6 posts on Surveys

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State of HTML 2023 now open!

7 min read 0 comments

tl;dr the brand new State of HTML survey is finally open!

Take State of HTML 2023 Survey

Benefits to you:

  • Survey results are used by browsers to prioritize roadmaps — the reason Google is funding this. Time spent thoughtfully filling them out is an investment that can come back to you tenfold in the form of seeing features you care about implemented, browser incompatibilities being prioritized, and gaps in the platform being addressed.
  • In addition to browsers, several standards groups are also using the results for prioritization and decision-making.
  • Learn about new and upcoming features you may have missed; add features to your reading list and get a list of resources at the end!
  • Get a personalized score and see how you compare to other respondents
  • Learn about the latest trends in the ecosystem and what other developers are focusing on

While the survey will be open for 3 weeks, responses entered within the first 9 days (until October 1st) will have a much higher impact on the Web, as preliminary data will be used to inform Interop 2024 proposals.

State of HTML 2023 Logo

The State of HTML logo, designed by Chris Kirk-Nielsen, who I think surpassed himself with this one!

Background

This is likely the most ambitious Devographics survey to date. For the past couple of months, I’ve been hard at work leading a small product team spread across three continents (2am to 8am became my second work shift 😅). We embarked on this mission with some uncertainty about whether there were enough features for a State of HTML survey, but quickly found ourselves with the opposite problem: there were too many, all with good reasons for inclusion! To help weigh the tradeoffs and decide what makes the cut we consulted both the developer community, as well as stakeholders across browsers, standards groups, community groups, and more.

We even designed new UI controls to facilitate collecting the types of complex data that were needed without making the questions too taxing, and did original UX research to validate them. Once the dust settles, I plan to write separate blog posts about some of these.

FAQ

Can I edit my responses?

Absolutely! Do not worry about filling it out perfectly in one go. If you create an account, you can edit your responses for the whole period the survey is open, and even split filling it out across multiple devices (e.g. start on your phone, then fill out some on your desktop, etc.) Even if you’re filling it out anonymously, you can still edit responses on your device for a while. You could even start anonymously and create an account later, and your responses will be preserved (the only issue is filling it out anonymously, then logging in with an existing account).

So, perhaps the call to action above should be…

Start State of HTML 2023 Survey

Why are there JS questions in an HTML survey?

For the same reason there are JS APIs in the HTML standard: many JS APIs are intrinsically related to HTML. We mainly included JS APIs in the following areas:

  • APIs used to manipulate HTML dynamically (DOM, form validation, etc.)
  • Web Components APIs, used to create custom HTML elements
  • APIs used to create web apps that feel like native apps (e.g. Service Workers, Web App Manifest, etc.)

If you don’t write any JS, we absolutely still want to hear from you! In fact, I would encourage you even more strongly to fill out the survey: we need to hear from folks who don’t write JS, as they are often underrepresented. Please feel free to skip any JS-related questions (all questions are optional anyway) or select that you have never heard these features. There is a question at the end, where you can select that you only write HTML/CSS:

Question about HTML/CSS and JS balance

Is the survey only available in English?

Absolutely not! Localization has been an integral part of these surveys since the beginning. Fun fact: Nobody in the core State of HTML team is a native English speaker.

Screenshot showing dozens of languages

Each survey gets (at least partially) translated to over 30 languages.

However, since translations are a community effort, they are not necessarily complete, especially in the beginning. If you are a native speaker of a language that is not yet complete, please consider helping out!

What does my score mean?

Previous surveys reported score as a percentage: “You have heard or used X out of Y features mentioned in the survey”. This one did too at first:

80% score, 105/131 heard or used

This was my own score when the survey first launched, and I created the darn survey 😅 Our engineer, Sacha who is also the founder of Devographics got 19%!

These were a lot lower for this survey, for two reasons:

  1. It asks about a lot of cutting edge features, more than the other surveys. As I mentioned above, we had a lot of difficult tradeoffs to make, and had to cut a ton of features that were otherwise a great fit. We err’ed on the side of more cutting edge features, as those are the areas the survey can help make the most difference in the ecosystem.
  2. To save on space, and be able to ask about more features, we used a new compact format for some of the more stable features, which only asks about usage, not awareness. Here is an example from the first section of the survey (Forms): Form validation question screenshot However, this means that if you have never used a feature, it does not count towards your score, even if you have been aware of it for years. It therefore felt unfair to many to report that you’ve “heard or used” X% of features, when there was no way to express that you have heard 89 out of 131 of them!

To address this, we changed the score to be a sum of points, a bit like a video game: each used feature is worth 10 points, each known feature is worth 5 points.

920 pts score, used 79 features out of 131, heard of 26 more

My score after the change. If you have already taken the survey, you can just revisit it (with the same device & browser if filled it in anonymously) and go straight to the finish page to see your new score.

The downside of the new score is that it’s harder to interpret by itself, it only makes sense in comparison to others. You can search for the #StateOfHTML hashtag on microblogging services (e.g. here’s Twitter). We are also working on displaying your rank among other participants automatically, to make this easier.

I found a bug, what should I do?

Please file an issue so we can fix it!

Acknowledgements

This survey would not have been possible without the hard work of many people. Besides myself (Lea Verou), this includes the rest of the team:

  • Engineering team: Sacha Greif, Eric Burel
  • UX research & data science team: Shaine Rosewel Matala, Michael Quiapos, Gio Vernell Quiogue
  • Our logo designer, Chris Kirk-Nielsen

And several volunteers:

  • Léonie Watson for accessibility feedback
  • Our usability testing participants
  • …and all folks who provided early feedback throuhgout the process

Last but not least, Kadir Topal made the survey possible in the first place, by proposing it and securing funding from Google.

Thank you all! 🙏🏼

You still haven’t started the State of HTML 2023 survey?!


Numbers or Brackets for numeric questions?

11 min read 0 comments

As you may know, this summer I am leading the design of the inaugural State of HTML survey. Naturally, I am also exploring ways to improve both survey UX, as well as all questions.

Shaine Madala, a data scientist working on the survey design team proposed using numerical inputs instead of brackets for the income question. While I was initially against it, I decided to explore this a bit further, which changed my opinion.

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Help Design the Inaugural State of HTML Survey!

6 min read 0 comments

You have likely participated in several Devographics surveys before, such as State of CSS, or State of JS. These surveys have become the primary source of unbiased data for the practices of front-end developers today (there is also the Web Almanac research, but because this studies what is actually used on the web, it takes a lot longer for changes in developer practices to propagate).

You may remember that last summer, Google sponsored me to be Survey Design Lead for State of CSS 2022. It went really well: we got 60% higher response rate than the year before, which gave browsers a lot of actionable data to prioritize their work. The feedback from these surveys is a prime input into the Interop project, where browsers collaborate to implement the most important features for developers interoperably.

So this summer, Google trusted me with a much bigger project, a brand new survey: State of HTML!

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State of CSS 2022 now open!

3 min read 0 comments

Take State of CSS 2022 survey

A while ago I posted a call for feedback to inform the design of the State of CSS 2022 survey. The response has been overwhelming and it was glorious. We got quite a lot of proposals, feedback, votes. But that also meant we had to make some tough decisions about what gets in the survey and what doesn’t, otherwise we’d end up with a survey so long nobody would want to finish it!

In the end we added questions about 15 new CSS features based on proposals in that repo, and decided against adding 9. Overall, there are 30 new CSS features the 2022 survey asks about. To make space for all of that, we also removed a few that were not really shining much light into what developers do anymore, and also a couple others that were not actually about CSS.

However, CSS features are not the only — or even the most important questions being asked.

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Help design the State of CSS Survey 2022!

2 min read 0 comments

Since 2019, the annual State of CSS survey has collected feedback from web developers from across the world to try and take the pulse of the CSS ecosystem, and it’s become a valuable resource not only for CSS developers, but also for browser vendors. This summer, one of my side projects is helping out with survey design and outreach for the State of CSS survey, thanks to a generous Google UI fund grant.

The target is for the survey to launch in mid September, and we are currently working on the outline. So far we have created a preliminary outline based on last year’s survey and early research. All our work happens is in the open, in this repo. Here are some of the changes from last year’s survey:

  • Removed the Pre-processors category as it feels like there isn’t too much debate around that area.
  • Got rid of “which browser do you primarily develop in?” question as we already ask which browsers people test in.
  • Merged “Opinions” and “Environments” sections into new “Usage” section.
  • Moved browsers question to “Other Tools”.
  • New features:
    • currentcolor
    • color-mix()
    • Wide gamut colors
    • scroll-behavior
    • scroll-padding
    • font-palette
    • :focus-visible
    • :has() pseudo-class
    • :where() pseudo-class
    • Cascade Layers
    • Houdini Paint API
    • and there are several others we are considering

We are currently looking for feedback from the community, including suggesting CSS features to ask about, libraries and tools, or even new questions altogether.

There are also some design issues to flesh out, you’re welcome to weigh in there too.

If you want to quickly vote on which features are most important for you to make it into the survey, you can do that either via GitHub 👍🏼reactions, or here (which uses GitHub reactions behind the scenes). Do note that reactions are only one metric among many we will use to consider items.

The feedback period will be open until August 20, then we will start working on launching the survey.

Do note that browser makers are looking at this and similar surveys to prioritize what to implement. This is why Google is sponsoring this project. So any effort you put into survey outline feedback, and on responding to the survey when it’s ready, could come back to you tenfold when your favorite CSS features get implemented faster!


An easy notation for grayscale colors

3 min read 0 comments

These days, there is a lengthy discussion in the CSS WG about how to name a function that produces shades of gray (from white to black) with varying degrees of transparency, and we need your feedback about which name is easier to use.

The current proposals are:

1. gray(lightness [, alpha])

In this proposal gray(0%) is black, gray(50%) is gray and gray(100%) is white. It also accepts numbers from 0-255 which correspond to rgb(x,x,x) values, so that gray(255) is white and gray(0) is black. It also accepts an optional second argument for alpha transparency, so that gray(0, .5) would be equivalent to rgba(0,0,0,.5).

This is the naming of the function in the current CSS Color Level 4 draft.

2. white(lightness [, alpha])

Its arguments work in the same way as gray(), but it’s consistent with the expectation that function names that accept percentages give the “full effect” at 100%. gray(100%) sounds like a shade of gray, when it’s actually white. white(100%) is white, which might be more consistent with author expectations. Of course, this also accepts alpha transparency, like all the proposals listed here.

3. black(lightness [, alpha])

black() would work in the opposite way: black(0%) would be white, black(100%) would be black and black(50%,.5) would be semi-transparent gray. The idea is that people are familiar thinking that way from grayscale printing.

4. rgb() with one argument and rgba() with two arguments

rgb(x) would be a shorthand to rgb(x, x, x) and rgba(x, y) would be a shorthand to rgba(x, x, x, y). So, rgb(0) would be black and rgb(100%) or rgb(255) would be white. The benefit is that authors are already accustomed to using rgb() for colors, and this would just be a shortcut. However, note how you will need to change the function name to get a semi-transparent version of the color. Also, if in the future one needs to change the color to not be a shade of gray, a function name change is not needed.

I’ve written some SCSS to emulate these functions so you can play with them in your stylesheets and figure out which one is more intuitive. Unfortunately rgb(x)/rgba(x,a) cannot be polyfilled in that way, as that would overwrite the native rgb()/rgba() functions. Which might be an argument against them, as being able to polyfill through a preprocessor is quite a benefit for a new color format IMO.

You can vote here, but that’s mainly for easy vote counting. It’s strongly encouraged that you also leave a comment justifying your opinion, either here or in the list.

Vote now!

Also tl;dr If you can’t be bothered to read the post and understand the proposals well, please, refrain from voting.