standards - Broken Links Archive

DRY vs Media Queries — a use case for Mixins

CSS pre-processors like Sass and LESS extend CSS in many useful ways, not least by allowing you to use variables in your code either as single values or blocks of multiple property/value pairs, called Mixins. So useful are these that developer Tab Atkins proposed to the W3C that they be adopted into CSS itself, but they were rejected as no suitable use cases were seen.

I think I’ve found a scenario in which, while the use of Mixins aren’t vital, they’re certainly very useful, and it’s because of one of the core principles of coding: DRY (Don’t Repeat Yourself).

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On Mark Boulton’s Grids Proposal

I recently wrote a feature for .net Magazine, The Future of CSS Layouts, which took a look at several proposed CSS modules intended to provide more flexibility for laying out websites. One of those modules, Grid Layout, has been experimentally implemented in IE10 Platform Preview, and it prompted Mark Boulton to propose an alternative approach in his article Rethinking CSS Grids.

While I think the alternative syntax is pretty robust, I did detect a couple of flaws in it which I promised Mark I would write about, and that’s what I’ll do in this article. Before I get to that, I just want to quickly address one of the key points from his proposal.

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State of the Browser

This weekend I attended the London Web Standards group’s State of the Browser, a one-day event with representatives of many of the major browser makers giving us status reports on their products. Chrome, Firefox, Opera and Blackberry were all there; a member of the IE team was due to show but had to pull out for personal reasons (he viewed the live stream and answered some questions from home). The notable absence was Safari, whose community engagement is really not good enough.

There were long talks and shorter breakout sessions, as well as plenty of time to socialise; the LWS must really be congratulated on organising such a good event. There was plenty of news and talking points throughout the day — far too much, really, for me to write here, so I’ll just write up notes of what I found most interesting to me.

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The State of Web Education

A few weeks ago I saw Anna Debenham at London Web Standards give a hugely inspiring talk on the state of web development education. She later gave a briefer version of the talk at the Drumbeat Festival. I urge you to at the very least look at the overview and slides of the shorter talk, but if you can put aside 25 minutes you should really watch the video of the full one.

Bad advice: people still teaching CSS hacks

There’s so much great stuff written about web standards available for free on the web that it’s easy to forget how much bad stuff is also out there; and how many people are willing to support it just because it’s easier than putting in a little extra effort to follow best practice.

Over the weekend one of the most popular stories on was teaching the use of lazy CSS hacks, the type of which I thought everybody was convinced enough to do away with; the star and underscore hacks for targeting IE6 & IE7, the hacks which we’ve been saying (for years) shouldn’t be used anymore.

Disregarding the ‘rights’ and ‘wrongs’, and the validation argument — some of my stylesheets don’t validate, and there are good reasons for that — I’d like to give a few other reasons why using this method is not a good idea.

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The state of video on the web

As Firefox 3.5 brings open video to the web, the W3C decide to drop codec requirements from the HTML 5 spec, citing disagreement between browser makers and concern over patents. Luckily, there’s a way to make video for everybody, which means encoding each clip only twice.



I’ve updated my Speaking page to include more conferences, more videos, and a little on my speaking requirements and preferences. I’m planning to cut down on the number of talks I give in 2014 (twelve is too many), but am always open to interesting offers and opportunities, so please get in touch if you’re organising an event.

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