Variable Fonts for Responsive Design

Today’s web fonts are not living up to their potential. What if the stylistic parameters of a typeface were fluidly variable? What if the design of a typeface could be as flexible and responsive as the layout it exists within? Nick Sherman shows us where we’ve been and where we’re going as we move toward truly responsive web typography.

The $PATH to Enlightenment

Web designers and developers are often scared of using the command line, but we don’t need to be. It’s actually a simple—and useful—set of tools that can speed up your work and improve your life. One of the most important concepts in the command line is $PATH. Olivier Lacan explains why—and how to get comfortable following the Path in your work.

Breaking Stuff

Designers may do CSS, but not JavaScript. Some may do JavaScript, but draw the line at git. Some may be willing to use git with a graphical interface, but not with Terminal. When we get out of our comfort zone, it’s great to have a safety net so we can learn without breaking stuff too badly.

Why Sass?

“I was a reluctant believer in Sass. I write stylesheets by hand! I don’t need help! And I certainly don’t want to add extra complexity to my workflow. Go away!” So says designer, CSS wizard, and Dribbble co-founder Dan Cederholm at the beginning of his new book Sass For Web Designers, released today by A Book Apart. Yet the reluctant convert soon discovers that the popular CSS pre-processor can be a powerful ally to even the hand-craftiest front-end designer/developer. Dan has never learned a thing about CSS he wasn’t willing to share (and great at teaching). And in this exclusive excerpt from Chapter 1 of Sass For Web Designers, you’ll get a taste of how Dan learned to quit worrying and use Sass to take better control of his stylesheets and websites.

Environmental Design with the Device API

Real-world factors like low batteries and weak signal strength can turn even the most expertly crafted digital experience into a frustrating clustercuss. These factors are beyond your control, and, until recently, there was nothing you could do about them. Now there just may be. Tim Wright explains how to begin improving your users’ experiences under constantly shifting (and sometimes quite dreadful) conditions, via environmental design thinking and the Device API.

Getting Started with Sass

CSS’ simplicity has always been one of its most welcome features. But as our sites and apps get bigger and become more complex, and target a wider range of devices and screen sizes, this simplicity, so welcome as we first started to move away from font tags and table-based layouts, has become a liability. Fortunately, a few years ago developers Hampton Catlin and Nathan Weizenbaum created a new style sheet syntax with features to help make our increasingly complex CSS easier to write and manage, and then used a preprocessor to translate the new smart syntax into the old, dumb CSS that browsers understand. Learn how Sass (“syntactically awesome style sheets”) can help simplify the creation, updating, and maintenance of powerful sites and apps.

Web Cryptography: Salted Hash and Other Tasty Dishes

One of the most powerful security tools available to web developers is cryptography, essentially a process by which meaningful information is turned into random noise, unreadable except where specifically intended. A web developer working on an underpowered netbook in his basement now has access to cryptosystems that major governments could only have dreamed of a few decades ago. And ignorance of cryptography is not bliss. You may think your web app’s profile is too low to worry about hackers, but attacks are frequently automated, not targeted, and a compromise of the weakest system can often give access to better-protected systems when people re-use passwords across multiple sites. Learn the three broad categories of cryptosystems that commonly relate to web applications and begin strategizing how to make your site secure.

Findings from the Web Design Survey, 2009

The findings are in from the survey for people who make websites. Once again, we have crunched the data this way and that, figured out what the numbers were telling us, and assembled the sliced and diced data-bytes into nifty charts and graphs for your edification and pleasure. As in years past, what emerges is the first true picture of the profession of web design as it is practiced by men and women of all ages, across all continents, in corporations, agencies, non-profits, and freelance configurations.

Letting Go of John Hancock

Because clients expect everything to be faster, better, and simpler, web professionals must take an instant, foolproof, paperless, modern approach to how clients approve proposals and sign contracts. Implementing an instantaneous contract agreement helps to get projects off the ground, attract clients on tight timelines, and prevent potential delays. All it takes is a little PHP and some PDF magic.

Indexing the Web—It’s Not Just Google’s Business

Interface responsiveness is one of many details web developers must consider in their quest to deliver a good user experience. An application that responds quickly enhances the user’s sense of control. In working to maximize application speed, though, one often-overlooked element can affect performance more than almost anything else: database design.