How to Write Great Web Development Articles and Tutorials

Pen and PaperAs some of you probably already know, since January 2014 I’ve been working for SitePoint as one of their Managing Editors, mostly editing HTML, CSS, and Sass content. I’ve also helped out with Mobile content, JavaScript, some general Web stuff (Git articles, build tools, and other generic content), and I write SitePoint’s primary newsletter each week.

I love my job at SitePoint—it’s the best job I’ve ever had. As long as SitePoint still wants me working for them, I hope I can continue to help them put out better and better content for front-end developers.

I’ve rejected or sent back for editing quite a few articles since I’ve started my editing duties. Many of those rejections suffered from the same problems. So for this post, I’ve put together my thoughts on what I think makes for a good web development article or tutorial.

A JavaScript & DOM E-Book Offer

A JavaScript & DOM E-Book OfferAs many of you know, I publish a weekly newsletter called Web Tools Weekly that’s now gained a pretty nice subscriber base of over 10,000. In addition to the weekly list of categorized tools, each issue usually starts with a brief tutorial or tip, usually something focused on JavaScript and the DOM.

After 80+ issues, I’ve amassed quite a bit of JavaScript- and DOM-focused content. All of that content is available for free in the Web Tools Weekly archives. However, for those who would like to read the tips on a tablet or mobile device, I thought it would be useful to put it together in book form in PDF, EPUB, and MOBI formats. So I’ve just released JavaScript & DOM Tips, Tricks, and Techniques, a collection of 70 tips (125+ pages in PDF), priced at $5.

onchange vs. oninput for Range Sliders

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Free range eggsA common UI pattern for a range slider is to allow the user to move the slider and display the value of it somewhere on the page, changing the displayed value as the user moves the slider.

I think the expected behaviour in such a case is that the value should display instantly, as the user is moving the slider, rather than the page waiting for the slider to finish moving before the displayed value is updated. I suppose there could be cases where you prefer a delay over instant results, but I think the expected behaviour is to display the results instantly.

As you’ll see in the videos below and in your own testing, the behaviour of the input event compared to the change event is not exactly the same in different browsers when applied to a range slider.

Frontend RSS Feeds Revisited

Frontend RSS Feeds RevisitedBack in 2008, Paul Irish posted a modest list of RSS feeds for front-end developers to follow. Since that original post, he’s updated the list multiple times, and his list is now on GitHub growing to over 200 feeds.

It looks like the list hasn’t been updated in 6 months or more. Not a really big deal, but I noticed when I imported the OPML into my feed reader, there were a number of broken feeds, empty feeds, and feeds not updated in quite some time.

For a while now I’ve wanted to put together my own list of front-end feeds, so here it is.

Cursor-Over-Text Behaviour in Browsers

Cursor-Over-Text Behaviour in BrowsersBy default, in all major browsers, when you hover your mouse over text on a web page, the cursor changes from the regular arrow (the “default” cursor) to a “text” cursor.

You can see this demonstrated in the GIF below or by simply testing it out on just about any web page:

w3schools: The Ugly, the Bad, and the Good

w3schools logoFor the record, I don’t hate w3schools. Apparently, a lot of people find their website useful. And from a human perspective, I’m happy for their success. After all, it’s run by one or more people, just like you and me, who have to feed their families.

But with everything we know about SEO and web development best practices, their ability to remain at the top of search results and also be in the top 200 most-visited websites in the world even after Google has made so many updates to their ranking algorithms, baffles us all.

In this post I’ll attempt to analyze a number of things about the w3schools.com website, both good and bad (mostly bad) and see if we can’t learn a few things and draw some conclusions.

A Ridiculously Big List of Design Tools and Resources

The Ultimate List of Design Tools and ResourcesLately I’ve been working hard on my weekly newsletter Web Tools Weekly, which focuses on tools for front-end developers.

The newsletter was originally supposed to include design-related tools on occasion, then I changed my mind and kept it mostly developer focused. Unfortunately, this left me with a huge list of useful design, color, and typography related tools that I’ve compiled over the last 6 months or so.

So here is everything I’ve compiled, dumped into one big cheesy post for your artificial browsing pleasure. :)

A Data-based Analysis of the CSS Standards Approval Process

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CSS LetterI recently did a complete overhaul of my CSS Values info-app. The design is basically the same, with some minor adjustments. But the website is now using a MySQL database to store all the info (as opposed to throwing everything into plain HTML) and it now includes browser support charts for every CSS property.

Much of the info is probably in need of improvement, but there’s something significant I noticed when transferring the data from the HTML to the database. It turns out, a certain bias exists with the types of properties that the W3C has approved, and I think we can use this information to speed up the standards process in the future.