The new tools blending art and code; Because, Joe Hewitt

It has been fantastic to see Joe Hewitt (Firefox, Firebug, Facebook iOS, etc fame) speaking in public again after a period where he has been getting back to Earth through gardening, but also still spending time at the keyboard. If a programmer is typing code, yet doesn’t publish it, does it exist?

Joe’s tool, showing font design

I have talked to Joe from time to time, and have always enjoyed riffing on the world of developer tools. I think he is onto something important with his latest tool because it brings together design and code at a time where we need to bring these disciplines together more than ever.

We had a period where we were bifurcated into one world of mobile (focused on screen sizes, densities, and resolutions of iPhone’s) and that of the desktop Web. We are now working on getting experiences across devices in an adaptable manner.

I’d suggest that we should think about inverting this — it’s actually the PC that has the limited, basic, cut-down version of the internet.

I think that Benedict Evans is stretching a little on this aspect of his piece on mobile first. It is true that mobile devices are more personal in that they tend to have access to info and data (such as your location, your camera roll, etc) but a lot of these features have been back-ported to the desktop world.

My laptop also has other great features such as a much better keyboard and screen. There is no need to talk about this as better or worse: Each form factor naturally has trade offs.

With the divergence in devices we are naturally placed into a world where we have to think about how our customers will be using our services and experiences. At a certain point it doesn’t make sense to fully specialize, and instead put effort into getting more bang from your buck.

I postulate that this is only going to get worse. For example, as VR and display technology both takes off we won’t be limited to the display types that we have right now. You will be able to send an experience to your wall, or project it into your eye and resize it.

Are you design for this world, how do your content and experiences adapt? With the right tooling, we should be able to create experiences that can adapt on their own. For some pieces you may want to custom tweak a detail, but for others you need more programatic help. When the holidays come around and your module has snow falling, you want to declare how much, not painstakingly choose which one.

Can we built components that are aware and morph as needed? This is where I hope tools such as Joe’s come in.

We also have other foundational work such as viewBox (and how it is needed in CSS to pair with SVG)

The viewBox attribute is awesome. It is literally SVG on steroids. By using this attribute, you can save a lot of time when working with SVG, troubleshoot SVG quickly without having to resort to a graphics editor, and, all in all, feel more comfortable editing SVG by hand.

This can be an exciting future, and it is one that we need to prepare for. We also need to prepare the next generation (that is why I love sending my kids to STEAM-focused spots such as Sparkiverse!)

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