corporations to be the tipping-point for change and to unlock the business, social and economic value of people living with disabilities across the world. Because the potential of 1.3 billion should not be ignored.”
Stack Overflow’s 2020 Developer Survey surveyed 65,000 people. Some interesting nuggets: 46.5% of developers said “HTML/ CSS” is their “most dreaded” language; jQuery is still king, but is slowly losing ground to React.js and Angular year over year.
Hammer and Nails – “Do you download source and build tools and run the compiler every time you run an app on your desktop? No? Then why is it fine to make web users do it?”. An intemperate rant by flame-haired FOSS Adonis (or is it “Anubis”?), Stuart Langridge.
Second-guessing the modern web – article looking at whether React-style development which pushes tons of JS to the client to parse and execute is the best thing ever. TL;DR: no.
Bye, Amazon – Inventor of XML, Tim Bray, quits as a VP at Amazon Web Services “in dismay at Amazon firing whistleblowers who were making noise about warehouse employees frightened of Covid-19”.
Web Sites as ‘Public Accommodation’ under a Pandemic – “If you dodged an accessibility lawsuit because you have physical locations, what does it mean when those physical locations close? What about when the number of locations or the operating hours are reduced?”