A Spell-book of Modern Web Development Resources

Dexter Yang has created a Github project called, Spellbook of Modern Web Dev, that is a massive resource of links for learning modern JavaScript web development.

“This document originated from a bunch of most commonly used links and learning resources I sent to every new web developer on our full-stack web development team”, Yang says on the project page.

Spellbook of Modern Web Dev currently contains 2000+ links to projects, tools, plugins, services, articles, books, sites, and more.

Google Launches a Data Gif Maker for Animated Visualizations

Google News Lab recently launched a Data Gif Maker tool for creating animated data visualizations.

“Data visualizations are an essential storytelling tool in journalism, and though they are often intricate, they don’t have to be complex.”, Simon Rogers, Data Editor at Google News Labs said, “In fact, with the growth of mobile devices as a primary method of consuming news, data visualizations can be simple images formatted for the device they appear on.”

When you use the tool, it feels like it is in its infancy. It only supports two comparisons, and the Gif export is so slow it’s excruciating, but the results look good. Here is an example of taking PHP version usage stats from W3Techs:

Give it a try the next time you have a simple data set you’d like to showcase.

Hide your Mac menu bar icons with Vanilla

Vanilla is a new Mac application that hides your menu bar icons making your screen clean and minimal.

The app is free to download and use plus it has a pro version available for $3.99 that includes:

  • Completely remove menu bar items
  • Automatically hide icons after five seconds
  • Start at login

It’s not as full-featured as Bartender but for the price, it’s hard to beat. If you are looking to hide your menu bar icons, check out Vanilla.

Moon – A minimal, blazing fast JavaScript library inspired by Vue.js

Moon is a minimal and fast library for building user interfaces. Its syntax is similar to Vue.js but it weighs in at only 6kb and reports 102 repaints/sec which is almost double Vue’s results.

Moon combines the positive aspects of popular libraries into one small package. It’s super lightweight and includes advanced optimizations to ensure fast render times. The API is small and intuitive, while still remaining powerful.

Moon differs from the existing solutions by providing a faster, yet compact library with a simple but powerful API. It uses a virtual DOM system similar to React, but includes advanced optimizations crafted specifically for Moon, similar to the Glimmer engine by the Ember team. In a variety of benchmarks, Moon has proven itself to be the fastest UI library out there.

Per the getting started guide here is a quick example of a simple Moon instance:

const app1 = new Moon({
  el: "#app1",
  data: {
    msg: "Hello Moon!"
  }
});

{{msg}}

I know there are tons of JavaScript utilities being released but I like that some are now starting to focus on the minimal side.

The Static Site Generator Sculpin gets a New Maintainer

The PHP static site generator Sculpin announced it’s changing maintainers from Beau Simensen to Chris Tankersley.

In the announcement, Beau said the following for why he is stepping down:

This was not an easy decision for me to make. I’ve been thinking about it for a few years now. It isn’t fair to the community for my continued lack of time and energy to hold Sculpin back from moving forward.

The hardest thing for me is that Sculpin, as it stands right now, works great for me. I maintain dozens of Sculpin sites and they’ve all worked great for the last two to three years.

There are things I’d love to change but it has become clear to me that I neither have the time nor energy to make it happen.

Chris, in reference to taking over:

Sculpin has been a big part of my workflow since I started working with it, and it is one of the projects near and dear to my heart. When Beau decided to step down, it was not a hard decision to step up and help keep this project going. Sculpin is a stable, dependable static site builder, and I would hate to see it go away.

I plan on coming up with some exciting new features for Sculpin in addition to updating the codebase. I hope you all come along for the ride.

I’m happy to see the project continue to be developed and excited for both Chris and Beau. I hope the new features and updating the code base helps the project be successful.

Things Three

Yesterday, to much fanfare Cultured Code launched an all new version of the to-do app Things. The app features a new design, new features, and completely rebuilt from the ground up.

The app is really well done and in my quick testing, the feature that I most enjoyed is the “Today and This Evening” section. Things integrate directly with your calendar so you can see a list of those events grouped at the top and your tasks below. This allows you to get a high-level overview of your entire day all in one app.

Things Calendar Integration

The one part I do not like is the pricing. To go all in you’ll need to purchase for each primary device so you are looking at almost $64.00 at the current prices:

This is comparable to the competitors like Omni Focus, but in my opinion, it’s a big investment for tracking to-do items. I personally am a bigger fan of Todoist’s plans, where it’s free on all devices, then a low monthly or yearly subscription.

Over time the subscription will end up costing you more, but I feel like when I’m constantly paying they have it in their best interests to continue coming out with updates.

No matter what you choose Things 3 is a great update and if you care about design it’s worth checking out.

Being a Good Writer is an Important Career Skill – Learn how to get better at it.

When I was a kid, I absolutely loved reading. Part of the reason is because books didn’t talk back; I didn’t have to explain to books why I had a difficult time talking as a result of stuttering. It was no surprise when I chose to pursue a career in writing; I didn’t have to talk to people, and I could always say what I wanted to, exactly how I wanted to say it.

It was to my surprise and dismay, however, when I came into adulthood and realized I actually did have to talk to people in order to get work. When I eventually started public speaking, it became abundantly clear just how valuable verbal communication is to your professional life.

No skill will serve you better in your career than being a confident communicator. As important as being able to talk to people is, however, today I want to focus on written communication. Writing often gets a bad wrap, but it doesn’t have to be the dreaded task many of us make it out to be.

Before I started speaking, I was a full-time marketing writer and spent my professional existence helping clients create the content experience that best described their brands. When I told people I was a writer, their response was always centered around how much the thought of writing—even just an email— was absolutely miserable to them. Then, they’d list all the reasons why they didn’t like it, and the main one would always be because they weren’t good at it.

I always found this curious because now more than ever, writing is pretty vital to your career. Think about it; we’re all writing all the time. How many emails do you compose in a day? How many do you read in a day? How much time do you spend in any chat software? When was the last time you wrote a performance review? Or had to do a written report on a project?

It’s safe to say, with the exception of being strong verbal communicators and being good at your actual job, writing is pretty high on the value scale. What’s fascinating is that we have so many ChatOps tools which make communication easier, yet the vast majority of them guide you to do the thing that you claim you’re no good at: writing.

This is why I believe writing is so valuable to your career: because we’re doing it constantly. To that end, it’s not serving you to continually tell yourself you’re a bad writer. How we approach conversations—whether they’re written or verbal— has the biggest influence in how they transpire. So, if we feel like we’re not good at writing or talking, we will then enter the conversations we have with a negative mindset.

How do we fix this? The only way to be more confident as a writer is to write. You don’t need to start a blog (though you could if you’d like) and you don’t need to spend an hour on every email you send. You can, however, take the opportunities you currently have to write as chances to focus on not only improvement but the way you’re communicating your points.

The next time you have to write an email or have a longer ChatOps conversation, try this: write how you would speak to that person if they were standing in front of you at that very moment. Keep in mind your audience and what they need to read to receive your message. Writing doesn’t have to be hard; it can and should be an extension of speech if you just reframe your feelings about it. In the end, that’s all you need to do to be a good writer: choose it.