This story was written by Keith Dawson for UBM DeusM’s community Web site Develop in the Cloud, sponsored by AT&T. It is archived here for informational purposes only because the Develop in the Cloud site is no more. This material is Copyright 2012 by UBM DeusM.

Friday Four: Flexible Foundations

Managing AWS on-the-go, too many tools, and more.

This week: some UX advice, way too many tools, and how to manage AWS from Android.


Manage AWS from your Android
This Android app lets you do a few essential things with your Amazon Web Services account: start, stop, and monitor instances. You can't do everything from here; instead, the app "provides mobile-relevant tasks that are a good companion to the full web experience," according to Amazon's description. This version 1 tool may have a ways to go, judging by the reviews it has garnered to date. One reviewer complained that "it neither follows the AWS console design, or Android's," but in the end allowed as how it was "a good start." A few reviewers knocked Amazon for producing a web-wrapped app instead of a native one. Others complained of the lack of ssh and multiple-account support. It's likely Amazon will heed some of these requests in time, and improve their tool.

Flexible foundations
Trent Walton has this thoughtful essay on what web workers need to keep top-of-mind as they develop responsive or otherwise modern sites: the Web itself was born responsive. As Andy Hume put it: "It's us that's been breaking it all these years by placing content in fixed-width containers." (This thinking dates back at least 13 years, to Jon Allsopp's article from the turn of the century, A Dao of Web Design.) At the base of a flexible foundation is a style sheet that uses relative units such as em and rem, in preference to fixed ones such as px, pt, or mm.

Some UX advice
A couple of posts on the UX Stack Exchange board got more widespread attention than usual after they were picked up by Hacker News and other geek-friendly sites. These are the sorts of questions that you might think developers could debate until the end of time; but it turns out that both of them have fairly clear-cut and well-supported answers.

The first asks, Should error messages apologize? The most highly voted-up answer (despite xkcd's reservations) lays out the rationale for an apologetic (and human) tone in error messages. Through such a message, the developer is apologizing to the user for the failure of the software to behave as the user has been led to expect.

The second question is Should I use Yes/No or Ok/Cancel on my message box? Again the consensus answer is unambiguous: You should use explicit verbs (even multi-word verb phrases) that tell the user what will happen when the button is chosen.

Way too many tools
Caution: Don't follow the link below until and unless you have a block of unclaimed time before you. This list of Latest Tools And jQuery Plugins That A Web Designer Needs comprises 46 tools. Every one of them is worth exploring. Many will lead you off to follow the other projects of some designer or developer. Some may well end up claiming a place in your toolbox.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

OK, done? Here's 166 more tools.

The Friday Four gives a hat tip each week to Ron Miller, whose collection of five links for developers and IT pros runs weekly on