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October, 2022 Desktop View

It has been some time since I posted some thoughts on the current state of web technologies. A lot has happened during recent months. Let’s focus on several key areas:

  • web accessibility,
  • security,
  • JavaScript,
  • and CSS.

More areas may be the focus of subsequent articles. Stay tuned. As always, we at Web Professionals Global are interested in what you think. Let us know in the comments or contact us directly.

Web Accessibility

WCAG 3 has been released as a draft (published in December, 2021). Latest editors draft updated as of July, 2022. The approach is iterative with content ranging from temporary (just a placeholder for future content) to mature (ready for publication). This version is somewhat evolutionary in that it will be easy to understand and provide guidance. A key differentiator is that this version has a broader scope (beyond web content). I encourage you to view the above links and consider helping develop the next version of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.

Of course, there is also a new ARIA authoring practices guide website. Lots of patterns and resources. Check it out.

Security

This is a bit beyond web security, but definitely something readers should be aware of – ransomware attacks which target home PCs (delivered by fake Windows 10 or anti-virus updates). This is called Magniber (details can also be found at this ZDNet article). Essentially, a visitor is directed to a website (although it looks legitimate, it is controlled by malicious individuals). That site informs the visitor their computer operating system or software is out of date and they need to update it as soon as possible. The visitor is tricked into downloading a malicious JavaScript file which contains the malware payload. Once installed (via as technique called DotNetToJscript) the individual’s hard drive is encrypted. They are directed to a link to negotiate payment to recover their contents. More details can be found in the above article.

As web professionals, we should remind ourselves (and our clients of some fundamental tactics which help mitigate these sorts of attacks.

At a minimum, never act on anything that purports to have an extreme sense of urgency. That is what malicious individuals want. Act before you have a chance to think about the implications. It is also good practice to never click on links in emails or text messages. Instead, open a browser and type the site directly (or use a reliable search engine). Lastly, only install updates from trusted sources (and use the traditional channels where those updates are distributed).

JavaScript

The creator of JSON made an interesting comment about JavaScript a couple months ago. Douglas Crockford stated that “The best thing we can do today to JavaScript is to retire it.” Yes, JavaScript is the world’s most popular programming language (used by over 65% of developers according to a StackOverflow survey). Yes, it is bloated (and is becoming more so over time. However, it powers the majority of web sites. Of course, JavaScript is supported in every browser so making a change to something else would be a monumental undertaking. We are curious what your thoughts are about JavaScript. Is Douglas Crockford correct? Please discuss in the comments below.

CSS

Remember the days of aural style sheets (yes, they were a thing). Of course, no browsers supported them. However, a recent article (October, 2022) has raised some hope for me again. Why we need CSS speech is the article. What are your thoughts about CSS speech? Again, reach out to us in the comments.

Of course, there are many enhancements in the works for CSS. These include items such as:

  • The ability to nest selectors is presently in the works. This is possible a good way to organize your CSS code. Of course, no browsers yet support this.
  • Cascade layers (which give authors the ability to group their CSS and affect how the cascade applies). The linked article should give you a much better understanding. This is like nesting selectors, but much more. Is this feature ready for prime time? No, but you might want to start learning about them.
  • CSS subgrid allows for styling on a page to inherit the parent’s grid styling. MDN has a nice overview with examples. That is the reference linked at the start of this bullet.

Now you know a little more about what is happening with respect to web accessibility, security, JavaScript, and CSS. Please let us know if you find this information helpful and provide more thoughts in the comments below.

Best always,
Mark DuBois, Executive Director
Web Professionals Global (a.k.a. World Organization of Webmasters)

 

 

April Update – JavaScript Framework

April Update – JavaScript Framework

What is JavaScript Framework?

JavaScript framework is an application framework written in JavaScript. It differs from a JavaScript library in its control flow: a library offers functions to be called by its parent code, whereas a framework defines the entire application design. A developer does not call a framework; instead it is the framework that will call and use the code in some particular way. Some JavaScript frameworks follow the model–view–controller paradigm designed to segregate a web application into orthogonal units to improve code quality and maintainability.

Here is the link for the popular Wiki article.

JavaScript frameworks

(more…)

January JavaScript update

January JavaScript update

As web professionals are undoubtedly aware, many changes are happening with JavaScript these days. Yes, there is a fair amount of churn in frameworks employed on various projects. We did ask the question (some time ago) – are we relying too much on JavaScript? Regardless of your opinion about that question, we need to be aware that major changes are happening to core JavaScript as well. ES6/ ES2015 (ECMAScript 6) is the latest version making its way into browsers near you (and many other places). For those who have been working with web technologies for quite a while, you may recall that ES5 was released in 2009. Yes, nearly a decade ago. (more…)

Are we relying too much on JavaScript?

As you know, we are big proponents of accessibility. We believe that content should be available to anyone at any time on any device. As 2016 draws to a close, it has become apparent that many web pages rely heavily on JavaScript (and associated frameworks). It would appear the pendulum has swung away from semantic markup towards dynamic/ generated content.

Concerns

One nagging question keeps coming to my mind – are we preventing access for some (because of reliance on these frameworks)? Although anecdotal, I ran various websites I use on a daily basis through the Functional Accessibility Evaluator (and similar tools). Some received scores as low as 29 (out of 100) resulting in automated comments such as “accessibility was not considered in the design of the website.”

Taking this one step further, I turned off JavaScript in my browser (Chrome in this case). Some of the sites I use on a daily basis (for example my school email) were rendered useless (I did receive a message that JavaScript needed to be activated and if I had problems, I could always use Internet Explorer). Similarly, the learning management system used predominantly at my school was not functional without JavaScript. As I understand, not all assistive technologies fully embrace JavaScript. This would seem to be a problem.

Let’s discuss further

I am not trying to point a finger at specific sites, I seek a broader understanding of the current state of web development. This begs the question – what has happened to graceful degradation? Are we relying too much on JavaScript? As we support web professionals (and aspiring web professionals), we seek to begin a discussion on this topic. Are we making the WWW less inclusive as we rely more on frameworks and content management systems? Have we overlooked something important? We look forward to your comments and insights.

Best always,

Mark DuBois

Community Evangelist and Executive Director