How Do You Manage Your Responsive Design Code Base?

I recently sold Responsive Design to management at work and, excitedly, we will begin working on transitioning one of our sites within the coming weeks. As I read more and more into the responsive design process and bring developers up to speed with the new user interface, I began to pose some questions to myself. I feel it just resulted in even more questions but perhaps some other people in the great Internet universe may have some answers for me.

How do you maintain a DRY code base?

After I tried a couple different approaches to a responsive design, I finally landed on Twitter’s Bootstrap to putter around with. While it’s great to *cough* bootstrap with, it’s in no fashion to be the be-all end-all user interface CSS — you will end up hijacking the code and inserting crazy stuff in it and you would be much better off just starting from scratch for your own web-app.

But how do you maintain DRY code? There are more way to skin a cat, and even more to accomplish the same thing in CSS and JavaScript. How can you prevent other designers and front-end developers from re-inventing the wheel over and over again whenever they make one small edit to the UI?

We did a huge overhaul to just one section of our website, and when the project started I wrote a clean piece of Sass for the developers to use, and by the time the project was done, it was cluttered with repeated and unnecessary styles. I can only imagine it will be 10x worse with a responsive designed website.

How do you organize your code for the multiple experiences?

That being said, how ARE you supposed to organize your code then for these multiple experiences? As far as IDEs go, there are not many (if any) options for CSS out there that can deconstruct your CSS and find duplicated styles and tell you where you can optimizer your code. (If there are, I haven’t used any.)

How to debug with multiple experiences?

We only have 2 people in our QA department and it already sucks time away from them when they need to test features in all the major web browsers and their major versions. Which devices should they be testing on? How much complexity is added with each new screen resolution that you add to the code base?

When I developed my proof of concept, I developed on a Mac with Chrome, Firefox and Safari. I never even took a look at it in Internet Explorer. When do you say “I am only going to support until version X?” You could easily dismiss browser eccentricities and say you should only design for resolutions, but that’s hard to explain to a client when they go to use the website on their respective computer/mobile device and finds out it doesn’t work.

How do you instruct developers not as familiar with front-end development?

As stated above, we had a fairly small development team and after a couple of months of development, even though I had instructed my teammates that they didn’t need to condense the styles into one-liners because we had the Sass compiler do it for us, I was still finding unreadable code in the code base. How do you bring everyone up to speed? It seems with responsive design and more complicated design methodologies, it’s harder for the everyday “coder” to be up-to-speed on all the new jazz with front-end development too.


So those are my current gripes. It’s not going to prevent me from using responsive mobile design at all, but I imagine it will cause some headaches down the road while everyone is still trying to figure out exactly the definition of what responsive design really means.


You Can Tell a Lot About a Person by the Stickers They Have on Their Laptop

I was in a meeting today and noticed that everyone who had a laptop had at least one (if not many) stickers on their chassis. Now, I’m not a particular fan of doing this myself, I prefer a clean exterior, but it got me to thinking how laptops are our present-day footlockers.

Many of the stickers I see are from conferences they recently attended, like postage stamps of where your luggage has been. I’ll see stickers of Octo-cat or for programming languages that they are currently evangelizing. You can tell a lot about a person by the stickers they have on their laptop!


First Copic Coloring

For my mother’s birthday this year, I thought a personal gift would be better than something I bought in the store. This is the first thing I created by sketch with sketches, Copic Multiliners, and Copic Markers.

Our family pet, Lily, died right before Valentine’s day in 2011. She was 11 years old and a dear family member for all of us while we were growing up. I know it’s been hard for my mother to not have her little buddy and we’re hoping to find another dog for her to love soon. In the meantime, I hope a little picture of her drawn by me will hold a place.

I made a lot of mistakes with this piece, and every time I look at it I find more flaws (also, the picture of this isn’t all that great, either!) When I showed it to a few people, they immediately recognized it as a corgi, so I suppose that’s a good sign I was doing something right! This was before I got a light-box, so instead of erasing the pencil lines, I tried to outline it with the multiliners, scan it on to a piece of printer paper, and then color the result. I found out my scanner is not so great and all the pencil lines turned up as yellow-ish marks on the paper. I also messed up the blue-ish aura around Lily’s head, I had yet to master the aura technique I had learned from the Copic Beginner’s Class. 🙂 A learning experience! But, this piece does have a lovely home in the atrium of my mother’s hallway.


Copic Standard Class


Customer Care in the Digital Age

A couple of days ago I posted this on Twitter:

It was really weird and awkward whenever my husband then texted me later and said, “Aetna called, they saw your Twitter post and want you to call them back.”

Initially I thought to myself, “Uh oh, they must be pissed I said something? What did I say?? Am I going to get sued?”

When I got back in contact with them, a friendly lady answered and said that Aetna had noticed my Tweet, researched why I had received so many ID cards and wanted to let me know why.

Isn’t that freaking cool that companies out there are actively looking at their customers feedback and want to help you versus just trying to shut you up? Kudos, Aetna!


We Had to Take Izzie to the ER

Last night we had to take Izzie to the ER. It was totally my fault but wanted to post about it so that if one of my readers came about this post, they would heed my warning.

In my office I have a packet of paper tacked to my cork board that has little over one hundred food and plant items that are toxic to dogs. Many of these items I didn’t know were toxic before I got Isabella even though I’ve had a dog in my life for more than a decade (did they not distribute this information in the past?)

When I first brought Izzie home, I reviewed this list and tried to remember this as much as possible and I am usually very careful with what I feed her. For instance, she has a horrible allergy to wheat, and if she eats anything containing it, she breaks out in hives and won’t stop biting herself where she flares up. I don’t feed her table scraps and I scold Adam whenever he feeds her from the table.

That being said, she IS a corgi, and they are well-know for their insatiable appetite and will do anything short of killing you to get a piece of food. Last night, I was finishing up a plate of Thai fried rice and pulled out a bunch of onions that I didn’t want to eat. I had to run to the restroom and left the plate out. From the back of the house, I could hear Izzie jump on the couch and audible gulp the remaining morsels from my dinner plate. No volume of screaming from the restroom would halt her in her food reverie and a few moments later she waltz into the bedroom licking the stay food particles from her lips.

It was then a race around the house trying to find out exactly how much onions were toxic to dogs and who I should contact at 10:30 at night in case it was going to be an emergency.

My first call was to the Animal Poison Control Line run by the ASPCA. After waiting on hold for a few minutes and giving them all my information on the incident, the operator then told me that it would be a charge of $65 before they could even give me advice. This wouldn’t count any time of actual emergency intervention, just advice.

I quickly hung up and dialed my veterinarian. Unsurprisingly, they were closed but gave me numbers to two 24-hour emergency animal hospitals in Brooklyn and I gave them a call. The first hospital was already dealing with an emergency but did tell me that I needed to get her attention soon. I called the second hospital and they too confirmed that she needed to throw up the onions. I could either give her hydrogen peroxide (not the stuff you use on your hair) or bring her to the hospital. I had none of the hydrogen peroxide at home and it would take probably 20 minutes to pick some up at the local CVS and even then it wouldn’t be a sure bet that she would actually vomit.

All the while I am freaking out running around the house, Izzie had since plopped herself down on the carpet and was already ready for bed. I decided to tell her we were going for a walk and quickly shuffled her to the car so I could speed down 4th Avenue to the animal hospital.

When she was finally seen by a technician, they alerted me that onions are particularly harmful to dogs because it causes anemia, which makes them lethargic and prevent oxygen from getting into their red blood cells. If she isn’t treated, the worst that could happen to her was that she would need a full blood transfusion otherwise she would die. Soon that $200 vet bill didn’t sound too bad.

They gave her an injection of a medication that would make her nauseous, but she was still quite stubborn before she gave up those onions! The process made her pretty loopy and I had to take turns with Adam to carry her back home from the car and she spent the rest of the evening curled up in her bed.

The Take-away

If you have fur-children, be sure to keep a list of toxic foods/plants in your house for reference and be careful what you have laying out that your pets could possibly get into.

Also keep an emergency veterinarian number in your mobile phone. And if there isn’t a 24-hour hospital in your area to call, at least get the ASPCA number in your phone, you might be out $65 for advice but better than burying your loved-one.

A lot of people know about how chocolate is toxic to dogs, but the reality is that most chocolate has a high milk content and dogs (depending on weight) need a LOT of chocolate in order to get to toxicity. Usually, chocolate is not as bad as you may think unless they decide to gorge on a pound of 85% cacao. Onions, and other surprising food items, are actually a lot worse.

For a list of toxic food and plants for your fur-child, download a copy of this list to keep around the house.