Blogging Nostalgia

I started blogging on WordPress back in the summer of 2008. I managed to keep it going through until January 2011, which is quite an achievement in itself. Then, for whatever reason (laziness) it just kind of fizzled out. This was all on my previous site, chris-smith-web.com. I was struggling for a domain name. Can you tell? Don’t bother visiting – it just redirects back here these days.

I started up again on this site, chrissmith.xyz, in late 2014 and am still going in January 2017. Go me!

When 2 Become 1

You’ve guessed where this is going. I recently had the idea of closing down the old site and importing all the blog posts into this site. Everything in the one place, less maintenance. Easy win. And surprisingly easy to do. Good job, WordPress! When I publish this post it will be my 89th in all. Zoiks! Let’s try to hit the ton.

When I Were a Lad

I’ve found it fascinating looking back at some of the things I wrote about in the early days. Cue harp music and wobbly faces. It goes to show how fast things move. Here are some of the topics I covered:

Web 2.0 – what version are we on now? (Aug 2008)

In the past websites were a one-way read only process, an online brochure which people visited to get information. Now, with the whole concept of Web 2.0, it’s all a two-way interactive process with customers or fans playing an active part in a website.

Gold.


Chrome, when it was Google Chrome and still in BETA (Sep 2008)

Having another browser on the scene, and with a big name like Google behind it you know it’s going to have a lot of users, means more testing and increases my chances of having to recode.

Hmm. Didn’t imagine it would be quite so good.


Link exchanges, when that was a thing (Sep 2008)

Don’t listen to anyone, not even me.

Excellent advice.


Responsive design, kind of, whatever, I’m claiming it (Sep 2008)

The majority of users in the UK use a Windows PC with Internet Explorer 7 and a screen resolution of 1024×768 pixels.

Ouch.


Although a lot has changed there’s actually a lot of good stuff in there that still holds true. I’m quite impressed. Now I just need to get some other people to read it.

What I Learned in 2014: Part 3 – The Best of the Rest

This is the final part of a three-part article looking back on new things I’ve discovered in 2014. This part is just a round up of all the other bits and pieces not mentioned in the other parts and a bit of a look forward to 2015.

Google Analytics

I’ve used Analytics for years but haven’t really used it in any depth for the last couple of years. It’s changed. Quite a lot. All in a good way. It can do a lot more now than before. It seems to be moving closer towards the Webmaster Tools and used well can actually help you improve not only the user experience through design but also the performance of your site through the Behaviour > Page Speed data and suggestions.

ASP.NET MVC

I don’t do a lot server side but colleagues of mine have made excellent use of the EditorFor functionality and partial views to create reusable dynamic page components.

My biggest discovery has been Bundling and Minification of JavaScript and CSS assets. It allows you to create bundles of files and then concatenates them into one long file before minifying it and changing the references. This could mean one single request for all JavaScript, which is then cached – much better for performance and page loading times.

Responsive Web Design

I still feel like I’m quite new to this but have made some good progress this year. I now understand the basics of mobile and viewport sizing and scaling. I’ve also got the hang of media queries for changing font-sizes and positions of elements based on screen width. I’ve kind of taught myself by looking at the code of sites that do it well rather than by using any tutorials. It seems to be a good shortcut for now. There’s definitely a lot more to learn here but I’m pleased how painless it’s been so far.

Brackets

I’ve recently started using Adobe Brackets, which is an open source code editor available from brackets.io. It’s got everything I need, looks good and from the progress I’ve seen in its first few months it’s going to move pretty fast. The thing I love about it is that it’s built in front end technologies – HTML, CSS and JavaScript.

To Do List for 2015

So, now I see how much I’ve learned in the last year it’s time to start thinking about what’s next for 2015.

One obvious area for me is learning more about SVG. It would be nice to reach a point where any graphic that isn’t a photo could be created in CSS or SVG. I’d quite like to move away from icon font libraries in favour of SVGs to reduce a bit of bloat.

The other big area is responsive web design, in particular responsive images. Sending large images to mobile devices is bad news and should be a quick win on the performance front.

I’m sure there will be a lot more that crops up in 2015 as I find a need for it and I may even start learning things that haven’t even been created yet.

I hope I can help others to learn more too in 2015.