On Our Radar This Week: the Origin of JavaScript and Shapely CSS

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.

This week Twitter opened its analytics dashboard to everyone, allowing normal users to obsess about gauge the performance of each and every tweet sent. The dashboard includes some useful metrics, such as impressions and engagement rates, as well as revealing the gender-split of your followers (which is calculated by means of an algorithm).

Apple was in the news for the wrong reasons, as nude photos of several actresses were obtained from its iCloud service. Apple responded by denying any breach in security and claimed to “outraged” by the theft. The comparative speed of Apple’s response was presumably an attempt to deflect any negative press from its September 9 event.

And in happier news, the Verge went fully responsive, nuking their native apps and embracing the mobile web. Yay, RWD!

On the Origin of JavaScript

This week saw an epic discussion between Brendan Eich (the creator of JavaScript) and the JavaScript Jabber panelists on the origins and development of the language. Although it weighs in at a hefty 1 hour 44 minutes, this one comes highly recommended.

So who knows what this regular expression matches?

[ -~]

If you didn’t answer “all ASCII characters from the space to the tilde” then the next article is for you: What you should know about JavaScript regular expressions.

Elsewhere we learned how to test asynchronous code with QUnit, which is a testing framework developed and maintained by the jQuery team. If you need a Qunit refresher, we’ve got that, too.

Ever need to determine if a particular tab is active in a browser? Well, with the help of the HTML 5 visibility API, you now can.

Shapely CSS

I’ve enjoyed the recent spate of articles taking an in-depth look at the CSS of some of the larger sites out there, so was pleased to see medium.com following suit (note: the url is NSFW).

A Single Div is a pretty impressive CSS drawing project by Lynn Fisher.

If you’re into your CSS animations then check out this CSS only fruit machine (unfortunately, you can’t win anything, though). This demo is hosted on CodePen. Here are nine reasons that you should be using it, too.

Another really cool thing that popped up this week was a CSS shapes editor for Chrome, complete with a a tutorial on how to use it. If you’re not sure what CSS shapes are, here’s the 101.

Finally, here are some little-known CSS tricks.

Buzzword of the Week – Node.js

The official logo of Node.js

Node.js is a framework, which enables you to run JavaScript on the server (as opposed to on the client-side in your browser). Its asynchronous and event-driven nature makes it a great choice for building high performance and scalable network applications.

If you’re looking to get started with Node, then you might be interested in these six free Node.js ebooks.

Are you developing a Node app, or do you have one in production? Here are ten tips to make it faster.

Fancy expanding your Node skills? This tutorial explains how to create a contact form with a captcha in Node.js.

Skeptical of all the hype? Well, this article explains why the JavaScript world is still waiting for Node.js 1.0.

Finally, here’s a nifty site that offers Node.js hosting for web developers. It’s a paid service, so if you prefer something less costly, try Heroku who have a free option.

An Abundance of Resources

In addition to being the go-to place for open source software, GitHub has a great many of resources for developers. Here are some rather extensive lists I’ve spotted recently for
Ruby, Python and Node.js.

Here are 11 CSS learning tools and resources, as well as a complete reading list for CSS and some free design resources that every designer should know.

Have trouble remembering which WordPress functions do what? Then maybe this WordPress cheat sheet is for you.

And by way of inspiration for your next project, I present a collection of tab styles, as well as a list of free jQuery navigation menus.

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

I’ll leave you with a couple of random things I came across in the course of my travels: a proof-of-concept rewrite of the jQuery UI widgets to use web components, 20 weird and wonderful uses for tomato ketchup and a list of 33 things to eat, drink, see, and do before climate change ruins everything (which is NSFW, by the way).

Which links caught your attention? How do you test your JavaScript? Are you using Node.js? Or, do you have any resources to share? 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.

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