Goodbye Thematic

It’s bittersweet and slightly nostalgic to see the theme come to an end. When I launched the Tavern in 2009, I regularly linked to tutorials and articles published by [Ian] Stewart. I’m almost certain Thematic and its creator helped out a number of budding theme developers between 2008-2011.

– Jeff Chandler in After Eight Years, Thematic Theme’s Lead Developers Discontinue the Project

I feel the same way. When I first started hacking on WordPress themes, I started with Thematic. My final project in graduate school ended up being two child themes, built with Thematic. It introduced me to a lot of theming concepts and best practices. I’m glad it will live on in a fork. So long Thematic – thanks for all those hooks and filters!

Being a Developer After 40

Adrian Kosmaczewski has written a thoughtful post called, Being a Developer After 40, that you should read. He’s filled it with great advice and reading material, laying out a plan for anyone to become a better developer. I love that most about this piece, that it’s not about being good after a certain age, but getting good before then so you can thrive at any time in your career.

Why I Love Working with the Web

Remy Sharp has a nice post on his blog about his love for working on the Web. It’s worth a read, and maybe even a response on your own site.

He refers to Douglas Crockford’s famous quote:

The Web is the most hostile software engineering environment imaginable.

And says:

This hostile environment is what gets me excited. That challenge of getting my page to render everywhere. Getting the code just right so that it progressively enhances so that everyone can view the page.

That is also what excites me about working on the Web. Our work here, in this medium, is ephemeral. It will carry little meaning decades from now, at least at the technical level. Better, more advanced work will eclipse it. That’s okay. My work on the Web – our work – will last because it’s open. People will learn from it, and carry that knowledge forward into their own endeavors, whether they work on the Web or not.

The Web represents this giant book that we’re all writing and learning from. Who wouldn’t get excited about that?

Don’t Use Slack? (Or Why Aren’t We Better at Accessibility?)

In Don’t Use Slack, Christian Heilmann raises some critical questions about why accessibility doesn’t happen more in modern-day apps and startups, highlighting some issues he observed when a former  colleague who’s blind needed to use Slack. He also touched on why Slack is a fantastic tool, and has some on-point conclusions about the nature of open source and proprietary development, and the advantages of each:

… [O]pen and accessible doesn’t beat usable and intelligent.

Agreed.

Diving deeper into the real problem, Hint – it’s not that Slack’s app has some accessibility issues:

As the people who love open, free, available and accessible we have to ask ourselves a few questions: why is it much easier to create an inaccessible interface than an accessible one? How come this is the status quo? How come that in 2016 we still have to keep repeating basic things like semantic HTML, alternative text and not having low contrast interfaces? When did this not become a simple delivery step in any project description? It has been 20 years and we still complain more than we guide.

Heilmann says that we (Slack’s users) should just talk to them. Communicate. It makes sense. Accessibility is hard because it’s everywhere when you think about a web product’s lifecycle: planning, research, user experience, design, code, delivery, maintenance, etc. Everyone has to be involved, and everyone shouldn’t be afraid to talk about accessibility. It’s a people problem above all else, and most people don’t realize they already have the skills to make what they work on accessible.

Conan O’Brien Interviews Jack White

I listened to this interview Conan O’Brien did with Jack White a few years ago, and it touches on a number of interesting subjects. These include creativity, art, technology and digital manipulation. It’s great to listen to if you’re a modern-day digital creator.

One of my favorite aspects that White hits on is deadlines. In the interview, he describes how he often won’t start writing songs until a day or two before he has studio time booked. That limitation helps him just work, and the work is creating. I love how that approach blends creativity with regular, every day work and craftsmanship.

Hat tip: Jonathan Snook.

jQuery’s Relevancy

Lately, as I’ve built out the latest WordPress theme I’m working on, I’ve thought, “Do I really need to use jQuery for this?” I’ve had a hard time answering it.

I finally read the blog post, jQuery’s Relevancy – There and Back Again, and it has helped me think about the question in a clearer context. Like most questions in web development, the answer is, “It depends.” Writing a few bits of functionality in vanilla JavaScript has helped me understand it better, and also see the need for jQuery in a lot of circumstances.

That said, for my latest WordPress theme, the answer is still, “Maybe.” I still have to explore some functionality that may be better accomplished with the help of jQuery. Anyway, I recommend giving the post a read because if anything, it will help you think about some of the misconceptions and advantages of jQuery.

Ensuring a High Performing Web for the Next Billion People

Bruce Lawson gave a keynote talk recently at Velocity Conference in Amsterdam called Ensuring a High Performing Web for the Next Billion People that you should watch. He’s written a blog post discussing the talk a bit if you’d like more information.

It’s fantastic because it touches on all the parts of the Web that we know have nearly limitless potential, but that we haven’t yet figured out how to do well consistently. These are things like performance, accessibility, progressive enhancement, embracing a multi-device world and more. We have much to do, so it’s hard not to be excited about bringing the Web to a truly global audience.