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Gratuitous assumptions... which lead to the appearance of semi-intelligent behavior but are in fact entirely arbitrary. Jargon File

Articles tagged ‘css’

CSS background transformations

CSS3 includes a bunch of transform options allowing things like rotation & distortion of element boxes. I wanted to apply that to achieve an effect inspired by mid 20th Century Googie signage.

My goal was to distort just the background behind an element whilst leaving the text alone. The text should also be able to "escape" from the background, for example letters can overflow beyond the background.

Naturally, being a CSS purist I also wanted to do all this without introducing non-semantic extra elements into the document.

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Twitter Bootstrap & Semantics

There’s a lot to like about Twitter Bootstrap; it’s a fantastic resource for getting off the ground, particularly for getting a slick-looking admin interface up and running quickly. The recent changes to accommodate responsive layouts are really impressive. I’m particularly impressed with the way horizontal forms stack on smaller screens (failure to accommodate small screens in form design is something I’ve complained about before). However, there are some things I’m less keen on…

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Grails Gotcha: Beware HEAD requests when rendering binary output in controllers

Although most Grails controllers render HTML, JSON or XML output it is possible to use them to render binary data as well. We use a controller to render images uploaded by editors into our content management interface. The theory is simple enough, instead of using the render dynamic method or returning a model the controller action just writes bytes directly to the HTTP response stream. Our action looked something like this:

def show = {
    def image =
    if (image) {
        response.contentType = image.contentType
        response.outputStream.withStream { stream ->
            stream << image.bytes
    } else {
        response.sendError SC_NOT_FOUND

This seemed to work well enough. However when writing a test I noticed an odd thing. I was using RESTClient to scrape resource URLs out of and make a HEAD request against them to ensure the URLs were valid. Javascript and CSS files were working fine but all the non-static images in the page were getting 404s.

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Data-driven variation with Spock

Spock’s where: block is commonly used with a data table but can also be driven by any Iterable data. It’s worth bearing in mind that the data driving the where: block doesn’t have to be hardcoded, it can be dynamic. For example, today we implemented a spec to ensure that every table in our database schema has a primary key (because it’s required by HA-JDBC and not automatically added by GORM on join tables).

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Avoiding accidental i18n in Grails

We’re developing an app that’s exclusively for a UK audience so i18n really isn’t an issue for us. However recently we got bitten by some i18n creeping in where we didn’t want it. Specifically, when using Grails’ g:dateFormat tag the default behaviour is to format the date according to the Locale specified in the user’s Accept-Language header. Even though we are explicitly specifying a format pattern for the date Java is aware of localized day names for some languages so the output can vary. The result is that on a page full of English text there suddenly appears a Spanish or Swedish day name. What makes things worse is that as we use server-side content caching and a CDN if a user with a non-English Accept-Language header is the first to see a particular page or bit of dynamically retrieved content then the cache is primed and until it expires everyone will see the non-English day name text. The solution in a Grails app is as simple as replacing Spring’s standard localeResolver bean with an instance of FixedLocaleResolver. Just add the following to grails-app/conf/spring/resources.groovy:

localeResolver(org.springframework.web.servlet.i18n.FixedLocaleResolver, Locale.UK)

This changes the way Spring works out the request locale and any locale-aware tags should just fall into place.

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Resources plugin and modular web components for Grails apps

I recently gave a talk on Building progressive UIs with Grails at gr8conf in Copenhagen and was really pleased with the feedback & comments I received afterwards. There was a question asked at the end that I felt in retrospect I could have answered better, though. I had mentioned that the Grails AJAX tags were something that should be avoided as they write script blocks directly into the page and event handlers directly onto HTML elements. I was pitching an approach based on a clean separation of clean semantic markup and script enhancements and inline script violates that separation.

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CSS box model hacking

Want to make an HTML element fill 100% of its parent’s width but also give it a border and/or some padding? Since the width of an element is exclusive of its border and padding this can be a pain. However there’s a fairly simple CSS solution that works cross-browser.

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Styling with HTML5 form validation

HTML5 specifies a number of enhancements to form inputs that are gradually being implemented by newer browsers. Among the enhancements is support for some level of automatic form validation. When inputs have invalid values the browser may refuse to submit the form. Currently Opera, Safari, Chrome and Firefox 4 have some support for this. IE8 does not. I haven’t experimented with IE9 yet.

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Hacking on Grails scaffolding templates

Grails scaffolding is a fantastic mechanism for getting you up and running quickly. I love the fact that you can provide your own implementation of some controller actions or views and scaffolding will just fill in the gaps. That way you can start hand-crafting things when complexity increases past a certain point but still have Grails do a bunch of work for you.

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