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In preparation for Global Accessibility Awareness Day, the Pulsar team has been on an accessibility kick recently, doing various things to improve the accessibility of the Pulsar design system and the software it serves.

I took some time to experiment with a handful of popular accessibility testing extensions and tools which we use to validate the accessibility of our user interfaces. These tools will give you a good foundation of accessibility before you move onto user-centric testing with real people and/or full blown accessibility audits. …


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I recently did a chunk of work on the Pulsar design system to improve how we align form elements against a common 12 column grid, and all sorts of fun little things crept out of the woodwork that we’re still tweaking.Normally, when you’re styling up your forms you’d add padding to both the left and right sides, right? It’s pretty much standard practice everywhere.

Previously, we used specific pixel values to set the widths of our inputs which—while great from a consistency point of view—was awful in terms of responsiveness. …


Your computer can (probably) see better than you

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In part 1 I explained how we use unit tests to validate that the markup generated by our design system components matches our expectations from one release to the next. In this part, I’ll show how we check the visual presentation of those same components.

We start again, with a button.


Avoiding the unforseen consequences of change

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“I never thought I’d see a resonance cascade, let alone
create one.”

We have lots of components in our Pulsar design system, but for this post I’m going to focus on just one. The button.


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“Don’t break the build.”

The mantra you’ll hear often if you work with a continuously integrated product. Design systems, frameworks, pattern libraries or whatever we’re calling them this week usually live outside of the product(s) in which they’re used. They’re products in and of themselves, with their own team, their own backlog and their own release cycles. Updating to the latest version of your design system should rarely, if ever, intentionally break something which you previously supported.

Hell hath no fury like a developer who’s build breaks with a minor patch release of a dependency. Similarly, you’ll suffer scorn if you’re constantly releasing major versions because of the amount of breaking changes you’re publishing. The Pulsar design system got to version 6.x.x pretty quickly when we first started integrating it with our existing software products, but has stayed stable there for quite a while now because we’re increasingly focused on not breaking things. …


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Pulsar is the open-source design system powering the user experience of the Jadu Continuum platform. Sounds fancy, but what does it really mean?

Jadu software is used in large organisations, it powers hundreds of local government/council sites as well as some in central government, higher education and commercial sectors. There are thousands of people who use our software every day to deliver sites and services used by millions.

The Jadu Continuum Platform currently consists of the following main products:

  • CMS — Content Management System
  • CXM — SAAS based Customer Experience Management
  • XForms Professional — Secure Forms

Customers may have one, two or all the Continuum products, and some of their users may access one or more of them as part of their job. It’s important to us that each product maintains a consistent, familiar experience even though their main features may differ. Simply put, you should be able to jump into a different product and know your way around. …


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It happens every year, almost always at the same time. Autumn kicks in, the weather starts getting cooler, and my mood swings upwards so much that I never fail to notice how much happier I’ve suddenly become and start commenting on how Autumn is my favourite time of year.

It’s only recently that I’ve realised this upswing for what it really is: Recovering from burnout.

I don’t know if its a seasonal affective thing each summer or just coincidence but I definitely feel the change when its over, I just don’t really realise it at the time.

When I think about the effect that burnout has on me it always seems to be my right brain that’s affected more, my desire to create, design and make awesome things takes a back seat for a while. Its not that my creative output entirely vanishes, I still need to function as part of a creative team, but I do feel less of a desire to do certain things, especially outside of work. …


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Let me tell you something, pendejo, by the time you’re reading this Pulsar version 3.0.0 should’ve been tagged and released and it was very cathartic. After using Pulsar in anger on the MoJ and Q projects for the best part of two years we learnt a hell of a lot about what it takes to write a UI framework that needs to work across multiple products and now I’m taking the time to fix and polish up a lot of things before we start to FINALLY bring Pulsar into Jadu CMS.

Originally, this blog was only ever meant to be available internally at Jadu, so there’s a lot of inside baseball here and I apologise. In the future I hope to write more about our process, how we’re building our user interface platform and how we’re changing everything to make sure our software is beautiful to use, as well as great to look at. …

About

Paul Stanton

I design things, I build things. — UI/UX person @Jadu

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