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Chrome: Making high-resolution website screenshots without add-ons

If you want to make a screenshot of a website that works well in print or on a high-DPI screen (like Apple Retina displays), here is how you can capture a high-resolution screenshot.

You can do this without an addon:

  • Open the website
  • If you have multiple monitoros:
    • Resize the Chrome window so it covers multiple monitors (in Linux you can hold ALT and resize by dragging with the right mouse button)
    • Zoom into the page using CTRL + and CTRL - so it covers most of the window area. Leave generous padding on the left and right so…
Repeats

XHR is not JSON

When a Rails controller action should handle both HTML and JSON responses, do not use request.xhr? to decide that. Use respond_to.

I've too often seen code like this:

def show
  # ...
  if request.xhr?
    render json: @user.as_json
  else
     # renders default HTML view
  end
end

This is just plain wrong. Web browsers often fetch JSON via XHR, but they (should) also send the correct Accept HTTP header to tell the server the data they expect to receive.

If you say request.xhr? as a means for "…

Heads up! Years are always floats in Rails < 4

Watch out when saying something like 1.year in Rails. The result is not a Fixnum and can cause unexpected errors when the receiving end expects a Fixnum.

While anything from seconds to months are Fixnums, a year is a Float in Rails – when called on a Fixnum itself:

>> 10.seconds.class
=> Fixnum
>> 2.minutes.class
=> Fixnum
>> 24.hours.class
=> Fixnum
>> 28.days.class
=> Fixnum
>> 9.months.class
=> Fixnum
>> 1.year.class
=> Float # Boom.

While they are [technically correct](http:…

Deprecated

Centering with CSS vertically and horizontally (all options overview)

There are a million ways to center <div>s or text in CSS, horizontally or vertically. All the ways are unsatisfying in their own unique way, or have restrictions regarding browser support, element sizes, etc.

Here are two great resources for finding the best way of aligning something given your use case and browser support requirements:

How to center in CSS
A long form that lets you define your use case and browser support requirements, then shows you the preferred way of aligning.

[Centering CSS: A com…

Deprecated

How to: Run webpack dev server with vcap.me

If your Rails application is using Webpack you need to serve assets on the same host as you application runs, otherwise you will see the following errors in your browser console:

[WDS] Disconnected!
Invalid Host header

So if you are using awesome.vcap.me:3000 you need to start the webpack-dev-server with a different host than localhost (0.0.0.0):

bin/webpack-dev-server --host awesome.vcap.me

Capybara: A step for finding images with filename and extension

This cucumber step is useful for testing an image (looking at the src of the image).

Then(/^I should see the image "([^"]*)"$/) do |filename_with_extension|
  expect(page).to have_css("img[src*='#{filename_with_extension}']")
end
Then I should see the image "placeholder.png"

Outline: Read more about how to test a uploaded file here, e.g. file downloads.

Sprites with Compass

Using CSS sprites for background images is a technique for optimizing page load time by combining smaller images into a larger image sprite.

There are ongoing arguments on how useful this still is, as modern browsers become more comfortable to load images in parallel. However, many major websites still use them, for example amazon, [facebook](…

Form letters with LibreOffice Writer

This is painful. Consider using Microsoft Office or switching careers. If you need to write < 20 letters consider doing it manually.

So you didn't listen and here it comes:

  1. Ignore the Mail Merge Wizard. It will crash or destroy your document.
  2. Export your addresses, recipient names, etc. as a .ods spreadsheet (.xls, .xlsx, .ods). Use any columns that work for you, but be consistent. I like to use one column for the address, one column for the salutation line.
  3. Import the spreadsheet as an address book source: *Tools => Add…
Linked contentRepeats

Action Mailer Previews (since Rails 4.1)

Since Rails 4.1 there is a preview-function to see what an e-mail will look like.

All you need to do is implement a preview-class in spec/mailers/previews (if you are using RSpec):

class NotifierPreview < ActionMailer::Preview
  def welcome
    Notifier.welcome(User.first)
  end
end

and then a preview will be available in the browser at http://localhost:3000/rails/mailers/notifier/welcome as well as a list of previews at http://localhost:3000/rails/mailers .

Note: If your preview model is not loaded you might need to change…

Repeats

Check that an element is hidden via CSS with Spreewald

If you have content inside a page that is hidden by CSS, the following will work with Selenium, but not when using the Rack::Test driver:

Then I should not see "foobear"

This is because the Rack::Test driver does not know if an element is visible, and only looks at the DOM.

Spreewald offers steps to check that an element is hidden by CSS:

Then "foo" should be hidden # "should not be visible" in Spreewald < 1.2.3

You can also check that an element is visible:

Then "foo" shou...
Linked contentRepeats

Beware: Many browsers define window.event

Some browsers define window.event, which will return a copy of the "current" event. However, this is not defined by the W3C. Most importantly, Firefox does not support it, neither do recent versions of IE.

You should completely avoid accessing the global event and instead pass the event object around that the event handler receives. The easiest protection against accidentally accessing window.event is just never naming the event event, but e or evnt or so.

```
function brokenInFirefox() {
event.preventDefault(); // Break…

Linked content

CSS: Giving text lines a background-color (with configurable line padding and margin)

The gist is:

  • wrap the text with a span
  • use line-height for the spacing between lines ("margin")
  • use box-shadow to control the line background size ("padding")

Example

text_lines_with_background_color.png

span
  box-shadow: 0 0 0 10px #fff
  background-color: #fff
  box-decoration-break: clone # Fix Firefox
  line-height: 2.2

→ [jsfiddle](https://jsfiddle.net/2fmqgbh…

Repeats

Don't ever use the float type for database columns

Like in any language, a FLOAT will eventually corrupt data due to rounding errors.

Please use DECIMAL, which has well-defined behavior for rounding and range overflows.

Repeats

Be careful when using buttons without a "type" attribute

Be careful when using buttons without a type attribute, since browsers will consider them the default submit button of a form.

Suppose you have this form:

<form action="/save">
  <input type="text" />
  <button onclick="alert('Alert!')">Alert</button>
  <button type="submit">Save</button>
</form>

If you press the enter key inside in the text input, browsers will trigger the first button and show the alert.

To fix this, add a type="button" attribute to the first button.

How to fix HTML elements being cut off when printing

When you print (or print preview) and elements are cut off (e.g. after 1st page, or "randomly") you should check your CSS rules for these:

  • Is there an element with "display: inline-block" that surrounds your content? Make sure it has "display: block" for printing.
    This primarily affects Firefox and Internet Explorer. Chrome seems to be able to handle inline-block elements in most cases.

  • Does the element itself, or a container, define "overflow: hidden"? Use "overflow: auto" (or maybe "overflow: visible") instead.

  • Is th…

Linked contentRepeats

Don't open user-supplied links with target="_blank"

This will give the target site full access to your Javascript environment through window.opener, if the target is on the same domain.

Even if the target site is on another domain, it still has some access and can for example manipulate window.location to perform a phishing attack.

You may use a rel="noopener" attribute to avoid this in modern browsers, except IE or Edge.

Repeats

PSA: Chrome and Firefox do not always clear session cookies on exit

Cookies without an expiration timestamp are called "session cookies". [1] They should only be kept until the end of the browsing session.

However, when Chrome or Firefox are configured to reopen tabs from last time upon start, they will keep session cookies when closing the browser. This even applies to tabs that were closed before shutting down the browser.

This is by design in Chrome and [Firefox](https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/buglist.cgi?bug_id=337551,345830,358042,362212,36…

Linked content

Limitations you should be aware of when Internet Explorer 9 parses CSS files

Internet Explorer until version 9 has some limitations when parsing CSS files

Summarized, these are:

  • Up to 31 CSS files or
  • Up to 4095 selectors per CSS file.
  • Up to 3 nested @import rules

To test the selector limit for a specific browser, check this CSS selector limitation test website.

When you run into this issue, the following links might be helpful to fix the problem. The Idea is to split up the css fi…

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