Introducing My New Book: The Uncertain Web

Hey everybody, I’ve got a new book coming out. It’s called The Uncertain Web and it’s being published by O’Reilly. Right now we’re targeting a November release.

Just in time for Christmas. Buy a dozen and hand them out like candy canes.

If that seems like too long to wait, never fear. I’m about 50% finished and once that chunk has been hammered on by a hand-picked team of geniuses, it will be available as an Early Release.

So, what’s it all about?

Here’s my original pitch:


The Uncertain Web

The best way to approach the web today is to forgo hard and fast rules and design for uncertainty. Embracing uncertainty as a core tenet of web development and scrapping the rules we’ve relied on in the past few years is the best bet for creating future proof web solutions.

In the early 2000s, there was basically one browser (Internet Explorer 6,) one platform (Windows XP) and one screen resolution (1024 by 768) that mattered. With that set up you could design, develop and test against the vast majority of web users with one desktop computer. The biggest question on the horizon, it seemed, was when it would be viable to design for 1280 pixel screens

This limited field of play meant that there was an expectation that sites and applications would look the same everywhere for everyone. Best practices were honed and codified into hard and fast rules which drove design and development. Major choices, such as the size of the basic grid to design for, were no longer choices. You started with a static, 960 pixel grid and sliced and diced it as needed.

Today, things couldn’t be more different. With the launch of the iPhone and the iPad, the rise of Android and the growth of not just one, but two real contenders to Microsoft’s position as the dominant web browser (Firefox and Chrome), developers and designers have an ocean of variables to navigate. Every question around a site design is now pregnant with options.

Initially, developers and designers tried to navigate this new reality by creating new rules.

The problem was, the goalposts kept moving. As soon as a new hard and fast rule was created, some new wrinkle would render it impotent.
People designed and built “iPhone” sites, assuming that Apple’s dominance in the smartphone market was somehow a permanent condition. They tested for touch capabilities and assumed that touch users would never have a mouse.

As Android’s huge growth over the past few years, and the presence of devices like the Chromebooks and Windows 8 laptops with both mouse and touch capabilities have proved that those new rules have a short shelf life.

Even patterns like Responsive Web Design, which some saw as a single solution for design and development moving forward fall apart when applied against complicated application patterns and the vagaries of bandwidth and mobile performance.

By combining web standards, progressive enhancement, an iterative approach to design and development and embracing a desire to question the status quo and perceived wisdom; teams can create dynamic web sites and applications that should perform admirably in future devices, with unknown capabilities. By focusing on optimal solutions with intelligent fallbacks and forgoing the desire for absolute solutions design and development can work together to create the web of today and tomorrow.

This book will outline both the concept and underlying principles of the Uncertain Web and introduce some of the techniques necessary to make the successful transition.


So, that’s the thing.

I’m really excited about this one. I hope you enjoy it.

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