This Web Site is a Tech Talk

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This literal tech talk (YouTube video embedded in there) by Zach Leatherman is a good time. The talk is sprinkled with fun trickery, so I’m just taking notes on some on it here:

  • I have no idea how he pulled off the “bang on the keyboard and get perfect code” thing, but it reminds me of Jake Albaugh’s “Self-Coding” Pens.
  • Adding contenteditable on the <body> makes the whole page editable! Did you know document.designMode = "on" does the same thing in JavaScript? (More on making DevTools a design tool.)
  • There’s a short bit where the typing happens in two elements at once. CodePen supports that! Just CMD + click into the editor where you want another one to be, or make it part of a snippet.
  • System fonts are nice. I like how easy they are to invoke with system-ui. Firefox doesn’t seem to support that, so I guess we need the whole stack. I wonder how close we are to just needing that one value. Iain Bean has more on this in his “System fonts don’t have to be ugly” post.
  • box-decoration-break is a nice little touch for “inline headers.” The use of @supports here makes great sense as it’s not just that one property in use, but several. So, in a non-support situation, you’d want to apply none of it.
  • Slapping a <progress> in some <li> elements to compare rendering strategies is a neat way to get some perfect UI without even a line of CSS.
  • Making 11ty do syntax highlighting during the build process is very cool. I still use Prism.js on this site, which does a great job, but I do it client-side. I really like how this 11ty plugin is still Prism under the hood, but just happens when the page is built. I’d love to get this working here on this WordPress site, which I bet is possible since our code block in the block editor is a custom JavaScript build anyway.
  • In the first bullet point, I wrote that I had no idea how Zach did the “bang on the keyboard and get perfect code” but if you watch the bit about syntax highlighting and keep going, Zach shows it off and it’s a little mind spinning.

I think Zach’s overall point is strong: we should question any Single-Page-App-By-Default website building strategy.

As a spoonful of baby bear porridge here, I’d say I’m a fan of both static site generators and JavaScript frameworks. JavaScript frameworks offer some things that are flat-out good ideas for building digital products: components and state. Sometimes that means that client-side rendering is actually helpful for the interactivity and overall feel of the site, but it’s unfortunate when client-side rendering comes along for the ride by default instead of as a considered choice.

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