Speech Synthesis API : Making your web apps talk

The Web Speech Synthesis API allows your web apps to convert page text or any other predefined or dynamic text to be rendered to speech. Although currently supported only in Chrome 33, the api enables you to add nice accessibility support to your web apps. However, I’m hard-pressed to find a suitable application for the use of it, besides maybe online games and browser slideshows with background commentary. A demo is given below.

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Adding actions to Gmail using Schemas

Recently, Google introduced Schemas in Gmail messages to allow developers to deliver a more interactive email experience integrated with their web app. Schemas in emails can be used to represent various types of entities and actions. Email clients that understand schemas, such as Gmail, can render entities and actions defined in the messages with a consistent user interface. In the case of Gmail, this means that the emails can display quick action buttons that let users take actions directly from their inboxes, essentialy allowing them to tie their web app with Gmail for a more integrative experience.
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Printing selective DOM elements on a page

Printing web pages from JavaScript, although not a common scenario, can be easily accomplished with some simple code. On the other hand, selectively printing some elements from a web page – like a div or a paragraph, can be challenging. Fortunately there are libraries available that can make the task easier. One such useful jQuery plugin is jQuery PrintElement, which allows you to selectively print a DOM element. Usage is extremely easy; just select any element from a webpage and fire the ‘printElement’ method.
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Peeking inside FireFox using MozRepl

I usually use Selenium for testing web applications or some quick screen scraping jobs. It is more than adequate for my purpose as most of the time I work on the back-end code. But if you spend most of your time working on Ajax, scraping and other JavaScript jobs, then you need more powerful tools at your disposal. The one I think you will find useful is MozRepl. With it you can connect to Firefox and other Mozilla apps, explore and modify them from the inside, execute Javascript, peek into HTML pages, examine functions and variables, all while FireFox is running.
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For whom do we develop software!

badaman_hands_on_clayInterface design is hard. Which is why most programmers turn a blind eye to it. During collaborative development I frequently encounter fellow programmers remark something to the following effect: ‘…do not worry, the users are not idiots, they will understand for what these buttons have been provided, no need to provide tool-tips or any help, lets get these code working and show it to the client.’
Interface design or rather usability design is usually left as an after thought; a colorful facade that you stick on to your backend code.

The following two videos provide a stark reminder, that for most of the time these are the people we develop software for.
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