Reactive UI’s with VanillaJS – Part 2: Class Based Components

In Part 1, I went over various functional-style techniques for cleanly rendering HTML given some JavaScript data. We broke our UI up into component functions, each of which returned a chunk of markup as a function of some data. We then composed these into views that could be reconstructed from new data by making a single function call.

This is the bonus round. In this post, the aim will be to get as close as possible to full-blown, class-based React Component syntax, with VanillaJS (i.e. using native JavaScript with no libraries/frameworks). I want to make a disclaimer that some of the techniques here are not super practical, but I think they'll still make a fun and interesting exploration of how far JavaScript has come in recent years, and what exactly React does for us.

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What Does a Well-Documented CSS Codebase Look Like?

In the front-end community, there is a lot of attention related to documenting JavaScript. That's not so much the case with CSS. Often times I feel like lost when I join a project with minimal or no CSS documentation.

Even though CSS is relatively easy to write, it can be quite hard to maintain. The specificity, the global scope of everything, and the lack of guidance can easily lead to inconsistency, code duplication, and over-complication.

I've long been curious what a really well-documented CSS codebase looks like. Here, I'll share my experience, along with the expectations I have towards my vision of well-documented stylesheets.

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Connect: behind the front-end experience

Some fantastic behind-the-scenes stuff about Stripe's design work by Benjamin De Cock. Absolutely everything is clever and using very modern techniques.

Plus one I'd never seen before:

Connect's landing page uses the new Intersection Observer API which provides a much more robust and performant way to detect the visibility of an element ... The observeScroll helper simplifies our detection behavior (i.e. when an element is fully visible, the callback is triggered once) without executing anything on the main thread.

Oh No! Our Stylesheet Only Grows and Grows and Grows! (The Append-Only Stylesheet Problem)

This is a real worry these days. I've heard it from lots of lots of developers. The years tick by on their projects, and all they ever seem to do is add to their CSS, never remove. It's not just a feeling, I've talked with companies before that track hard data on this. Over five years of tracking the size of their stylesheet, and all it's ever done is tick upwards in size.

This could be considered problematic for several reasons:

  1. Files getting bigger is worse for performance
  2. The developers are afraid of the CSS

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The $1,000 Podcasting Setup

I figure between (as I write) the 267 episodes of ShopTalk, 134 episodes of CodePen Radio, 154 video screencasts (and many hundreds more as part of the different series), and all my guest podcast apperances, I'm edging on 1,000 things I've voice-recorded for public consumption.

98% of that was with the Rode Podcaster, the same exact microphone I documented using in 2008. I figured it was about time for an upgrade, as I plan to continue podcasting and screencasting for another 10 years! I know audio quality is a big deal. I don't quite consider myself an audiophile, but I know I prefer listening to podcasts with good audio quality, and I'd like to make sure what I produce is as good of quality as is practical for me right now.

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Handling Long and Unexpected Content in CSS

When we write CSS, sometimes we forget about some edge cases in the designs. For example, when the content is longer than we expected and we didn't account for that possibility, our design could break. We can't guarantee that our CSS will always work as expected, but at least we can reduce that by testing different types of content.

When you code CSS, you're writing abstract rules to take unknown content and organize it in an unknown medium. - Keith J. Grant

In this article, we will go through different UI bugs from real-world websites so we can account for them from the beginning. Ready? Let's go!

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How the minmax() Function Works

Another swell post by Ire Aderinokun, this time on the curious minmax() CSS function and how it works alongside the CSS Grid features that we've been experimenting with lately.

What's especially great here is the examples where Ire explains how we can avoid media queries altogether. With just a couple of lines of CSS we can now build pretty complicated layouts.

Free Guide to Using cPanel & WordPress​

Managed WordPress hosting is a great choice if you need a hosting solution that's optimized for WordPress. But it's only for WordPress.

What if you need more?

What if you need email hosting? What if you need to run other software alongside WordPress? What if you need more control than what managed WordPress hosting allows, but without the complexity of a VPS?

There's an easy solution: host everything in one place, and manage it all with the powerful cPanel dashboard.

You'll learn how in this free guide to cPanel & WordPress.

Using Mixins in Vue.js

It's a common situation: you have two components that are pretty similar, they share the same basic functionality, but there's enough that's different about each of them that you come to a crossroads: do I split this component into two different components? Or do I keep one component, but create enough variance with props that I can alter each one?

Neither of these solutions is perfect: if you split it into two components, you run the risk of having to update it in two places if the functionality ever changes, defeating DRY premises. On the other hand, too many props can get really messy very quickly, and force the maintainer, even if it's yourself, to understand a lot of context in order to use it, which can slow you down.

Enter mixins. (more…)

Introduction to Webpack: Entry, Output, Loaders, and Plugins

Front-end development has shifted to a modular approach, improving the encapsulation and structure of codebases. Tooling became a critical part of any project, and right now there are a lot of possible choices.

Webpack has gained popularity in the last years because of its power and scalability, but some developers found its configuration process confusing and hard to adopt.

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An Introduction to the `fr` CSS unit

With all the excitement around CSS Grid, I haven't seen as much talk about the new fr CSS length unit (here's the spec). And now that browser support is rapidly improving for this feature, I think this is the time to explore how it can be used in conjunction with our fancy new layout engine because there are a number of benefits when using it; more legible and maintainable code being the primary reasons for making the switch.

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A Little Example of Data Massaging

I'm not sure if "data massaging" is a real thing, but that's how I think of what I'm about to describe.

Dave and I were thinking about a bit of a redesign for ShopTalk Show. Fresh coat of paint kinda thing. Always nice to do that from time to time. But we wanted to start from the inside out this time. It didn't sound very appealing to design around the data that we had. We wanted to work with cleaner data. We needed to massage the data that we had, so that it would open up more design possibilities.

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CSS-Tricks Chronicle XXXI

All the latest happenings! As I like to do, I round up a bunch of things that have happened in the past few months around here on this site, over at CodePen and ShopTalk, and other sites where I got to be a guest or was involved somehow. There has been some big releases, some redesigns, and a bunch of guest podcasts.

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The Equilateral Triangle of a Perfect Paragraph

Still, too many web designers neglect the importance of typography on the web. So far, I've only met a few that really understand typography and know how to apply that knowledge to their work. And the lack of knowledge about typography doesn't come from ignorance. I learned that web designers are commonly either self-taught and haven't grasped the importance of typography yet, or they actually studied design but typography was just one of the classes they had to attend.

I created the Better Web Type course to help raise awareness of the important role typography plays on the web. (more…)

An intro to web components with otters

Monica Dinculescu on web components and why we might care:

... before web components came around, you had to wait on all browsers to agree on a new element (like, a date picker). And even after they agreed on a new element, it took them yeaaaaars to implement it... With web components, web developers get to write such elements, so that you don't have to wait for 10 years before all browsers agree that they should implement a date picker.

I struggle with trying to figure out if web components (with Polymer or not) are really "the future" or not. People definitely haven't adopted them with the same ferocious appetite as New JavaScript, which also tackles componentization. But they are a web standard with growing native support, so... probably?

I'm probably wrong in conflating the two, though. Even the React Docs say:

React and Web Components are built to solve different problems. Web Components provide strong encapsulation for reusable components, while React provides a declarative library that keeps the DOM in sync with your data. The two goals are complementary.

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