8 Tips for Great Code Reviews

October 19th, 2018 No comments

Kelly Sutton with good advice on code reviews. Hard to pick a favorite. I like all the stuff about minding your tone and getting everyone involved, but I also think the computerization stuff is important:

If a computer can decide and enforce a rule, let the computer do it. Arguing spaces vs. tabs is not a productive use of human time.

Re: Tip #6: it’s pretty cool when the tools you use can help with that, like this new GitHub feature where code suggestions can turn into a commit.

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Why Do You Use Frameworks?

October 19th, 2018 No comments

Nicole Sullivan asked. People said:

  • ?… for the same reason that I buy ingredients rather than growing/raising all of my own food.
  • ? I write too many bugs without them.
  • ? Avoiding bikeshedding.
  • ? … to solve problems that are adjacent to, but distinct from, the problem I’m trying to solve at hand.
  • ? Because to create the same functionality would require a much larger team
  • ? I want to be able to focus on building the product rather than the tools.
  • ? it’s easier to pick a framework and point to docs than teach and document your own solution.
  • ? faster development
  • ? They have typically solved the problems and in a better way than my first version or even fifth version will be.

There are tons more replies. Jeremy notes “exactly zero mention end users.” I said: Sometimes I just wanna be told what to do.

Nicole stubbed out the responses:

Why do you use frameworks? Almost 100 of you answered. Here are the results. pic.twitter.com/jdcTpA0kf5

— Nicole Sullivan ? (@stubbornella) October 16, 2018

If you can’t get enough of the answers here, Rachel asked the same thing a few days later, this time scoped to CSS frameworks.

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Using Feature Detection, Conditionals, and Groups with Selectors

October 19th, 2018 No comments

CSS is designed in a way that allows for relatively seamless addition of new features. Since the dawn of the language, specifications have required browsers to gracefully ignore any properties, values, selectors, or at-rules they do not support. Consequently, in most cases, it is possible to successfully use a newer technology without causing any issues in older browsers.

Consider the relatively new caret-color property (it changes the color of the cursor in inputs). Its support is still low but that does not mean that we should not use it today.

.myInput {
  color: blue;
  caret-color: red;
}

Notice how we put it right next to color, a property with practically universal browser support; one that will be applied everywhere. In this case, we have not explicitly discriminated between modern and older browsers. Instead, we just rely on the older ones ignoring features they do not support.

It turns out that this pattern is powerful enough in the vast majority of situations.

When feature detection is necessary

In some cases, however, we would really like to use a modern property or property value whose use differs significantly from its fallback. In those cases, @supports comes to the rescue.

@supports is a special at-rule that allows us to conditionally apply any styles in browsers that support a particular property and its value.

@supports (display: grid) {
  /* Styles for browsers that support grid layout... */
}

It works analogously to @media queries, which also only apply styles conditionally when a certain predicate is met.

To illustrate the use of @supports, consider the following example: we would like to display a user-uploaded avatar in a nice circle but we cannot guarantee that the actual file will be of square dimensions. For that, the object-fit property would be immensely helpful; however, it is not supported by Internet Explorer (IE). What do we do then?

Let us start with markup:

<div class="avatar">
  <img class="avatar-image" src="..." alt="..." />
</div>

As a not-so-pretty fallback, we will squeeze the image width within the avatar at the cost that wider files will not completely cover the avatar area. Instead, our single-color background will appear underneath.

.avatar {
  position: relative;
  width: 5em;
  height: 5em;
  border-radius: 50%;
  overflow: hidden;
  background: #cccccc; /* Fallback color */
}

.avatar-image {
  position: absolute;
  top: 50%;
  right: 0;
  bottom: 0;
  left: 50%;
  transform: translate(-50%, -50%);
  max-width: 100%;
}

You can see this behavior in action here:

See the Pen Demo fallback for object-fit by Jirka Vebr (@JirkaVebr) on CodePen.

Notice there is one square image, a wide one, and a tall one.

Now, if we use object-fit, we can let the browser decide the best way to position the image, namely whether to stretch the width, height, or neither.

@supports (object-fit: cover) {
  .avatar-image {
    /* We no longer need absolute positioning or any transforms */
    position: static;
    transform: none;
    object-fit: cover;
    width: 100%;
    height: 100%;
  }
}

The result, for the same set of image dimensions, works nicely in modern browsers:

See the Pen @supports object-fit demo by Jirka Vebr (@JirkaVebr) on CodePen.

Conditional selector support

Even though the Selectors Level 4 specification is still a Working Draft, some of the selectors it defines — such as :placeholder-shown — are already supported by many browsers. Should this trend continue (and should the draft retain most of its current proposals), this level of the specification will introduce more new selectors than any of its predecessors. In the meantime, and also while IE is still alive, CSS developers will have to target a yet more diverse and volatile spectrum of browsers with nascent support for these selectors.

It will be very useful to perform feature detection on selectors. Unfortunately, @supports is only designed for testing support of properties and their values, and even the newest draft of its specification does not appear to change that. Ever since its inception, it has, however, defined a special production rule in its grammar whose sole purpose is to provide room for potential backwards-compatible extensions, and thus it is perfectly feasible for a future version to add the ability to condition on support for particular selectors. Nevertheless, that eventuality remains entirely hypothetical.

Selector counterpart to @supports

First of all, it is important to emphasize that, analogous to the aforementioned caret-color example where @supports is probably not necessary, many selectors do not need to be explicitly tested for either. For instance, we might simply try to match ::selection and not worry about browsers that do not support it since it will not be the end of the world if the selection appearance remains the browser default.

Nevertheless, there are cases where explicit feature detection for selectors would be highly desirable. In the rest of this article, we will introduce a pattern for addressing such needs and subsequently use it with :placeholder-shown to build a CSS-only alternative to the Material Design text field with a floating label.

Fundamental property groups of selectors

In order to avoid duplication, it is possible to condense several identical declarations into one comma-separated list of selectors, which is referred to as group of selectors.

Thus we can turn:

.foo { color: red }
.bar { color: red }

…into:

.foo, .bar { color: red }

However, as the Selectors Level 3 specification warns, these are only equivalent because all of the selectors involved are valid. As per the specification, if any of the selectors in the group is invalid, the entire group is ignored. Consequently, the selectors:

..foo { color: red } /* Note the extra dot */
.bar { color: red }

…could not be safely grouped, as the former selector is invalid. If we grouped them, we would cause the browser to ignore the declaration for the latter as well.

It is worth pointing out that, as far as a browser is concerned, there is no difference between an invalid selector and a selector that is only valid as per a newer version of the specification, or one that the browser does not know. To the browser, both are simply invalid.

We can take advantage of this property to test for support of a particular selector. All we need is a selector that we can guarantee matches nothing. In our examples, we will use :not(*).

.foo { color: red }

:not(*):placeholder-shown,
.foo {
  color: green
}

Let us break down what is happening here. An older browser will successfully apply the first rule, but when processing the the rest, it will find the first selector in the group invalid since it does not know :placeholder-shown, and thus it will ignore the entire selector group. Consequently, all elements matching .foo will remain red. In contrast, while a newer browser will likely roll its robot eyes upon encountering :not(*) (which never matches anything) it will not discard the entire selector group. Instead, it will override the previous rule, and thus all elements matching .foo will be green.

Notice the similarity to @supports (or any @media query, for that matter) in terms of how it is used. We first specify the fallback and then override it for browsers that satisfy a predicate, which in this case is the support for a particular selector — albeit written in a somewhat convoluted fashion.

See the Pen @supports for selectors by Jirka Vebr (@JirkaVebr) on CodePen.

Real-world example

We can use this technique for our input with a floating label to separate browsers that do from those that do not support :placeholder-shown, a pseudo-class that is absolutely vital to this example. For the sake of relative simplicity, in spite of best UI practices, we will choose our fallback to be only the actual placeholder.

Let us start with markup:

<div class="input">
  <input class="input-control" type="email" name="email" placeholder="Email" id="email" required />
  <label class="input-label" for="email">Email</label>
</div>

As before, the key is to first add styles for older browsers. We hide the label and set the color of the placeholder.

.input {
  height: 3.2em;
  position: relative;
  display: flex;
  align-items: center;
  font-size: 1em;
}

.input-control {
  flex: 1;
  z-index: 2; /* So that it is always "above" the label */
  border: none;
  padding: 0 0 0 1em;
  background: transparent;
  position: relative;
}

.input-label {
  position: absolute;
  top: 50%;
  right: 0;
  bottom: 0;
  left: 1em; /* Align this with the control's padding */
  z-index: 1;
  display: none; /* Hide this for old browsers */
  transform-origin: top left;
  text-align: left;
}

For modern browsers, we can effectively disable the placeholder by setting its color to transparent. We can also align the input and the label relative to one other for when the placeholder is shown. To that end, we can also utilize the sibling selector in order to style the label with respect to the state of the input.

.input-control:placeholder-shown::placeholder {
  color: transparent;
}

.input-control:placeholder-shown ~ .input-label {
  transform: translateY(-50%)
}

.input-control:placeholder-shown {
  transform: translateY(0);
}

Finally, the trick! Exactly like above, we override the styles for the label and the input for modern browsers and the state where the placeholder is not shown. That involves moving the label out of the way and shrinking it a little.

:not(*):placeholder-shown,
.input-label {
  display: block;
  transform: translateY(-70%) scale(.7);

}
:not(*):placeholder-shown,
.input-control {
  transform: translateY(35%);
}

With all the pieces together, as well as more styles and configuration options that are orthogonal to this example, you can see the full demo:

See the Pen CSS-only @supports for selectors demo by Jirka Vebr (@JirkaVebr) on CodePen.

Reliability and limitations of this technique

Fundamentally, this technique requires a selector that matches nothing. To that end, we have been using :not(*); however, its support is also limited. The universal selector * is supported even by IE 7, whereas the :not pseudo-class has only been implemented since IE 9, which is thus the oldest browser in which this approach works. Older browsers would reject our selector groups for the wrong reason — they do not support :not! Alternatively, we could use a class selector such as .foo or a type selector such as foo, thereby supporting even the most ancient browsers. Nevertheless, these make the code less readable as they do not convey that they should never match anything, and thus for most modern sites, :not(*) seems like the best option.

As for whether the property of groups of selectors that we have been taking advantage of also holds in older browsers, the behavior is illustrated in an example as a part of the CSS 1 section on forward-compatible parsing. Furthermore, the CSS 2.1 specification then explicitly mandates this behavior. To put the age of this specification in perspective, this is the one that introduced :hover. In short, while this technique has not been extensively tested in the oldest or most obscure browsers, its support should be extremely wide.

Lastly, there is one small caveat for Sass users (Sass, not SCSS): upon encountering the :not(*):placeholder-shown selector, the compiler gets fooled by the leading colon, attempts to parse it as a property, and when encountering the error, it advises the developer to escape the selector as so: :not(*):placeholder-shown, which does not look very pleasant. A better workaround is perhaps to replace the backslash with yet another universal selector to obtain *:not(*):placeholder-shown since, as per the specification, it is implied anyway in this case.

The post Using Feature Detection, Conditionals, and Groups with Selectors appeared first on CSS-Tricks.

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Dealing with Dependencies Inside Design Systems

October 19th, 2018 No comments

Dependencies in JavaScript are pretty straightforward. I can’t write library.doThing() unless library exists. If library changes in some fundamental way, things break and hopefully our tests catch it.

Dependencies in CSS can be a bit more abstract. Robin just wrote in our newsletter how the styling from certain classes (e.g. position: absolute) can depend on the styling from other classes (e.g. position: relative) and how that can be — at best — obtuse sometimes.

Design has dependencies too, especially in design systems. Nathan Curtis:

You release icon first, and then other components that depend on it later. Then, icon adds minor features or suffers a breaking change. If you update icon, you can’t stop there. You must ripple that change through all of icon’s dependent in the library too.

“If we upgrade and break a component, we have to go through and fix all the dependent components.”?—?Jony Cheung, Software Engineering Manager, Atlassian’s Atlaskit

The biggest changes happen with the smallest components.

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Monthly Web Development Update 10/2018: The Hurricane Web, End-To-End-Integrity, And RAIL

October 19th, 2018 No comments

Monthly Web Development Update 10/2018: The Hurricane Web, End-To-End-Integrity, And RAIL

Monthly Web Development Update 10/2018: The Hurricane Web, End-To-End-Integrity, And RAIL

Anselm Hannemann

2018-10-19T15:19:58+02:002018-10-19T13:34:15+00:00

With the latest studies and official reports out this week, it seems that to avoid an irreversible climate change on Planet Earth, we need to act drastically within the next ten years. This rose a couple of doubts and assumptions that I find worth writing about.

One of the arguments I hear often is that we as individuals cannot make an impact and that climate change is “the big companies’ fault”. However, we as the consumers are the ones who make the decisions what we buy and from whom, whose products we use and which ones we avoid. And by choosing wisely, we can make a change. By talking to other people around you, by convincing your company owner to switch to renewable energy, for example, we can transform our society and economy to a more sustainable one that doesn’t harm the planet as much. It will be a hard task, of course, but we can’t deny our individual responsibility.

Maybe we should take this as an occasion to rethink how much we really need. Maybe going out into nature helps us reconnect with our environment. Maybe building something from hand and with slow methods, trying to understand the materials and their properties, helps us grasp how valuable the resources we currently have are — and what we would lose if we don’t care about our planet now.

News

  • Chrome 70 is here with Desktop Progressive Web Apps on Windows and Linux, public key credentials in the Credential Management API, and named Workers.
  • Postgres 11 is out and brings more robustness and performance for partitioning, enhanced capabilities for query parallelism, Just-in-Time (JIT) compilation for expressions, and a couple of other useful and convenient changes.
  • As the new macOS Mojave and iOS 12 are out now, Safari 12 is as well. What’s new in this version? A built-in password generator, a 3D and AR model viewer, icons in tabs, web pages on the latest watch OS, new form field attribute values, the Fullscreen API for iOS on iPads, font collection support in WOFF2, the font-display loading CSS property, Intelligent Tracking Prevention 2.0, and a couple of security enhancements.
  • Google’s decision to force users to log into their Google account in the browser to be able to access services like Gmail caused a lot of discussions. Due to the negative feedback, Google promptly announced changes for v70. Nevertheless, this clearly shows the interests of the company and in which direction they’re pushing the app. This is unfortunate as Chrome and the people working on that project shaped the web a lot in the past years and brought the ecosystem “web” to an entirely new level.
  • Microsoft Edge 18 is out and brings along the Web Authentication API, new autoplay policies, Service Worker updates, as well as CSS masking, background blend, and overscroll.

General

  • Max Böck wrote about the Hurricane Web and what we can do to keep users up-to-date even when bandwidth and battery are limited. Interestingly, CNN and NPR provided text-only pages during Hurricane Florence to serve low traffic that doesn’t drain batteries. It would be amazing if we could move the default websites towards these goals — saving power and bandwidth — to improve not only performance and load times but also help the environment and make users happier.

UI/UX

Shawn Parks shares the lessons he learned from redesigning his portfolio every year. (Image credit)

Accessibility

Tooling

Privacy

  • Guess what? Our simple privacy-enhancing tools that delete cookies are useless as this article shows. There are smarter ways to track a user via TLS session tracking, and we don’t have much power to do anything against it. So be aware that someone might be able to track you regardless of how many countermeasures you have enabled in your browser.
  • Josh Clark’s comment on university research about Google’s data collection is highlighting the most important parts about how important Android phone data is to Google’s business model and what type of information they collect even when your smartphone is idle and not moving location.

Security

End-to-End Integrity with IPFS illustrated with cats and dogs
Cloudflare’s IPFS gateway allows a website to be end-to-end secure while maintaining the performance and reliability benefits of being served from their edge network. (Image credit)

Web Performance

Illustration of the RAIL model
The four parts of the RAIL performance model: Response, Animation, Idle, Load. (Image credit)

HTML & SVG

JavaScript

  • Willian Martins shares the secrets of JavaScript’s bind() function, a widely unknown operator that is so powerful and allows us to invoke this from somewhere else into named, non-anonymous functions. A different way to write JavaScript.
  • Everyone knows what the “9am rush hour” means. Paul Lewis uses the term to rethink how we build for the web and why we should try to avoid traffic jams on the main thread of the browser and outsource everything that doesn’t belong to the UI into separate traffic lanes instead.

CSS

An item placed inside a grid using negative grid lines
Did you know you can use negative grid line numbers to position Grid items with CSS? (Image credit)

Work & Life

Going Beyond…

  • In the Netherlands, there’s now a legal basis that prescribes CO2 emissions to be cut by 25% by 2020 (that’s just a bit more than one year from now). I love the idea and hope other countries will be inspired by it — Germany, for example, which currently moves its emission cut goals farther and farther into the future.
  • David Wolpert explains why computers use so much energy and how we could make them vastly more efficient. But for that to happen, we need to understand the thermodynamics of computing better.
  • Turning down twenty billion dollars is cool. Of course, it is. But the interesting point in this article about the Whatsapp founder who just told the world how unhappy he is having sold his service to Facebook is that it seems that he believed he could keep the control over his product.

One more thing: I’m very grateful for all of you who helped raise my funding level for the Web Development Reading List to 100% this month. I never got so much feedback from you and so much support. Thank you! Have a great month!

—Anselm

Smashing Editorial(cm)
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Should You Sell Website Support or Maintenance Services?

October 19th, 2018 No comments

By now, you’ve likely encountered and worked your way out one of the more common problems freelancers face. In moving your business model from one that bills by the hour to value-based pricing, you become a trusted resource for clients instead of one they call on to tackle nitpicky requests. As a result, everyone stops focusing on the number of hours you put into a website and starts looking at the outcomes you deliver.

By setting a rate that is commensurate with the value you deliver, you’re likely to be happier with your work. But what if I told you there’s another way to increase your comfort and satisfaction as a web designer?

With standard web design work, you make a living from one-off jobs. However, you can’t always predict when or how many of them you’ll have at any given time.

This can lead to the dreaded feast or famine.

By selling design support or maintenance services, you can give yourself a steady stream of recurring revenue that spares you from that.

Reasons to Offer Website Support and Maintenance Services

There are entire companies whose business models revolve around WordPress support and maintenance services. It’s great that there are dedicated professionals who can handle this for WordPress users who don’t know how to do it themselves, don’t have the time, or simply don’t want to. But if this is something you’re capable of doing and have an interest in, why not add it to your repertoire and become their one-stop-shop for all things website-related?

Here are some reasons why I believe designers should add this service to their offering:

  • Maintenance and support work is ongoing. This translates to a steady and predictable paycheck.
  • You can automate many of these tasks, or even outsource, and still make a good profit.
  • You can pick-and-choose what kinds of support tasks you offer.
  • This enables you to be more productive and focused on your regular design work as you’re not worried about finding that next client.
  • You’ll have a hand in protecting and maintaining clients’ websites, which ensures they get the most out of it.
  • This is a great way to upsell previous or current website customers on ongoing services.
  • This is a good opportunity to turn maintenance customers into website customers.
  • You can create new website packages that include this add-on service. This’ll bring more variety to what you offer and paint your overall services in a more professional light.

Bottom line: you’ll benefit from having a predictable revenue stream; clients will benefit from having an end-to-end website service partner.

Consider the Choices: Maintenance and Support Services

The maintenance and support of a website is generally focused on upkeep that can have just as much of an impact on the user experience as the design itself.

Wondering what sort of services maintenance and support entail? Really, this boils down to what’s in your wheelhouse and what you’re interested in. The list of tasks below breaks down the most common choices.

Design Updates

By creating a website update package, clients can contact you throughout the month for a set number of tasks or hours’ worth of tasks. This encourages them to keep their site up-to-date with tasks like tweaking promotional offers, uploading blog posts, reskinning the site for a special occasion, and so on.

Website Support

Website support allocates a certain number of hours every month to troubleshooting and repairs. It’s not something smaller clients will need, but medium-sized and enterprise clients would appreciate having a support line to tap into.

Popcorn Web Design has a lot of niche specialties, but the Fix-It service is an interesting take on website support.

Website Updates

It doesn’t matter which content management system your clients use (WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, etc.), regular updates of the core software and extensions need to be managed frequently. You can automate this for smaller sites and manually test and implement these for larger ones.

Distillery Creative includes bi-monthly updates within its creative and support services packages.

Security Monitoring

A security scanner can handle the monitoring piece of this for you. It’ll then be your job to pay close attention to warning signs, so you can jump in and repair any sort of infection or vulnerability that might spring up.

Yikes Web Design & Development bundles security, performance, and backup services into one maintenance package.

Uptime Monitoring

Uptime monitoring is another thing you can automate with an online tool. Just watch for notifications regarding a website going down or slowing to a crawl, so you can hop inside and troubleshoot the source of the problem.

Database Optimization

Websites and their users have a tendency to save everything, even if those files are no longer in use. By offering database optimization and website cleanup services, you can ensure clients’ servers are always running as lean and mean as possible.

Website Backups

Even with the best-laid security plan and performance monitoring system, bad stuff can happen to a website, which is why nightly or weekly backups need to be generated. You can automate this through web hosting or a plugin.

Web Hosting & Domain Management

When signing on new clients, you may find they come to you without a domain or web hosting. By selling web hosting and domain management services, you can position yourself to take that off their hands right from the get-go.

In addition to maintenance services, Ironistic also offers hosting.

SEO

Search engine optimization is typically something that comes with the initial build of a website. However, that doesn’t mean that SEO stops there. This service will keep your clients’ sites in line with the latest and greatest of Google demands.

Content Marketing

Web development agencies are more likely to offer this “maintenance” service, but it is possible for freelance designers to offer it as well. You just have to decide what exactly you’re capable of handling: strategy, planning, writing, optimization, publication?

As you can see, Iceberg Web Design offers a content marketing service that makes a lot of sense for designers—email newsletter design.

Reporting

Once you hand a new website over to a client, they’re probably not going to check on the status of it often. A reporting service will not only provide them with the most pertinent details from Google Analytics, but will also inform them about performance and security.

Gravitate Design places a heavy emphasis on reporting and auditing within its maintenance packages.

Wrapping Up

Rather than offer these maintenance and support services as a piecemeal “menu” that clients can choose from, bundle the tasks into related packages—starting with basic support up to a premium offering. It’ll save clients from having to guess which services they need while helping you to refine your internal process for handling them.

Bottom line: if you want your web design business to be sustainable, you need predictable, recurring revenue coming through. By offering maintenance and support services, you can give your business that cushion it needs so you can more comfortably and efficiently handle the work you love.

Featured image via DepositPhotos.

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4 Reasons Your Creative Team Needs to Sync Files to the Cloud

October 18th, 2018 No comments
Sync Files

Why Cloud Storage is the Future of Digital Design… and an Introduction to Our Favorite Cloud Storage and Sync Tools

Sync Files

In some fields, changes happens slowly over time. Digital design is not one of those fields. Digital tools are constantly changing and evolving, which means if your team is going to remain competitive, you need to be on the cutting edge of digital design tech at all times. At this point in the game, many media, advertising, and other creative teams have already taken their digital work to the cloud. If you haven’t, made the switch to cloud storage, there’s no better time than now.

In this article, we’ll go over the top 5 reasons why your creative team needs to sync files to the cloud, including:

  • You need access to your files from more than one location
  • File sizes are only going to get bigger
  • Constantly running out of space on your device isn’t good for anyone
  • It never hurts to have a backup and recovery plan
  • Improved version control

Sync Files

Digital designers use tools on a variety of devices, which makes the ability to sync files between devices essential.

1. Location(s), Location(s), Location(s).

Digital designers today have a variety of incredible digital tools at their disposal. Whether you prefer working on laptops, desktops, tablets, or even phones, there are a variety of design tools that allow you work on creative projects from any device you choose. Many designers even use different devices throughout the creative process– perhaps starting out with a rough design on a mobile device before switching to a desktop or laptop computer to fine-tune the design.

Cloud syncing is the easiest, fastest, and most convenient way to share your files between different devices. Gone are the days of trying to compress and email files to yourself– syncing to the cloud streamlines your creative workflows and makes it easier than ever to include as many or as few of your favorite tools and devices in your process as you choose.

2. Design files are getting bigger, and they aren’t going to stop growing anytime soon.

Back in the day, we had a very different idea of what it meant for a file to be “big”– anything pushing the 100-200MB mark was getting pretty large and unwieldy. Today, designers are easily creating files that are 30GB or larger, and many projects require dozens if not hundreds of graphic images over their duration.

Cloud syncing and storage tools have virtually infinite storage capacity, which means you don’t have to worry about size limitations due to the underlying disk array on your computer. And even better, many cloud storage platforms allow you to choose how much storage you need to support your creative work, which means you’re paying for the space that you need– and none of the space that you don’t.

Sync Files

Don’t let file storage get you down– transfer your creative team’s files to the cloud today.

3. You don’t want to bog down your device with local file storage.

Nothing’s quite as exciting as starting a new creative project. It has so much potential, and you and your team are ready to dive right into the design process, but wait– do you have enough room on your device to get started? If you’re constantly asking IT to expand your device’s file servers to make room for bulky photo edits and vector files or you’re constantly purging old files from your device to make room for more, it may be time to consider syncing up with the cloud.

When you switch to a cloud storage system, this problem virtually disappears. As we mentioned before, many platforms give you scalable cloud storage, which means if you need more space, you’ve got it. No fuss.

4. Syncing to the cloud gives you a built in backup plan.

Anybody who has ever worked on a digital design project knows that, while the finished product may look streamlined and simple, it takes a whole lot of blood, sweat, and tears to get the project to that point. What would you do if you walked into work one morning only to find that your computer had crashed? Without syncing your files to the cloud, the answer is simple– you’d be starting over on a lot of designs.

Most cloud storage platforms create multiple copies of your data in separate physical server facilities just in case something goes wrong. Whenever you make a change to a file and sync it to the cloud, it is automatically backed up to all of those locations. The result? Total security. Losing files when your device crashes is a thing of the past.

5. Cloud syncing makes it easy to reference older versions.

Every digital designer has that one monster folder lurking somewhere on their hard drive. It’s huge, it’s unorganized, and it’s named, simply, “OLD”. It’s important for your creative team to have access to old designs for future reference– whether it’s later on in the same project or even during a different project down the road. But this takes up a crazy amount of space on your local device or server.

Once again, syncing to the cloud is a better solution. Many platforms save old versions of files automatically, which makes it easy for you to go back through and access them later if necessary.

Sync Files

Using the cloud to sync files across devices is an important strategy for any creative team.

Digital design is a field that’s constantly evolving, and if your creative team is going to keep up, you need to stay up-to-date on the latest and best design tools. Syncing your work to the cloud today sets your digital design team up for success tomorrow.

All opinions are my own. Dropbox is not affiliated with nor endorses any other products or services mentioned.

Read More at 4 Reasons Your Creative Team Needs to Sync Files to the Cloud

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How to Create Attractive Visual Style for Your Instagram Business Account

October 18th, 2018 No comments

Being one of the most popular social networks worldwide, Instagram has reached 1 billion active users monthly. Are you surprised by the colossal number? Try to remember the first thing you did this morning when you woke up. It’s quite common for people to stay updated with the virtual world and even their personal business via social media platforms. We wouldn’t exaggerate at all if we said that Instagram is an amazing tool for business promotion. A mobile photo sharing app at first, Instagram now has a few more features that make it more interactive than ever before. Instagram Business Account will do wonders to your company.

Whether you are a novice to Instagram Business Account, or you already have an account that’s turning in profit, the strategies and techniques are continuously evolving. The reasons businesses choose to use this social network vary; it’s a great place to stand out from the crowd of competitors, to look for new partners, to grow world-wide recognition, to attract more traffic to their websites, so on and so forth.

Create Attractive Visual Style for Your Instagram Business Account

Instagram has evolved from being an app for sharing photos exclusively, to now being able to share videos, stories, and to interact with your followers through live chats. But Instagram is not only about images, but also about text. So in order to make the best out of your Instagram Business Account to have to take care of the both types of content.

  • Profile name
  • Bio
  • Email, Directions, Phone Number
  • Theme, Topic, Color
  • Filters
  • Quotes
  • Hashtags
  • Tags
  • Story
  • Live

Instagram Business Account

Profile name

You want your potential clients to find your Instagram Business Account with ease. Don’t overload your name with useless signs and symbols just for the sake of decoration, but keep it simple. Your business’s name is enough. You will notice that Instagram doesn’t allow a two-word name. If your company’s name is formed from more than just one word, the best thing to do is to write them all connected.

Bio

You are given a limited amount of words for your bio, so use it to its maximum potential. In your Bio you can write the name of your company properly, add the location of your headquarters, link to your official website, and the main objectives of your business. In order to structure your information better, make sure you edit your Bio from desktop, instead of the mobile version of the app. It will make it easier for your visitor to find the needed information.

Instagram Business Account

Email, Directions, Phone Number

Right under your Bio, your potential clients have the chance to instantly contact you, find you, or call you. Make sure you add your information correctly and avoid any miscommunications.

Theme, Topic, Color

The looks of your profile can influence whether the visitor will stay or run in horror at their first visual interaction. I already mentioned that a well-structured bio will engage your visitors faster. Also, the first six images they see are just as important. Your featured images need to have the same theme, same topic, and same colors. Of course, you can play with this idea as much as you want. Get creative, get wild, stand out, but stay on point.

Instagram Business Account

Filters

Instagram supplies each user with an arsenal of creative filters to apply to their photos. Not everybody is a professional photographer, but using the right filter can really change the mood of a photo. If you want the flow of your photos to be natural, try to stick to just a few of your favorite filters. Bare in mind that your photos don’t always need a filter.

Instagram Business Account

Quotes

Sometimes photos aren’t enough. If you have a specific quote in mind, a simple description, or even important information, try to add it to the face of your photo in a clean and creative. You also want to keep the message short. People use social media for their convenience, so using a paragraph when a simple sentence will do, is a major turn-off for potential customers.

Hashtags

Plain and simple, hashtags are your keywords. You want to be using relevant hashtags that people will actually look for. Every photo you post should include a variety of hashtags. The more tags, the wider the audience. A helpful tip would be to pay attention to the number of posts pertaining to each tag when you write it out. Try to consistently use the more popular ones.

Instagram Business AccountInstagram Business Account

Story

The Instagram Story feature is a more recent one, and people seem to love it. Use it as a tool to share images and videos that only last 24 hours, for content that doesn’t need a special post, such as discounts, promotions, and shout outs. It is also a great channel for communication with your followers, as they can ask you questions that don’t require elaborate answers. Announce your customers regarding any sales, great offers, or freebies, via the story feature. It allows you to add the texts and emojis that will draw attention for sure.

Live

Live on Instagram literally means a live chat with your followers. It’s an amazing feature where you can interact with you potential customers and answer their questions regarding your products. The best way of using the live chat is to not use it daily. People get bored easily, so save it for special events such as the opening of your business, the launch of a new product, or an office tour.

We hope that these tips will make a difference for your Instagram Business Account. Let us know if they were helpful in the comment section below. Also, we are more than happy to answer any of your questions, so drop those below, too.

Read More at How to Create Attractive Visual Style for Your Instagram Business Account

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SVG Marching Ants

October 18th, 2018 No comments

Maxim Leyzerovich created the marching ants effect with some delectably simple SVG.

See the Pen SVG Marching Ants by Maxim Leyzerovich (@round) on CodePen.

Let’s break it apart bit by bit and see all the little parts come together.

Step 1: Draw a dang rectangle

We can set up our SVG like a square, but have the aspect ratio ignored and have it flex into whatever rectangle we’d like.

<svg viewbox='0 0 40 40' preserveAspectRatio='none'>
  <rect width='40' height='40' />
</svg>

Right away, we’re reminded that the coordinate system inside an SVG is unit-less. Here we’re saying, “This SVG is a 40x40 grid. Now draw a rectangle covering the entire grid.” We can still size the whole SVG in CSS though. Let’s force it to be exactly half of the viewport:

svg {
  position: absolute;
  width: 50vw;
  height: 50vh;
  top: 0;
  right: 0;
  bottom: 0;
  left: 0;
  margin: auto;
}

Step 2: Fight the squish

Because we made the box and grid so flexible, we’ll get some squishing that we probably could have predicted. Say we have a stroke that is 2 wide in our coordinate system. When the SVG is narrow, it still needs to split that narrow space into 40 units. That means the stroke will be quite narrow.

We can stop that by telling the stroke to be non-scaling.

rect {
  fill: none;
  stroke: #000;
  stroke-width: 10px;
  vector-effect: non-scaling-stroke;
}

Now the stroke will behave more like a border on an HTML element.

Step 3: Draw the cross lines

In Maxim’s demo, he draws the lines in the middle with four path elements. Remember, we have a 40x40 coordinate system, so the math is great:

<path d='M 20,20 L 40,40' />
<path d='M 20,20 L 00,40 '/>
<path d='M 20,20 L 40,0' />
<path d='M 20,20 L 0,0' />

These are four lines that start in the exact center (20,20) and go to each corner. Why four lines instead of two that go corner to corner? I suspect it’s because the marching ants animation later looks kinda cooler if all the ants are emanating from the center rather than crisscrossing.

I love the nice syntax of path, but let’s only use two lines to be different:

<line x1="0" y1="0" x2="40" y2="40"></line>
<line x1="0" y1="40" x2="40" y2="0"></line>

If we apply our stroke to both our rect and line, it works! But we see a slightly weird issue:

rect, line {
  fill: none;
  stroke: #000;
  stroke-width: 1px;
  vector-effect: non-scaling-stroke;
}

The outside line appears thinner than the inside lines, and the reason is that the outer rectangle is hugging the exact outside of the SVG. As a result, anything outside of it is cut off. It’s pretty frustrating, but strokes in SVG always straddle the paths that they sit on, so exactly half of the outer stroke (0.5px) is hidden. We can double the rectangle alone to “fix” it:

rect, line {
  fill: none;
  stroke: #000;
  stroke-width: 1px;
  vector-effect: non-scaling-stroke;
}

rect {
  stroke-width: 2px;
}

Maxim also tosses a shape-rendering: geometricPrecision; on there because, apparently, it cleans things up a bit on non-retina displays.

Step 3: Ants are dashes

Other than the weird straddling-the-line thing, SVG strokes offer way more control than CSS borders. For example, CSS has dashed and dotted border styles, but offers no control over them. In SVG, we have control over the length of the dashes and the amount of space between them, thanks to stroke-dasharray:

rect, line {
  ...

  /* 8px dashes with 2px spaces */
  stroke-dasharray: 8px 2px;
}

We can even get real weird with it:

But the ants look good with 4px dashes and 4px spaces between, so we can use a shorthand of stroke-dasharray: 4px;.

Step 5: Animate the ants!

The “marching” part of “marching ants” comes from the animation. SVG strokes also have the ability to be offset by a particular distance. If we pick a distance that is exactly as long as the dash and the gap together, then animate the offset of that distance, we can get a smooth movement of the stroke design. We’ve even covered this before to create an effect of an SVG that draws itself.

rect, line {
  ...

  stroke-dasharray: 4px;
  stroke-dashoffset: 8px;
  animation: stroke 0.2s linear infinite;
}

@keyframes stroke {
  to {
    stroke-dashoffset: 0;
  }
}

Here’s our replica and the original:

See the Pen SVG Marching Ants by Maxim Leyzerovich (@round) on CodePen.

Again, perhaps my favorite part here is the crisp 1px lines that aren’t limited by size or aspect ratio at all and how little code it takes to put it all together.

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CSS border-radius can do that?

October 18th, 2018 No comments

Nils Binder has the scoop on how to manipulate elements by using border-radius by passing eight values into the property like so:

.element {
  border-radius: 30% 70% 70% 30% / 30% 30% 70% 70%;
}

This is such a cool technique that he also developed a tiny web app called Fancy-Border-Radius to see how those values work in practice. It lets you manipulate the shape in any which way you want and then copy and paste that code straight into your designs:


Cool, huh? I think this technique is potentially very useful if you don’t want to have an SVG wrapping some content, as I’ve seen a ton of websites lately use “blobs” as graphic elements and this is certainly an interesting new way to do that. But it also has me wondering how many relatively old and familiar CSS properties have something sneaky that’s hidden and waiting for us.

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