Tinned Fruit Missives April 2017

It’s hard to spot a theme this month. But if there one, it’s about remembering to focus on letting users to do amazing things with your product that you hadn’t expected.

Increasingly, I see and hear the influence of Kathy Sierra’s Badass and Clayton Christensen’s Jobs to be Done framework. Both place emphasis on understanding and supporting users’ fundamental motivations.

The web continues to provide an amazing platform for supporting any number of human motivations, but we have to be careful not to lock out those new to creating for the web. By making the web platform more capable, we always run the risk of creating new barriers to entry.

Unfortunately, I also have to mention Brexit this month, as it’s been pretty much unavoidable here in the UK. I have put two Brexit links in a separate section to keep it isolated for those that aren’t in the UK / want to keep their head firmly in the sand.

All the best,

– Jim

[Talk] The Browser Isn’t Feature Complete - Francisco Tolmasky


This talk is a year old, but it hits on something that is close to my heart. Francisco talks about how important it is that the web continues to support ‘incremental learning’, where anyone can dive in and create stuff with little knowledge, but can progress incrementally to more advanced creations. His argument is that browser vendors are driving the web into a read-only model, and they need to embrace more of what makes the web such a great creative platform.

World Wide Web, Not Wealthy Western Web - Bruce Lawson


If you even vaguely might at some point include those outside the industrialised west in your target audience, this is required reading. The web is not the same everywhere. Access is subject to bandwidth availability, device capabilities, personal background and a whole host of legal, social and cultural factors that you hadn’t thought of. As product designers and developers, we can use progressive web apps (PWAs), performance improvements, accessibility techniques, internationalisation and other techniques to cater for a wider audience. But some challenges are bigger than that.

Modern JavaScript for Ancient Web Developers - Gina Trapani


It used to be that specialist server-side web developers tolerated knowing just enough JavaScript to get simple things done using jQuery if they had to. That’s changed, and many server-side specialists are becoming seriously interested in JavaScript. Unfortunately, the JavaScript ecosystem can be confusing even for the most experienced developer. This post by Gina Trapani is a great entry point into modern JavaScript development for old-school server-siders. Hers is an individual journey, but the same lean learning approach of “first do it, then do it right, then do it better” also works well for teams wanting to modernise their product.

Brexit Special!

Yep, British Prime Minister Theresa May triggered Article 50 this week, starting the two-year process of taking the UK out of the European Union. Almost everyone I’ve spoken to in the UK tech industry voted to remain in the EU, but I suppose we now have to deal with reality and make the best of it.

If you’re wondering about the impact that Brexit will have on the UK tech industry, here are a couple of links to get you started.

Brexit for geeks: a briefing for digital professionals - Heather Burns


Heather provides a detailed run-down of the possible impacts of Brexit for UK digital professionals. If you are responsible for a digital product company based in the UK, you should read this. She goes on to claim that the UK government may be using Brexit as an opportunity to reshape UK digital law without oversight. Tell us what you really think, Heather! :-)

The digital revolution is unstoppable, inevitable - and bigger than Brexit - Bryan Glick


Bryan Glick reminds us that although the impact of Brexit may be felt in the UK for a generation, it pales in significance against the unstoppable force that is tech innovation. He argues that although the current government may be luddites, they are not maliciously using Brexit as a cover to destroy the UK tech industry.

(BTW, I wasn’t expecting to link to Computer Weekly in this newsletter. I might as well add a link to my favourite computer magazine of all time: Crash Magazine. From a time when a Conservative government was busy destroying a different industry.)

Tinned Fruit Missives is a monthly newsletter published by Jim Newbery, a front-end engineering consultant from Edinburgh in Scotland.

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