The well-known de­signer and pod­caster talks skill sets, SASS, and CSS ex­per­i­ments

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Una Kravets talks pod­casts, skill sets, SASS and CSS ex­per­i­ments

net: You’re clearly as tal­ented a vis­ual artist as you are a tech­ni­cal pro­gram­mer. Has that helped or hin­dered your ca­reer devel­op­ment? UK: *me blushes* The an­swer to this is the clas­sic: it de­pends. Any­where that it re­ally mat­ters, such as in my work and the prod­ucts I build, it ab­so­lutely helps. Hav­ing mul­ti­ple skill sets al­lows you to have unique per­spec­tives and un­der­stand the big­ger pic­ture. How­ever, in a hir­ing en­vi­ron­ment, com­pa­nies still don’t re­ally know what to do with hy­brids, so you don’t re­ally end up be­ing able to lever­age your skills to their full po­ten­tial.

net: We’re lov­ing your CSS ex­per­i­ments, such as trav­els.surge.sh. Are these mainly done for fun, or are they a fun­da­men­tal part of your process? UK: My CSS ex­per­i­ments are done to prac­tise with ex­per­i­men­tal tech­nol­ogy in a low-stakes sit­u­a­tion. To me, the best way to learn is by do­ing, so I’m al­ways do­ing a va­ri­ety of side projects, com­bin­ing my per­sonal in­ter­ests and the tech­nolo­gies I want to work with. The project you men­tion, trav­els.surge.sh, ac­tu­ally be­came the sub­ject of one of my first talks about blend modes.

net: You started both the DC and Austin Sass Meetup groups, as well as in­ter­nal mee­tups at var­i­ous places you’ve worked. What do you see as the big­gest chal­lenges to the fu­ture of Sass? UK: I don’t re­ally see any chal­lenges. Sass is a great tech­nol­ogy that makes a lot of things pos­si­ble that CSS does not oth­er­wise. It in­te­grates well into other sys­tems as well.

net: How would you per­suade a new­bie web de­signer to learn Sass? (Or would you?) UK: I don’t think there’s much per­sua­sion that needs to hap­pen when you can just show them how it will make their lives eas­ier! Sass, like ES6, pro­vides a lot of niceties. There is a mis­con­cep­tion that you need to ‘learn’ these sub­jects as though they are unique from CSS or JavaScript. In fact, the skills trans­fer and build. Us­ing some­thing like Sass only fur­thers your power to style quickly and ef­fi­ciently.

net: What things are ex­cit­ing you most in web de­sign right now? UK: CSS Grid ( w3.org/TR/css3-grid-lay­out) is very ex­cit­ing, along with the adop­tion of blend modes and new colour modes (like Lab Colors). Lay­out and de­sign in the browser is get­ting much more pow­er­ful.

net: You di­vide your time be­tween blog­ging, speak­ing (una.im/speak­ing), pod­cast­ing (tools­day. io), and your day job as UI En­gi­neer at Dig­i­tal Ocean. Is there a nat­u­ral syn­ergy be­tween them all, or is it some­times a strug­gle to fit ev­ery­thing in? UK: It all fits into my cur­rent life goal of mak­ing the web a more beau­ti­ful, ac­ces­si­ble and per­for­mant place. Each builds off of each other and each ex­pe­ri­ence is a learn­ing op­por­tu­nity. Of course it’s hard to fit ev­ery­thing in, but you have to make time for the things you’re in­ter­ested in and care about.

net: What have you been work­ing on lately? UK: I’m launch­ing a book! This is some­thing I’ve been work­ing on with a pub­lisher for a while now: writ­ing a guide­book to front-end devel­op­ment that’s beau­ti­fully il­lus­trated and ac­ces­si­ble. I think it’s some­thing that’s re­ally miss­ing from the cur­rent con­tent we have to­day and I’m re­ally ex­cited to an­nounce that it’ll be com­ing soon! If you want to stay up­dated, fol­low me on Twit­ter @una or sub­scribe to my news­let­ter, Web Love, at: tinylet­ter.com/we­blove.

Una Kravets will be speak­ing at An Event Apart in Wash­ing­ton on 10 July and Chicago on 28 Au­gust.

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