This Week in CloseBrace - 12/9/16

Another week has passed, and a whole lot more work has been done on CloseBrace. I'm excited because this week I get to write the first post in this blog that might realistically be called a "development update" – that's right, I've been laying down code that's actually going to be used in the production version of (launching February 6th, 2017!).

At the beginning of the week, I spent some time perfecting the recording process for my tutorials. I'm now fully set up to record screen capture from both my Mac and my PC, and have a pipeline established for converting that raw input into a more polished finished video. I've also put some work into my speaking voice, so that the tutorials don't sound stilted or awkward. More work to be done there, but I've got all the technical stuff solved!

A lot of developers these days try to "get to code" as quickly as possible. I think there's some value in that ... the web is a flexible medium and it's often easier to make changes there than in a Photoshop document. Still, I like to start in PS as a sort of brainstorming platform, creating blocks, testing colors and fonts, that kind of stuff. I pretty quickly laid out a nice, simple design for an article page, one that has a pretty minimalist feel that really lets the content shine. Let's take a look:

CloseBrace Design Example

Yes, it's got some big ads on it, but those are a necessary evil if I want to keep this thing running! There will be an inexpensive pro subscription tier that will allow the removal of those ads (along with other perks), and I hope those of you who run ad blockers, and everyone else for that matter, will consider subscribing.

After getting to a point where I felt like I had enough laid out to move to code, that's exactly what I did. I started with a fresh, local install of KeystoneJS, then tore out Bootstrap—I'm going to roll my own CSS—and added JavaScript concatenation and minifying to their gulp script, so that I can make one HTTP call for scripts instead of three or four. The goal is for CloseBrace to be a fast, mobile-friendly, lightweight website. I want the content and the videos to take up the bulk of the bandwidth, not the design and associated code.

Once I had Keystone set up the way I wanted it, I spent a bit of time deciding what browsers I want to support. My conclusion: the vast majority of JavaScript developers are going to be working with fairly modern browsers, so I'm only going to worry about IE 11 and up, and relatively recent versions of Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Safari, etc. That means I can work with flexbox instead of floats, which is great. Flexbox is, well … flexible.

At that point, I dove into HTML and CSS. So far all I've finished is the header bar, but I can assure you it's fully adaptive and looks fabulous on phones, tablets, and desktops. Even knowing that some things will change as I continue to experiment in the code, I'm confident I should be able to get the rest of the page built pretty quickly.

Of course, that's just one page. I'll still need to figure out the home page, article indices, and that sort of stuff. Still, we're looking good for our next milestone, having a basic skeleton up and running on December 16th.

That's about it for this week. Stay tuned for more updates!

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Founder and creator of CloseBrace
Providence, RI, USA Website