All posts by Donato Rotunno

The DrupalDay 2017 in Rome

This year was the 6th edition of the DrupalDay Italy, the main event to attend for Italian-speaking drupalists.

Previous editions took place in other main Italian cities like Milan, Bologna and Naples.
This time Rome had the privilege to host such a challenging event, ideally located in the Sapienza University Campus.

The non-profit event, was free of charge.

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The Liip.ch accessibility certification: a quick look back

Liip entered 2017 with a big success: liip.ch [1], our main website, has been certified as WCAG 2.0 AA compliant by the Access for All foundation.

Where it all began

Historically, Liip has always put great care into web content accessibility. We consider it as an important feature of any web project, for all kind of users, regardless any disability.
Of course, most of the time, customers are simply not aware of the topic at all and this is where we try to first make them know about it and then actively participate.
Depending on the sensibility of the customer, this may take long. But in the past, we have already helped a few of them to achieve the certification.

Ironically, though, our own website was not certified so we decided to start the official certification process in 2014. Without starting from scratch but using our freshly revamped website as a base.

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Lektor Static CMS, put the fun back into Content Management

So yet another static website generator, I hear you saying.

It’s true that there are a lot of static generators, but if you look a bit closer you’ll soon realise that Lektor is really a different beast.
But how different? Before we discover its features, let me briefly step back and give you some context.

How it began

A few months ago, I was in the market for a static website generator for a private project.
Of course, I had already heard about Jekyll, Fabricator and a few others but I wanted to make an “informed buy” so I started to look around and eventually checked out StaticGen,
possibly the biggest listing of static generators.
Now, you know, word of mouth is much more powerful than billions of accurate researches so a colleague of mine, Jean-Christophe, recommended Lektor to me.
I started reading the documentation and after a few minutes I was sold.

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Laravel European Conference 2013

A few weeks ago the first european conference dedicated to the Laravel PHP framework (Laracon 2013) took place in Amsterdam at the beautiful Bimhuis venue.

The event was long awaited since the release of Laravel 4 in June and all the attendees (more than 200) seemed to be really impatient to listen and ask questions to the creator (Taylor Otwell) and the other prominent community members.

But now let’s talk about the good stuff.

Generally, the quality of the talks was very good both presentation and content wise. I’ve found a bit of overlapping with 3 topics about the application architucture and engineering but nevertheless interesting.

Leaded by the impeccable Shawn McCool as ceremony master, the time really flew by and at the end of the day I still wanted to know more about the topic discussed earlier.

So the perfect excuse to have one or more beers together and get to know each other….

Day 1

I really enjoyed all the talks but especially Jeffrey Way’s about testing. I learned a lot and discovered Codeception.

This was also the day of two “special guests”: Jordi Boggiano (about Composer in Depth) and Fabien Potencier on how Symfony is contributing to the PHP standardization.

Day 2

This was a day full of interesting talks.

If I really have to pick one, that would be Ross Tuck’s about less-known HTTP features. Meaningful content with outstanding presentation.

I took the following pictures with my backup (crappy) P&S camera so please don’t be picky on the quality.Shawn Mc Cool leading the conference

Shawn Mc Cool leading and moderating the conference

Ross Tuck gave some great insights about the less known aspects of the HTTP protocol

If you’re interested or just curious about the Laravel Framework these are some of the reference resources to date:

  •  – http://laravel.com (really???)
  • –  http://laravel.io (all news and collected information about the framework and the community)
  • – http://laracasts.com (launch planned by the end of September 2013, stay tuned)

Nothing else to add, except that I am already looking forward to Laracon 2014.

From the Front 2012 conference wrap-up

The 20th and 21st September took place the “From the Front 2012” conference in Bologna (Italy),

While the conference itself was only on the 21st, it was preceded by a seamless workshop session the day before so the perception has been of a single big event.

 

Day 1: the workshops

For those interested in improving on  a specific topic, there was the choice among 4 great workshops.

I attended the one by Steve Krug about “Do-It-Yourself Usability Testing” and how to run quick but effective testing sessions on a low budget.

Apart fot the huge amount of learned things I appreciated a lot the attitude Steve brought to us attendees; he really wanted to transfer some knowledge and not

using the workshop to only show off his talent and experience.

At the end of the workhop I found myself really willing to start with “low-cost” testing ;-)

Day 2: the conference

The next day was conference day and judging from the opinions I gathered around it was a complete success.

The line-up was absolutely stunning, probably the best I have had the pleasure to see.

Many people, including me, have been emotionally involved by the speakers and their stories. Except for a few exceptions, as we’ll see in a moment.

But what were the talks about? Here you go!

Steve Krug: You’re NOT doing usability testing? Are you… nuts?

Basically a stripped down version of the workshop he gave the day before, with a quick test on the iPhone.
Vote: 8/10

Peter-Paul Koch: A Pixel is not a Pixel

You might know this guy from http://www.quirksmode.org; he gave a great insight on the differences between pixel concept on desktop and on mobile.

Denys Mishunov: Science of Design

His showed how Geometry, Neurology and Psichology play a great role in the design.

Remy Sharp: Mobile Debugging

Probably the most practical talk from a respected member of Javascript/JQuery community.

Great overview of the currently available tools for mobile debugging and a closer look at his JSConsole

Blaine Cook: Inventing the New World

From the former Twitter lead developer, some great ideas to improve the web with an eye on the past.

He also doubted about Facebook’s usefulness, which I agreed.

Linda Sandvik: Making Things Better

The first talk after the lunch break was also the most disappointing for me.

The voice was deadly monotone and the content of the presentation was basically a collection of “I did this” and “I did that”,

plus inviting people to follow her example. Some people like it, I didn’t sorry.

Jake Archibald: Application Cache – Douchebag

This guy took the scene by storm and catched attendees attention with a great presentation and a lightning fast speech about HTML5’s Application cache.

Simply great.

Jonathan Snook: State-based Design

This was my second (and last) disappointment of the day.

I was expecting MUCH more from a guru like him but he just did the absolute minimum by talking about some kind of “State-based design” and left the scene.

Denise Jacobs: Responsive Storytelling

Simply a short novel on how a brain managed to emancipate itself form boundaries and see the world from a completely different point of view.

A sweet metaphor to promote the responsive design for the times being.

Aral Balkan: Designing for humans

I have to admit that I didn’t know this guy even though he’s one of the leading people in UX community.

If all of his talks are at the same level of the one he gave here, then I recommend everyone to go and google for them.

The presentation was absolutely the best of the conference, showing off a number of wrong (and hylarious) examples of bad UX implementation and also the fixes.

From the very first moment he catched people’s attention and didn’t release it until the last slide.

He mentioned a few times Steve Jobs and his style looked influenced by Apple’s guru under many aspects.

He likes to call himself “Experience expert” but I would also add “Experienced entertainer” to his resumé ;-)

And last but not least, the Master of Ceremonies, Mr. Pierre Spring!

Dressed like a real pirate, he entertained and kept the crowds warm; great job.

What’s left to be said: looking forward to the next edition. Will not miss it.

JavaScriptUX

JavaScriptUX

“Conférence Romande sur l’Accessibilité du Web” wrap up

Yesterday took place the first Conférence Romande sur l’Accessibilité du Web” organized by Telono in Geneva and Liip was well represented by me, Brian King and Jonas Vonlanthen.

This was also a great opportuniy to have a closer look at some of the real-life accessibility problems and the solutions proposed.

The organizazion was perfect and everything went fine.

I was also surprised by the high number of participants and the interest they had in almost all of the topics proposed and discussed.

The schedule was very “dense” with 8 presentations to be followed from 9 to 18 with a lunch break, of course.

Liip contribution

I presented the talk “Optimisation de l’accessibilité and Responsive Design: étude de cas” where I showed the efforts we made during the development of Liip.ch relaunch to improve the accessibility and the semantic of the whole site.

Also had the opportunity to present the implementation of the responsive design that shaped up after the dedicated hackday in November and the recent mini-sprint.

People showed their interest and also asked questions. Definitely not a boring talk ;-)

The other talks

The first two presentations have been given by two visually impared people (Julien Conti and Christophe Oberson) showing how to overcome common accessibility issues in everyday web browsing.

The great thing was that they also suggested/proposed how to not do things that are a known source of problems.

Julien Conti also introduced the (soon to be released) “BrailleTouch” iPhone app.

Yannick Guerdat (Artionet) presented the work done to make jura.ch fully accessible and certified.

Very valuable contributions came from the two Telono organizers, Carine Rivière and Laetitia Giannettini who talked, among other things, about the relationship between ergonomy and accessibility.

Markus Riesch of Access for all foundation let us know the state of accessibility in Swiss public institutions and the Swiss laws currently applying to the accessibility subject.

The most interesting contributions came from Jean-Pierre Villain (Qelios) and his co-relator Romain who went through the WCAG 2.0 directives and proposed some concrete ARIA solutions to make Javascript implementations accessible.

They also showed the great accessibility support on the iPhone.

Conclusion

Not that much to add, only looking forward to the 2013 edition for another great apportunity to learn and share.

Feel free to check the slides of the presentation.

And finally some pics…..

Telono organizers introducing the program

Attendees following the talks

Jean-Pierre Villain about the ARIA in forms

Romain explaining how to use Voice Over on iPhone

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Modular Asset minification

One of the most effective ways to boost the application’s frontend rendering is to minify the assets (CSS and JS) into single files and set a long cache-time so that they are not requested each time the page loads.

So, most of the times, the page loads one big CSS and one big JS containing the style and the js needed by all the pages.

The problem

I noticed how many times the loaded asset is not efficiently used since most of it affects elements not present in the current page.

To get an idea just install Page Speed and check the “Remove unused CSS” in the report.

The “wasted” CSS is often around 50%.

Modular assets minification

I started wondering if  a different, modular, approach would fit better in some circumstances.

By “modular” meaning that each page only loads its own minified assets which are loaded at every request.

The playground

I have quickly set up a simple “test suite” to see if the modular approach pays.

To measurements have been done using the above mentioned Page Speed and Firebug on Firefox 7 on a quite fast Linux powered machine.

Also note that results depend on many factors so they always differ and are not meant to have any scientific value.

Anyway this is what I got:

All CSS minified

  • Wasted CSS: 50%
  • Load time with empty cache: 289ms
  • Load time with warm cache : 133ms

Page specific CSS minified

  • Wasted CSS: 26,3%
  • Load time with empty cache: 267ms
  • Load time with warm cache : not applicable since the css will always be requested

Conclusions

Even the test has some limitations it clearly displays that to balance the additional time needed by the browser to render the big CSS file, the waste percentage has to be very high.

I have a bad feeling knowing that a great part of the CSS is not used, being thus inefficient but the “cold numbers” say I don’t have to worry about this.

What do you think?