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Articles By:

Mark Huot

  1. A Webpack Pattern Library

    Posted on 12/1/16

    I am very excited for the upcoming adoption of web components. They provide a number of improvements to the developer experience of managing large codebases. If you’re not up to speed there’s a good article over on CSS-Tricks covering all the basics. It’s a bit dated but the core concepts haven’t changed too much.

  2. Autolayout

    Posted on 9/15/16

    I’ve had a love-hate relationship with grid systems over the years. Every system I try to standardize on becomes bloated, forgotten, or yesterday’s news. I find myself constantly switching to the next best thing. What follows isn’t a proclamation that this new system is the best, or that you should drop everything and switch. Instead, allow me to walk you through my grid system evolution so that we may all learn from it.

  3. Cool under pressure

    Posted on 5/5/16

    Why are doctors sometimes considered “cool under pressure?” Is it because their personality is one that doesn’t get riled up when faced with a challenge? Is it because they have an ingrained character trait that allows them to remain calm when everyone else is completely losing it? Have you ever noticed that web developers are sometimes labeled the same way? Is it the same thing? Are web developers saving the world too? Probably not.

  4. Expressive Type for Copy Blocks

    Posted on 2/25/16

    How many times have you been coding a navigation and found yourself overriding the default padding on a list? Or, have you ever dove into a teeny tiny “product meta block” only to find that all your paragraphs have this ridiculous default font-size of 16px? What do you do? Well, you do one of two things… you override everything or you set more simplistic defaults.

  5. My one true layout

    Posted on 11/6/15

    Recently I’ve been “evangelizing” Docker quite a bit among the Happy Cog developers. Sometimes that sounds like “zomg, Mark really loves Docker” and other times it’s closer to “omg, why is he over engineering this again.” What I’ve been working on, lately, is a way to use Docker containers to re-implement a more flexible version of Heroku. The end goal is a workflow that starts with a developer pushing code. That code, regardless of branch, is published to a unique URL that anyone can see, regardless of their setup or environment.

  6. Be a better painter

    Posted on 8/27/15

    The past weekend I found myself in middle of the suburban maelstrom that is Saturdays at Home Depot™. If you’ve ever been to Home Depot on a summer weekend in New Jersey you know what I’m talking about. The entire universe of suburban dads swarm to Home Depot on Saturday to get supplies for the weekend’s chore list. It’s a controlled mayhem. Myself, I was in the market for some paint to freshen up our bathroom. I spent some time picking colors with my wife, settled on one, then sent her and the kids home while I waited in line for a gallon.

  7. Craft + Patternlab = Buzzwords!

    Posted on 5/7/15

    Craft is a flexible and powerful content management system (CMS) with a responsive interface content authors want to use. It uses the Twig template system to power its HTML front-end. Twig comes out of the Symfony project and provides a fast, secure, and flexible system. Twig code is inherently portable and is not tied to Craft, or even PHP, with recent ports showing up in Node. Craft is great for back-end developers.

  8. The Wearable Web

    Posted on 3/26/15

    There’s been a lot of talk recently about experiencing the full internet on the latest and greatest device class, namely our watches. Apple’s exclusion of the Safari web browser on their watch has many people up in arms. “It’s the web” people say, “it should be accessible anywhere,” they scream.

  9. Switch Programming

    Posted on 1/23/14

    There are countless sayings about fresh perspective: “A little distance will give you a whole new perspective,” “You need to step away for a while,” etc. Unfortunately, we live in a culture where that’s not always possible—or practical. I have a very hard time getting up and walking away from my computer when I’m in the middle of a problem. My mind wants to sit and work right through it, no matter how long it takes.

    Luckily, I work at a company that encourages collaborative problem solving. Someone always walks by my desk, hears my mutter, and asks me what’s up. Typically, explaining the issue is enough to help solve it (or at least put me on the correct track).

  10. Automating Your Deployments

    Posted on 11/14/13

    Deploying a website to a web server is hard. Not “It’ll take some extra time” hard or “We’ll need some help” hard. It’s “Get a whiteboard and plan out the thing A Beautiful Mind-style” hard. It’s easy to look at your code, look at your server, and just drag/drop files to production. It’s a lot more difficult to set up an automated system that will do that for you.

    At Happy Cog, we work in a variety of technical situations, and our deployment strategies must be extensible enough to suit each and every need. We deploy to Windows servers and to *nix servers. In some situations, we deploy code as well as content. We deploy PHP websites on some servers and Ruby web workers on others.

  11. Sweat the Small Stuff

    Posted on 6/6/13

    Time and time again, we’re told “don’t sweat the small stuff” and focus on the things that really matter. Typically, we hear this when we’re obsessing over a pixel here and a pixel there instead of concentrating on the direction and concept first. Most of the time, this makes sense and is sage advice—except for when it isn’t. At some point in every project, you have to focus on the minutia and work through the small stuff. For me, this typically comes in the implementation phase (and that’s okay).

  12. Expanding The Box

    Posted on 10/18/12

    I always hear stories of managers pushing employees to “think outside the box”—to go beyond their day-to-day and find that idea that is unlike anything else. This is a tall order and maybe even a bit unrealistic. If our comfort zone is A, B, and C, how can we expect to find X without first understanding D–W? Because of this, I like to think in terms of “expanding the box” instead of jumping entirely outside of it.

  13. It's Tech

    Posted on 7/12/12

    If you’ve worked in the theater, you’re probably familiar with the term “tech week.” It’s that magical time when an entire production comes together in a matter of days. It’s a whirlwind week that culminates in a big opening night performance.

  14. Clippers

    Posted on 3/8/12

    I recently went on the hunt for a new barber closer to home. You see, I’ve been fortunate enough to have my hair cut for the last six years from the same barber every time, a friendly man named Joe. Over that time Joe and I have gotten to know each other quite well. We both have dacshunds, we both enjoy the theater, and we both know exactly how I like my hair cut.

  15. Knowledge is Power

    Posted on 10/13/11

    Earlier this year I started the P90X workout regimen. The program is 90 days long and emphasizes “muscular confusion” through a variety of cross-training exercises. Throughout the program, Tony, your lovable yet demanding trainer, reminds you again and again to write down how many reps you do. Whether it’s 10 pull ups, 30 squats, or 15 push ups, you’ll be reminded to “write it down” each and every time. It gets monotonous, sure. It seems silly at first, yes. But in the end it’s probably the single best way to ensure you get the most out of the program. The worksheets are designed for quick comparisons of your success. With these worksheets, it’s easy to track your progress over time and see that your upper body is getting stronger or that your lower body is remaining stagnant, for example. With this information, you’ll know what areas need work and what areas need rest.

  16. Not everyone's a technophile

    Posted on 6/16/11

    When you engage Happy Cog in a full scale web redesign, you typically come out of the project with a fully integrated content management system (or CMS). The implementation of a CMS implies that you and your team will have access to a tool that will facilitate updating content across the entire website. The system creates an abstract of the website using simple forms to enable content entry. Completing those forms will generate all the necessary callouts, sidebars, related links, archives, etc. from which your site is built.

  17. Typecasting Ourselves

    Posted on 3/3/11

    In the movie business when an actor plays the same role over and over, he is considered “typecast.” A word that carries negative connotations and general disdain. The typecast label implies actors only play one role well, emoting the same expressions throughout projects, and presenting the same personality no matter the situation. Generally, being typecast is not something an actor strives for.

  18. Responsible Development

    Posted on 11/18/10

    When Happy Cog undertakes a development job, one of our goals is to empower our clients with the necessary knowledge for them to help themselves. We’re not passing the buck — we’re planning for the future. No one likes writing or receiving panicked emails about urgent updates to the legal speak of the footer, or that so and so’s aunt just looked at the website and couldn’t find the button that adds an item to the cart. We work with our clients every step of the way to ensure that, even in those panicked moments, they are able to help themselves.

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