As I ponder the title of this post, I’m conflicted.

I clearly remember writing last year’s post and thinking that it didn’t seem like four years could have possibly passed since I started publishing here. As I write this one, I find myself feeling like it’s surely been much longer than five years.

I guess you could say 2011 has been a long year?

Relativity aside, this week saw the fifth anniversary of the night that I hastily threw this site together and published my first post. So, I guess it’s that time again.


Site stats

Page views are far from a perfect metric for measuring the progress of a site like this one, but it’s one of the few consistent, long-term metrics I have. Aggregators come and go, RSS is giving way to Twitter, and social media has decentralized the conversation that would have taken place in a post’s comments years ago (A change for the worse, in my opinion). So, I measure what I can.

Pleasantly enough, the stats have continued to be encouraging.

Since last year’s post, traffic has grown by a healthy 28%. That’s just over 1.6 million page views since this time last year. Insignificant compared to some sites, but I find it truly humbling to think that my little corner of the Internet has been visited 1.2 million times in the last year. Maybe even more incredible to me is that nearly 400,000 of those visits were apparently return visits. Frankly, I have a hard time rationalizing that number.

Interestingly enough, I seem to have benefited from Google’s recent algorithm tweaks aimed at content farms. I saw two distinct, sustained bumps in search traffic this year. I won’t complain…

The Best Posts of 2011

I considered omitting this section this year (and the year-end post itself for that matter). I figured that I probably care more about this than you do and there’s no point wasting everyone’s time, but Joe Brinkman disagrees.

If at least one person finds it useful to have a quick reference of the year’s most popular posts, then who I am to argue?

In JavaScript, curly brace placement matters: An example – This post received the most traffic, primarily due to spending some time on the front page of Hacker News and the JavaScript subreddit. Frankly, I didn’t intend for it to capture the level of attention that it did at all. It was targeted at developers less experienced with JavaScript, but it ended up igniting a light-to-medium religious war around the Allman vs. K&R debate among more seasoned developers instead.

Next year I should post about tabs vs. spaces.

jQuery 1.6.2 syntax error? You may be the victim of SEO. – Similarly, this post did well in the stats simply because it spent some time at the top of Hacker News. Though I did have to endure the predictable abuse from the denizens of Hacker News, exposure there was enough to get some attention focused on the issue and ultimately get it resolved. I’d say that was worth suffering the “Well, Actually” crowd for a couple days.

Cripple the Google CDN’s caching with a single character – Yet another post in this lineup by virtue of the time it spent on the front page of Hacker News. Astute readers correctly pointed out that the Google CDN’s HTTPS assets are served with a header that allows them to be cached. Unfortunately, too many people got stuck on that inaccuracy and missed the larger point.

Since HTTP-delivered scripts aren’t eligible for use as cache hits for HTTPS references to the same script (and vice versa), using the HTTPS reference isolates the potential cross-site caching benefit to only users who have the HTTPS-served script cached. With the vast majority of jQuery CDN references being of the HTTP variety, it’s important to understand that and not use the HTTPS reference unless you actually need it.

Even better, use the protocol-less reference and never worry about it again.

ASP.NET web services mistake: manual JSON serialization – This is one that I felt strongly about. I had been seeing more and more code floating around that used JavaScriptSerializer or DataContractJsonSerializer to manually handle the encoding to and from JSON in ASP.NET services that were automatically doing that anyway. The result being nasty double-serialization of the data, and/or sending values in and out of methods as strings instead of using the strongly-typed objects that the data was usually based on ultimately anyway.

Fun fact: I wrote and published this post, from start to finish, while attending MIX11.

Use jQuery to extract data from HTML lists and tables – This post was somewhat niche, but I‘m a fan of the general approach of using list comprehension methods against the DOM. Particularly, map() is fantastically well-suited to dealing with HTML and the DOM. I’ve subsequently linked to this post to help explain the solutions to all sorts of tangentially related problems. I hope that many of the people who read this post were able to extrapolate the more general usefulness of map() and specifically jQuery’s implementation of it for dealing with selections of HTML elements.

What I expect from 2012

JavaScript is going to continue exploding in popularity. If you’re a web developer and haven’t taken a serious look at Node.js yet, now’s the time. JavaScript is not without flaws, but I think full-stack JavaScript is the future for a lot of platforms and web development in particular.

As new developers begin learning about development, who would choose a platform that requires learning a different client-side and server-side language if a solid platform using a single language from start to finish existed?

Of course, that was part of the promise of failed technologies like Java applets and Silverlight, but JavaScript has the luxury of already being pervasive, native, and well-integrated in every user’s browser. Compared to conquering that client-side morass, ironing out the server-side platform wrinkles and maturing a web framework or two is nothing.

Mobile and touch will change how we approach web development. It’s hard to believe that designing for touch was an obscure niche when I started this site five years ago. More than just avoiding hover menus and making click targets large enough for fat fingers, I think there’s still undiscovered potential for touch and gesture based UIs that we’re going to see begin making its way onto the web as touch input becomes more ubiquitous on a wide range of devices.

Of course, you can’t touch what you can’t see. Making sites work on a wide variety of screen sizes is more important now than ever. Using CSS media queries to build responsive layouts takes a bit of acclimation, but the results are absolutely worthwhile. While responsive layouts aren’t new, I think they will become much more mainstream in the next year. Sites not taking advantage of media queries will probably seem as quaint as sites currently using table layouts soon.

Windows 8 is going to be huge. I don’t know if it’ll be a huge success or a huge flop, but I think it’s safe to say there’s not much middle ground between the two outcomes. It’s certainly a bold move.

As an iPhone, iPad, and MacBook Air owner, I would be overjoyed if I could migrate from those devices to Windows-based devices of comparable quality. I’m rooting for Microsoft to pull this one off.

Thanks

As always, thank you for lending me your eyeballs for a few minutes.

If you’re reading this paragraph, there’s a decent chance that I owe you a bit of gratitude for your support over the past year, be it pointing someone here to solve a problem, a retweet or two, or just sparing me your attention.

Thanks.

And you?

How was your 2011? What technologies helped you succeed or presented challenges for you this year? What do you think’s going to be most important in 2012?

I’m interested to hear what you think. Leave a comment or leave a link to your own year-end post if you’d like.