Mark Boulton

Weeknotes 2

In a week of more political wtfuckery my highlights were two things: my fridge freezer finally gave up after many years of sporadic leaking, and I enjoyed a brief train journey to Cambridge for work. In the scheme of things, not a big week.

Last week in Heidelberg I'd been asked to travel to Cambridge to give a presentation to senior leadership. I like a good train journey. Time to stare out of the window. To ponder as I zoom past a cows face at 125 miles per hour. The meeting was at the European Bioinformatics Institute – part of EMBL – based in the rather wonderful, but somewhat Gattica-like, Wellcome Genomics Campus. The journey there from Cambridge station was enriched by a discussion about Bangladesh from my very chatty taxi driver. The return journey was a little less interesting.

I fixed a bunch of things on this site. RSS for one. Eleventy is still proving to be the right decision, I think. I'm enjoying using it and learning so much I decided that I'd rebuild the website for my book on it too. Static site generators are just perfect for that use-case. Turns out, this year, Designing for the Web is ten years old! I have to say, after a brief read through some of it, that it's a little long in the tooth and showing its age. For a while I've been thinking of a second edition. Where the hell would you start these days, though? Yeah, React, probably.

Several things caught my eye this week:

Dan's post on typography in design systems understandably attracted my attention. I have opinions on this subject. Naming things is often not as important as consistency and Dan settling on 'preset-1' etc is exactly the type of approach I like. Typographic style definitions is not the place to get cute with naming if you want any kind of understanding of the system at scale.

Building a UI Kit in Figma. Figma is a tool I've not yet spent time to learn. I probably should. Same with Adobe XD, and InVision Studio. Too many tools and not enough time, I guess. But setting aside the actual tool, there are some gems in there of how to organise and build a UI kit.

Using the iPad Pro as my development machine. I tried this recently on a holiday to France and it was an annoying experience. I wouldn't recommend it unless you are the type of person who likes hacking things together for an experiment. Interestingly, though, my main problem with it was the iPad is light. It doesn't work on your lap with a keyboard (like a laptop), so it means you have to sit at a table or desk. Because the screen is small, you naturally lean forward. All in all not a great experience for me.

Elsewhere