Front-End Developments: A Year in Review

We've had a tremendous year here at Viget. We launched some amazing projects for our clients, attended and spoke at a variety of events, and even redesigned our own company web site. Across the board, every team here at Viget rocked it.

I want to take a moment and look back at the FED team's accomplishments in the last twelve months. This year we really pushed our work forward in ways we wouldn't have imagined a year ago.

Responsive Design

We launched a number of responsively-designed projects this year, but I'd like to highlight two: Time Life and World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

Jeremy Fields led the FED efforts on Time Life and put a tremendous amount of thought and care into building a responsive web site that is fast, fast, fast. He developed jRespond as a means to manage the JavaScript for the site. As the functionality on the site varies depending on available screen width (think: a mobile phone versus a desktop browser), Jeremy needed a solution that could execute functions conditionally. A home-grown solution was the best option and jRespond is top-notch. On top of all of that, Jeremy put together one of my all-time favorite 404 pages.

On the non-profit side of things, Trevor worked with World Wildlife Fund to develop their awesome new responsive web site. To maintain consistency across the site, Trevor developed a nested, responsive grid using Sass and Compass. Trevor also worked closely with Elliott and Kevin to design and build a large-scale, component-based system that allows WWF, using their new CMS, to build fully-responsive, elegant, and content-rich pages. The end result is a web site that works across all devices and that will provide lasting value to World Wildlife Fund for years to come.

Interactive Design

Tommy and Blake worked together to implement some delightful interactions for Duke's Undergraduate Admissions web site. The smooth animations and transitions work hand-in-hand with the eye-popping visuals carefully crafted by Jason and Mark. Of particular note is the behavior of the header and footer navigation as the page scrolls. You really have to see it for yourself!

Dan, plain and simple, blew us out of the water with his work on Run, PUMA, Run. The game, powered entirely by JavaScript and built using <canvas>, is stunning. Dan made use of a number of cutting-edge web technologies: <canvas>, HTML5 audio, and time-based animation with requestAnimationFrame to name a few. Run, PUMA, Run is unlike anything we've done before at Viget and Dan took up the challenge without pause. The game runs completely in a web browser without the need for plugins and is a joy to play.

ExpressionEngine

ExpressionEngine continues to play a big role in the FED team's work. 2012 saw the release of our first commercially-available EE add-ons: Single Entry, VL File Generator, and VL Category Groups. Each of these add-ons was built to solve a problem we encountered on a project and released commercially in the hopes that other developers will find them as useful as we do.

Trevor presented at the DCEERS Day Conference here in the nation's capital, presenting on advanced templating techniques using Stash and custom plug-ins. The conference, and Trevor's talk in particular, was well-received by those in attendance and we're looking forward to the next DCEERS!

But wait, there's more!

In addition to all of the above, the FED team still found time to speak at local events. Trevor spoke about Sass and Compass at July's Refresh DC meeting. Nate and Jeremy Frank led sessions on JavaScript and HTML/CSS respectively at Teen Tech Camp in Durham. Dan also presented a portion of his work on Run, PUMA, Run at FED Sacrifice last month.

In October, I joined the ranks of published Vigeteers when Apress released Foundation HTML5 with CSS3. I was asked by Craig Cook to contribute a couple of chapters to this entry-level resource for web developers. Having written nothing longer than blog posts since college, I found the task daunting, but it was an honor to work with Craig and the folks at Apress. I'm immensely proud of the final results.

Also in October, Doug organized and led our first team offsite. The entire FED team gathered in Richmond for a day of reflection and discussion. This offsite was our first opportunity to gather as a team and talk about where we came from, where we are, and where we're going.

Finally, in the past year, we began assembling a Device Lab for testing our work across a variety of phones, tablets, and other web-connected products. It will forever be a work in progress as the device landscape changes on a daily basis, but I'm confident that with a robust Device Lab we can continue to deliver top-quality, device-agnostic work for our clients.

We may be bidding adieu to 2012, but, for the Viget FED team (and all of Viget, to be honest!), 2013 is shaping up to be a fantastic year. Happy Holidays, thanks for reading, and we'll see you in the New Year!

Jason Garber

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