On Our Radar This Week: Scroll Magic and Lobotomized Owls

By Paul Wilkins

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

Multiple goodness from Google

With Halloween approaching, some people are focused on the end of the year instead. The James Dyson Foundation has been working on its own list, Dyson’s 20 best inventions of the year. Meanwhile, Google have been working hard according to their product strategy, where the company just makes two of everything and tests which works better: A/B testing writ large. They even have a second email system now called Inbox.

Google have also given us their Material Design icons. A cool colour scheme designer also appeared, where you can press the spacebar to go through different colour designs, and lock your favourite ones in place. On the other hand, Stylify Me helps you to explore the colours and themes that other web sites use.

Lobotomized owls

lobotomized owls

Getting deeper with CSS this week, we’ve been exploring axiomatic CSS and the Lobotomized Owl selector, * + *. Sass has also been covered, with scaling values across breakpoints using Sass, and the self-aware Sass mixin, and we now have a unit tester for Sass, which is going to get some heavy use. When you’ve finished working on your CSS you can also now get all of your post-processing done with Pleeease, and work it in to your build system too.

Visualisations and web performance

Mozilla have given us Nunjucks, a powerful templating engine with inheritance and asynchronous control, that they’ve used to replace their pre-existing Django-driven marketplace. If you want to improve your own sites, we have a nice article on optimizing the critical rendering path, and here’s a curated list of web performance optimization options helping you to dive deeply in to the topic.


Getting more graphical, here’s a good tutorial on D3.js for creating data visualisations. We also explore seven JavaScript libraries for specific visualizations that make certain specific ideas easier to achieve. Google’s Material Design for the Android has inspired an implementation of the ripple effect that you can use elsewhere now, and Scroll Magic is a nice plugin that alerts you use the scrollbar to trigger all sorts of interesting animations.

Delving deeper in to Node and Unit testing

Some more tips arrived recently. Firstly, how to work better with Arrays, how to use coupling for highly scalable and maintainable JavaScript. We also help you to prepare for ECMAScript 6 with details on the new number methods.

Node.js has been getting some love this week too, with a complete Node.js rewrite for Android, a Linear regression library implemented in Node.js with gradient descent, a block-based web server in node.js that lets you aggregate content from multiple sources, and Synaptic is an architecture-free neural network library for Node.js and the browser.

Some good unit testing articles include the series Unit Testing Succinctly, with info about why you should unit test, and how unit testing works. There are also guides to different unit testing tools and, more recently, guides to testing with NUnit and advanced unit testing details.

Last but not least

Lastly this week, PhotoMath calculates equations using your phone’s camera. Where was this when I was in school? Looking Back to the Future, a prototype of the hoverboard is here. It’s going to be amazing to see where we go from here.

Which links caught your attention? Have you lobotomized any owls lately? Are you exploring what magic you can do with visualisations? Or have you been exploring Node.js or what unit testing can do for you? Whichever takes your interest, 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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