225: #davegoeswindows Wrap-up

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Hear the finale of the #DaveGoesWindows series. Worried about being left behind? What can you do while you just build websites? The line between front end and back end developers being blurred? Animating icons on your phone's home screen? We've got answers!



Chris Coyier and Dave Rupert in silly sunglasses and a sign that says Shawp Tawlkk Shough DOT COM

Chris Coyier and Dave Rupert

This episode is with just Chris & Dave, ShopTalk Show's hosts. Chris is the co-founder of CodePen and creator of CSS-Tricks, and Dave is lead developer at Paravel.

Time Jump Links

  • 40:20 How come we haven't figured out a way to animate phone app icons on events like "when clicked" or moved?
  • 45:01 When did Front-End become closer to "Back End"? Do you think staying on the path as a UI Engineer is smart or trying to pivot and learn more of the JS frameworks, etc.?
  • 50:00 What are some useful ways I can stay on top of whats new and changing other then listening to Shoptalk Show?


CHRIS: Hello, everybody. Time for another ShopTalk Show. This one is just Dave and I, Episode #225, doing lots of different Q&A. Let's see. What are we going to get into here?

We've got somebody here worried about being left behind, and we're going to do the "Just Build Websites," but instead of just that, we're going to give you a huge list of things that you could build while you're just building websites. "Just build what?" you might say. Well, Melanie Richards put together a master list of those, which you should check out. There's probably a link in the show notes.

We've got one here about the line between front and backend engineer and developer, that type of stuff. Is JavaScript really backend these days? Hmm. Kind of weird.

Let's see. We've got one about why can't you move an icon on your iOS or Android home screen on your phone. Can you animate those? That and more coming up later. For now, Dave, sir, please kick things off.

[Banjo music]


DAVE: Hey, there, Shop-o-maniacs. You're listening to another episode of the ShopTalk Show. I'm Dave Rupert. With me is Chris Coyier. Chris, how are you doing?

CHRIS: I am super good. At the end of last episode we were like, you know what we should maybe have Dave do is talk about Dave Goes Windows because that was a big subject for us kind of last "season" for a while, and we never really wrapped it up because it was kind of a life change. It's hard to wrap up something like that. Maybe there is a way to kind of end this thing, and I don't want to take any spoilers away from you, so maybe just tell us about how that went.

DAVE: Oh, yeah. All right, so I guess is this kind of the end of Dave Goes Windows? I guess we're wrapping up the experiment.

CHRIS: Let's call it the end of it unless we--

DAVE: Let's call it the end.

CHRIS: We'll bring it back. It doesn't mean that we're not going to talk about Windows stuff any more. And it doesn't mean that we preclude Microsoft sponsoring this podcast to have us talk about some other things, or anything like that. But the ShopTalk Show Dave Goes Windows saga is over as of this--

DAVE: Yeah. Yeah, we're calling an end to, and really it's like truthful to what we originally set out to do, which was one year on Windows, experiencing another ecosystem, which, man, it's been a cool experience, I will say. I guess, do we want to start with a TLDR of how it's been and then kind of go from there? Does that sound--?

CHRIS: Well, I mean, sure. I can do two seconds of it. They sent you a device to use, which even the device itself, I think, is a little weird because I guess you'd call it a laptop, but it has the touch screen, and it has a weird keyboard on it and stuff. That's literally the thing that you use full time.

DAVE: Yeah, it's a Surface Pro 3, which is now like a gen behind, and I hear rumors of new Surfaces on the horizon. It's maybe even getting close to two gens behind.

CHRIS: Oh, interesting. There's Surface Pro 5 now or whatever, or some kind of new naming?

DAVE: I think something is coming. I hear, and I know Intel has new chip sets.

CHRIS: It looks like it's going to come in July or something.

DAVE: Yeah.

CHRIS: Yeah, I see. That's cool. A) You didn't pay for it. But, B, they didn't give us any money or anything either.


CHRIS: All they gave you was the Surface Pro 3.

DAVE: Surface Pro 3, and so I've been using it as my primary development machine, and it has been interesting. I think my first hurdles were like how do I do my job, and I maybe literally probably lost a month figuring this out, like a whole switch in ecosystem and now how do I do Jekyll, and how do I do Rails? I maybe kind of lost a whole month getting into a new system.

I know people out there are probably like, "Oh, that's a heart attack nightmare scenario." But for me it was okay. I was in a bit of a low work cycle, so it was fine.

Yeah, so I spent like a month kind of getting to know it, but I actually was able to start doing Jekyll and things like that relatively quickly, but Rails was a big problem. Node is a first class citizen in Windows, so it's actually very, very easy to get up and going on Node and things like that.

CHRIS: You focused a lot on the technology stuff, which is a very big deal because that's the thing that actually allows you to do our job, be paid, and all that stuff. But was that as big of a deal or a bigger deal than all of the other, like, I don't know. There's this app that I miss or I can't get used to the Control key.

DAVE: Yeah.

CHRIS: Or the hardware is weird or it looks, you know--

DAVE: Yeah, so the Control key is a thing. I think people who use Macs are familiar with their Command key or it used to be called the Open Apple key, but the Command key. That's like right by the spacebar, so you use your thumb to trigger that one. But Windows is the Control key, which is like your pinky has to stretch and hit it.

I will say I think the Mac situation is way better, and only to say I think there are legit reasons, like your pinky finger is your weakest finger and least mobile finger. And so it's kind of like when you stretch for a high note on a guitar. You're kind of like maybe my pinky is going to hit it, or maybe it won't. It's sort of that feeling with the Control key.

But after a few months, or even a couple weeks, I am very used to it. I think the hardest part was switching between computers and, like, oh, I have to get something off my Mac or, oh, I have to get something off of my PC. When you use switching or you're doing device testing, that's actually really hard to do is to switch between. But once you lock into a system, it's fine.

My complaint is it's the weak finger, and somebody is going to comment and say, "Oh, you should just remap all your keys." It's like, "No, no, no, no, no. That's okay," but I just kind of wanted to experience the system, you know, as it is. That was sort of I want to be true to the system.

CHRIS: Okay, and so you lost a month-ish. It's not like you were zero percent productive, right?

DAVE: Yeah.

CHRIS: This was a hard month of getting used to the new digs.

DAVE: Yeah, it was a hard month, and Rails, I was kind of like going to do DayTrip during this kind of slow period, and DayTrip is a Rails app. I couldn't because the system was pretty broken. There was a gem that was outdated, never tested. It had been broken since January or March, and it's Nokogiri, which is like the core XML processor for Ruby on Rails, and so it was broke on Windows for months.

CHRIS: Nokogiri is a pain on Mac even.

DAVE: Yeah, so it was even worse when you're like the sort of stepchild, you know, like, "Oh, we'll get to Windows whenever." You know, and I say that as a stepchild. No judgments against stepchildren. It was just that kind of second class citizenry or, to kind of borrow a social justice term to just do terrible justice, like a micro aggression sort of thing.

Kind of when it's like why is this not easy, or why didn't no one consider this? Those sort of things just kind of pile up into an ergonomic, and we talked about developer ergonomics recently. But those kind of pile up, and then it's like it's just hard to do my job, a little bit harder to do my job on this system because you're kind of going against the--

Although, so you're going against the, like, pop dev culture, if that makes sense. But 80%, 90% of the world uses Windows. But it's like the 10% that builds software, oh, well, we use Macs and Linux. And so that was sort of eye opening.

I know, and we kind of did it on the ShopTalk Show. It's just like, you know, oh, our designers use Sketch, but I'm on Windows, which I do. And our answer was, like, well, buy a Mac and buy Sketch, which is decent advice for a business. But if you're just like a lone developer in Indonesia, Ukraine, India, or anywhere, it's just that's maybe not. That's a lot of bucks to go buy an aluminum laptop just on a whim, you know.

CHRIS: Absolutely. This was an intentional move, we should say, all along too. It was. I mean part of that going against the pop culture grain was the impetus for this. It was: I want to try and see what this is like, and some of it was based on the statistics of the listeners of ShopTalk Show and the fact that we get plenty of questions regarding that grain and stuff, so you decided to open your mind a little bit by trying this. Now, how long has it been since that thing arrived at your doorstep? Has it been almost a year?

DAVE: Exactly a year, and so that was kind of the softball commitment was like what if I switched to Windows for a year. It's been a year since it dropped on my doorstep. And so, yeah, it's been kind of wild, a wild ride.

I was set up on Windows 10, like an early edition of that, which Windows 10 is great. Can I just say this? Windows 10 is great.

One problem: I got into--over the year or whatever--a few discussions about Windows. People were like, "Oh, but it looks so ugly." Then they find some screenshot on Google from like Windows Vista or something. It's like, well, that's not what Windows looks like any more.

Or they're like, "Oh, it doesn't have this." It's like, "Oh, actually, that's all built in. It's like right here. You don't know because you're not using Windows."

I think all of us have this kind of like predisposed opinion of what Windows is or whatever, and it's probably wrong is sort of what I want to say because Windows 10 is great. I've been on what's called the insider fast track, which I think it's like seven million people or something are beta testing this software, so I get updates every two weeks.

Lately it's been every, like, four days. But I get updates every two weeks, and sometimes those are good. Sometimes it's like, oh, everything just got better. Sometimes those are bad and my wi-fi card quits working. It's been kind of hard to judge beta software. I think that's one.

If there's been a critique, it's tough. I think, because people aren't paying attention to Windows, like the Twitter app is probably my best example because I use Twitter a lot and I don't think they care about the platform as deeply as they could because the app, like I click notifications, and it just wipes. It just disappears from my screen. It crashed and disappeared. It's just like this quality, this stinks, but I don't know if it's something I did on the fast track or if it's just a bad app, so it's hard to judge. But that's been a big bummer from the whole thing.

I'll start with a bummer, Chris. Apps just disappear.

CHRIS: Okay. I think if anybody had a guess of how this was going to go for you, that's probably what they would have guessed. They'd be like, "I don't know. Windows seems like it's gotten a lot better. Their hardware has gotten a lot better. It seems like it's going to be a little painful at first, but you'll probably get used to it over some time. Then you'll struggle through some tech stuff, and it will mostly work, but there'll still be some pain."

It seems like not terribly surprising, but maybe one of the more surprising things is now that--I don't know--it's kind of towards the end of this. You had an experiment. You've struggled through a lot. You learned a lot. You used the stuff. You even still have some troubles here and there.

But are ultimately like, "No." What's your final answer? Are you going to stick with it? Are you going to switch back? Are you going to try Linux next?

DAVE: Well, I think the final answer is my next computer will be--

CHRIS: Wow! Here it is.

DAVE: --a Windows 10 machine.

CHRIS: Wow! So you're going to go with the Surface 5 when it drops or whatever, or look at different options?

DAVE: You know what I'm looking at, and hardware nerds will kind of be onboard with me, and I'll explain this a little bit more, but I'm looking at Razor laptops, which are super gamer laptops. But there's a new laptop announced called the Razor Blade 2016 - Razor Blade. You can Google that, but there's a Razor Blade Stealth, which is like their Mac Book competitor, but this is like the Mac Book Pro. I kind of want more power.

CHRIS: Yeah.

DAVE: I think, just in general, I've been on a few eight meg of ram PCs or computers, even Macs for a while, and I think I hit the limits for what I do, but I want this Mac Book Pro kind of Razor.

CHRIS: That's still cheap. I was ready to get some sticker shock stuff because it's like it's a gaming thing. It looks really nice and all that stuff, and it starts at $999.

DAVE: Yeah, well, and that's the Stealth. Then the Razor Blade, the 14-inch kind of starts at like $2,000 or something like that, so still cheaper than a Mac Book Pro, and the specs are pretty similar, if not better, on this.

Then what's the cool part is that you can buy this thing called the Razor Core, which is like a little thing that you attach to it, and it hooks over a Thunderbolt 3, and it has a GPU you can buy and hook up into it, and so now it's like a super gaming rig, like play Overwatch, (indiscernible, 00:15:08), StarCraft, all that.

CHRIS: Oh, man.

DAVE: Not that I'm like a super gamer, but this idea that I could plug in and have access to that power is super cool. And VR. I'm kind of getting into VR, so that'll do all the VR for me as well. It's kind of cool that I can--I don't know--just plug my computer into a thing and now it's a super, super computer.

CHRIS: It looks like an Abduzeedo site almost, you know.

DAVE: Oh, yeah.

CHRIS: All the Rainbow action.

DAVE: Yeah. No, it's pretty hot, pretty gamery, which I'm not a super gamer, but I think it'll be pretty dang cool.

CHRIS: It appeals to me too, to know that if we wanted to pop a StarCraft game that it's going to be mega high quality, high fidelity, I mean gaming at its absolute best.

DAVE: Because I actually -- I tried--

CHRIS: Well, maybe. I mean I would think a desktop machine probably is still the best, best, best, right?

DAVE: Yeah. Yeah, a desktop machine with like water cooled CPUs, blah, blah, blah. I've gotten into all that too. You can spend a lot of money and make a really cool thing, but that's, you know, I do make--

CHRIS: But this can be a regular computer also and come with you on the plane and all that.

DAVE: Yeah. Yeah, this is my conference computer. This is my day-to-day. This is my go to meetings computer. Then I plug it in and I have access to high GPU. One thing I've kind of -- I've played some casual games like Fire Watch and things like that.

CHRIS: Yeah.

DAVE: It just actually couldn't run. I was getting 10 FPS on the Surface Pro 3, and so even on low settings it just wasn't good. It wasn't what the game wanted to be, so I just was like, you know, I don't know. I want access to that. I've started doing some game dev on the side, so I'm definitely like I want some access to a little bit more power in my day-to-day.

But here's what I will say. People will disagree, I'm sure, but I think when I was in the Mac monoculture, and that's kind of what part of this has all been is what is it. I have an iPhone. I have an iPad. I have a Mac Book Pro and a Mac Book. My wife uses a Mac Book Air.

CHRIS: Mm-hmm.

DAVE: When you break out of that monoculture of all these Apple devices, what is it like? That was kind of the big question. I think, for the longest time, mostly because it was true at one point, I think I felt like Apple had the best hardware. They had the best software. They had the best OS. They had the best design and everything.

I think what I learned over this past year is I now don't think any of those things are true any more, which is so weird because it was a deeply held belief, or just almost like fact. Like, of course it's the best. It's Apple. Jony Ive wears a white T-shirt and tells me these things. Of course it's the best.

I think the biggest change is I now understand there are miles of hardware between the Apple hardware and, like, a next gen gaming computer. It's just a huge gulf between those things. There's software. Windows 10 actually looks good and feels good, and it keeps iterating and getting better. I really like it. That makes me feel good. I feel like when I watch the Apple keynotes, it's just progressing, but not kind of rapidly or whatever. I'm just comparing and contrasting here from the two things I know.

I think the biggest thing, and this was maybe the clincher because I was still kind of on the fence, but the biggest thing that's maybe is that Edge, which is the browser I use every day--I'm looking at it right now--Edge is going to support progressive Web apps. They've kind of vocalized support for that, so that means websites will be akin to native apps on Windows, and that to me is very cool. For me, it's like I appreciate how HTML, CSS, and JavaScript are first class citizens in the Microsoft ecosystem. Most of the apps I use are HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

I don't know. I'm going to vote with my dollars and purchase that technology, I think, is honestly what it comes down to is I want to use technology that supports the Web. So that's kind of where, I mean, that was like the final nail in the coffin when Edge was like, "Yeah, we're doing progressive Web apps." I was like, "That's what I want to put money at."

CHRIS: Nice.

DAVE: Yeah.

CHRIS: That's a big deal. It'll be interesting to get some people because I feel like if ShopTalk Show has biases, which it has many, I'm sure, Mac being one of them for a long time and less so now, but still a little bit because I almost was relieved when you did this because I'm like, "Oh, cool. So I can stay in my bubble and still have the show have some balance? Awesome."

DAVE: Okay. You drew the short straw. Great. Good job.

CHRIS: I don't know. It's not different. We could do it too, but with CodePen's deep stack, and we mandate all our employees to have it because we have a very complicated local stack and stuff. I don't know. It's just one of those things. I don't want to rock this boat right now.


CHRIS: I'm busy!

DAVE: That's fair. My friend Lahn put it -- he was just kind of like, "I've been the outsider. Like I use the OS no one else used." It's kind of your deal to figure out how it works. If you're going to be the outlier, good luck because things will break and you have to figure it out.

CHRIS: Yeah.

DAVE: That's a fair business choice.

CHRIS: Maybe you have that inde spirit than most.

DAVE: Yeah.

CHRIS: If my network card stopped working, I'd lose my stuff.

DAVE: Oh, I lost--

CHRIS: I couldn't handle that.

DAVE: I did. I was not cool. But it was like, you know, you figure out, try to figure out everything you could do. I could kind of pin it up, and it would work. But then two weeks later it's done. It's fixed. I kind of always knew a fix was coming, so that was kind of cool.

But also, you talk about everyone is on a Mac setup. What's cool about Windows is they have introduced that Bash on Ubuntu on Windows thing, which is a full Linux environment running on your Windows system. It's a subsystem. It's not an emulator. It's not a VM. It's not anything like that. It's like full Linux under the hood, so you just open up a Bash app.

CHRIS: Oh, that's why Bash works on Windows now? That big announcement or whatever.

DAVE: Yeah, so it's like a Linux subsystem, so they basically figured out how, like when Linux does a thing, there's just a little adapter or wiring, plumbing that's like, okay, I'll just tell Windows to do this, or something. It works perfectly.

Cygwin, everyone is like, oh, just use Cygwin, but that's like C new binary is like GNU binary is like compiled for Windows and then maybe some tinkering is done to make it actually work. It just kind of never felt right, so this is like full Linux, so I can hop in and basically do things in a very Ubuntu way.

You kind of joked like, Dave, are you going to go learn, go switch to Linux now? In some ways I have because I'm now opening the door to Ubuntu and using that kind of daily now, so it's kind of wild just how it's all changed. It's kind of wild that I'm doing that now.

CHRIS: Mm-hmm.

DAVE: Because I used to think I was very Linux savvy. Oh, yeah, I use Linux. I use the command line all the time, man. But then you're presented with a naked Ubuntu, like just nothing. Just blank. Dude, that's like I don't know UNIX or Linux at all, and so I'm learning piece-by-piece how to do it the right way. I used to think I was cool, but now I realize I was just a poser, a total imposter.

CHRIS: Where I was going with the bias kind of thing is we probably had more like Chrome people and Chrome talk and Chrome tech on this podcast as well then we have had Edge people, Microsoft people, and stuff. But that's interesting about the progressive apps because that feels like a very Chromey thing to have Edge going that way too. That's a possibility for a show in the future with some balance, I would think.

DAVE: Yeah. No, I think it's kind of a huge deal for the Web, just that. Firefox has pledged support too, so just kind of waiting on Safari, which controls iOS entirely.

CHRIS: Some of this talk is you can go to and read some of your posts over time on this. Maybe a big final-ish one, much like this podcast, is when you went to Build kind of thing, which is now a number of months ago, but that kind of had some influence on you too because it gave you some insight into--I don't know--what the Microsoft community is doing, saying, and thinking from kind of the leadership on down.

DAVE: Yeah. This was eye opening. I mean I kind of follow Microsoft, especially with this, and I have contacts there, and I've worked with them from time-to-time. I kind of know and I'm aware, but what was really cool, I went to the conference. I had a legit, like, oh-wow moment because I was invited out by Rey Bango and king of given VIP kind of treatment. It was really cool.

I was sitting there listening, and they kept announcing things. Oh, we're doing this thing. Oh, we're doing Bash on Ubuntu on Windows. Oh, you can do this, and you can do this now. We have like this SDK. We're doing bots.

They just kind of like opened up their whole product line and were just like, hey, build on this thing. You can build on this thing. You can build on this thing. It was like they opened up their whole product line.

My sense, the vibe I got was like Microsoft's view of technology is we want your thing to work with our thing. I thought that was really cool. They didn't say that outright, but that's sort of the impression I got. That was a very cool, kind of like revelation or whatever. I just was like, I think that's how technology kind of should be.

I feel like we wait for every year when Tim Cook comes down from the Cupertino Mountain, and he's like, "You will buy these two new products this year," or Google IO comes and it's like, "Here's how you have to build websites this year." I think I wasn't -- I was kind of tired of those things, and I really liked this kind of, "Hey, we just made a bunch of things. Try it." That's kind of like my MO is, like, "Oh, I like things. I like trying things. Maybe I could make something very cool with this new API."

One of the weirdest, but best examples of this, I think, was Microsoft Ink, which they had this guy, Brian Roper. If you've ever watched a Microsoft keynote, he's like the dude in the fedora, really gregarious, pretty. It's kind of unbelievably funny, but it's a scene. It's like a full scene.

He was talking about this Ink API, which is basically drawing on tablets. They, Windows, has XAML, which is their XML based layout language, their kind of HTML competitor, I guess, for apps.

CHRIS: Okay.

DAVE: Yeah, it's kind of like React. It's React for Windows. In two lines of code you can basically add a drawing surface to your app. So if somebody clicks the draw button, they can now interact, draw on your app, save a screenshot, and do all that. That's like two lines of code to add that to your app. I was just like, well, the Web has nothing like that, and iOS doesn't have anything like that. Android, I don't think, has anything like that. It's just easy to add in.

They're trying to make it really easy to add these kind of very complex features to your app. I thought that was cool. It's maybe not the best demonstration of technology, but it was just very cool.

Another one that they have is the Cognitive Services API, which is kind of a whole deal that you've probably seen the, like, "How old am I?" or, "What dog am I?" or, "What celebrity look-a-like am I?" and just these little apps from Microsoft kind of making the social media rounds. But they had this demo where this guy, Saqib Shaikh, he is a non-sighted developer, and he has these smart glasses, which kind of take pictures, kind of live streaming pictures sort of thing.

CHRIS: Uh-huh.

DAVE: But he can just swipe his glasses. It'll take a picture of the room and send it to this cognitive services API, and it'll describe to him what's going on. They have a little video where he's walking around. He hears a noise, he does a swipe, and it's like a kid on a skateboard. It's like, oh, okay. This is making a little more sense.

Then there's another thing they did was like if you're in a conversation with people and there's an awkward silence. He can swipe it and get feedback like: Is this person smiling? Are they into it?


DAVE: Because you never realize how much is nonverbal communication, like is everyone in this room pissed off at something I said?

CHRIS: Yeah.

DAVE: It was cool.

CHRIS: It's not funny, but it's funny in that you just never think of that.

DAVE: No, no.

CHRIS: That must be a struggle, and it probably is. They just can't read the room in the same way.

DAVE: Yeah, like you said something and it's basically like silence. You're like, dude, did I just ruin it? What's happening in this room? And so you could kind of swipe and, oh, it's a woman smiling. He's like, "Okay, good. That's great. So I didn't make anyone mad or whatever."

CHRIS: Or a woman is smiling too much.

DAVE: Yeah.

CHRIS: There's probably some nuance there, you know, like the smile does not look real.

DAVE: Yeah. A woman in 20s fake smiling. Anyway, so this cognitive service, this thing, it's kind of like a very thin layered add like speech recognition and vision, cognitive services. You could auto alt text things for your app. How huge would that be for non-sight users if you could just add alt text to every single photo on your app just automatically? Maybe it's not correct, and so that's the thing you have to check against with any of these things, but what if it does a good job at describing these images? That's kind of cool.

I think, for Saqib, the term would be empowering. He has access to something he didn't before. It showed him he could look at a menu at a restaurant and use it like a screen reader. Take a picture of this. Okay, read out the headings to me. It's like pastas, desserts, and he could just be like, "Okay, read pastas," and navigate a paper menu from these glasses he built. Again, that's a huge thing. It's like adding accessibility to the world, not just--I don't know--not forcing the restaurant to do a brail menu because they probably don't know how to do that. But it's adding abilities to people's just day-to-day lives. I think that's just very cool.

Anything that gives people independence, I'm super fond of. I think the iPhone does a good job of this too, just like the assistive technology of the iPhone allows people to do sign language over face time or it allows people to just kind of like -- yeah.

CHRIS: So all these little niches of tech are impressive and interesting to you.

DAVE: Yeah.

CHRIS: And capture that kind of developer inde spirit stuff.

DAVE: Yeah. I wrote a whole post about kind of everything I learned and dove into, like bot framework is their new bot thing, and they made a pizza bot, of course, because every bot has a pizza bot. What's neat about Microsoft built this bot framework and you hook up your bot to all these other APIs, basically, and so they kind of want to be the hub. But what's neat is like Facebook isn't helping you be on Slack, Cortana, Skype, and whatever.

I just triggered Cortana. Sorry.

It's not helping you do that. Facebook doesn't care. They actually don't want you on these other platforms, so it's neat that Microsoft is like, "Well, let's try to make it work everywhere. Let's try it. Let's try this thing." Slack, for that matter, too, would rather you be on their platform.

CHRIS: Yeah.

DAVE: Anyway, I was very impressed with the whole thing, and I keep coming back to that whole, like, we want your thing to work on our thing. I thought that was just kind of the best thing, and I had the chance to sit down with people in, like, roundtables. I met the inventor of PowerShell, which was kind wild that I could meet these people, big people in Microsoft land, and basically just grill their products and be like, "This is bad. This is bad. Why do you do this?" And they were like, "No, no thanks. This is how we get better." It was a very cool opportunity, so thanks Rey and that whole crew, everybody there, for making that all possible. It was pretty awesome.

CHRIS: I think it says a lot that you were looking at Microsoft software to keep at it because you're in now. That's a big deal. This was absolutely an experiment, and it was successful in the fact that you tested it and gave it a long haul try, and telling that you've decided to switch for it entirely, so pretty cool.

DAVE: Yeah. Well, and there are things. My coworkers still use Macs. The clients I work with still use Macs. I'm very much an outlier right now. Even when we went to this conference, Web Design Day, recently. How many PCs did you see? Very few, I think. I remember mine. Basically, I had a PC.

It's just very different, and I think there will be things. There's PNGGauntlet, but there's not an ImageOptim or ImageAlpha for Windows. That makes it a little hard to do image optimization and things like that. Every once in a while there's a tool I'm missing.

I don't use Sketch, but Sketch would be a huge thing if I was missing it. Adobe XD is supposed to come, and that's very similar. There are things missing on the Windows platform, but I like it.

I don't know. I'm not very, like, you have to do it or, I guess, not really like: This is the best OS and I'll fight you to the ground about it. For me it's like this one suits me very well. I like the things it's doing, so I'm going to use this one. It's sort of how I feel. I feel like this is the one I like to use is straight up the thing. If you want to get into a fight with me about which is the better operating system, I probably won't play that game, but I feel like there's a lot in the Windows operating system that people just don't know about it and it's great. I like it.

CHRIS: Yeah, those conversations are so tired anyway. What's the best band? What's the best anything? Hosting software or anything or host? It's like people vote for the one that they like. Kind of all polls like that are fundamentally flawed anyway.

The amount of people on the planet who can compare a lot of those things because they have deep experience in all of them -- how many people have had deep experiences with ten Web hosts? None. Even if they did, it would be so scoped to their own specific experience anyway that it's like trying to compare things like that is a weird fool's errand. It's like you can post some screenshots and post some anecdotal crap and then declare a winner. It just ends up being click bait garbage.

Anyway, thanks for wrapping all this up with us. It was pretty cool to follow. Just by virtue of Dave being a Windows user, I'm sure that it's going to continue to lend perspective to the show that we wouldn't otherwise have in talking about software and stuff.

Kind of the beauty of this show is we're a Web show, so while OS comes up a lot, not as much as Web technologies. Any time we say Angular or something, that's irrelevant to OS for the most part because it's just the Web. The Web works everywhere, and it works particularly well on Edge.

DAVE: That's what I hope people get from it. I think anyone who builds for the Web, we need to break out of this, like, oh, people only use Macs and Chrome. We need to break out of that and kind of inject some diversity. I think, through that, we kind of build better websites, things that work everywhere, not just on Chrome.

CHRIS: We have a few questions we can kind of flush out this show with a little bit. We have a little time left, huh?

DAVE: Yeah. Let's hit it.

CHRIS: We have one that was a kind of errata with Mr. Rob Gilbert who writes in who has been working as a front end developer for about three years, listened to the show that whole time, and has now become a senior dev at this company. Surely a horrible mistake.

"I've gone from knowing very little, other than the basics, to being able to answer all the questions in the Rapid Fire episodes and more besides. ShopTalk Show has definitely helped keep the enthusiasm going." Thanks for writing in, Rob. Congratulations on your promotion. I'm sure we had very little to do with it, but it sounds like you've been leveling up on your own and leveling up with us as we go on this show.

DAVE: Yeah, thanks for listening. I'm pretty sure I can't answer all the Rapid Fire questions, so you're doing better than me. Good job. Oh, boy. That's great. That's good to hear. I'm glad. It's nice to hear people leveled up, so I like it. I like it. Congrats.

Let's do a question. Let's get back to the roots of the ShopTalk Show. Ted Normington writes in, "How come we haven't figured out a way to animate phone app icons on events like when clicked or when moved? I saw something on a forum about iOS clock app displaying the real time. Upon further investigation, I found this was only possible with a private API or something like that. I suppose this question isn't directly related to Web dev design, but let's say you had a bookmarked Web page on your home screen. Imagine if you could animate that for certain events. Wouldn't that be the coolest?"

That's something to think about. If you bookmarked something on an iPhone screen, it's static. Right? It's just a PNG, literally a PNG. I don't know.

CHRIS: It is. Yeah, it literally is a PNG. I don't think you have any options in file types there. Maybe. I don't even know. I think you don't, though, because I think it needs the alpha transparency.

It's just whatever they let you do. I'm sure on Windows I think they're even more strict. When you make a Windows 10 tile or whatever it is, you don't have a whole heck of a lot of options. You can't just do whatever you want. You follow their format recommendations or whatever.

The same thing with a favicon. The same thing with pin tab things or whatever. We're just at the mercy of what people allow you to do, and I don't think that they'll ever be kind of an open standard for those type of things. It's the nature of platforms is that they have decided aesthetically what they're going to allow you to do and you will do it or not do it.

DAVE: Right. Right. Whenever you build for a platform, it's kind of like you're abiding by that platform, you know, the rules and regulations. I think if you think about it, and you could allow animations and all that stuff, it could get real bad real quick. Like gifs for icons, so you open up your brand new seizure phone and it's just like, "Ah! What's going on?" Yeah, I like the limitation, personally.

CHRIS: Yeah. What if they were all animated? I'm sure that it would be obnoxious. There'd start to be a war of animations. Well, this one is animating, and so we have to animate it now because they're getting the eyeballs that we're not getting on the home screen. Then they're all animated. Then a few companies try to fight against the curve, but they lose. It just seems like a Pandora's Box kind of thing to open up.

DAVE: Yeah. Microsoft has these live tiles, which is on their mobile and Windows 10 and 8 thing. Honestly, I've disabled all of them because it would show up. Then it would cycle through and show you the hottest app in the app store, or it'd show you your most recent song, the most recent tweets, emails, or calendar meetings.

It just got -- like it was just like it turned on, so maybe Windows is for you, but I disabled all of them because it was kind of a cacophony of things happening. It turned it up and it was just like, "Everything is animating! Pay attention to me, to me, to me, to me! I'm relaying information!" I can't do that. I don't know. I just was like, oh, I just would rather click a static image.

Going out on a limb, I think it's working the best it can right now. It would be neat though.

CHRIS: Maybe our tolerance for that changes over time. Maybe Back to the Future will come true and we'll watch 12 TV screens at once or whatever. I think our tolerance for moving little jiggers is going up over time, so it'll change.

DAVE: Isn't that the future then? You open up your phone and it's like Minority Report on your phone because every icon is cycling through information.

CHRIS: Yeah.

DAVE: And telling you what time and what the weather is.

CHRIS: It just seems like an inevitable future, so let's delay it as long as we can.

DAVE: Yeah.

CHRIS: I was using an app on my Mac recently called Clean My Mac, which is one of the apps I actually like for cleaning up garbage and freeing up space and stuff. I think it's pretty well done. It must have some little hack it does because once you get cleaning, it has a cinema display kind of icon with a windshield wiper on it, and the windshield wiper goes back and forth when it's running. So there must be some Mac OS API for setting that icon that it rapidly changes out or something. I don't think there's an official way to do that. They must have just done some clever hack to get it to work.

DAVE: Yeah, I wonder if they're just changing the ICNS reference or whatever.

CHRIS: Yeah, really fast.

DAVE: Just cycling through it. Yeah, I don't know. You can do it on the Web. You can change your little Favicon programmatically if you wanted.

CHRIS: Yeah. Yeah, you can. Doesn't gmail give you a little 1, 2, or 3 up there for unread emails if you want to?

DAVE: Yeah. Yeah.

CHRIS: Okay. Tim, I don't know. Good luck. Joe Tufo writes in, "My name is Joe. I've been a designer for ten years, and front end developer. Most recently I've had the title UI Engineer, and I've started to interview again noticing that the role of front end developer and UI engineer has become more fine grained. It seems as though JavaScript is much more of a requirement for a front end dev as opposed to a UI engineer. When did front end become so much closer to back end? Also, I don't have a lot of JavaScript experience besides presentational stuff. Do you think that staying on the path of UI engineer is smart or trying to pivot and learn more JavaScript?"

That's interesting. I guess in Joe's experience and definition, a UI engineer seems like design plus HTML and CSS and maybe presentational JavaScript. Front end dev is HTML, CSS, but also more heavy duty JavaScript work. I think that seems accurate.

DAVE: I think it could be. I think it's also--I don't know--one in the same. I don't know. I think their job titles sort of need a way to express, like, "Oh, no. We need a lot of JavaScript. We do a lot of JavaScript, so you need a lot of JavaScript." But I don't know. In my brain though, UI's are very JavaScript, but maybe just not in Joe's experience.

CHRIS: I think, to reiterate things I've said in the past, that if you're a front end developer that JavaScript is part of that toolkit and that I think it's a little weird for a front end developer these days to just totally be like, "No, I just don't do JavaScript. It's not one of the things that I do. It's hard, I don't like it, I focus on HTML and CSS, and that's that."

That seems close mindedly weird to me in that JavaScript is very much part of that tri fecta and you can learn it, and you should learn it. It's a big deal, and you will thank yourself for doing it because you will feel very powerful. It just seems like you're going to open up career opportunities. It's just like don't be afraid of the JavaScript.

It is a weird world. It's certainly more complicated. I would straight up say it's more complicated than HTML and CSS. I don't know. I'll just leave it at that, I guess, but there are tons of nuances. Of course, to truly master CSS is very complicated as well and has tons of nuance. There's an absolute crap pile to learn about HTML and all the nuances there and all the accessibility stuff that works.

I wish there were more positions in the world that really were just HTML and CSS. I think companies of a certain size should have people in that role whose job is to be kind of an HTML steward and making sure that whatever the text stack is that the HTML is being done well because year right and left of people that are screwing up their HTML. That would be nice, and I think there are some of those roles. Maybe there's not as much as I would like, but I think that's an acceptable role if you want to take it. But if you are going to go that route, you really should be a true master of those technologies and know a lot.

But to just avoid JavaScript just because, it just seems dumb to me. Joe, I think you should learn some JavaScript.

DAVE: Learn some JavaScript. I like to blame Rebecca Murphy for her posts about front end Web design, the baseline for front end Web designers or front end developers because I still don't know everything she knows and it frustrates me. No, I'm picking on Rebecca, but I think there has been. I think some people know their app is heavy JavaScript, so they want to build that in as a requirement. I think you're doing yourself a disservice by shying away from developing with heaps of JavaScript if you want this to be a career thing. But, you know, some people can make a living without it. But I've only seen it increase, so I would consider pivoting to learn the more JavaScript.

CHRIS: Derek Leinbach -- I think we have time for one or two more.

DAVE: This might be a good one. Yeah, this might be a good one to wrap up on. Derek Leinbach writes in, "First of all, a big fan, guys." Hey, we're a big fan of you, Derek. "I'm a front end Web developer for a non-tech company. I'm the only guy in my department that knows anything about Web development. Most of my responsibilities are pretty basic and straightforward. Ever since I got this job, I find myself being left behind on all the new and awesome technology that's constantly updating. I don't have a team to bounce ideas off of or get insights from. I find it hard to keep up with it all. What are some useful ways to stay on top of what's new and changing other than listening to ShopTalk Show?"

Well, you're starting at the right place.

CHRIS: I don't know. It's fairly rare that we cover the very newest and latest, greatest stuff. I don't know. Maybe we do. I don't know. But it's definitely not our main focus, and we don't necessarily try to do that.

This is a good opportunity, though, I thought to say that, first of all, in one sense this is a Just Build Websites kind of question, you know.


DAVE: Just build websites.

CHRIS: Which will learn you up the things that you need to know to move forward. In that vein, this is definitely something we need to link up in the show notes for this, and we've been sharing it on Twitter and stuff. Melanie Richards put together a companion GitHub repo for Just Build Websites that's a massive, massive list of ideas for what you could build.

Just ideas for websites, you know, like you don't have to sit around and wait for an email, the perfect client to come along that asks you to redo their restaurant website so that you can learn some new CSS. You don't have to wait around to uncover a pile of photos in some basement drawer to learn some new front end technique for building a photo gallery or something. There are ideas that are just sitting out there that you can just do. Melanie created a list of those.

Here's a bunch of them. Help a friend's new business or your friend's new hobby. Or help a friend with their résumé or their wedding website. Create a fan site. That's something we see all the time on CodePen is make a tribute site to something that you love. Build a gallery from photos that you already have because you're on vacation. Try to rebuild a page from one of your favorite sites without looking at their code at all. Just try to redo it.

Or the opposite. Go look at a bunch of people's code and try to learn something from that. That's the first 5 of a list of it looks like 100 or more ideas from Melanie.

Derek, I would say that that's part of the deal too. You're worried about--I don't know--being left behind or not learning new stuff as much. First of all, just build websites. If you don't have any idea of what to build, well, here's a huge list.

DAVE: Yep. That's a good way. Of course I think we always do the newsletters, right? I'm a big fan right now. Is it Web Design Weekly? It's a daily post. Is that right?


DAVE: What's the--? No, Web Platform Daily.

CHRIS: The daily one is Web Platform Daily, right?

DAVE: You subscribe to this in your RSS, and I think it's maintained by -- it's got a quote from Chris Coyier here. You guys might know him. It's maintained by Sime Vidas on the Twitter. It's daily, and you have to check your RSS every day. You have to check it every day, follow it on Twitter, or whatever. Check it every day because the links in the attributions expire, and they disappear after a couple days.

This is like my main way of keeping up. I'll see. I'll click through things and see, like, "Oh, okay. Today there's a polyfill for CSSOM smooth scrolling API." Like, whoa, all right, interesting. I'm just going to check it out. Learn about this. Kind of keep it on my radar. There's a CSS viewport discussion that was kind of kicked off by Sara Soueidan. You've got to check that out. Read about that stuff.

What I like about the fact, like, don't pay money. If you pay money, like a £6 monthly subscription, if you pay money, you get it emailed to you. It's like a permanent artifact, but I like the temporalness because it forces me to check it out that day, or else it makes no sense.

CHRIS: I pay for it just because I think it's my job to know this stuff, in a sense.

DAVE: Yeah, and I think for a lot of people it makes sense, but I love the fact that it's going to expire makes me check it.

CHRIS: Oh, yeah.

DAVE: And so that makes me kind of keep up with things on a day-to-day basis rather than, like, "Okay. I guess I've got free time. What's the Web doing?" I think that's hard to do, so yeah, Web Platform Daily. I think I do HTML5 Weekly. I think I do Pony Foo's JavaScript email.

CHRIS: Oh, yeah. I should do a post of mine too because I get ten, at least, I think.

DAVE: Yeah. Pony Foo's is good, but kind of high level. Yeah. It's kind of like what's it going to be this time. There was that A11Y Weekly, but it sort of petered out, but it was pretty good, like good examples of accessibility chatter. Yeah.

And listening to ShopTalk Show. Maybe we should do a newsletter, Chris? Ours will be the best because we'll know everything from everywhere.

CHRIS: It's not the worst idea, although I've had some help on CSS Tricks. We've been handwriting ours lately, which is cool, so that's a possibility of one you sign up for. It kind of started from scratch at CSS Tricks, so it feels like a small inde project at the moment because our numbers are just nowhere near what some of these big newsletters are.

Even some of the ones that you don't think of are particularly big I'm sure are much bigger than the CSS Tricks one, and I was like, "I think we should level up our game. I think we should start making a better newsletter," so we do.

Some of it is what did we publish this week because that's how some people had originally subscribed to it is they just prefer to read CSS Tricks in this way, kind of, so we do cover, post what we've talked about this week on CSS Tricks, but sometimes there's a block quote, but the block quote is a good one. It's a chosen one that captures the spirit of the article. Then I try to put the most relevant little bits in there so you can decide whether that article was for you. If there's a spoiler, I'll spoil it - kind of thing.

DAVE: Mm-hmm.

CHRIS: Then some links that we haven't published anywhere else, and then we end it each week. In fact, we might as well start beginning with it at some point because it's kind of the best bit, I think, is one of us from the team--and it's me a lot, but it can be anybody--talking about what they learned this week, which is a new, unique bit of content for our newsletter. It just can be anything. The topics have been all over the place, and it's always very interesting and personal.

DAVE: I like that. I like that.

CHRIS: That's ours, but there are dozens and dozens of these newsletters, and I like the format of it.

DAVE: Yeah, because when you get a newsletter, I mean it's how you feel. It's like, nope, delete. I'm not reading anything today. If the Web happened today, that's great, but bye. I'm deleting you.

But when it's like--I don't know--sometimes you are. It's like you're in the morning and you're just like, "Oh, well, I don't want to work yet, so I'm just going to see what's new on the Internet." They're a great time.

Also, here's the secret. Everybody, come over here. All right? Come over here. We'll go in your left speaker. No, actually don't because maybe somebody's left ear don't work.

You can spend a morning working on something cool, like Hello World in React or whatever, and just pretend you're checking your email all morning. Now one is going to know. Just spend -- block like four hours. It'll make you the worst employee, but you'll also have some new skills to show for it, so don't tell anyone. But you can, like, kind of sneak mornings away and work on something if you set your mind to it. That's all I'd say. Anyway, I just got a hundred people fired, so I apologize. Whoops.

Well, if you hate your job, head over to That's a good segue to the end of the show, probably, huh, Chris? Thanks, everybody, for listening. Sorry if you got fired. Head over to Get a brand new job because we owe you. We need to do you a solid and get you a new job.

Be sure to star, heart, favorite this up in your podcatcher of choice. That's how people find out about this show. If you hate your T-shirt, head over to and get a brand new T-shirt with a pretty, pretty ShopTalk logo or CSS Tricks. Those look good too. You'd look good in a CSS Tricks shirt there, listener.

CHRIS: I agree.

DAVE: Really appreciate it. Thanks, everybody, for writing in. Keep sending in your questions because that's how we get content. Chris, have you got anything else?

CHRIS: A true exposé episode here.