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I’m not an anti-GUI person. In fact, I wrote three books about web GUI development with Java. However, I also like the command-line interface (CLI), especially text-based UIs. After a year of exploring MariaDB and the DevOps world, I got to discover and play with many text-based CLI tools that I didn’t know even existed. These tools are especially useful when connecting to remote servers that don’t have a GUI.

One special CLI tool that I frequently use is the mariadb SQL client (or mysql in the MySQL world)—a CLI program used to connect to MariaDB-compatible databases. With it, you can send SQL queries and other commands to the database server.

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Jakarta EE is a unanimously adopted and probably the most popular Java enterprise-grade software development framework. With the industry-wide adoption of microservices-based architectures, its popularity is skyrocketing and during these last years, it has become the preferred framework for professional software enterprise applications and services development in Java.

Jakarta EE applications used to traditionally be deployed in run-times or application servers like Wildfly, GlassFish, Payara, JBoss EAP, WebLogic, WebSphere, and others, which might have been criticized for their apparent heaviness and expansive costs. With the advent and the ubiquitousness of the cloud, these constraints are going to become less restrictive, especially thanks to the serverless technology, which provides increased flexibility, for standard low costs.

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It’s the start of a new year, and product designers are already launching thousands of new apps, tools, and resources.

In January’s edition of our monthly roundup of the most exciting new downloads for designers and developers, there’s everything from full-blown applications to helpful little side projects. Enjoy!

Observable

Observable lets you explore, analyze, and explain data as a team to uncover insights, and make better decisions. Build fresh data visualizations with drag-and-drop components or JavaScript.

Blocs

Blocs is a no-code website builder based on Bootstrap 5. It has a whole heap of templates, so all you need to do is pick one, customize it, and add your content.

blogstatic

blogstatic is a fantastic no-code blogging platform with a minimal UI that lets you focus on nothing but your content. There’s built-in SEO, plus themes and hosting is included.

Lessmail

Lessmail is an excellent way to clean out your inbox for the new year. Unsubscribe from unwanted newsletters, delete old messages and focus on the mail you want.

Ultimate Side Projects Playbook

Is 2023 the year you’ll launch a web-conquering side project? Give yourself the best chance with the free Ultimate Side Projects Playbook to guide you through the process.

Ashore

Get your web designs, prototypes, and other creative work sign-off fast using Ashore. Upload your files, share them with stakeholders, and track when your designs are approved.

Frase

Frase is an AI tool for researching, writing, and optimizing content with high-quality SEO keywords. Write anything from content briefs to blog posts in a fraction of the usual time.

Uiverse

Uiverse is a collection of UI elements designed by the community that you can use on your site for free or even submit your own designs for others to use.

Rive

Rive is an excellent app for building fast, small, interactive animations and motion graphics for the web. Animations built-in Rive can run on the web or in native apps.

Vuestic UI

Vuestic UI is an excellent UI framework for Vue. All aspects are fully customizable, and Vuestic UI seamlessly integrates with other component libraries for even more options.

Localfonts.xyz

Localfonts.xyz is a simple way to browse the fonts installed on your local machine in your browser. It’s a fast solution for choosing fonts for your designs.

PixelBin

PixelBin is a tool for optimizing and delivering images. It uses AI to transform your assets and allows you to use larger, higher-quality images without bloated load times.

EarlyBird

EarlyBird is a no-code landing page generator perfect for teams launching an early-stage website. You can get your product online fast and start validating it with real users.

RippleUI

RippleUI is a toolkit for UI design that improves on the Tailwind approach by simplifying classes to reduce the amount of code you need. In addition, it includes components and utility classes to speed up your web development.

No Code AI Model Builder

If you want to build your own AI models but you don’t know how to code, you can use No-Code AI Model Builder to generate AI models in minutes.

Templatify

Save hours creating social media templates with Templatify, a collection of 201 templates for Twitter and Instagram. There are dark and light versions, and a full video tutorial shows you how to customize them.

Detangle

Detangle beats small print by using the power of AI to generate human-readable summaries of legal documents so you can understand what you’re signing.

Mesher

CSS Hero’s Mesher creates incredible multicolor gradients that can be customized and exported to CSS for use in your projects.

OldestSearch.com

OldestSearch.com is a fascinating look at the web that was. Enter any search term, and it will return the oldest matching links available on Google Search.

Detect GPT

Detect GPT is a helpful Chrome extension that scans the content of web pages and determines if the content has been auto-generated by AI. It’s very handy for checking the validity of blog posts.

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This article is meant to be a starting point for sharing observations, experiences, and ideas to begin and build a conversation, exchange experiences, discuss, and shape a product vision we can work towards as a community.

Our initial product vision and definition reads as follows:

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I never liked being on-call (slight understatement) or asking others to shoulder some of the load. Sometimes it feels like it’s a penalty for being more involved and knowledgeable about our code and infrastructure. And it definitely is a big distraction from core development and innovation.

But there really is no way to avoid it once you have a live product or website with paying customers. Somebody needs to be available just in case something goes wrong.

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About 15-20 years ago, web application developers had the knowledge and the technical skills necessary to create an application: HTML, CSS, JS, PHP/Python/ASP, Web Server Management, MySQL/Postgres (both data and service management), etc. 

With time the web applications became more complex with bigger requirements. New technologies, frameworks, and paradigms bounce into the development and pushed developers to specialize in some areas arising new roles from this specialization.

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As we move into 2023, there are an increasing number of ways companies can engage with their customers. And as the number of apps, browser extensions, social media feeds, newsletters, vlogs, and podcasts grows, you can be forgiven for thinking that websites are a little less essential than they were in say, 2021.

However, the truth is that websites remain an irreplaceable part of the digital landscape and they will continue to be into 2023 and beyond.

Websites, as the keystone of a centralized, privately run digital experience couldn’t be more relevant. Unlike competing technologies, websites allow almost total control of their source code, and that provides an opportunity for skilled designers and developers to compete against the biggest names in their clients’ industries in a way that simply isn’t possible in tightly governed systems like social media.

Not only does quality web design help businesses increase their traffic, but it can increase the quality of that traffic; an attractive and user-friendly web page will encourage web users to stay on the page longer, and explore more of the content it links to.

Websites vs. Social Media

For many brands, the option they turn to for connecting with customers is social media. Particularly platforms like Facebook and Instagram. While billions of us are happy to while away our free time on social media, it’s not a great platform for informed decision-making or task fulfillment. For any form of productivity, websites are superior:

  • Flexibility: Websites can be customized to suit a company’s vision and values, whereas social media tends to magnify accounts that reflect its own values.
  • Ownership: When you publish on your website you own your content, when you post to social media the platform tends to own your content.
  • Investment: As we’ve seen recently with a certain bird-themed social network, you can spend years investing time in your social media channel only to have it canceled by an individual with his own agenda.
  • Findability: Websites are discoverable on search engines, and although algorithms govern these search engines, competition across different search engines keeps search algorithms honest. Social media networks each use a single algorithm making them free to skew browsing any way they choose.
  • Scaleability: Websites can take advantage of the latest technologies to improve user experience, on social media user experience is governed by the network’s decisions.

Websites vs. Apps

When it comes to owning a piece of the internet, a connected app feels like ownership. However, websites have a number of benefits over an app, from a superior user experience to lower development costs. And ultimately, apps are also controlled by 3rd parties.

  • Accessibility: Websites are universally accessible, while apps are usually limited to certain operating systems or platforms. If you want to distribute to devices, you’ll need to be approved by the store owner who can (and will) change the terms and conditions of store distribution without consulting you.
  • Flexibility: Websites provide a greater level of flexibility and scalability than apps.
  • Cost-effective: A simple website can be created and launched in a weekend, they are considerably more cost-effective to develop and maintain than apps.
  • Findability: Search engines have evolved around website technologies, and it is far easier to create a discoverable website than an app that ranks high in an app store.
  • Universality: Websites have lower entry costs for users, and there aren’t any downloads or purchases required.
  • 3rd-party features: Websites can integrate 3rd-party content like chatbots, payment gateways, and forms, that generally require licensing to include in an app.

Websites vs. Podcasts and Vlogs

There’s no question that podcasts and vlogs are engaging types of content. However, they are very limited when it comes to different kinds of experience. These tend to be passive, linear experiences. Even if your podcast opens itself up to listener interaction, your customers are still passive consumers.

  • Cost-effective: Websites can be set up very cheaply, podcasts and vlogs on the other hand require high-production values to compete.
  • Longevity: Well-written website content can remain relevant for years, the lifespan of a vlog or podcast is often just a few months.
  • Flexibility: Websites can embed podcasts and vlogs, as well as virtually any other content; podcasts and vlogs can only ever be podcasts and vlogs. Websites will continue to evolve long after podcasts are obsolete.
  • Simple: There is now a range of no-code options for creating a reliable website, meaning it can be done with little to no skills or experience. Podcasts and vlogs require a great deal of technical knowledge to produce.
  • Findability: As with other technologies, podcasts and vlogs can’t compete with websites when it comes to search engine optimization.
  • Faster: A well-designed website is much smaller than a podcast or vlog, making it cheaper and easier to access, especially on a cellular network.

Websites in 2023 and Beyond

In 2023 websites will still be a critical part of a successful business strategy and web designers will continue to be essential members of any team.

Websites continue to offer numerous benefits over other technologies including increased flexibility, cost-effectiveness, and superior search engine opportunities.

Unlike social media platforms that allow you to customize a few assets like avatars and colors, websites can be completely customized to fit the tone and style of a brand. Additionally, websites have a far lower barrier to entry than podcasts, vlogs, or apps. While apps may offer a richer set of features than a website, that is offset by the restrictions on platform and device capabilities that apps impose.

Websites will continue to evolve as the tech landscape changes. New ideas for consuming digital media will appear over time, offering unique new experiences — for example, mass adoption of AR (Augmented Reality) is just around the corner. However, the website is perfectly evolved for the types of simple customer interaction that businesses rely on, and will continue to matter in 2023 and beyond.

 

Featured image by fullvector on Freepik

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Software testing is the process of evaluating a software product to detect errors and failures and ensure its suitability for use. It can be performed manually (where testers use their skill, experience, intuition, and knowledge) or automatically (where the tester’s actions are guided by a test script).

The fundamental objective of the test process is to ensure that all specified requirements of a software system have been met by the development process and that no undetected errors remain in the system. However, the overall aim of testing is to provide customer or end-user value by detecting defects as early as possible.

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Finding a good web design agency is challenging, especially if you’re doing it for the first time. With so many options, it’s challenging to determine which best meets your needs.

The obvious place to start looking for a web design agency is by asking friends, family, and colleagues for personal recommendations, but bear in mind that they may not be qualified to judge your options objectively, and you’ll need to carry out due diligence on any web design agency recommended to you.

The process of researching and evaluating different design agencies can be time-consuming and complex. To make it easier, you must start with a clear understanding of your goals and expectations.

Begin by making a long list of web design agencies and freelance designers that might fit the bill. Then whittle it down to a shortlist by discounting anyone whose portfolio you don’t like — while design is about more than just subjective opinions, it’s also vital that you end up with a website you like and are proud to show off as part of your brand identity.

Now you have your shortlist, there are several key questions to pose to each potential candidate to ensure that they are the right fit for you. Here are the ten questions you should be asking to put you on track to finding your perfect website design partnership.

1. What types of website design services do you offer?

The first thing to realize is that there are many different kinds of websites, and as such, there are also many different kinds of website design services.

The types of website design services offered by web design agencies range from basic site creation to complex ecommerce solutions.

Basic web design services usually include developing and implementing a CMS (Content Management System) such as WordPress, Joomla, or Craft. Agencies may also provide more advanced services such as custom website design, SEO optimization, and web hosting.

Different agencies and freelancers specialize in various types of sites, so you must compare their solutions with your requirements.

2. Do you have any case studies of past projects I can review?

Experience matters when choosing a web design agency. Ask potential candidates about the years they have been in business and the types of projects they’ve worked on. New doesn’t necessarily mean low quality — plenty of great agencies are founded by experienced designers whose portfolios are owned by their previous employers.

However, it is easier to ensure a web design agency is a good fit for your project if you can review case studies of previous jobs. Case studies will provide valuable insights into their approach and techniques and how successful their clients have been.

3. Where are you based?

When it comes to web design agencies, there are pros and cons to hiring a local or remote team. On the one hand, working with a local agency can provide many advantages, such as in-person interaction and access to their resources. On the other hand, working with a remote team may offer greater flexibility, cost savings, and access to a global talent pool.

It’s essential to ask about an agency’s location to understand their services’ advantages and disadvantages.

Effective team communication is essential for any project, so you should check the working hours of any agency you select — you don’t want to wait overnight for answers to urgent queries.

4. Do you specialize in any particular industries or platforms?

Web design agencies may specialize in various industries and platforms, depending on the specific needs of their clients. For example, some might specialize in ecommerce solutions such as Shopify or WooCommerce, while others might focus on frameworks such as Vue or React.

Additionally, web design agencies may specialize in creating custom websites for specific industries, such as healthcare or finance.

Suppose you can locate a web design agency with previous experience developing websites for clients similar to you. In that case, they will be better placed to anticipate challenges specific to your project.

5. What is your process for designing websites?

Before hiring a web design agency, it’s essential to understand their approach to website design. For example, some agencies may take a more traditional “design and build” approach where they create the entire site from start to finish, while others may prefer to work with an existing template and make customizations.

Some design agencies use a traditional waterfall approach, while others adopt an agile methodology. Waterfall is a sequential process in which each step happens in isolation, whereas agile is an interactive approach with frequent testing and feedback.

Knowing how an agency prefers to work will help you establish realistic expectations about how they will integrate into your company culture.

5. Do you offer any additional services, such as SEO or hosting?

Website design agencies may offer a range of additional services, depending on the needs of their clients. Beyond website design and development, many agencies also provide SEO (search engine optimization) and web hosting services.

All reputable web design agencies will ensure that your website meets the minimum standard for technical SEO. But some agencies will also adapt your content to incorporate keywords and phrases related to your industry to help you increase website traffic once the site is launched.

When it comes to web hosting, your web design agency will help you choose the best type of hosting for your needs, but some agencies also provide hosting and will set up and manage a server for you.

6. How will the project be managed, and what is your timeline for completion?

When it comes to website design projects, timeline management is critical to ensure that your new website is delivered on time and within budget. Managing a website project requires careful planning and execution to keep everything on track.

You should also ask how the project will be managed throughout its lifecycle so that you can schedule your in-house timetables.

7. What type of maintenance can I expect after launching the website?

Launching your new website begins a long-term relationship with your web design agency. It’s essential to ask about their post-launch support process to ensure you have all the help and guidance you need. The agency should be able to provide comprehensive maintenance services such as bug fixing, content updates, and security checks.

Additionally, you should understand the process for making changes and requests after the website launch. Find out how quickly they can respond to your inquiries and the cost of any needed updates. This will help you plan your budget accordingly and avoid any unexpected fees.

9. How much will the project cost?

Speaking of costs, it’s vitally important to establish ballpark figures before you shortlist an agency. Like any industry, there is a wide range of different price points, dependent not just on the project but the marketability of the web design agency.

Make sure you ask for a comprehensive quote that outlines all the costs involved. Ask for a payment schedule so you know how much you’re expected to pay upfront. Check on any additional fees, such as maintenance or hosting.

Never adjust your project to secure a web design agency outside your budget. If you can’t afford a particular provider, strike them off your shortlist and move on to the next candidate.

10. What do you need from me?

As a client, there are several steps you need to take to ensure that your website design project runs smoothly. You will need to supply a detailed brief if nothing else.

You should be prepared to schedule regular feedback sessions so your agency can stay on track. You’ll probably need to supply brand materials such as logos, style guides, and any text, images, and videos you want to be included. The agency may want you to sign a contract, agree on a payment schedule, and pay an initial deposit.

Conclusion

Hiring a web design agency is challenging, especially if you don’t have the technical knowledge to assess an agency’s past work objectively.

By asking the questions above, you’ll get a solid sense of what the company is like to work for, how well they fit your corporate culture, and whether their proposed solution is within your budget.

The more questions you ask, the better informed you’ll be, and the more likely your website design project will succeed. Good luck!

 

Featured image via Pexels.

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Since its conception in the late 1980s, HyperText Markup Language (HTML) has persisted as a critical element in displaying web pages online.  This ubiquitous programming language continues to offer a detailed framework for structuring the content we see and interact with on the web, allowing us to format text and multimedia components in plain-text code, which is simple enough to change when the need arises.

The Transformation of HTML

As is the case with nearly all programming languages, HTML has transformed to incorporate dozens of new features over the decades since its introduction, accommodating typical contemporary pressures such as community feedback/critique and the rapid growth of adjacent web development technologies. The results of this transformation are easily visible to us in the output of modern HTML code; for example, the most recent HTML iteration–HTML5, introduced in 2014–offers new, simple elements for embedding video and audio files, as well as much-needed improvements in mobile display and overall mobile functionality.

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