Linked contentRepeats

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 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...

Async control flow in JavaScript: Promises, Microtasks, async/await

Slides for Henning's talk on Sep 21st 2017.

Understanding sync vs. async control flow

Talking to synchronous (or "blocking") API

print('script start')
html = get('/foo')
print('script end')

Script outputs 'script start', (long delay), '<html>...</html>', 'script end'.

Talking to asynchronous (or "evented") API

print('script start')
get('foo', done: function(html) {
print('script end')

Script outputs 'script start', `'...

Linked contentRepeats

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...

Video transcoding: Web and native playback overview (April 2020)


Embedding videos on a website is very easy, add a <video> tag to your source code and it just works. Most of the time.

The thing is: Both the operating system and Browser of your client must support the container and codecs of your video. To ensure playback on every device, you have to transcode your videos to one or more versions of which they are supported by every device out there.

In this card, I'll explore the available audio and video standards we have right now. The goal is to built a pipeline that transcodes unknown ...

Linked contentRepeats

Colorful output for several linux command line tools: grc

Because colors improve readability so much.
On Ubuntu 18.04 you can install it with sudo apt install grc

From github:

For the impatient - try following commands:

grc netstat
grc ping hostname
grc tail /var/log/syslog
grc ps aux

Carrierwave: Deleting files outside of forms

TL;DR Use the #remove_<mounted_attribute>! method to delete attachments. Also, save the record after removing the file!

As you know, Carrierwave file attachments work by mounting an Uploader class to an attribute of the model. Though the database field holds the file name as string, calling the attribute will always return the uploader, no matter if a file is attached or not. (Side note: use #present? on the uploader to check if the file exists.)

class User < ApplicationRecord
  mount :avatar, AvatarUploader


Linked contentRepeats

HTML/CSS: "transparent" is not a color

Heads up: transparent is not a real color, but black with 0% opacity.

In Safari, this makes e.g. gradients between transparent and white have some gray tones in the middle.

/* Unexpected in Safari */
linear-gradient(to right, white 0%, transparent 100%)

/* Correct */
linear-gradient(to right, white 0%, rgba(255,255,255,0) 100%)

Whitelist Carrierwave attributes correctly

Say you have a User with a Carrierwave attribute #avatar:

class User < ActiveRecord::Base
  mount_uploader :avatar, AvatarUploader

When whitelisting the avatar field in the controller, you might do this:


But you probably want this:

  params[:user].permit(:avatar, :avatar_cache, :remove_avatar)

In this example:

  • :avatar_cache allows a newly upload image to persist through form roundtrips in the case of validation errors (something that isn't possible with Paper...

Bash: How to use colors in your tail output

Sometimes it's nice to have some coloring in your logs for better readability. You can output your logs via tail and pipe this through sed to add ANSI color annotations (which your console then interprets).

To print a log (e.g. rails log) and color all lines containing "FATAL" in red and all lines with "INFO" in green:

tail -f /path/to/log | sed --unbuffered -e 's/\(.*INFO.*\)/\o033[32m\1\o033[39m/' -e 's/\(.*FATAL.*\)/\o033[31m\1\o033[39m/'

Here are the ...

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 ma...
Linked contentRepeats

Generating test images on the fly via JavaScript

When you need test images, instead of using services like lorempixel or you may generate test images yourself. You can do this via JavaScript.

Here is an ES6 function that generates a simple SVG image and returns it as a data: URI. All browsers support SVG, and you can easily adjust it yourself.

function svgUri(text) {
  let svg = `
    <svg width="320" height="240" xmlns="">
      <rect x="0" y="0" width="320" height="240" style...

Checklist: Using Carrierwave in a Rails project

This checklist should help you to check edge cases that are not part of the default Carrierwave configuration.


Always convert and strip user-provided images to sRGB

Debugging image color profiles is hard. You can't trust your eyes in this matter, as the image rendering depends on multiple factors. At least the operation system, browser or image viewer software and monitor influence the resulting image colors on your screen.

When we offer our users the possibility to upload images, they will most likely contain tons of EXIF metadata and sometimes exotic color profiles like eciRGB. We want to get rid of the metadata, as it might contain sensitiv...


FileIO: Writing strings as Carrierwave uploads

When you have string contents (e.g. a generated binary stream, or data from a remote source) that you want to store as a file using Carrierwave, here is a simple solution.

While you could write your string to a file and pass that file to Carrierwave, why even bother? You already have your string (or stream).
However, a plain StringIO object will not work for Carrierwave's ActiveRecord integration:

>> Attachment.create!(file:
TypeError: no implicit conversion of nil into String

This is because Carrierwave ex...


Common mistakes when storing file uploads with Rails

1. Saving files to a directory that is not shared between deploys or servers

If you save your uploads to a made up directory like "RAILS_ROOT/uploads", this directory goes away after every deploy (since every release gets a new). Also this directory is not shared between multiple application servers, so your uploads are randomly saved to one local filesystem or another. Fixing this afterwards is a lot of fun.

Only two folders are, by default, shared between our application servers and deployments: "RAILS_ROOT/storage" and `"RAILS...

Understanding grid sizes of (SVG) icons

A primer on vector graphics

For rastered image formats like JPG or PNG, each pixel is basically drawn on a fixed size canvas. To display such an image in a different size (say: 1.5 times larger than original), the renderer (your Browser / GPU / Monitor) needs to interpolate the color values of missing pixels. The image will appear slightly blurred.

This is different for vector graphics like the SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) format. You can imagine SVG files as XML file contai...

Linked contentRepeats

Ruby: Do not mix optional and keyword arguments

Writing ruby methods that accept both optional and keyword arguments is dangerous and should be avoided. This confusing behavior will be deprecated in Ruby 2.7 and removed in Ruby 3, but right now you need to know about the following caveats.

Consider the following method


def colored_p(object = nil, color: 'red')
  puts object.inspect

colored_p(['an array'])                   # ['an array'] (in red)
colored_p({ a: 'hash' }, color: 'blue')   # {:a=>'hash'} (in blue)
colored_p({ a: 'ha...
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