Microsoft Edge Variable Fonts Demo

The Edge team put together a thorough demo of variable fonts, showcasing them in all of their shape-shifting and adaptive glory. Equally interesting as the demo itself is a history of web typography and where variable fonts fit in the grand scheme of things.

This demo pairs well with, which is an interactive collection of variable fonts that allows you to play around with the variable features each font provides.

A simple resource for finding and trying variable fonts

This is a website designed to showcase fonts that support OpenType Variations and let you drag a whole bunch of sliders around to manipulate a typeface’s width, height, and any other settings that the type designer might’ve added to the design.

I think the striking thing about this project is that I had no idea just how many variable fonts were out there in the wild until now.

Theming With Variables: Globals and Locals

Setting CSS variables to theme a design system can be tricky: if they are too scoped, the system will lose consistency. If they are too global, you lose granularity.

Maybe we can fix both issues. I’d like to try to boil design system variables down to two types: Global and Component variables. Global variables will give us consistency across components. Component variables will give us granularity and isolation. Let me show you how to do it by taking a fairly simple component as an example.

Building A Static Site With Components Using Nunjucks

We're so used to either a backend language or a JavaScript framework powering our data-backed components. I love me a Rails partial with a bunch of locals: {} or a <Component ...props /> but you don't have to give up on components even if working in static HTML. With Nunjucks, which has includes and templates and macros, we have a robust toolset for building component-based sites that are easy, fast, and secure to host.

​HelloSign API: Everything IT requires and Developers love.

We know that no API can write your code for you (unfortunately), but ours comes close. With in-depth documentation, customizable features, amazing support, and a dashboard that makes your code easy to debug, you won't find an eSignature product with an easier path to implementation. Or that's more liked by your team.

We wanted an API built by a team that valued user experience as much as we do. At the end of the day we chose HelloSign because it was the best combination of these features, price and user experience.

- Max Mullen Co-Founder of Instacart

Test drive HelloSign API for free today.


Short note on what CSS display properties do to table semantics

We've blogged about responsive tables a number of times over the years. There's a variety of techniques, and which you choose should be based on the data in the table and the UX you're going for. But many of them rely upon resetting a table element's natural display value to something else, for example display: block. Steve Faulkner warns us:

When CSS display: block or display: grid or display: flex is set on the table element, bad things happen. The table is no longer represented as a table in the accessibility tree, row elements/semantics are no longer represented in any form.

He argues that the browser is making a mistake here by altering those semantics, but since they do, it's good to know it's fixable with (a slew of) ARIA roles.

Here's more from Adrian Roselli including a demo with proper markup.

A Browser-Based, Open Source Tool for Alternative Communication

Have you ever lost your voice? How did you handle that? Perhaps you carried a notebook and pen to scribble notes. Or jotted quick texts on your phone.

Have you ever traveled somewhere that you didn't speak or understand the language everyone around you was speaking? How did you order food, or buy a train ticket? Perhaps you used a translation phrasebook, or Google translate. Perhaps you relied mostly on physical gestures.

All of these solutions are examples of communication methods — tools and strategies — that you may have used before to solve everyday communicative challenges. The preceding examples are temporary solutions to temporary challenges. Your laryngitis cleared up. You returned home, where accomplishing daily tasks in your native tongue is almost effortless. Now imagine that these situational obstacles were somehow permanent.

Chrome DevTools “Local Overrides”

There's been two really interesting videos released recently that use the "Local Overrides" feature of Chrome DevTools in order to play with web performance without even touching the original source code.

The big idea is that you can literally edit CSS and reload the page and your changes stick. Meaning you can use the other performance testing tools inside DevTools to see if your changes had the effect you wanted them to have. Great for showing a client a change without them having to set up a whole dev environment for you.

A Better Sketch File, a Better Designer, a Better You

I’ve been thinking about this post by Isabel Lee for the last couple of weeks — it’s all about how we should be more considerate when making designs in Sketch. They argue that we’re more likely to see real efficiency and organizational improvements in our work if we name our layers, artboards, and pages properly. Isabel writes:

Keeping a super organized Sketch file has helped me smooth out my design process and saved me time when I was trying to find a specific component or understand an archived design. For instance, I was looking for an icon that I used six months ago and it was (relatively) easy to find because all my artboards and layers were well-named and grouped reverse-chronologically. I was also able to cross-reference it with my meeting notes from around that time. If I hadn’t done any of that work (thanks Past Isabel!), I probably would’ve had to dig through all my old designs and look at each layer. Or worse — I would’ve had to recreate that icon.

Since I read this I’ve been doing the same thing and effectively making “daily commits” with the naming of my pages and it’s been genuinely helpful when looking back through work that I’ve forgotten about. But what I really like about this tidy-up process is how Isabel describes the way in which they could easily look back on their work, identify weaknesses in their design process, and how to become a better designer:

Aside from making it easier to find things, it’s also helped me cultivate good documentation habits when I want to analyze my old work and see where I could’ve made improvements. I revisited one of my old Sketch files and realized that I didn’t do enough research before diving into a million iterations for an initial idea I had.

Consistent Design Systems in Sketch With Atomic Design and the Auto-Layout Plugin

Do you design digital products (or websites) and hand design files off to developers for implementation? If you answered yes, settle in! While the should-designers-code debate rages on, we're going to look at how adding a methodology to your design workflow can make you faster, more consistent, and loved by all developers... even if you don't code.