Paper sizes on the web

According to Bringhurst there are a few ratios that look fantastic. These ratios have been used for ages for things like sheets of paper and books, but you can also find them in architecture, paintings, sculptures and in nature. And even in music. These ratios look pleasant, they sound good, and they make sense in a mathematical way, so we should probably use them. So I wondered, can we create and use them on the web?

Can we?

Voor wie maak je eigenlijk een website?

Er liggen een aantal erg interessante design principes ten grondslag aan HTML, de taal waarmee websites gebouwd worden. Een van de mooiste vind ik de zogenaamde Priority of Constituencies, de volgorde van kiesdistricten. De vertaling is wellicht een beetje onduidelijk, maar in dit principe wordt er bepaald wiens mening zwaarder weegt als er een conflict optreedt tussen verschillende belanghebbenden. In case of conflict, consider users over authors over implementors over specifiers over theoretical purity. De gebruiker heeft altijd gelijk. Als de gebruiker er niet toe doet, dan heeft de author gelijk. Dat zijn wij. De designers, de developers, de content editors, en iedereen die verder meewerkt aan onze websites. Als de mening van ons er niet toe doet dan hebben de implementors gelijk, de browser-bouwers. Je kan hier uit afleiden dat het de taak is van browser-bouwers om het zo eenvoudig en prettig mogelijk te maken voor mensen om onze creaties te gebruiken. Na de implementors zijn pas de specifiers aan de beurt. Dit zijn de mensen die de HTML specificatie schrijven. En pas als allerlaatste doet de theorie er toe. Soms worden er dus beslissingen genomen die voor sommige groepen nergens op slaan. Maar tóch zijn het de juiste beslissingen omdat ze nuttig zijn voor een groep die belangrijker is.

Dat is wat anders dan consensus, toch?

The ideal measure on the web

A while ago I created a tool to help you define the ideal length of line for text on the web. You can adjust a few variables, like font-family and language. When you slide the slider it shows you how many words there are on a line, or how many characters. You can now choose an ideal measure depending on the theory you like most (10 words or something between 45 and 75 characters). It turns out there’s a much easier way to define an ideal measure, according to Bringhurst.

Exciting, what is it?

How big is an em?

You can’t use the em as a unit in most pixel-editors. If we use these types of editors in our design process, this means that we have to calculate em-sizes from pixel-sizes. And if we do that, an em seems like a terribly complex unit. Pixels use the simple metric system, which is easy to use. We all know how to count from 1 to 10. If we calculate em-sizes from pixel-sizes we’re suddenly working with multiples of 16, instead of 10. Which is much harder.

But pixels are hard as well

The weird 62.5% antipattern

There’s always been a problem with using the em on the web. The core of this problem is that there is no option in Photoshop to use the em as a unit. That’s really the only reason we use pixels. We have to use them in Photoshop. This pixel-thinking has influenced our em-thinking. Many developers use calculators to turn pixel-values into em-values. And thus we turn a pixel-perfect photoshop template into a pixel-perfect, but fluid website. But turning pixels into ems is hard. They don’t really match. They result in crazy numbers. There is a very clever hack that tries to solve this problem. But, as with all hacks, it creates new, worse, problems.

What’s the trick?

Use the em and the rem for the right use cases

The em unit is a very useful unit. You should use it to set the font-size of the typography in your web project. It’s a wonderfully flexible unit. If you set up a typographic scale — with a tool like Type Scale or Gridlover for instance — and later on in the project you find out that the ratio is beautiful but the font-sizes are too small, it’s very easy to fix. Simply increase the font-size on your HTML element and you’re done.

Sure, sounds easy

Weg met “U Vraagt Wij Draaien”

Bijna iedereen ziet inmiddels wel in dat de watervalmethode niet geschikt is voor het maken van websites. Dat werkt goed in een productie-omgeving, zoals een fabriek, maar de meeste websites zijn uniek. Het maken van een website is geen productie, het is een design-proces.


Front-end masterclasses are canceled

Together with some excellent and well known front-end and design nerds here in the Netherlands and Belgium I organised a series of masterclasses for medior level front-end developers who want to grow to senior level. Unfortunately I had to cancel these masterclasses. There were not enough registrations. I’m trying to find out why there were so few people who were interested. I’ve thought of some reasons, and I’ve heard a few others from people I asked, but maybe you know a reason I don’t know yet. Please let me know. I’d love to keep organising such masterclasses in the future. Successful ones.