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Time for some Web dev

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

Back on 2009 I wanted to hop onto the blogging train again and created this blog. At the time, I thought that it would be a shame to use an existing WordPress theme so I’ve decided design and implement my own.

My main focus was on implementing a complete WordPress theme, thus understanding and leveraging the PHP WordPress API; I’ve also had tons of fun fooling around with jQuery to add some fanciness bits (tooltips, rounded corners, animations, effects on the images, form validation …). My goal with the blog was also to create a nice place for exposing a few pictures of my own so I’ve spent some time integrating a Lightbox (which is kind of broken now).

For the design, I’ve used the trendy CSS framework of those days: Blueprint — which seems to have been abandoned later that year :). Blueprint was like 960, it provided a nice grid system to make it easier to design the UI. Combined with a CSS reset stylesheet such as Eric Meyer’s, it allowed to create nice designs with good browser compatibility. These CSS grid systems had fixed sizes and often came with PSD files to kickstart the design work in Photoshop, making it all pretty straightforward :)

I hadn’t really considered mobiles devices during development (the big shift didn’t occur yet); moreover, CSS 3 media queries weren’t really production ready at that point and Responsive Web design was yet to go mainstream.

In the end I was quite satisfied with the result, knowing that I’m no designer to start with.

I’m still pretty happy with the theme as it stands, but the fact that it lacks responsiveness is a huge pain point nowadays. The situation could be worse, but it’s still far from perfect on small and large devices. At the time I also didn’t consider accessibility at all.

For the curious among you, this theme, known as Midnight Light, is available on GitHub: https://github.com/dsebastien/midnightlight.

I’ve only felt motivated again for the Web in 2012. At that point I was going through pretty tough times at work (lots of stuff to learn, not enough time to do so and a lot of pressure to deliver) and so when I was coming home I needed to relax. Diablo 3 was perfect for me; I played like crazy and ended up putting around 1500 hours into that damn game :).

At some point I felt the need for a tool to help me optimize my playing time and that was a perfect excuse for me to get my hands dirty with the trendy stuff of those days: HTML 5, CSS 3, WhatWG new JS APIs etc. I’ve thus created ‘D3 XP Farming‘, a pretty basic single page application created using HTML 5, CSS3, LocalStorage, ModernizR and a few hundred lines of javascript/jQuery code to put the whole thing in motion.

Thus it’s been a long while since I’ve last really developed for the Web. I’ve been thinking about creating a new theme for quite some time but kept the idea at the bottom of my todo list.

Last year, I’ve started working again as a software developer (after 3 years in the dark side of IT Ops). I’ve never really stopped reading about software development, programming languages and the evolution of the Web.

In recent months, I’ve been reading a lot about the latest W3C/What WG standards status/browser support, Web components, mobile first & offline first principles, client-side UIs, responsive design, NodeJS, NPM, browser news including stuff about some Spartan coming to finish off IE, etc etc etc.

This and related discussions at work have led me to reconsider the priority of creating a new theme for my website ;-)

Hence I hereby officially announce (haha) the creation of a new project of mine (open source as usual): Midnight Light v2.

For now the design exists only on paper but that won’t last long :)

In the upcoming posts I will talk a bit more about the current project status and my evil plans =)

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