Doctype Switching and the Box Model Hack

While developing IE5 for Mac, Tantek Çelik introduces doctype switching, allowing web developers to define which CSS box model to use in modern browsers. To polyfill older browsers, he creates the Box Model Hack, which uses some CSS to define widths for both box models in the same definition.

Amazon Web Services (AWS)

Amazon unveils a set of tools for developers, including an XML API, and calls it Amazon Web Services. At first, these tools allow developers to pull data from Amazon to use on their own site, but it will slowly evolve to become a complete solution for cloud infrastructure and hosting on the web.

The Decade-Long Path to Web Fonts

The web has a long and storied history with text, typography and fonts. Most content on the web is text. And at the very least, typography accounts for 95% of web design. But this is the story of fonts, that fundamental building block of design. In 2009, the WOFF font format was developed, and subsequently sent to […]

Wired and ESPN Redesign

Wired and ESPN launch standards-based redesigns just a few months apart, building on the work being down at the Web Standards Project and providing a strong, at-scale example of using CSS for advanced web page layout.

Semantic Wired Redesign

Developers and designers at Wired magazine launch a brand new version of their website with a standards based layout using semantic HTML and CSS. At a time when standards were inconsistent, Wired established an impressive precedent for other web designers to follow.

RSS 2.0

After several years of in-fighting by members of the web community, Dave Winer releases a second version of RSS which adds some minor improvements to the format. After it is released, the New York Times and other publishers syndicate their content with RSS, but backlash from the community leads to the creation of Atom.

Mozilla Phoenix

After years as an experimental branch of Netscape Navigator, Phoenix is unveiled to the Mozilla open source community. Phoenix was a complete rewrite of the existing browser, and was faster, lighter and included the latest web standards.

An Early History of Web Accessibility

Accessibility is one of the foundational principles of the World Wide Web. Fighting to preserve that principle are the creators behind the most powerful tools, some of which still exist today.

Cynthia Says

HiSoftware releases the tool Cynthia Says, named for accessibility expert and pioneer Cynthia Waddell. The Cynthia Says webpage allows for developers to enter in a webpage and get a full report about the accessibility of their site. Each report offered educational resources about the issue, as well as a list of potential solutions.

WordPress admin, early on

15 Years of WordPress

It was January of 2003, and 19 year old blogger and amateur programmer Matt Mullenweg was distraught. In a post on his blog titled The Blogging Software Dilemma, Mullenweg wrote: My logging software hasn’t been updated for months, and the main developer has disappeared, and I can only hope that he’s okay. Mullenweg’s “logging software” was […]

WordPress

Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little create a fork of the popular blogging platform known as b2, creating the foundation of software that would eventually become WordPress. WordPress would continue to grow and eventually become a full content management system that can be installed on a users server complete with an administration panel, themes and installable plugins.

The Rise of CSS

The web’s history is filled to the brim with stops and starts and wrong turns. It is a technology that was, after all, designed and built by a shifting and growing community. And every once in a while, that community needs a spark to inspire change. I’d like to point out two such moments, which […]

CSS Zen Garden

Dave Shea launches CSS Zen Garden. The garden is a collection of user contributed webpages, all with the same HTML, but each with a different CSS stylesheet. The examples on Shea’s site help push the web standards movement forward, and convinces many of the strength of CSS.

A List Apart design

Year of A List Apart

I’d really recommend reading a thread on Eric Meyer’s blog from early 2007. In it, he poses a pretty simple question for his regular readers: What do you consider to be some of the most important events in the history of CSS and web design? There are a lot of different answers, and more then a few […]

Designing with Web Standards

New Riders Press publishes Designing with Web Standards by Jeffrey Zeldman, a handbook that helps designers transition from table-based hacks to HTML and CSS based designs. It offers a pragmatic approach for getting started with web standards and acts as a jumping off point for a lot of web designers.

Atom Syndication Format

After RSS went unchanged for several years, some members of the web community decided to create a new syndication format that was better suited to the growing needs of the web. Atom is released after a few months of discussion on a public wiki, and the format eventually becomes and IETF standard.

Mozilla Foundation

The Mozilla Organization is spun off into a non-profit called the Mozilla Foundation. The group had been operating from within Netscape for some time, but making the organization independent ensured it could continue to operate even if Netscape didn’t.

Myspace

A team at eUniverse unveils Myspace, a social network modeled after Friendster, but with loftier goals in mind. Rather than limit users to connections from real life, Myspace opened the door for a new generation of users to find and connect with digital friends through new digital identities. Myspace would eventually become the most popular site on the web, sell to News Corp for 580 million dollars, before eventually shutting down.

Delicious

Joshua Schachter and Peter Gadjokov launch Delicious, a social bookmarking platform. Delicious is notable for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the introduction of tags, easily searchable keywords attached by the user to every bookmark. In 2005, they would be acquired by Yahoo and eventually change hands a few more times.

Sliding Doors of CSS

Douglas Bowman writes about a new CSS technique that takes advantage of layered background images to create flexible and continuous image-based backgrounds. Bowman uses tabbed navigation for his example, but the technique quickly becomes the basis for unique web designs.

What Happens When Yahoo Acquires You

I could have titled this “A Tale of Two Acquisitions,” but I already used that one. Still, we’re going to take a look at two hugely successful platforms that rapidly rose to the top of their game, only to come crashing back down after their acquisition. An acquisition, I might add, by the same company. […]

Basecamp

Originally conceived as an internal tool to help manage clients, 37signals launches Basecamp, a platform that helps agencies store contacts, track leads, and gather feedback. It is impressively advanced, built using Ruby on Rails, and takes off soon after its release.

Flickr

Originally a small feature of the massively multiplayer Game Neverending, Flickr is unveiled to the public by Stewart Butterfield and Caterina Fake. The site allows users to share photos with one another, and like, share, and comment on one another’s photos.

The Many Faces (And Names) of Mozilla

The rich history of Mozilla and Firefox is one that I imagine I’ll be coming back to from time to time. There’s a lot to cover. For me, the most intriguing way to take a look through Mozilla’s history is to track each time its name has changed. There have been more than a few. […]

Mozilla Firefox

Mozilla releases it’s new browser, Firefox, after working on its development for almost four years. An open source project, Firefox introduces the latest web standards, and includes the new Gecko layout engine. It represented one of the first major browser advancements in quite some time.

CSS Sprites

Dave Shea writes an article for A List Apart outlining a technique, adapted from 2D game design,  for organizing background images in a single file, and then using the CSS background-position property to retrieve them. This makes web pages more performant and easier to manage.

Gmail

Gmail is launched to private invites after three years of development. Initially created by Paul Bucheit as an almost skunkworks project, Gmail offered more storage and better search than its competitors, all built around an application-like experience. The April Fools day joke is Sergey Brin’s idea.

W3C Web Applications Workshop

Adobe convenes W3C’s Workshop on Web Applications and Compound Documents to discuss the future of web applications. The group votes against extending HTML in favor of the much stricter standard XHTML. After the meeting, frustrated dissenters will create the WHATWG.

A Tale of Two Standards

It was 2004, and Ian Hickson had just got out of a W3C workshop organized by Adobe. The topic was how to use web standards to address the growing needs of web applications and developers. Hickson pushed hard to simply extend HTML, the existing markup language of the web, rather than invent something entirely new. Others […]

Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group (WHATWG) Founded

Representatives from Mozilla and Opera, led by Ian Hickson, form the WHATWG as a response to the direction of the W3C. The new standards body begins with a mailing list and simple charter to discuss how to improve the HTML markup language.

Resolution Dependent Layout

Cameron Adams publishes a new technique on his blog which uses Javascript to detect the resolution of a site visitor’s monitor, and swap out different stylesheets based on the result. This allows designers to change the layout of their site based on resolution, and foreshadows the techniques of responsive web design.

Digg

Kevin Rose, Owen Byrne, Ron Gorodetzky, and Jay Adelson create Digg, a link sharing site that lets users share articles from the Internet which other users can either “digg” or “bury”. The site is a bit of a Silicon Valley darling and quickly secures a strong following and funding, only to fade away years later, in 2012.

First Viral Video

Gary Brolsma publishes “Numa Numa,” which would soon become the web’s first viral video, on Newgrounds. The video features a small clip of Brolsma dancing along to “Dragostea Din Tei” on his webcam, but it’s low-quality authenticity is enough to make it spread out far across the web.

Million Dollar Homepage full image map

The Power of the Pixel

This week’s edition is brought to you by the humble pixel. The digital lego. The stuff websites are made of. The construction and orientation of these pixels on an ever-changing landscape of devices might feel like shifting sands beneath our feet, but it remains the indivisible atom of digital design. This is mostly about how […]

Google Maps

Google Maps leaks out to the Slashdot community a day early, while still in beta. The application renders maps tile by tile, allowing users to scrub through or zoom out using a mouse. In its first release, only North America was represented, a major complaint from the community.

YouTube

Former Paypal employees Steve Chen, Chad Hurley, and Jawed Karim launch their video sharing platform YouTube. Though it’s capabilities are somewhat limited, eventually YouTube would become the most popular video sharing site on the web. Even early on, it makes videos easy to upload, and includes a cross-platform video player.

Google Maps early design

What Does AJAX Even Stand For?

The term AJAX may have not been coined until 2005, but it’s origin stretches all the way back to the early 2000’s, when browsers provided developers with the glue between clients and servers.

Ajax

Jesse James Garrett coins Ajax (short for Asynchronous Javascript and XML) to describe the use of Javascript to retrieve data from a server and display it on a page without a page refresh. Though the technique had already been in use for some time, Garrett officially codified the methodology.

Screenshot of the MooTools website in 2007

That Time MooTools Almost Broke the Web

This post was originally published on CSS-Tricks. On March 6, 2018, a new bug was added to the official Mozilla Firefox browser bug tracker. A developer had noticed an issue with Mozilla’s nightly build. The report noted that a 14-day weather forecast widget typically featured on a German website had all of a sudden broken and disappeared. […]

Prototype

Sam Stephenson writes the first version of Prototype, one of the earliest examples of a Javascript framework. Prototype was built with the goal of both bringing object-oriented programming to the Javascript language, and extending Javascript functionality to add features that it lacked.

Reddit v. Digg: A Difference in Approach

Jessica Livingston has a passion for the web’s future. It’s what lead her, in March of 2005, to quit her day job and help start up a new kind of investment firm called Y Combinator. Livingston had been a director at another VC firm, but she wanted to do things a bit differently with Y […]

Reddit

Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian create Reddit as part of the inaugural batch at Y Combinator. It’s goal was to become the “front page of the Internet,” a goal that it has come close to reaching over the years, with features like post karma and subreddits.

A recent screenshot of the Opera browser

A Mini Browser for the Masses

If you don’t know much about the Opera browser, that’s probably because their market share in the United States has never been particularly high (right now, it stands at around 1.5%). Opera’s competitive advantage is that they deal with the real world. They solve problems that other browsers don’t, and they do it globally and […]

Opera Mini

Launched as a beta project in conjunction with the Norweigian television station TV 2, Opera Mini could be downloaded to any phone and give that phone instant access to the web. Opera Mini makes use of a proxy server, downloading, optimizing and caching requested web pages before they sent are sent back to users, saving on bandwidth and increasing speed and reliability.

Million Dollar Homepage

Launched by Alex Tew, the Million Dollar Homepage lays out a grid of a million pixels, and sells each to advertisers for a dollar. The site is an early example of an Internet phenomenon that spreads quickly to millions of users.

Ruby on Rails logo

Making a Framework for the Web

It started with a simple manifesto. A manifesto posted online with 37 guiding principles, small phrases showcasing big ideas like “We See People” and “Not Full Service” and “We Don’t Throw Curves.” The website was a list of rules for a web design agency to follow, created by Jason Fried, Carlos Segura, and Ernest Kim […]

Ruby on Rails

David Heinemeier Hansson creates Ruby on Rails, a Ruby framework that includes tools to quickly develop web applications. The framework is an outgrowth of Hansson’s work on the Basecamp product, and it is released alongside a 15 minute demo video and thorough documentation, helping to bolster its success.

jQuery

jQuery is unveiled by John Resig at BarCamp NYC, an informal web developer meetup. Dubbed with the tagline “New Wave Javascript,” jQuery’s major departure from other Javascript libraries is its introduction of a new API layered on top of existing Javascript methods which added to but did not extend the core Javascript language.

MooTools

A later addition to the Javascript lineup, MooTools is initially released as a lightweight version of Prototype. It soon evolves into a framework in its own right and, at its peak, counts itself among the most popular. It builds on the object-oriented principles of Prototype and, like its predecessor, extends existing Javascript primitives to build out not yet released features.

Screenshot of the first ever website

The Unlikely Pioneers of the Early Web

How many websites are there? That’s not an easy question to answer. The web is, by its very nature, decentralized and global and super difficult to properly account for. A feature that we’re more and more finding is both a blessing and a curse. Best estimate for that number right now (at the time of […]

100 Million Websites

The web reaches 100 million total websites, a number that would continue to grow exponentially over the next decade.

iPhone

Steve Jobs and Apple unveil the iPhone at Macworld. It is notable for a number of its technological achievements, not the least of which is a full-featured mobile web browser with the latest HTML and CSS support. Over the years, the iPhone would both influence and be influenced by the web’s development.

Coda

Developed by Panic Software, Coda integrates several disparate tools into a single web editing tool. The software includes access to FTP, a code editor, a command line utility and reference material, all bundled together. The tool becomes a favorite among designers and developers working on several sites at once, in small teams or by themselves.

FFFFOUND!

A side project of Japanese web design agency Tha, FFFFOUND! sends out invites to a handful of users. FFFFOUND! allows users to post images from across the web, and connect them with other pictures through likes and comments. FFFFOUND! would soon gather a loyal following of users looking for inspiration or art.

KompoZer

KompoZer offers an open source WYSIWYG web editing alternative by developer Fabien Cazenave, with a special emphasis on standards-compliant output. Though not advanced as other tools out there, KompoZer does sport integrated HTML validation tools and advanced CSS support. It will eventually be more or less discontinued in 2011.

How to Use the Web To Show the Truth

Ushahidi is a platform that uses the democratizing power of the web to open access to citizen journalists on the ground and shine a light where the truth is hidden.

Ushahidi

A small team launches Ushahidi, an open-source, crowd-sourcing application that allows people to submit reports which are aggregated in a map view. It was originally created in the wake of a crisis after the 2007 Kenyan election, but has since been used all over the world and has been critical in collecting data during several conflicts.

Purple, Obama, and Single Serving Websites

Over the years, the web has assumed a few forms. That of a technological catalyst, a representation of the the times, a community ground. But it also can be very weird, and quite silly. That’s probably how we got single serving sites. Single serving sites follow a pattern that’s probably familiar to you. The site […]

Single Serving Sites

Jason Kottke gives a name to sites that have a single purpose and a URL that speaks for itself. Kottke was inspired by BarackObamaIsYourNewBicycle.com, and wrote an article gathering similar  examples. From there, the phenomena of single serving sites only grew as more and more were added to the web.

Flexible Web Design

Zoe Gillenwater publishes her book, Flexible Web Design: Creating Liquid and Elastic Layouts with CSS, a compilation of tutorials and techniques for approaching liquid grids and elastic web design. The book becomes a handbook for designers looking to make a switch to more flexible designs.

The Archive Team

Jason Scott rounds up a group of volunteers to help download and archive all of Geocities before it is deleted. In the wake of their successful recovery of Geocities, Scott forms the Archive Team to support a collective archiving effort whenever a site is threatened by deletion.

Pinboard

Pinboard is launched as a lightweight competitor to Delicious by Maciej Cegłowski and Peter Gadjokov (one of Delicious’ co-founders), with a focus on private sharing and a focused feature set. When Pinboard goes up, it’s price is $3, which increases a fraction of a cent each time a user signs up.

Typekit

Small Batch launches Typekit at a time when web fonts in browsers are spotty and uneven. Typekit allows font foundries to sell digital licenses directly to web developers, and gives developers an easy way to embed them on their site. In 2011, Typekit will be bought by Adobe.

The W3C logo

Almost (Standards) Doesn’t Count

In 2008, the team at Microsoft found themselves in quite the pickle. Let me back up. In 2002, the team at Mozilla found themselves in quite the pickle. Mozilla was the team inside of Netscape that had been spun out as a non-profit to work on Netscape’s browser. Netscape was, in turn, acquired by AOL […]

Internet Explorer 8

IE8 brought with it major improvements in web standards support and security, and was largely celebrated for its advancements. It also was the first browser to support version targeting, allowing developers to toggle which version of IE to render their page in, including older versions, for compatibility reasons.

WOFF File Format

The Web Open Font Format specification is officially submitted to the W3C as an open source format built for the web. WOFF files are specifically formatted and compressed so that file sizes are small and embeddable. One by one, browsers begin implementing the WOFF format.

Screenshot from the site "Cool Site of the Day" circa 1998

The (Mostly) Complete History of Layout on the Web and Responsive Design

The web, as a visual and interactive medium, is still pretty new. Designing for the web has always meant striking a balance between influence from other mediums like print and brand new attitudes. The most revolutionary techniques in web design managed to find that balance, and pushed the web forward in leaps and bounds. Little […]

Responsive Web Design

Ethan Marcotte publishes an article in A List Apart titled “Responsive Web Design” that introduces a revolutionary new approach to CSS layout on mobile devices. It merges fluid grids, flexible images, and media queries to create layouts that respond to the width of the browser. Within a couple of years, responsive web design will become the industry standard.

Todo MVC

Comparing the “Why” of Single Page App Frameworks

The web is filled with rundowns of this JavaScript framework versus that one. But we don’t often take the time to understand why they were built in the first place.

Backbone.js

The first version of the Backbone.js web framework, based on the model view presenter methodology, is released. Originally created to help creators manage large and unwieldy Javascript codebases, Backbone becomes known as a lightweight solution for creating single page applications.

AngularJS

AngularJS is open sourced, though it had been in development for some time by software engineer Miško Hevery. AngularJS helps web designers create single page applications using data binding directly in HTML templates. It also provides helpers for connecting with a server, manipulating data and managing business logic.

Students learning to code

The Beginning of Black Girls Code

My dream of starting BlackGirlsCode… was born out of this frustration that “blacks in tech” are often the unmitigated invisible men (and women) in the room. – Kimberly Bryant Kimberly Bryant graduated from Vanderbilt University with a degree in Electrical Engineering. While still in college, she noticed something. Among students from her graduating class with […]

Black Girls Code

Kimberly Bryant creates the non-profit organization Black Girls Code with the goal of getting young minority women excited about computer engineering. The organization runs after school classes, summer camps, and weekend workshops for girls aged 7 to 16, and has programs across the United States.

mlkshk

mlkshk is officially launched by husband and wife Amber Costley and Andre Torrez. It allows users to post their favorite images from the web, and organize them into topics-based “shakes.” Somewhere between a social network and a community, mlkshk offered users a place to share what they loved and discover something new.

CSS Modules

With the release of CSS3, CSS was divided into several different specifications known as “modules”. Each module represented a subset of CSS, such as colors or web fonts, and is operated and maintained by an independent working group, so that each can advance at its own pace.

Adaptive Images

Before even responsive design, there were many proposals for how to support lightweight images on mobile devices, while still keeping desktop images crisp and clear. Adaptive images offloaded that work to the server, and automatically resized image on the fly to always deliver an optimized image.

SOPA

U.S. Representative Lamar S. Smith introduces a new bill, the Stop Online Privacy Act (SOPA), into Congress that is meant to expand the powers of the United States beyond its borders to prevent copyright infringement but is invasive and draconian in its proposed implementation. A similar bill, PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) is soon introduced in the Senate.

The Web Goes on Strike

As a way of protesting SOPA and PIPA, over 7,000 sites “went on strike.” Some sites, like Wikipedia and Reddit, removed their content completely and replaced it with information about how to stop the new laws. Other sites simply added banners or darkened their designs. The protest was successful, and was one of the main reasons the legislation was stopped.

HTML Splits In Two

After working together for a few years, the W3C and WHATWG officially agree to approach HTML differently. The W3C would, from time to time, record a “snapshot” and continue to increment versions of HTML (5, 6, etc). The WHATWG, on the other hand, would adopt a single “living standard,” just called HTML.

Getting to the Picture Element

The story of how responsive images made its way into the browser doubles as an inside look at the standards making process itself. For some of us on the web, myself counted among them, it was our very first look behind the curtain. Web standards, the rules of CSS and HTML and Javascript that govern […]

The Picture Element

The Responsive Images Community Group (RICG) makes a final call for feedback on their proposed specification for the picture element, after years of work and a whole lot of back and forth between standards making organizations and the community. The brand new HTML element allows for lightweight images to be served to mobile browsers.

WaSP Shuts Down

After 15 years of working with browsers and developers on better standards support, the Web Standards Project (WaSP) officially shuts down. With browsers in tune with the standards process and developers understanding their value, the organization is simply no longer needed.

React

Developers at Facebook release React, a framework for building user interfaces on the web. Originally inspired by the PHP framework XHP, React embraces the idea of components, and allows users to create individual components which respond and automatically update based on data and content changes.

Vue.js

Evan You launches Vue.js, a web framework for building single page applications. Like other frameworks, it makes use of data binding, the model-view-controller pattern and client-side routing. But Vue is broken up into modules, so that developers could use whatever piece of the framework they want.

1 Billion Websites

The web crosses over the 1 billion websites mark, only to actually fall back beneath it towards the end of 2014, only to cross the number once again in 2015.

HTML5 Official Recommendation

HTML5 is formally made a recommendation by the W3C. HTML5 adds new syntactic elements and attributes, deeper APIs, and more access to native features. It also includes much broader support for multimedia and web graphics with elements like video and canvas.

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

The EU adopts GDPR as a successor to the Data Protection Directive with further restrictions to the types of personally identifiable information that can be collected online. It specifically requires that websites disclose any data that has been collected and limits how long data can be held. It also enforces a way for users to request their personal data to be completely erased.

Place

An April Fools joke launched by Reddit, Place invites users to change pixels on a large, shared grid. But each user can only edit a single pixel every 5 minutes, meaning cooperation and a massive team effort followed the three days the site was in operation.

Flash And Its History On The Web

Flash is a definitive part of the web’s history. And like many technologies that get caught in the web’s web, it has a rather storied history of its own. But from basically the beginning, it’s development has run parallel to the web’s. Flash got started, conceptually, the day that Jonathan Gay met Charlie Jackson at […]

Adobe Announces the End of Flash

Adobe announces that as of 2020, they will stop supporting and updating Flash software and players. After the release of the iPhone and other mobile devices sans Flash, much of the web moved away from the technology, though it is still frequently used by indie animators and game developers.