Presenting DublinCSS

dublincss-cover

I have been actively involved with local meetups here in Dublin for more than half a year now. Yet, despite all the tech companies present here, there was no group dedicated primarily to the mastery of HTML/CSS/SVG. I’m talking about web technologies and skills that are indeed easy to learn but very difficult to master.

So many companies take these skills for granted whether you are a UX/Visual/Web designer or a front-end developer. On one hand there has been a large movement over the last years in support of designers that know how to code. On the other hand, so many consider that front-end development means almost exclusively JavaScript development. All this translates into humongous page sizes, poor performance, cluttered code and overall slower loading websites.

With all that in mind, I decided to step in and do something about it. Therefore, over the last weekend, I did a big crunch and created a new meetup group and it’s support system (identity, domain, Twitter handle) . Ladies and gentlemen, I’m giving you DublinCSS (http://www.meetup.com/DublinCSS/).

DublinCSS is Ireland’s only group dedicated to all things CSS.  If you want to get to know your floats from your flexboxes and your LESS from your Sass, then this is your place to hang out. We get together to discuss the latest tips and techniques. So if you love all things CSS, like we do, then join our group now or follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/DublinCSS.

A big bow to SydCSS (http://www.meetup.com/SydCSS/), the meetup group that served as inspiration for my own initiative. I also “@import”-ed the description above from them and padded it a bit with some ideas of my own, to create the description of my own group. There was no infringement intended, only a deep recognition that they said what I feel a lot better than I ever could.

I was honestly amazed by the reception of this group, as it passed 100 members on its first day. I am taking this as a sign that people are indeed interested in learning more about these technologies. Thus my first priority is to arrange a first meeting, as soon as possible. This is an event that I look forward to and I dread in equal parts. While I did other presentations before, it’s the first time I am organising such an event. Still, all this effort is well worth it.

All these being said, I can hardly wait to as many of the new members at the first meeting. Stay tuned for more info.

At the Dawn of Spring

The first quarter of 2016 almost out of the way, and everyone around is waiting for the spring to finally settle. Now it’s a good time to take a small break and make a summary of the accomplishments I made so far. Everyone needs a bit of extra motivation every now and then, even if it’s patting yourself on the back.

On 18th of February I published another article on SitePoint.com – “Cleaning House after Internet Explorer“. That makes three so far and I definitely don’t plan to stop here. I am working on a follow-up and I hope to finish it as soon as possible. I think I managed to hit a sensitive topic here, as in only a month I got over 9000 views. Enter Vegeta, stage left:

It's over 9000!!!

Next on the list is my activity as SitePoint Ambassador (see my previous post from December). I made a couple of presentations of their behalf, participated to several meetups and got more involved in the community activities, like doing peer reviews for new articles of fellow authors or participating to discussions on the forums. Here is the slides for two presentations I made a local meetup – Web Developers Ireland.

First one was promoting the launch of a new SitePoint book – “Jump Start PHP Environment”. It is a great guide on how to set up a modern professional environment for PHP development.

The second one was on the topic of my latest article: an exploration of the various web development practices that are no longer required if you decide to drop support for old versions of Internet Explorer.

As a bonus, you can amuse yourselves watching me actually delivering the first presentation.

Unfortunately my camera let me down when I tried to record the second session and stopped recording after 8 minutes. Most probably due to overheating, as later tests recorded a lot more, until it hit a file size limit of 3.99GB. At the moment my only option is to record at a lower resolution. For further amusement, here’s the only part that survived.

This should be enough for now. Expect a few more updates soon, as I’m working on the launch of a few projects. Until then, I wish you all the best.

SitePoint Ambassador for Ireland

SitePointAmbassadors

“Internet. The final frontier of human communication. These are the voyages of the SitePoint ambassadors. Their continuous mission: to push the limits of UX, design and web technologies. To spread out knowledge and best practices. To boldly go where no other web geek has been before.”

I wrote these words back in June when I had to come with a job description for the new activity of SitePoint ambassador. The first of us invited were a bunch of hyper, enthusiastic people and I wanted something equally funny and serious, to post on my LinkedIn profile.

How did all this started?

I got my hands on the first SitePoint product back in 2005-2006. It was my room mate’s copy of the Web Design Business Kit (https://www.sitepoint.com/premium/books/the-web-design-business-kit) and I was fascinated by the opportunities it promised. I begged and cajoled until I got permission to study it myself, took many notes and promised myself that one day I will have my own business in this area.

Over the years I returned often to SitePoin.com (especially for the CSS reference – sadly outdated at the moment) and to pick up interesting articles to read. Then, the last summer, I noticed the invitation to join the new Ambassador program and I was delighted to know I was accepted. Now, when the program got real traction and things are moving in the right direction, I am really glad I followed my instinct to volunteer my efforts.

Like with any other activity there are pluses and minuses. And the most important thing is that most of the good effects will happen sometime in the future, while the efforts tax my already limited time. As this program is a volunteer activity, I can only allocate it time and effort after my daily job took its course. To keep up with the “motivational quote” trend, for this situation I like best this piece of Internet wisdom: “There is no elevator to success. You have to take the stairs.”

Yet, even disregarding the future bonuses, there are many immediate benefits about being an Ambassador. The part I like best is participation to offline events, where I met some very interesting people. I did more networking in the last three months than I did in the last 5 years. I look forward to continue these activities and hope to meet as many as possible of my fellow Ambassadors directly, not just over the Internet.

Last but not least, I had the great honour of receiving the second ever Ambassador of the Month title. To quote our fearless leader, Elio Quoshi, I managed “to impress with various offline events, structured reports, meeting notes and occasionally NSFW humor”.

Until next time…

I’m a SitePoint author

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Today marks an important milestone in my professional career. My second article got published by SitePoint.com. I did indeed say “second”, as the first one was published on August 5th. Normally I should have marked that day as the more important one. But today proved that I can persevere and that I can go further on that path. It proved that the first article was not a fluke or a freak lucky accident. And I intend to continue on this path, so stay tuned for new articles.

Without more delays, I invite you to check my writings. Hopefully there will be something that will help you with your front end coding projects:

To framework or not to framework

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Recently I had a discussion with an agency designer over the preferred work process and, more precisely, the use of front end framework such as Bootstrap or Foundation. Personally, I am a huge fan of Bootstrap and I have used it on all my recent projects. My companion, on the other hand, advocated custom solutions, optimized for top performance. In her opinion, a framework only adds unnecessary clutter.

So, who is right?

Actually we both are. And that’s because we work on totally different types of project. She builds media sensations – small, flashy websites that have only a handful of pages. All my recent projects have been in the corporate and web application sector. We’re talking about websites with tens of pages, repetitive components and modules. To make an analogy with the auto industry, she is building hand-made custom sports cars, while I build Volvos and long haul trucks.

Let’s see, then, when it pays to use a framework.

First advantage of a framework like Bootstrap is standardized code. This allows a team of developers to maintain their code as uniform as possible. There is a large community that contributes with solutions and modules, thus you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every single time. A few years ago, when I was working in Spain, we unified a large educational portal around Bootstrap, giving a common base and an unified coding style for all developers in the team.

Second, a wide spread use of such frameworks, loaded from code distribution CDNs, means the base code could be already cached in your browser, speeding up the loading times for all other websites that use the same framework. Even smaller corporate sites can be very well built upon a standard framework. Especially if they are part of a network who uses the same framework. This is the case of the latest large project I worked on: a start-up with an entire “ecosystem” of websites: corporate, web application, developer portal, and back-end admin application. Sharing the framework code from the same CDN, once an user has loaded one site of the system, it will load the other ones faster.

Third, we return to the type of websites. Large ones, with many complex pages, are the best candidates for using a framework. Blogs are another one. Portals. Knowledge bases. The list can go on and on. It’s trucks and Volvos vs McLaren F1s.

What are your thoughts on the use of frameworks?

A new year, a new beginning

homepage

Note to self: When you write your blog post, always save draft before uploading media. You won’t risk loosing the entire text, thus being forced to write it again. Or better, write it somewhere else and just copy/paste it to WordPress

We return to our scheduled program.

I’m trying to keep true to my new year plans (my resolution remains the same – 1920×1200) and got my online presence refreshed and updated. Thus I present to you the online residential complex of Adrian Sandu:

  • The main site (www.adriansandu.com) now hosts my profile and portfolio. Hand-coded over a Bootstrap 3 base, for maximum control.
  • The blog got moved to its own subdomain (blog.adriansandu.com). Powered by WordPress and using the latest default theme. Because it works well enough, it looks good enough and I don’t have time to make a custom theme matching the main website. As people say in my country, “the boot maker always has holes in his boots.”
  • The latest addition is the Lab (lab.adriansandu.com) where I’m keeping older projects and my experiments. Here there be dragons. And zombies. And a lot of other stuff. You have been warned.

Another new year goal is to improve my photography skills. I keep my best shots at 500px.com/AdrianSandu and I’m still considering whether to upgrade to their better plans or not. Other pictures might end on Google Pictures or Facebook. I’ve kind of given up on Instagram as I don’t use a smartphone anymore and my tablet only has internet connection over wifi.

Over the next weeks I plan to update these three websites some more as I dust up old work, concoct new experiments and begin new projects. See you next time!

Say “Hello” to Twitter Bootstrap

Recently I got involved in a project that makes use of Twitter Bootstrap and I can say I got very interested in the possibilities and opportunities this framework brings. While I have studied it before as inspiration for a custom in-house CSS framework, it was for the first time I was getting my hands dirty, so to speak.

The result is that I have decided to upgrade this website with a new version built upon Bootstrap. Thanks to 320 Press I could get my hands on a basic theme built with this framework, just waiting to be customized properly. I already got the design completed and I need to start chunking code. So stay tuned for the second version of AdrianSandu.com.

Nuclear launch detected: Trident Design goes live

It’s the very middle of the year and I am trying to respect another personal resolution regarding my own projects. Therefore I am launching today Trident Design, an online directory of resources for web designers and developers. The mission is simple: to filter, triage and select free (and premium) resources, while maintaining the same level of quality and attention to detail as the ones encountered in the manufacturing of nuclear weapons.

Visit Trident Design