Category Archives: Accessibility

Guest on The Big Web Show

me on the big web show with zeldman and benjamin
This week I had the good fortune to spend an hour talking with Jeffrey Zeldman and Dan Benjamin about all things CSS on The Big Web Show. It was lively and fun despite my cell phone making weird noises during the podcast. (Ooops, sorry!)

We talked about progressive enhancement, carpentry, testing, rounded corners, oocss, performance, working on big sites, and being a girl on the internets. If you missed the live show, you can check out the video podcast. I was super-duper-over-the-top nervous about the show, but I’ve heard that I didn’t come off like a total dweeb. ;)

Object Oriented CSS, Grids on Github

How do you scale CSS for millions of visitors or thousands of pages? Object Oriented CSS allows you to write fast, maintainable, standards-based front end code. It adds much needed predictability to CSS so that even beginners can participate in writing beautiful websites.

I recently presented Object Oriented CSS for high performance web applications and sites at Web Directions North 2009. If you didn’t attend my talk, you are probably asking yourself “what in the world is OO-CSS?”

Object Oriented CSS: Two main principles

1. Separate structure and skin
2. Separate container and content

I’m writing a framework to demonstrate the technique, but more than anything, Object Oriented CSS is a different way of approaching CSS and the cascade. It draws on traditional software engineering concepts like extending objects, modularity, and predictability. Solutions are judged based on their complexity, in other words, “what happens to the size of the CSS file as more pages and modules are added?”

The answer, for most sites, is that it grows out of control and becomes an unmaintainable tangle of spaghetti code. People often complain about CSS, and rightly so — even though it inspired a rant, I understand their frustration.

Current methods for writing CSS require expert level ability just to get started. To become a CSS expert, you need to spend couple years coding away in your basement by yourself before you are remotely useful. Front-end engineering needs to accomodate entry level, mid level, and architect level developers, but our sites are too brittle. You may have a perfectly accessible or high performance website, and then the first newbie to touch it, ruins it. Our code should be robust enough that newbies can contribute while maintaining the standards we’ve set.

We don’t trust each others code

Imagine a JavaScript developer wrote a function to return area, and every now and then it randomly returned the diameter instead. The function would never make it through a code review, and yet we tolerate the same thing from CSS, as if it were immune from normal programming best-practices. This is why CSS code reuse is almost nonexistent. An object should behave predictably no matter where you place it on the page, which is why Object Oriented CSS avoids location dependent styles.

What not to do

#myModule h2{...}
#myModule span{...}
#myModule #saleModule{...}
#myOtherModule h3{...}
#myOtherModule span{...}

Developers have tried to sandbox their CSS into individual modules, to protect against the cascade. But in doing so we’ve ended up with a mess.

Object Oriented CSS Grids on github

My Object Oriented CSS grids and templates are open sourced on github. They have all the functionality of YUI grids plus some important features.

  • Only 4kb, half the size of YUI grids. (I was totally happy when I checked the final size!)
  • They allow infinite nesting and stacking.
  • The only change required to use any of the objects is to place it in the HTML, there are no changes to other places in the DOM and no location dependent styling. Eases back-end development and makes it a lot easier to manage for newbies.
  • Solution for sub-pixel rounding errors.

http://wiki.github.com/stubbornella/oocss

Check out template.css and grids.css and the docs on the github wiki.

My prediction is that you’ll be writing complex layouts in less than 24 hours without adding a line to the CSS file.

What’s up next?

Template and grids are ready for rock and roll. Please be my alpha testers, put them through their paces. Let me know if you find bugs or want additional functionality. I’m also hoping to contribute some of this back to YUI since they now have a github repository. How cool is that?

Rounded Corner Boxes and Tabs

Next up, modules. There are a million cool ways to create rounded corner boxes. I’m going to take several of my favorites (like CSS Mojo and Arnaud Gueras blocks) and convert them to OO-CSS. This will make it super easy for newbies to create their own modules, without needing to understand the minutiae of browser differences.

Video / Podcasts

YDN will publish a video of my talk and Web Directions North is putting out podcasts. I’ll tweet and post when that happens. The audio contains a lot more detail than the slides, so check it out as they become available.

Design Fast Websites – Don’t blame the rounded corners! on YUI Theater

Nicole at the Design Fast Websites Presentation by Eric Miraglia

I visited Yahoo! last week to record a talk I had given at the Front End Summit in October. If you are a designer or an F2E it is essential that you understand the ways in which design choices impact overall site performance. This talk establishes guidelines for High Performance Design including 9 Best Practices.

9 Best Practices

  1. Create a component library of smart objects.
  2. Use consistent semantic styles.
  3. Design modules to be transparent on the inside.
  4. Optimize images and sprites.
  5. Avoid non-standard browser fonts.
  6. Use columns rather than rows.
  7. Choose your bling carefully.
  8. Be flexible.
  9. Learn to love grids.

Baby Steps to a Faster Site

In honor of the video being made available on YUI theater, I’ve removed the non-standard browser fonts from my site. While the design was changed slightly it is infinitely more maintainable and I also eliminated an unnecessary HTTP request at the same time. One more step to a faster page.

Web Directions North, Denver, February 2-7

I’ll be speaking more about Design and also CSS best practices at Web Directions North in February where I’ve been invited to give both a Performance Bootcamp Workshop and a CSS Performance for Websites and Web Apps Presentation. I look forward to seeing you there!

Check out the Web Directions North Program.

They have some really amazing speakers lined up. I’m especially excited to talk to Dan Cederholm, who wrote one of my favorite books.

Optimisation des Images : Les 7 erreurs à éviter at ParisWeb

Je vais parler (en francais! eek!) avec Eric Daspet de la performance des images pour le web a ParisWeb. Les inscriptions pour Paris Web 2008 sont officiellement ouvertes. Jusqu’au 15 octobre au soir, vous bénéficierez de tarifs réduits. Le conference sera lieu a Paris le 13-15 Novembre. J’attend vous voir bientot alors. ;)

Voila le proposition

Voulez-vous améliorer la vitesse de vos pages web et réduire l’impact écologique et monétaire de votre hébergement ? Voulez-vous faire ceci avec peu de changement de code et en gardant une belle interface graphique ? Cette session va vous apprendre les 7 étapes pour mettre votre site web au régime. Comment perdre des poids que votre site a pris en rajoutant les dernières nouveautés. Et, encore plus important, comment ne pas reprendre ce poids !

Quand on commence un site de zéro, il est forcement très rapide. Au fur et à mesure, en rajoutant des modules, des flux, des images, l’expérience de l’utilisateur devient plus riche, mais aussi plus frustrante quand l’internaute est forcé d’attendre trop longtemps pour le chargement de la page. De premier abord, l’optimisation des images semble basique, facile. Néanmoins, la plupart des sites les plus réputés au monde ne suivent pas encore tous les standards pour l’optimisation des images. Faites-vous les mêmes erreurs ?

L’audience va apprendre comment :

  1. Améliorer la vitesse des pages web
  2. Optimiser les poids des images
  3. Eviter les pièges les plus problématiques et implémenter les petits astuces pour rendre les sites plus performant. Utilisez-vous encore alphaImageLoader ? Quel type de dégradé est le moins performant ?
  4. Arranger vos sprites pour iPhone. Comment contourner ses limites de cache ?

YUI 3 Sneak Peek

The YUI team released YUI 3.X for a sneak peek preview. The goals make me happy… especially goal 2.

  1. lighter (less K-weight on the wire and on the page for most uses)
  2. faster (fewer http requests, less code to write and compile, more efficient code)
  3. more consistent (common naming, event signatures, and widget APIs throughout the library)
  4. more powerful (do more with less implementation code)
  5. more securable (safer and easier to expose to multiple developers working in the same environment; easier to run under systems like Caja or ADsafe)

Sneak peek at YUI3