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On Our Radar This Week: Black Friday Freebies and Vanilla JS

By James Hibbard

Welcome to On Our Radar, a weekly round-up of news, trends and other cool stuff from the world of web development.

Today is Black Friday in the US and, not wanting to be left out of the mayhem which will be ensuing in their brick-and-mortar counterparts, plenty of online stores and websites have been getting in on the act. A new phenomenon being dubbed “Bitcoin Black Friday” seems to be catching on, and one firm is taking an anti-overconsumption stance – by giving stuff away.

In other news, Mozilla announced that they are dropping Google as the default search engine in Firefox, signing a five-year deal with Yahoo instead. Windows users let Microsoft know what they want added to Windows 10 and the trailer for the long awaited Jurassic World was released, to rather critical acclaim (ahem).

Mucho Freebies

Snowman wearing a green scarf and red hat

Staying with the Black Friday theme (you know, braving mass hysteria and the risk of being trampled underfoot, so you can get eight DVD players for the price of three), here are some great giveaways I spotted this week.

First up we have 25 free Christmas resources for designers. These will help you plan the design of your personalized Christmas cards, invitations, wallpapers and everything else in between.

If those don’t quite tickle your fancy, what about this gorgeous Christmas icon set, or this equally as lovely Christmas icon collection?

Not quite as festive, but nonetheless extremely useful, check out these 25 free photography mock-up templates. These cover everything from iPhones, to business cards, to coffee cups .

Here are 25 free hero images to help you make that great first impression on your visitors. And here the seven best search engines for finding free images online. Free fun fact: approximately 880 billion photographs will be taken In 2014.

Finally, ModernThemes is a new WordPress theme site dedicated to giving away free themes. In their own words they offer “well coded, great looking, bloat-free WordPress themes reasonably priced at $0”. So people, whatchya waiting for?

How Well Do You Know HTML?

HTML has evolved considerably in recent years, but owing to the abundance of other web technologies we are expected to learn, it doesn’t always get the attention it deserves.

It was therefore with some interest that I read (and answered) these ten typical HTML interview exercises. To my shame, I was hardly able to answer any of them correctly without reaching for Google. I would hazard a guess that most other people will find them tricky, too. Feel free to prove me wrong in the comments.

Nowadays, more and more web sites are positioning themselves as web apps. This isn’t always a good thing argues Matias Meno, who urges us to stop writing stateful HTML.

As you probably know, on October 28th, W3C officially recommended HTML5. But did you ever stop to think exactly who or what the W3C actually is? Here’s a great piece which shines a spotlight on “the group that rules the web“.

Here’s a super cool resource for all your HTML needs. A list of all the elements available in HTML and in which specific versions.

In the same vein, I want to use is a service that lets you choose the Web Platform features you want to use, then displays the percentage of end users that have browsers which meet the criteria.

Buzzword of the Week: Vanilla JavaScript

Vanilla JavaScript isn’t the name of a fancy new framework, in fact quite the converse. This term is used to mean JavaScript which doesn’t rely on any third party libraries (such as jQuery) and which will run natively in the browser.

Vanilla JS Logo

One of the reasons that jQuery became so popular, was that it abstracts away many cross-browser issues and inconsistencies. However, browsers have come on in leaps and bounds since it first appeared in 2006. So much so that we can now implement a modern HTML5 lightbox in 12 lines of vanilla JavaScript, which is pretty darn cool if you stop to think about it.

With the explosion of mobile and low-powered devices, it’s becoming very apparent that performance matters. That’s why it’s perhaps a good time to cut out the jQuery middle man.

If you’re not sure of which browsers support which JavaScript features, SitePoint’s HTML and CSS editor Louis Lazaris has put together a great set of resources for JavaScript and DOM compatibility tables.

101 is a JavaScript utility library that doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel, but rather adds to vanilla JS to avoid unnecessary overlap.

Here are two methods demonstrating how to implement native data-binding in vanilla JS.

And just to muddy the waters, there is in fact a library called Vanilla JS (spoiler: it’s a parody).

Accessible Angular

Love it or hate it, there has been a lot of buzz around AngularJS recently.

As part of the Release Candidate 3 for Angular 1.3.0, a ngAria module was added to help Angular developers with accessibility.

The author of that document (Marcy Sutton) also appeared on the Shop Talk podcast to discuss web components, ARIA and Angular.

It’s not all good in Angular land, though. Full stack engineer Alexey Migutsky wrote about having spent the last spent two years diving deep into Angular. His conclusion: it is “good enough” for the majority of projects, but it is not good enough for professional web app development.

Testing can often be difficult in browser based applications. That’s why this in-depth walkthrough on to how to write unit tests against the various components of an Angular application could prove especially useful.

Finally, here’s how to build a real-time scheduling app using AngularJS and Firebase. Or if scheduling apps aren’t your thing, how about creating a blogging application instead?


So that’s everything for this week. Thanks for joining us.

I’ll leave you with the frightening revelation of what texting does to the spine (the equivalent of placing a 60-pound weight on one’s neck!), news that an e-cigarette from China infected one guy’s computer with malware (I knew those things were bad for you!) and a report that 17% of Americans can’t positively identify Bill Gates (there’s a fun quiz that goes with that article).

So which links caught your attention? How did you do with the HTML exercises? Do you shun jQuery for vanilla JavaScript? Is ngAria a much-needed addition to Angular? Either way, we would love to hear your thoughts.

Also, if you have any problems implementing anything covered here, or just want to discuss it some more, SitePoint’s forums are a great place to visit (you can sign in with your Google, FaceBook, Twitter, GitHub or Yahoo account).

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