Eliminating Web Development Waste

Posted Monday 28th May, 2012

The concept of waste within web development might seem reasonably clear to most managers and developers, however in my experience it is something that most teams need help to identify. I’ve recently worked with a team who became exceptionally good at identifying waste and, as a result of this alongside a whole swathe of other techniques, were by far the most efficient agile team I’ve ever worked with.

Eliminating waste is the first—and most fundamental—principle of Lean Software Development; something that was introduced to me by an exceptionally talented Project Manager whom it was my pleasure to work with. Lean Software Development is a set of seven fundamental principles that really work hand in hand with agile development to improve software delivery. Those principles are: eliminate waste, amplify learning, decide as late as possible, deliver as fast as possible, empower the team, build integrity in, and see the whole. In this article I’m going to look at how we can improve our ability to identify waste and iteratively remove it from our development chain.

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Flexible Responsive CSS Grids

Posted Wednesday 28th March, 2012

There are many ways to build CSS column grids; all of which have their pros and cons. In fact CSS3 has begun to implement a built-in model for columns which will be most useful in the future. However, until all the browsers our users surf the interwebs with are capable of this, we’ll have to rely on the good old CSS2 tricks to do it.

For a good while I used defined width floats for my grids. This means you have to calculate the width of each column and fix it (either with pixels or something more flexible like ems or percentages). That method is flawed due to rounding errors and general problems with flow when resizing. A better method is to use a mix of floats and negative margins for positioning. When I need to create a CSS column grid, I use this method.

However, when I was recently asked to share my method—which was outlined to me by a good friend and CSS guru—I had to remind myself how to do it. These are the perils of becoming a manager and developing less. In the interests of remembering next time (and also sharing the knowledge), I’ve decided to document the method in this article.

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Vagrant Virtualised Dev Environments

Posted Wednesday 14th March, 2012

In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past couple of years, Vagrant is the latest development in easily controlled virtualised environments. In their own words:

The vision of the project is to create a tool to transparently manage all the complex parts of modern development within a virtual environment without affecting the everyday workflow of the developer too much.

Vagrant automates creation and provisioning of virtual machines within VirtualBox via the command line, whilst also allowing for easy distribution and reuse across multiple projects. In this article, I’m going to look at how it can make life considerably easier when dealing with development environments.

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Spring Reboot

Posted Sunday 4th March, 2012

If you’re looking at the site and not the feed you’ve probably noticed some significant changes. After 5 long years of a heavily doctored Wordpress implementation with custom templates I’ve finally gotten around to rebooting the site, bringing it more in line with my requirements.

It’s more of a realignment rather than a redesign. I’ve trimmed back the cruft, and improved what I believe is important—and I’ve also made some more drastic changes which can be reversed should I want to.

So, without further ado, let me just take some time to explain my reasons…

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User-controlled Content Density

Posted Friday 6th January, 2012

Back in October of last year Google Apps underwent a fairly extensive redesign. The overall intent of this realignment was to improve the user interface design, which has traditionally seemed to be a stumbling point for Google.

Personally I think the new designs are excellent and really appreciate the fact that they address my need to access my Google Apps from a variety of devices. I also like the fact that they allow me my own preference for the visual density of content within the page.

In fact this is such a killer feature that I reverse engineered it to better understand it. I’ll be looking to use this knowledge in some of my future work. Whilst I wouldn’t really refer to this deconstruction as such, plagiarism is the sincerest form of flattery. Unfortunately, due to extensive work commitments, I’ve only just gotten around to writing up my work…

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