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Whether you’re building apps for the browser, mobile or desktop, Aurelia can enable you to not only create amazing UI, but do it in a way that is maintainable, testable and extensible.

Retrospective and today

Aurelia is a project of Rob Eisenberg, the author of a very popular MV * – framework for Caliburn.Micro XAML-platforms, Durandal. Understanding all the disadvantages of Durandal, Eisenberg engaged in the development of so-called NextGen framework. In 2014 he began to work in Angular team on the second version of the framework. However, several months later, Rob decided to leave the Angular team since the direction of Angular 2, in his opinion, had changed a lot. He gathered a large team and returned to work on the framework of his dreams. And Aurelia is the result of that work.

JavaScript of tomorrow?

By using modern tooling Aurelia was written from the ground up in ECMAScript 2016. This means you have native modules, classes, decorators and more at disposal.
Aurelia is written in modern and future JavaScript, it takes a nowadays approach to architecture. It’s built as a series of collaborating libraries, which form a powerful and robust framework for building Single Page Apps (SPAs). However, Aurelia’s libraries can often be used individually, in traditional web sites or even on the server-side through technologies like NodeJS.
Aurelia’s code is open sourced under the MIT License, a very permissive license used by many popular web projects today. The starter kits are available under the Creative Commons 0 license. There is also a Contributor for those who wish to join the team in working on Aurelia. Ultimately, this means that you can use Aurelia without fear of legal repercussions and it can be build in the same confidence.

Benefits of Aurelia

Clean and Unobtrusive – Aurelia is the only framework that lets you build components with plain JavaScript. It stays out of your way so your code remains clean and easy to evolve over time.

Convention over Configuration – Simple conventions help developers follow solid patterns and reduce the amount of code they have to write and maintain. It also means less fiddling with framework APIs and more focus on their app.

Simple, But Not Simplistic – Because of the simple design developers are able to learn a very small set of patterns and APIs that unlock limitless possibilities.

Promotes the “-ilities” – Testability, maintainability, extensibility, learnability, etc.- Aurelia’s design helps developers to naturally write code that exhibits these desirable characteristics.

Amazingly Extensible – Aurelia is highly modular and designed to be customized easily, so developers will never hit a roadblock or have to “hack” the framework to succeed.

Web Standards Focused – Focused on next generation JavaScript and Web Components, and avoiding unnecessary abstractions that obscure the underlying web, Aurelia is the cleanest and most standards-compliant framework today.

Integrates Well with Others – Easily integrated with any 3rd party library or framework: for instance, with jQuery, React, Polymer, Bootstrap, MaterializeCSS and much more.

TypeScript Support – Each Aurelia library is released with its own d.ts files. There are also official TypeScript beginner kits and production quality starter kits.

An Official Product with Commercial Support – Being an official product of Durandal Inc., it has commercial and enterprise support available, so you can use Aurelia for building core technology for your business.

Thriving Community and Ecosystem – Having one of the largest developer gitter channels in the JavaScript world, oodles of contributors and a huge core team, Aurelia has been used to build just about every type of application and is used by large, well-known multi-national companies and enterprises.
 
Aurelia, Angular and React.js – what’s common and what’s different?
 

Aurelia vs. Angular

Similarities between Aurelia and Angular 2:

  • Aurelia offers ES6-support out of the box and supports all forms of alternative abstraction syntax such as TypeScript and CoffeeScript. Migration documentation about migrating from Angular 1 and 2 have been put on the roadmap.
  • The basis of both Angular 2 and Aurelia application comprise components associated with the corresponding template.
  • Differences in vision details and options range:

  • The syntax is much simpler and more explicit (i.e. self-explanatory) than Angular 2 and looks a lot like standard JS syntax. ES6 and JSPM are used by default and a gulp file with a custom-built system to transpile ES6 to ES5 using the Babel transpiler is included in the standard package.
  • Aurelia also uses conventions instead of its own syntax and boilerplate code. No special characters like the ones in Angular 2 (*, (), [] en #) here.
  • Aurelia is built in a modular way making it very pluggable. You can plug in internationalization, routing, virtualization, animation, … Besides that, third party plugins are available as well such as the aurelia-flux plugin adding the Flux dispatcher to Aurelia.
  • The presence of a root-component is necessary; it represents an application (app). The metadata may / should be attached to components by using decorators. Component initialization is performed by using dependency injection. In addition, each component has a declared lifecycle, which can be built by using the lifecycle hooks. The components may be formulated into a hierarchical structure.
  • Communication between the component and the template is performed by using data binding. The process of template rendering to the final HTML can be integrated by using pipes (Angular) or value converters + binding behaviours (Aurelia).
  • The main advantage of Aurelia in comparison to Angular is an advanced composition mechanism and template parts. Aurelia is designed with an emphasis on unobtrusive, the number of framework structures in the final code is minimal. Aurelia is more compact, while Angular sometimes simply forces to produce copy-paste.
  • Aurelia is new to the market while Angular has a big user base because it’s already been around for 6 years. On the other hand, Aurelia has great documentation available, it’s an official product of Durandal Inc, and the company has a long term vision for the product, something the Angular team doesn’t seem to have and is blamed for a lot.

Aurelia vs. React.js

  • While on the surface it might not seem fair to compare Aurelia to React.js, they’re both being used for the same things. Despite the fact that React.js is a fully-fledged and functionally released product without the early preview alpha tag and Aurelia is not, at current stage they are both pretty at the same level. You can achieve the same tasks within both, just in different ways.
  • As for React components and Aurelia’s ViewModel’s, they are both quite similar in that you’re essentially using a class to define properties and methods bound to a particular view. The primary difference between them is React doesn’t separate the logic from the view, meaning in React the View and ViewModel are both within the same file.
  • However, that’s not to say that Aurelia doesn’t allow you to achieve the same thing by rendering the View from within the ViewModel as well and forgoing a traditional View.
  • The original intent behind React.js was not to be a competitor to the likes of Angular or Aurelia, but rather be the library that everyone uses with their SPA framework like Angular to improve performance.
  • Therefore, this means you can easily use React.js within Aurelia. Aurelia and React.js can be used together and in doing so, it provides you with a level of power other frameworks cannot without subsequent complexity and strict convention like EmberJS.

Aurelia vs. Angular and React

  • Two-way binding is provided out of the box and the framework does so very precisely. By default, 1-way databinding is used except for form controls, a clear plus when compared to React. Do keep in mind that two-way data binding can only be done through explicit syntax, as is the case in Angular 2.
  • The learning curve for Aurelia is comparable to that of Angular 2 and thus a lot steeper than React’s. Luckily, the extensive documentation makes up for that a great deal.
  • Angular 2 and Aurelia Architecture is very similar. Aurelia looks a lot like Angular 2 in the sense that it’s a complete framework that relies on the web standards. It’s as pluggable as React is and as Angular 2 will be.
  • While Angular was created by Google and React by Facebook, they don’t provide commercial or enterprise support, something that Aurelia will do.

 
Conclusion

It goes without saying why these three frameworks are so popular. They all have a lot of strong advantages. Eventually, I’m favoring Aurelia: there’s solid documentation available and the overall philosophy is the same with Angular 2, but Aurelia is a better choice from the syntax and execution point of view. The architecture and syntax vision of Aurelia team seems to be more clear than the vision of the Angular team. The company and enterprise support of Aurelia is also a big pro.
What is your personal experience with these frameworks? Which one would you choose for your projects and why? What’s your prediction “who” will win the crown in the nearest future? Please feel free to share your thoughts with us.

Thank you in advance!

 

Darya Bertosh

Darya Bertosh

Business Development Manager

E-mail: darya.bertosh@altabel.com
Skype: darya.bertosh
LI Profile: Darya Bertosh

 

altabel

Altabel Group

Professional Software Development

E-mail: contact@altabel.com
www.altabel.com

Front-end development frameworks are handy tools to save time and effort when it comes to designing web sites or applications. The choice of them is extremely wide nowadays, they can be either small or big and rich in features. One can be big enough to provide a fully functional responsive website template.

Each framework has its own strengths and weaknesses, specific areas of application, allowing you to choose based on the needs of a specific project. Here is the list of the most popular frontend development frameworks:

1. Bootstrap

Bootstrap is the most used frontend web development framework in the world. Created and maintained by Twitter, it is described as “a sleek, intuitive, and powerful mobile first front-end framework for faster and easier web development.” The best thing about Bootstrap is that it is continuously upgraded by the bootstrap developers with latest technological advancements. For instance, when recently Google released material design guidelines, material design based bootstrap themes became available just under less than a month. This is the speed with which bootstrap follows and adapts any new web design trend.

Technically, bootstrap might not be necessarily better than the other frameworks, but it offers many resources (articles and tutorials, third-party plug-ins and extensions, theme builders, and so on). And you can see it basically everywhere. And this is perhaps the main reason why it’s framework #1 by popularity.

2. Foundation

Foundation is a truly professional lightweight front-end framework from Zurb. This framework enables the user to create complicated layouts without the need to create a large number of custom elements. Some key features that Foundation comes up with for building lightning fast websites are: data-interchange – using it you can load light weight html sections for mobile usage and heavier html for desktop or big screen devices; Fastclick.js – for ultra-fast mobile experience; off Canvas Navigation– almost default navigation style, you can create off canvas navigation out of the box using foundation; GPU Acceleration – helps smooth and faster animations.

This is one framework that gives a close competition to Bootstrap in terms of popularity, use and features.

3. Semantic UI

Semantic-UI is quite new yet already very competitive framework to the likes of Bootstrap and Foundation. It takes quite a different approach making websites building much more semantic. It utilizes natural language principles, thus making the code much more readable and understandable. Instead of learning complex CSS class naming conventions, Semantic classes are easier to remember. The other plus of Semantic is that most of its UI components come with real-time debug, making it easier to trace JavaScript behaviors.

Semantic is one of the most innovative and full-featured frameworks. It comes integrated with many third party libraries like Angular, Ember and Meteor and you hardly need to use any additional library even in the big and complex web projects.

4. Gumby

Gumby has become popular in very short time. It is a responsive CSS framework that is extremely customizable. Few of the key features of this framework are – an extensive and beautiful UI Kit and templates that give designers a head start in the design life cycle and a responsive grid system that adapts to any device and viewport. The framework also comes with a large number of components including responsive images (for serving images based on device size) and parallax for creating parallax effect like a breeze.

5. Pure

Pure is a light weight package of CSS modules that can be utilized in any web project.
It was created by the design house of Yahoo. Pure doesn’t come with additional JS or jQuery plugins, it is pure CSS.

The best thing about Pure is its exceptional small size. It offers only bare-bones styles for a clean start to your project. It’s ideal for people who don’t need a full-featured framework but only specific components to include in their work.

6. Susy

Susy doesn’t come as a jumbo sized package like Bootstrap or Foundation to cover all aspects of web design, but it brings out the best in what it is meant to do, building grids. So basically you have to understand the complexities of how grids are built. When you do that, some people say that then there is nothing better than Susy as you are able to create any kind of grid layout.

7. And the last in my list but not least – Material UI

Material design is rocking at the moment and promises to continue for the coming years. So CSS frontend development frameworks around material design are inevitable and Material UI is the pioneer in that direction and is the most comprehensive framework that implements Google material design. It is built on top of LESS CSS preprocessor and comes packed with React Components.

This framework provides CSS and material design compliant ready to use components that can be used in your web project. What you get with Material UI– Google Material Design Color Palette, Typography, Customization Option, etc.

So let me stop here, although one can for sure make this list longer (and you are welcome to!). There are many frameworks out there, so what one can advice you is to choose a popular framework that is under active development, but has reached some maturity. But the most important thing is to select a framework that fits you project needs. And finally, if you are willing to, you can adopt a mix-and-match approach. If a particular framework doesn’t satisfy your needs, you can mix components from two or more projects.
 

Aliona Kavalevich

Aliona Kavalevich
Aliona.Kavalevich@altabel.com
Skype ID: aliona_kavalevich
Business Development Manager (LI page)
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development

 

Even if you only build websites using CMSs, you’ve probably heard the word “framework” before. You’ve probably also heard of a few famous web frameworks, including Ruby on Rails, Django and Bootstrap. Many experienced web developers build websites using frameworks and often find them easier and enjoyable to use.

In this article, we’re going to explain what a framework is, and when you might use a framework.

If you are currently doing one of the  Coding Training classes, this information will prove especially useful to you. If you are just using a CMS, this post will still contain some valuable insights, as many CMS systems can and are built using frameworks. For example, Drupal 8 is currently being built on Symfony and Joomla 3 is using the CSS framework Bootstrap.

What is Framework?

The goal of a framework is to allow designers and developers to focus on building the unique features for their project, rather than re-inventing the wheel by coding common, familiar features found across many websites and web applications.

A framework can be considered a pre-built that handles most of the repetitive or common features. As a result, unlike a CMS, a framework will probably not have a template/structure user interface (although this is not always the case, as Django provides an administration interface). Most of the activity will be done by writing code and interacting with different parts of the framework itself through code.

Often frameworks take a while to learn, but once you’re familiar with them, they should speed up your development time.

5 advantages to using a framework:

  1. Open-source: Most of the popular frameworks in many languages are open-source (or available to use for free). They also come with licensing that isn’t restrictive and allows you to build commercial products using such frameworks
  2. Documentation and support: Although this can vary (if the language being used is popular and the framework has a lot of developers using it), you can expect that the framework will either have good documentation, good support or both at the same time. It is worth mentioning that “good support” is a subjective issue at times. Typically, paid support will almost always be faster and more concise, but this also depends on the level of activity within the framework – as a framework like Ruby on Rails demonstrates with a massive community, which is renowned for its welcoming nature and good support too.
  3. Efficiency: This could be considered the most vital reason why frameworks exist. They eliminate the need to write a lot of repetitive code that you will find being used in many different applications. These include, for example, user-authentication and commenting systems. On average (if you have sufficient knowledge using a certain framework) you can expect to build a project in much less time than would be achieved writing code without a framework
  4. Security: Typically, a framework is developed and tested by many different developers. It is extremely likely that many security risks are addressed and tested when the framework is being built. New security risks can also be addressed and fixed quickly. However, security can also be considered a con, as will be mentioned in that section
  5. Integration: If you are building almost any type of application (including a website) and you want to store some data, you will typically use a database. Just like a database, there also exists many other tools that link to web development. Many frameworks will thus make it easier to link to these tools and also communicate with them (for example, when “talking to” a database is abstracted away in a certain framework, making communication with the database much easier)

5 disadvantages to using a framework:

  1. Limitations: Generally, you will not be able to do almost anything with a single framework. They are all restricted in some way, from coding paradigms to database designs and everything in between. A good way to work around this is to see what the framework is being used for by other developers in the community, as this will give you an idea of what you can achieve
  2. Performance: With the popularity of client-side JavaScript MVC frameworks like AngularJS, EmberJS and BackboneJS growing since 2012, performance can also be considered a factor. Although performance issues did exist before, they weren’t as relevant as today, where an entire application is loaded through JavaScript, using a framework as the tool for building that application. Whereas you might not feel the impact of loading a 75kb compressed-framework .js file on your PC (with high speeds), this .js file will definitely impact mobile users (who may have slower speeds on their smartphones or tablets)
  3. Learning bias: If you decide to learn how to use any framework from some programming language you are familiar with, chances are that what you learn will be somewhat different to the language itself. This is due to the fact that a lot of those repetitive tasks have been created in custom functions and other parts, which is why you will learn such things that may not have existed in the language lessons itself. Apart from that, you may also learn a lot of things that may be irrelevant to you whilst using the framework in real-life, but are necessary to grasp how the framework works
  4. Steep learning curve: Although this isn’t always the case, most frameworks can be difficult to learn and even more difficult to master. After some simple research into this matter, a university professor said that it will take about 2 years (with no programming background) to become familiar and comfortable using a language (Ruby) combined with a framework (Rails). This may not be the case when being self-taught or having years of programming experience, but I would say that even with experience, at least 3-6 months will be needed to become confident using any framework (based on continuous learning and practice)
  5. Cost: Frameworks require more development expertise and experience than most CMSs. As a result, it can be more costly to hire reliable framework developers than reliable CMS developers. As the experience shows, the average project built with a framework is more expensive than a similar project built with a CMS.

Examples of popular frameworks

Below are some popular web frameworks (in no particular order) for different web languages. This is not an extensive list, as there exists many more options out there.

PHP: 1.Yii; 2.CodeIgniter; 3.CakePHP; 4.Zend; 5.Symfony; 6. Laravel

Ruby: 1.Rails; 2.Sinatra; 3.Padrino;

Python: 1.Django; 2.Web2py; 3.TurboGears; 4.Flask

JavaScript: 1.AngularJS; 2.EmberJS; 3.BackboneJS;4.KnockoutJS

Design/CSS frameworks: 1.Bootstrap; 2.Foundation

Over to you?

Have you built any websites using a framework instead of a CMS?

What were the advantages and disadvantages of going with a framework?

Share your feedback or any other experiences below.

Polina Mikhan

Polina Mikhan
Polina.Mikhan@altabel.com 
Skype ID: poly1020
Business Development Manager (LI page)
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development

Responsive web design isn’t the future, it’s the present

In our humble opinion it’s late to debate whether responsive web design is the future because it’s already the present of everybody’s business represented online. Consumer/client behavior has been changing. According to statistics and analysts’ predictions, for instance, for the first time since 2001, PC sales are projected to be lower than they were in 2012; smartphone sales will double PC sales in 2014; tablet sales are expected to exceed 100 million this year and may top notebooks next year. So the shift to mobile is happening at an extraordinary speed, and tablets and smartphones are becoming extremely popular for business and pleasure matters. This means people view your content on thousands of oddly shaped and different sized screens. What’s more, according to Google research, mobile users “expect their mobile experience to be as good as their desktop experience” – this expectation poses a thorny challenge for both, business stakeholders and web designers and developers.

So this is no longer about “How do I make my website available to a smartphone or tablet?” – it’s “How do I make my business available in smartphone and tablet context?”. For some business it’s not important – it’s literally critical, for example: according to the Pew Research Center, 60% of tablet users prefer reading news on the mobile web than via an app; the same percentage is quite common for e-commerce sites according to Google Analytics and that’s why RWD has been listed in E-commerce marketing checklist for 2013. If you wish to identify the percentage of your audience that use mobile devices use the Google Analytics Mobile Overview report feature: if mobile users are more than 5% of your total audience you should consider catering for them too.

In general, there are three main approaches to providing information and interaction to mobile/tablet device users : responsive (and adaptive) web design, mobilized websites, and mobile apps. It’s important to understand that these are different marketing channels and their value proposition is very different. A mobile web site may do something very different from a mobile app – simply said, “if your goal is just to display and show content beautifully create a responsive or mobilized website; if your goal is to show productivity tools, build an app”. Which option is the best for your business will depend on your use case, your users’ habits and your budget.

Responsive web design vs mobile web development: advantages and challenges

To talk about advantages of responsive web design, let’s start from its definition. RWD is a front-end development approach aimed at crafting device agnostic sites. It uses “media queries” to figure out what resolution of device it’s being served on. Flexible images and fluid grids then size correctly to fit the screen. So responsive design provides easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling, and eliminates the need for separate sites for different devices. Adaptive web design is either a subset of responsive design, or a related approach. “Responsive design will show more stuff or less, optimized for a mobile layout, but is likely to still provide access to the full desktop-view’s content. Adaptive design, by contrast, might show very different content, and also present a different UI, reflecting touchscreen’s tap/swipe/scroll versus desktop’s keyboard/mouse interaction.” In either case, responsive (and adaptive) web design will be based on the same code as a desktop site, and will locate on the same URL.

– In the definition above a couple of advantages of RWD are pointed out. Indeed, it improves user web browsing experience since a website adapts to the browser or device compatibility automatically and makes the content look good. For customers it shows that your business is receptive to changing technology and understanding of consumers’ needs.

– From business perspective, “one website – multiple devices” concept means that it’s easy to manage and focus on developing good content for your website. The same applies to analytics and strategy development and deployment since there is only one set of analytics to examine and a single strategy to develop and deploy. From maintenance standpoint, the technique is great too as one update affects all of your platforms.

– Additionally, responsive websites are easier for consumers to find than traditional or mobile web sites because they come up higher in search engines’ rankings. “In fact, Google recommends responsive web design because having a single URL for desktop and mobile sites makes it easier for Google to discover content and for Google’s algorithms to assign indexing properties to content.”

– One more advantage from the future perspective, as Resnick predicts, is: “As the internet transforms further into a platform of services and user interfaces that tie those services together, leveraging RWD technology in the future will allow companies to integrate a plethora of back-end services, such as Facebook, Twitter, Salesforce.com, and Amazon Web Services, and then present the integrated data back out the front-end iad layer on a responsive design so the application looks great on all devices without custom coding needed for each device or screen size. No longer are expensive back-end solutions needed to integrate legacy systems with business partners.”

Actually responsive web design is quite immature so it faces many challenges too.

– Even though we might view a responsive website on a smaller screen and it displays less visible content or smaller-sized images, this does not mean that the site will load faster. The thing is that from one side responsive websites are not much smaller in download size when viewed on smaller devices or screen resolutions compared to when being viewed on a desktop browser jacked into a broadband internet service provider, on the other hand mobile internet speeds still lag much behind broadband internet ones. Thus responsive web sites need advanced optimization, such as serving smaller images and conditionally loading scripts, and much more. An alternative may be found in dedicated mobile web development solutions since they specifically address mobile devices.

– The related issue concerns complexity. Responsive web designs are inherently complex because they are trying to support many viewing experiences without necessarily optimizing the experience for one particular device (or genre of devices). Mobile browsers will have to deal with a big HTML file, and the site would need to carefully avoid running specific scripts, loading certain CSS and download large images. Perfect implementation is possible, still avoiding over-resourcing requires scripts or code and therefore additional complexity. Typical “m dot” site wins in this case and is simple. It usually has a small amount of HTML, limited scripts, CSS, and images (if at all) as it is built specifically for its intended small-screen, touchscreen mobile devices viewing experience.

– As for UI and UX, responsive websites have limitations here. Not only in screen size, they are also limited for utilizing or recognizing key mobile features such as user location, connectivity, device limitations, software potential, and user needs. Mobilized sites and mobile apps will provide broader opportunities and advantages here.

Information architecture can be an issue. It needs to be carefully considered and should be hierarchically structured before the design implementation.

Advertising is an issue. Ads will have to shift with the sites, something that will wreak havoc with advertisers who want guaranteed placements on sites.

So, which approach will or do you use to present your business online?

HTML5’s momentum and Best tools for responsive web design

Responsive web design is not a specific technology but a whole design approach. However, responsive design is enabled primarily by CSS3 and JavaScript, which fall under the banner of HTML5. HTML5 is really maturing in terms of its functionality and, more importantly, its speed. So now HTML5 is the backbone of the new and interactive features of responsive web design.

To achieve a smooth flow from a large screen to a small one it takes a lot of patience and perseverance. To reach a seamless result there are a number of tools that help you with it. Below you will find a list of best responsive design tools broadly recommended in the web as well as by Altabel’s dev team:

1. Gridset
A tool that helps you design, prototype and build any type of grid layout required – columnar grids, asymmetrical, fixed, fluid or responsive grids. It even lets you create a library of your own grids, with a variety of presets available. It will allow you to build responsive prototypes (without all the calculations) very quickly and easily, providing all the measurements and tools to integrate with your existing markup.
Alternatives: Frameless, Tiny Fluid Grid, Gridpak, SimpleGrid, Responsify, Responsive.gs, Golden Grid System and Photoshop Grid for Responsive Design.

2. Bootstrap
An intuitive and powerful front-end framework from Twitter to start a responsive website fast and easy. It addresses the most popular user interface components and interactions, uses a 12-column responsive grid system with simple and flexible HTML, CSS, and Javascript and features dozens of components, styles and JavaScript plug-ins, with basic global display, typography and link styles all set. It also gives the option of customizing components of your website for instance by using the Customizer .
Alternatives: Skeleton, Foundation, Base, InuitCSS, LESS Framework, Gridless, 320 and Upand Gumby.

3. Wirefy
Clients wish to see how wireframes will adapt to different device sizes. Static wireframes aren’t particularly useful to show a client how responsive your design is, or what functionality is being suggested. But rapid prototyping by building flexible wireframes may. Wirefy is a collection of functional responsive HTML snippets and templates that scale as the browser is resized (working across multiple devices). It builds on tools such as the Frameless grid system and Bootstrap, and uses CSS media queries that adapt to different device resolutions. Wirefy focuses on key elements such as typography, tables, images, slideshow, forms, tab panel, paginator, menu, etc., focusing on the users.
Alternatives: Froont, Interactive Style Tiles, Responsive Sketch Sheets, Responsive Wireframe Template, Interface Sketch Templates, Responsive Device Diagrams, Wirify.

4. FlevNav
Navigation strategy is a really critical component of any responsive website design. FlexNav is a jQuery plugin that takes a device-agnostic approach to complex site navigation. It is a mobile-first concept using media queries and JavaScript to create a menu with drop downs. It features multiple nested sub-menus, with support for em units and tap targets to reveal sub-menus for touchscreens.
Alternatives: TinyNav.js, Navigation Patterns for Responsive Design, MeanMenu, Responsive Solutions for Menu Navigation, jPanelMenu.

5. Adaptive Images
Previously, making your website images responsive was tricky and usually meant using a “hack-around”. Now several tools may simplify this task. Using a one htaccess file, one php file and a single line of JavaScript, Adaptive Images detects screen size of browsing devices, cashes and delivers device appropriate re-scaled versions of your web page’s embedded HTML images without any mark-up changes. Also it is entirely non-destructive, and works on existing websites and markups — without the need to edit anything. Adaptive Images works on the premise that you are already using the highest-resolution images on your site, and also offers a ton of customization options.
Alternatives: ReSRC.it, jQuery Picture, ResponsiveImg, Retina.js and Retina Images.

6. FitText
As content scales according to a user’s viewport, the text will naturally wrap as the container is narrowed; and this often causes widows, orphans or your headlines to look rather ugly, and can even break the entire layout. FitText is a jQuery plugin specifically for headlines and big text. It auto-updates the font size according to the width of the element wrapping it, so you can achieve scalable headlines and a non-broken layout that can be caused by font-sizing issues. FitText works perfectly with Lettering.js or any CSS3 property thrown at it. There are options to fine-tune the text, including the ability to set min-max sizes and the level of scaling. Still FitText is only for headlines, and shouldn’t be used with paragraph text.
Alternatives: BigText, Lettering.js, Kerning.js, Kern.js, Type Butter and Slabtext.

7. Responsive Slides
This lightweight plugin allows you to create a responsive slider using elements inside a container. The images have to be the same size and jQuery 1.6 and up should be used. You can keep captions and other non-HTML elements inside the slides, while also using CSS3 transitions with JavaScript fallback. It works in all major desktop and mobile browsers, can support multiple slide shows, have settings for transition and timeout durations, automatic and manual fade, and have options for customization.
Alternatives: Flex Slider, Slides.js, PhotoSwipe, Supersized, Camera, RefineSlide, BlueberrySequence.js and Galleria.

8. Responsive Tables
Data tables in responsive design can be troublesome: you want it to not break responsive layouts, not hide content, let you see entire rows and columns, not be too small to read easily or zoomed in too far requiring scrolling. Here ZURB comes out – a simple JavaScript/CSS combination containing two key files: responsive-tables.js and responsive-tables.css. It works by taking the first column, which is often the unique key for a table, and “pinning” it to the left of the table, allowing you to scroll the other columns under it.
Alternatives: Responsive Data Tables, Stackable.js, Footable, Responsive Tables, Responsive Tables, Responsive SEO Friendly Data Tables.

9. Responsive Design Testing
Building a responsive website means constantly testing how it displays across mobile and tablet devices. You could resize the browser yourself, or use a browser extension or tools within your IDE; but there is an extremely simple tool that allows you to see how a page displays on different screen sizes, in a single view. With Matt Kersley’s RWD testing tool you just have to enter your website’s URL into the address bar to test a specific page in different widths and device sizes. Also you can share the results of the test with others by adding any URL to the end of the testing page address. One major benefit of this tool is that it can be self-hosted (available on GitHub) by downloading and installing it on your own site. You can then navigate through the frames that your website appears in, testing the entire site effortlessly.
Alternatives: Screen Queries, Screenfly, Responsivepx, Responsinator, Responsive ViewportResponsive.is, and Resize My Browser.

10. Respond.js
The problem with media queries in responsive web design is that they are a part of CSS3 specifications so they do not work with older browser versions such as IE8 and lower. Respond.js comes to the rescue for browsers that don’t support media queries directly, translating any media queries it finds into equivalent JavaScript.The script itself is incredibly small and lightweight. It works unobtrusively, and doesn’t rely on any other scripts or frameworks to run.
Alternatives: Modernizer, Adapt, Categorizr, CSS3 Media Queries and Enquire.js.

The tools above are ultra useful for any RWD project from the planning and designing phase right through to testing, and what’re your favorites?

Welcome to share your view points.

Helen Boyarchuk

Helen Boyarchuk
Helen.Boyarchuk@altabel.com
Skype ID: helen_boyarchuk
Business Development Manager (LI page)
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development

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