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Putting the 'Art' into Article

Putting the 'Art' into Article

Since its initial brief, the challenge for The Economist’s web app (https://app.economist.com) was to present the same slick interface as the newspaper’s existing iOS and Android apps, using just web technologies. As the project matured and we began to support a wider variety of device sizes and capabilities, we realised we were making significant compromises to the quality of the presentation, and indeed the legibility of the text. For a news publication with a loyal user-base and strong visual identity, this was not great.

With the application of a series of clever algorithms, a move to a constraint-based layout system, and a more mature relationship between the design, editorial and development teams, we were able to make drastic improvements to the layout and typography of the article view, and thus the immersive, tailor-made experience for the user.

Slide notes:

1. I’m a front-end engineer at the Financial Times. Going to be talking about a scheme of work I did earlier in the year which greatly improved the reading experience for one of our products

2. Spend most of my time working on the FT web app

3. Until recently, also the lead developer of the Economist’s web app
which launched four years ago.

4. https://www.dropbox.com/s/deiv9xv33melntf/Economist%20app%20demo.mov?dl=0. Working on the two projects side-by side allowed cross-pollination of ideas and technologies

5. At the FT, we've thought hard about what exactly an app is, and how that ap...

George Crawford

October 09, 2015

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  1. Putting the ‘Art’ into Article

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  2. http://app.ft.com

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  3. https://app.economist.com

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  4. https://app.economist.com

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  5. http://labs.ft.com/2012/06/what-exactly-is-an-app/
    • an immersive experience for the user
    • should work offline
    • An icon on the homescreen
    • No ‘browser-like’ elements, chrome or page loading
    • An interface designed for touch, with gesture interaction
    • Should seem tailor-made for the device, perfectly filling
    the screen
    What is an app?

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  6. the measure

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  7. http://www.historicpages.com/

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  8. Wall Street Journal The Economist
    New York Times The Guardian

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  12. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Economist
    1846 Print Digital

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  13. http://caniuse.com/#feat=multicolumn
    CSS Multi-column Layout

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  14. http://codepen.io/georgecrawford/pen/zGpdQN

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  19. https://github.com/ftlabs/ftcolumnflow

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  22. https://github.com/ftlabs/ftcolumnflow

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  33. © Sarah Werner http://collation.folger.edu/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Folger-Printing-22.jpg

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  34. http://dev.labs.ft.com/george/moltenleading/

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  35. http://georgecrawford.github.io/font-baseline/demo/metrics.html

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  41. • Images sized and placed appropriately
    • Save bandwidth
    • Balance of images and text on each page
    • Distribution of images through the article
    • Avoid monotony
    • Keep images near the text which references them
    • Allow editors and designers some control

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  42. • Use a ‘fuzz’ multiplier to
    account for uneven line-breaks
    • Estimate the length of the article text, in

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  43. • Original image dimensions
    • Aspect ratio
    • Max width & height setting
    • Max upscale/downscale setting
    • Estimate the length of the article text, in
    • Determine ‘ideal’ size of each image

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  44. • Minimum horizontal/vertical
    • Avoid collisions
    • Minimum column height
    • Random placement to avoid
    • Maps & charts close to the
    text which references them
    • Different rules for first
    article page
    • Estimate the length of the article text, in
    • Determine ‘ideal’ size of each image
    • text + images = total number of columns
    • Determine ‘ideal’ position for each image

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  45. • Estimate the length of the article text, in
    • Determine ‘ideal’ size of each image
    • text + images = total number of columns
    • Determine ‘ideal’ position for each image
    • Position the header
    • Find best-fit position for each image
    • Run ColumnFlow over the body text

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  50. http://www.w3.org/TR/css-regions-1
    CSS Regions

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  51. http://www.w3.org/TR/css-regions-1
    CSS Regions

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  52. https://figures.spec.whatwg.org/
    CSS Figures

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  53. http://dev.w3.org/csswg/css-line-grid/
    CSS Line Grid

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  54. https://dev.opera.com/articles/houdini/
    Project Houdini

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  55. https://wiki.css-houdini.org/
    Project Houdini
    • Font Metrics API
    • Custom Layout
    • Parser API
    • Property and Value Extensions API
    • Custom Paint

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  56. http://thegrid.io
    Grid Style Sheets

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  57. Thanks

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