We dont care what it takes to get there. Were going to use tables for layout. Were going to use Flash. Were going to use these things because this is the way that we have right now to make art, and to create something thats actually visually strong. Jeffrey zeldman : Or, because our client or their customer expects a certain level of polish. They wont believe that theyre really at the Chase bank if it doesnt look somewhat visually organised, and they wont be able to use.
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Like, i would be against a certain popular framework because in order to do what it did, it forced you to use lots of non-semantic stuff, and fill your page with junk. Im weirdly purist paper about that stuff, and i always thought, like, the dream is that you can just write markup and have elements flow like a design, and now renewable you can. Jen Simmons : Well, and as ive been looking at this, especially over the winter, the more i was digging in and writing the talk that I gave at An event Apart a couple weeks ago, i realised that theres actually been this pendulum swinging. This has been happening the entire time, where theres one group of people saying, hey, we really need to respect the medium of the web. We need to have some kind of, you know, this is what the web is, and you dont get all of that, eye candy. Who needs eye candy? You dont get all of that pretty, pretty whatever. This is about having solid technology supporting the web and letting the technology tell us what the medium. On the other side of the pendulum is, we really want to create something graphic or artistic or pulling in from the tradition of film or sculpture or art or whatever, and using visual language and communication languages to really convey to our users whats. We dont care how hacky the code has.
Jeffrey zeldman : But now we dont have to do those things. Now theres actually some inherent tools. The standards, the friend specifications, these are the first Especially Grid, its the first specification thats actually designed for layout. When the folks from my era of standards design fighting, when they talked about layout, really what they meant was layout like microsoft Word means layout. They meant in the document flow, you could set something to the left or to the right, you could centre something, you could make it bigger or smaller. Those things are layout, but theyre not layout as a graphic artist thinks of them, as a designer or an art director thinks of them. Theyre layout as someone who uses Microsoft Word thinks of them, as a scientist thinks of them, so anything else that we wanted to do, we had to cheat, and people became famous for coming up with these elaborate cheats, which is great. The creativity of the time was great, but we had so many hacks, and then wed argue about, well, does this hack ruin the semantics?
Jeffrey zeldman : Also, theres now a framework. I hate to use that work with what its come to mean, but theres actually a standardised paper Its the difference between tools and frameworks, i think. No, what am I looking for? Theres a framework that allows you to do these things without cheating. In the old days, you could make a curved shape by cobbling together a table layout with thousands of tiny pieces of imagines, for example, or thousands of little divs and spans to create a curved box, and then we eventually just had curves. Its not a hack anymore, not that there was anything wrong with we had to do what we had to do, right? Jen Simmons : Right.
Its not Responsive web Design. The way that I think about layouts and everything Im doing, and the approach that Im using Specifically layout. Nothing in the rest, or about what mobile is, or how content should be structure in a content management system. All of that is definitely the same. Im just talking about layout, that layout itself, and the graphic design itself, had changed significantly enough that I wanted a new word so we could say, oh, yeah, that new thing, and it includes css grid, but its not just about css grid. Its also about using Flexbox, and kind of rediscovering what Flexbox is actually intended to be for. Plus, its about using some floats sometimes, using things like css shapes or object-fit, using a flow content, using multi-column. Some of these things are old, and theyve been around for a long time, but its about thinking about the whole system of layout, and how all these pieces fit together in a brand new way.
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David Segal and Hillman Curtis and Lynda weinman. Jen Simmons : yeah, and so, i mean, Intrinsic Web Design is a name that I gave to this new era, because i think were really in a new era of layout design, and for anybody whos been doing this for a while, youll remember. We used Flash for a long time to do the whole website. We had this debate between fluid web design and fixed-width web design, and each of those eras had names where we would say things like, fluid versus fixed, and everybody immediately knew what that was. You didnt have to start over and define everything, and responsive was that kind of word.
I feel like we need a new word for a new era where we can say, oh, its not that float-based thing where everythings set in widths with using percents. Its this new set of technologies. Its not just because the tech is new, its also because the possibilities of what you can actually do are new, and the ways in which you can get content to morph and shift and change based on how much space is available is actually. Over the last couple years, as ive been exploring and making demos and teaching people and showing people whats possible, i kept using the word responsive, and kept thinking, well, this is just an evolution of Responsive web Design. This is like responsive web Design bonus edition, allama with extra super powers, but I finally got to the place towards the end of last year where it just felt like, no, we need a new word.
This ways a better way to. This is what I predict were going to be doing, and Ethan was right. For eight years we did Responsive web Design, which he defined as having a fluid grid, fluid images or flexible images, and using media queries to change the design at different break points. Make your design fit on mobile screens and desktop screens at the same time by going back to the roots of the medium, making things inherently squishy so that it would flow and be fluid depending on whatever the screen size. We all know this, responsive web Design.
Jeffrey zeldman : Right, and the web was inherently flexible, its just up until that point, up until we had those tools, and that way of thinking about it, the flexibility was kind of ugly most of the time. It was liquid design where someone with a giant monitor would have 18,000 characters in a line of text, which isnt readable. We didnt really want to do fixed width. We didnt really want to pretend that the web was print. Well, theres a lot of kind of, we did too, actually. I mean, youve been going back looking at lots of the earliest, i mean, right?
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Welcome to the show, jen Simmons. Jen Simmons : Thank you. Jeffrey zeldman : Welcome back, i should say. Weve had several of thesis these conversations in the past. Jen Simmons : yeah. Jeffrey zeldman : you have a new thing that youve been talking about a lot, which I find very exciting. You talked about it at An event Apart seattle a couple weeks ago in seattle, washington. Tell the good people what Intrinsic Web Design means, what its all about. Jen Simmons : yeah, so i stood onstage at An event Apart, super nervous, because that is the place where Ethan Marcotte, eight years prior, had coined the term Responsive web Design, sticking a flag in the ground, saying, hey, weve been doing layout.
do visually. Thats not something particularly semantic. Anyway, i distracted myself in my enthusiasm. Shes the firefox Grid Inspector creator, member of the css working Group. Shes been teaching you how css grid changes everything in web graphic design with a variety of online free articles and videos, chiefly in layout Land, and shes an advocate for designers, for good semantic code. Shes an advocate for justice and representation and inclusion in our medium, which is a whole other thing, and shes also someone whos been doing design for, like, more than 20 years, and before that, was in theatre design, and theatre generally. Shes the creator of one of the most popular podcasts ever for web people, the web Ahead, which has been on hiatus while shes been doing everything else.
I havent been on a podcast in such a long time. I actually have missed it so much, so thank you for having. Jeffrey zeldman reviews : Its fun. Thank you for coming on the show. Jen, if you dont know, is a designer advocate at mozilla. Shes the creator of the firefox Grid Inspector, which someone on Twitter today said was probably not the Dreamweaver or the macaw, but was like, part of that we used to talk, is web design ever going to be done visually and not by coders? And said, no, it couldnt be, and so this might be the start.
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While our foundation has held firm, we pride ourselves on continuing to modernize the curriculum and our teaching practices. The prestigious 2016 Bernard. Gordon Prize for Innovation in Engineering and Technology Education is a nod both to our history and to our future, recognizing wpis project-based curriculum developing leadership, innovative problem-solving, interdisciplinary collaboration, and global competencies. Arguably every student who attends wpi learns to think like an engineer; these days there is just as much attention to assuring our students think like entrepreneurs. The following is a transcript. The big Web Show Episode 176: Intrinsic Web Design with Jen Simmons. Jeffrey zeldman : Hello, and welcome to the big Web Show, everything web that matters. Im Jeffrey zeldman, your host, and my guest today is the amazing, the incredible jen Simmons. Jen Simmons : hi, jeffrey.