068: With Ben Schwarz

01:09:09   Download

This week we were joined by Ben Schwarz, a full stack web hacker, tool maker, and tip sharer from Melbourne, Australia. We talked about (roughly in order):


Q & A

  • 16:30 When does Ben use Grunt JS and when does he use CodeKit?
  • 24:25 What are some of the worst case scenarios when using UA sniffing? Is all UA sniffing bad, or are there upsides? Chris lays down the law.
  • 34:00 Responsive images via SVG by Estelle Weyl
  • 42:10 What’s new in Melbourn, Australia?
  • 43:35 “I’m pretty good with CSS, when should I start learning SCSS? Do you have any suggestions for a Windows setup?” Scout, Live Reload, Compass.app for Windows.
  • 50:30 What workflow should I use for Git since I’m not building web apps? (example, building a WordPress site)
  • 58:40 What is the big deal about designing with a grid? Why should I use one?


  • 56:45 Environments for Humans – The CSS Summit is an online conference focused totally on CSS July 23-25. Three full days of training, advanced topics, and preprocessors. Coupon code SHOPTALK is good for 20% off.
  • 37:13 Squarespace – Super nice looking websites (new templates!) for people you create right from the web. Plus very advanced developer tools. Head over to Squarespace.com and use coupon code “shoptalk4”.

More Ben

  • Unmistakable Australian garbage truck sound at 05:36 🙂

  • Some sites that offer software downloads on multiple platforms will promote the version for the visitors current OS, presumably by UA sniffing. Is Shop Talk Show against this?

    • I think it’s safe-ish to do if you know what your target user groups are and can cater for those. Being generic for OS shouldn’t be too bad, but as you get more specific around versions of OS and browsers you can get into trouble.

      This is a quick pen showing a very bad example, but an example none-the-less.


    • chriscoyier

      Dave talked about that a little in the show. That’s usually a pretty decent use case for it, since it’s just such a little tiny convenience thing not holding up the entire site. But still, what if you get it wrong? You might totally block a legit user from getting the right copy of your software? That’s not good. At the very least there should be links to get the right software regardless of current UA.

      • Sorry I missed that part of the discussion. I’ve always seen these sites offer all downloads, they just make current OS the default.

        I think there’s a cost-risk-benefit like trade-off between how accurate your sniff test is, the benefits to users when you get it right and the risks of getting it wrong.

        Another example would be a site with a BG photo behind a max-width content area. Only physically larger screens (hi-inches, not hi-res) would be big enough to have the BG photo show. A UA sniff for might be used to avoid serving any BG image at all to “mobile devices”. Even if it’s only right 75% of the time the only risk is that some false positives mean a desktop screen misses out on a non-content image. Everyone else get’s the same, or better experience than they otherwise would have. Benefit every time it’s right, very little downside when it’s wrong.

  • Recently I had an issue where a crazy slider wouldn’t work on mobile. Due to the timeline, I simply removed it on mobile (it was duplicate content) using UA sniffing on the back-end. In my mind, this was another good use case for sniffing.

  • Mark Phoenix

    Thanks for answering my question. I’ve decided to dive into Sass with Prepros. Where’s a good place to go to learn how to use it properly?

  • Takeoff: A simple automated optimized development workflow with GruntJS, quick way to get started with Grunt: http://tsvensen.github.io/Takeoff/

  • At 20:45 or so you guys are talking about how Grunt configs are in the repository so it makes Grunt work the same for all team members. CodeKit can do this too. If you enable project level settings it keeps a codekit.json file in the project root folder that you can keep in the repo to keep everyone on the same page with CodeKit. Anyone else using this?

  • nbass26

    Thanks Ben! You made me try out Grunt and I love it!!!!

  • Luke Watts

    I feel much better now that Chris said he doesn’t/didn’t know how to use grunt and bower.