Nokogiri: CSS syntax for XML namespaces


CSS selectors are a very simple tool to select elements from a Nokogiri document. However, the colon in the XML namespace syntax does not work with CSS. When selecting namespaced elements, you need to replace their colon (soapenv:Envelope) with a pipe (soapenv|Envelope):

document = Nokogiri::XML(xml)
nest = document.at_css 'soapenv|Envelope soapenv|Body elem nest'

HTML: Making browsers wrap long words

By default, browsers will not wrap text at syllable boundaries. Text is wrapped at word boundaries only.

This card explains some options to make browsers wrap inside a long word like "Donaudampfschifffahrt".

Option 1: Soft hyphens

Unicode has a soft hyphen character you can use to mark optional word division opportunities. The soft hyphen is an invisible character with zero width. Only when the browser decides to wrap at a soft hyphen, it is turned in...

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Lazy-loading images

Since images are magnitudes larger in file size than text (HTML, CSS, Javascript) is, loading the images of a large web page takes a significant amount of the total load time. When your internet connection is good, this is usually not an issue. However, users with limited bandwidth (i.e. on mobile) need to mine their data budget better.

One popular strategy to improve the website performance is to not load images until they enter the viewport – aka "lazy-loading images".

General Issues

  • Crawlers do not execute JavaScript (generally sp...

How to evaluate CSS media queries in JavaScript

To make CSS rules dependent on the screen size, we use media queries:

@media (max-width: 500px) {
  // rules for screen widths of 500px or smaller

Browsers will automatically enable and disable the conditional rules as the screen width changes.

To detect responsive breakpoints from JavaScript, you may use the global matchMedia() function. It is supported in all brow...


How to grep through the DOM using the Capybara API

When your Cucumber feature needs to browse the page HTML, and you are not sure how to express your query as a clever CSS or XPath expression, there is another way: You can use all and find to grep through the DOM and then perform your search in plain Ruby.

Here is an example for this technique:

Then /^I should see an image with the filename...

Jasmine: Testing AJAX calls that manipulate the DOM

Here is a Javascript function reloadUsers() that fetches a HTML snippet from the server using AJAX and replaces the current .users container in the DOM:

window.reloadUsers = ->
  $.get('/users').then (html) ->

Testing this simple function poses a number of challenges:

  • It only works if there is a <div class="users">...</div> container in the current DOM. Obviously the Jasmine spec runner has no such container.
  • The code requests /users and we want to prevent network interaction in our unit test...
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Printing background color of elements

Browsers' printing methods usually don't print background colors. In most cases this is the desired behavior, because you don't want to spent tons of ink printing the background of a web page. But in some cases you want to print the background color of elements, e.g. bars of a chart. For those elements you need to set the following css styles:

-webkit-print-color-adjust: exact; /* Chrome and Safari */
color-adjust: exact; /* Firefox */

Note that if you're using autoprefixer, you don't need...

Letting a DOM element fade into transparency

You can use the CSS property mask-image to define an "alpha channel" for an element.

E.g. to let an element start at full opacity at the top and gradually fade into transparency at the bottom:

.box {
  -webkit-mask-image: linear-gradient(to bottom, black 0%, transparent 100%);
  mask-image: linear-gradient(to bottom, black 0%, transparent 100%);
  • A fully opaque black pixel will render the masked pixel fully opaque
  • A fully transparent black pixel will render the ...

Sass partial names must always start with an underscore

Be careful to name any file @imported by SASS with a leading underscore.

SASS files not beginning with an underscore will be rendered on their own, which will fail if they are using variables or mixins defined elsewhere. (For me it broke only in production, which may be due to some settings in SASS-GEM/lib/sass/plugin/rails.rb.)

From the SASS docs:

The underscore lets Sass know that the file is only a partial file and that it should not be generated into a CSS file.

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CSS: Opacity is not inherited in Internet Explorer

Non-static elements will not inherit their parent's opacity in IE for no good reason. This can lead to unexpected behaviour when you want to fade/hide an element and all its children.

To fix it, give the parent element defining the opacity a non-static positioning. For example:

.parent {
  opacity: 0.2;
  position: relative; /* for IE */

While the linked article describes this problem for IE9 and below, I have encountered the same issue in IE10 and IE11.

Just go away, Internet Explorer!


Defining new elements for your HTML document

Browsers come with a set of built-in elements like <p> or <input>. When we need a new component not covered by that, we often build it from <div> and <span> tags. An alternative is to introduce a new element, like <my-element>.

When a browser encounters an unknown element like <my-element>, the browser will proceed to render <my-element>'s children. The visual rendering of your page will not be affected.

If you care about their HTML being valid, your new element should contain a dash character (-) to mark it as a *custom el...


Detect the current Rails environment from JavaScript or CSS

Detecting if a Javascript is running under Selenium WebDriver is super-painful. It's much easier to detect the current Rails environment instead.

You might be better of checking against the name of the current Rails environment. To do this, store the environment name in a data-environment of your <body>. E.g., in your application layout:

%body{'data-environment' => Rails.env}

Now you can say in a piece of Jav...

Automated wordbreaks for long words

The problem:

So I had the issue that User input (coming from many different sources and users) often contains the same long word. Maybe that's a super german thing to have lots of long words I have to deal with. This long word needs to be fully visible on small screens but none of the automated word-break solutions offered by css ( is clever or supported enough to be a good solution. So I...

Minified JavaScript and CSS

JavaScripts and CSS should be minified for production use.

In Rails 3.1+ the asset pipeline will take care of this. Thus you're best off using an uncompressed version of your Javascript in development. Also load the non-minified versions of libraries. This way debugging will be easier and you will still get all the minification love once deployed.

In Rails 2.3 and 3.0 you should at least embed external JavaScript libraries in minified form, using something like JavaScript compressor.


Waiting for page loads and AJAX requests to finish with Capybara

If you're using the Capybara webdriver, steps sometimes fail because the browser hasn't finished loading the next page yet, or it still has a pending AJAX request. You'll often see workarounds like

When I wait for the page to load
Then ...

Workarounds like this do not work reliably, will result in flickering tests and should be avoided. There is no known reliable way to detect if the browser has finished loading the page.


Instead you should wait until you can observe the result of a page load. E.g. if y...

A collection of useful design resources for developers

This collection contains some useful design resources for developers. Many of them were mentioned in the Refactoring UI tutorials.



How to: Specify size of Selenium browser window

Applications often show or hide elements based on viewport dimensions, or may have components that behave differently (like mobile vs desktop navigation menus).
Since you want your integration tests to behave consistently, you want to set a specific size for your tests' browser windows.

Using WebDriver options / Chrome device metrics

For Google Chrome, the preferred way is setting "device metrics". This allows you to configure dimensions larger than your display and enable/disable touch behavior.

Simply use register_driver to set up...


Organize large I18n dictionary files in Rails 3+

If you're suffering from a huge de.yml or similiar file, cry no more. Rails lets you freely organize your dictionary files in config/locales.

My organization works like this:

  • config/locales/ modified Rails boilerplate
  • config/locales/ modified Faker boilerplate
  • config/locales/ model names, attribute names, assignable_value labels
  • `config/locales/
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