Interactive by Nature

Jan 07, 2013



This month I attended a new meetup called DenverJS that focuses on, you probably guessed it, JavaScript. Being a client-side programmer in Denver, I’m really excited about this one! In this post, I want to briefly review the 2013 kickoff session at Galvanize.

What about DenverJS?

Straight from their meetup profile:

Focused on developing the Javascript community along the Front Range! We welcome any and all interested in Javascript and related technologies. We will be weighted towards node.js and server-side topics to balance out the already awesome Denver HTML5 group.

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Dec 12, 2012

AJAX without jQuery

I like to post about problems that I solve so that I can refer back to if I ever encounter the same problem in the future. This time I needed to make an AJAX request without using jQuery. I’ll be honest… I’ve ALWAYS used jQuery for AJAX. Why wouldn’t you? It’s so easy, plus if you’re already using jQuery, it’s more efficient. I didn’t know where to start, but after some research, I came up with the following:

$('#container').on('tap', '#element', function(event) {
    var requestURL = $(this).attr('href');
    var xmlhttp = null;
    if (window.XMLHttpRequest) {
        //IE7+, Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Safari
	xmlhttp = new XMLHttpRequest();
    //XMLHttpRequest - I GUARANTEE IT!
    xmlhttp.setRequestHeader('X-Requested-With', 'XMLHttpRequest'); 

    xmlhttp.onreadystatechange = function() {
	if (xmlhttp.readyState==4 && xmlhttp.status==200) {		



As you can probably see, I AM indeed using jQuery for the tap event and URL gathering. The jQuery version that this post references is v1.7.1. using the .on() method; the rest is old school javascript. Let’s break it down!

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Nov 28, 2012

Future of Web Design NYC 2012

Last month I attended Future of Web Design NYC. The conference topics included everything from The Future of UX and The Future of CSS3 Layout to Typography Best Practices and Culture as a Factor in Digital Design. Some of the speakers were well known, such as Karen McGrane and Chris Coyier, while others were what they were calling “Rising Stars”. Each Rising Star Session that I attended was more than what I would expect from a so-called amateur speaker.

Rising Star - Senongo

Rising Star – Senongo Akpem

One of the highlights of the conference was visiting with Denise Jacobs. This woman is amazing and has great stories to tell. We ended up talking for about an hour and a half, but it felt like 30 minutes. I saw her speak in San Francisco in 2009 and have been following her ever since, so it was a real treat to visit with her one-on-one.

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Oct 30, 2012

Prototyping With HTML5 localStorage

Prototypes are good for helping clients understand functionality in their application. Prototypes are also really good for usability testing the flows and functionality. Often when conducting usability tests, we tell the test subject that it’s a prototype and to pay no attention to the details as they may not be accurate. A good example of this is a details page. Let’s say you have a list of locations in a location finder application (figure 1). In the prototype you only have one static details page with only one of the locations. Wouldn’t it be nice if the details page information matched the item the test subject selects from the list? localStorage can help you with that!

Skatepark list

figure 1

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Aug 21, 2012

HTML5 Denver Users Group – Stop Using Native HTML5

The following is a short introduction provided by Kyle Simpson (@getify):

“No, don’t stop using HTML5, just stop using the native HTML5 JavaScript API’s directly. They’re still in flux, there’s still bugs that need to be shim’d, etc. Your code needs to use these features, but it needs to be more robust.

What you need is to use in your apps is a thin facade (wrapper API) around those features, so that as things change, bugs come and go, etc, all that needs to change is the internals of your facade, and not your actual app code.

H5API is a project to build these thin facade APIs for the various HTML5 native APIs. We’ll examine why we need something like this, and how H5API will help us build more robust HTML5 apps.”

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Aug 09, 2012

HTML5 Denver Users Group – The Making of a Sidescroller


HTML5 Denver Users Group co-founder David Geary demonstrated how to build a full-featured video game that runs smoothly on desktop and tablet browsers. His sidescroller video game consisted of scrolling background, parallax, sprites, collision detection and explosions! Here are my notes from his presentation.

  • CSS3 is implemented with hardware acceleration making it fast
  • When we don’t use hardware acceleration we’re hitting the CPU
  • Can’t do full featured video games without hardware acceleration
  • Auto-pause (When focus on a different window)
  • Slow fps detection
  • CSS3 transitions between lives

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Jul 10, 2012

Input Width Equal To Parent Element



Making a text input equal the width of the parent element is a pain in the ass. I know because I’ve been trying to find the right solution for some time now. Specifically using jQuery Mobile, but I think I got it! If you’re a pixel-perfect designer like me, you want all your form elements to have equal widths. I want mine to span the full width of the content container. First I started using percentages, but noticed that the widths were not consistent between text inputs and other form elements. Also with percentages, they look okay at a certain window width, but different when the window width changes. Then I tried media queries with percentages to handle the window width issue, but that’s just too much if you just want inputs consistently the width of the content container. This is important because you don’t know what size screen or device the user will be looking at your application in.


The CSS3 box-sizing property seems to be working great for me. If you’re worried about older browsers that don’t support CSS3, then don’t use this method.

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May 15, 2012

Reflecting On An Event Apart Seattle 2012

An Event Apart Seattle 2012 was refreshing. I say this because as a developer I spend a good portion of my day writing code in order to meet functional requirements. Most of the presentations focused on inspiration, design and content strategy. These things are easily forgotten when working on existing applications that require little to no further design work.

The Five Most Dangerous Ideas by Scott Berkun, was most inspiring to me personally. It’s all the things that designers/developers don’t want to talk about or deal with, but it’s a reality. Designers need to realize that they’re never going to grow if they try to protect their power.

Seattle, Washington

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Apr 23, 2012

An Event Apart – Seattle, WA

Of all the conferences I’ve attended, An Event Apart Seattle 2012 was by far the best conference to date. I always get all fired up after attending a conference but usually there’s a presentation or a workshop session that bores me. Not this time. This time around even Jon Tan’s presentation, Big Type, Little Type, had my full attention… and I’m not a type nerd!

I tend to blah blah blah when I write, so I’ll get to the point and just say a lil somfin somfin about each speaker.

Whitney, Chayo and Jeff

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Mar 26, 2012

Dynamic Google Map Width


I’m building a skatepark finder mobile web app. I’m using Google Distance Matrix API to get the distance between the user’s location and the location of the nearest skatepark. Because of this little disclaimer “Use of the service in an application that doesn’t display a Google map is prohibited.“, I need to show a map in the app.

Since this is for mobile web, I didn’t want to display an interactive map because reducing HTTP requests and especially requests to 3rd party services is a mobile development best practice. Also, I can just create a button that links to Google maps and let the user use an interactive map however they see fit.

To minimize the service requests for the map, I decided to go with a static map. The problem with this is the limitations in the request URL. The request URL looks something like this:,-104.9847034&zoom=14&size=320x180&sensor=true

Notice that the size parameter is a static number and it’s required, so you have to put something in there. I don’t know if the user is using a smartphone, tablet or desktop, so I want the map to stretch the width of the application. Otherwise, you get something looking like this in landscape view on an iPhone:

Bad Map

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