Who is User Agent Man?

Photo of Zoltan Hawryluk
Photo: Don Kittle

I am Zoltan "Du Lac" Hawryluk (and yes, Zoltan is my real name) and User Agent Man is my blog of all things web development.

I am a web developer born and raised in Toronto, Canada. I do research on all types of web technologies. I am also the author and contributer to all sorts of open source projects including both as a primary author (e.g. Progressive Pushstate and The CSS3 Font Converter) and well as a contributer (e.g. Picturefill, Viewport Units Buggyfill and a Slack plugin for Pidgin and Adium).

When I have time, I like to write about what I learn here so I can give back to the web development community. More about me.

Recent Posts

How To Fix Transformed Text in HTML5 Canvas In Firefox For Windows

May 10th, 2016 by zoltan · No Comments

The Firefox team has made some unique choices when rendering fonts in the Windows operating system. As a result, certain fonts under 16 pixels in size render really bad in HTML5 Canvas as well as CSS. This blog post shows how you can fix this issue and have clean, transformed typography in any OS.

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Creating Alpha Channel JPEGs Using SVG

November 7th, 2015 by zoltan · 2 Comments

sun-alpha-thumb PNGs with alpha channels are great, but they can take up a lot of bandwidth. Alternative image formats such as JPEG-XR, JPEG 2000 and WEBP are more efficient, but they are not supported by FIrefox (and may never be). In comes a full cross-browser solution: SVG files that encapulate a JPEG with an alpha channel. This post will cover how to create these image files a number of different ways, and show how you can animate these images as well.

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Fixing Badly Formatted .properties Files and Using LibreOffice/Excel to Make Them Translator Friendly.

October 4th, 2015 by zoltan · 2 Comments

Although .properties files are used to give multi-language support in JSP pages, they are not just restricted to Java platform — libraries exist for JavaScript, Ruby, Perl, Flex and a whole slew of other languages). When used in multi-developer environments, they can get rather messy and they can be rather translator unfriendly. In this article, you’ll see how you can quickly fix these issues with z4n, a set of shell scripts I created to manage .properties files and includes tools for developers to extract translation data from Excel spreadsheets. Read on, and I’ll show you how to keep .properites files sane for all your web projects.

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Augment Photos With CSS3 matrix3d() Transforms

July 16th, 2015 by zoltan · 1 Comment

teaser It’s possible to super-impose dynamic HTML content on top of a photos using 3D transforms to give the appearance that it is part of the picture. However, using a combination of translate3d(), scale3d() and rotate3d() functions to do this is difficult. This article discusses how to use the matrix3d() CSS transform with the Matrix Construction Set to get pixel-perfect 3D transforms easily and without any knowledge of matrix arithmetic. It also discusses the differences between matrix() and matrix3d(), as well as what fallbacks to use for browsers that don’t support transforms.

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Using WEBP/JPEG 2000/JPEG-XR/APNG Now With Picturefill and Modernizr

January 14th, 2015 by zoltan · 11 Comments

teaser WEBP, JPEG 2000, JPEG-XR, APNG … these image formats have features that are not available in the traditional GIF/JPEG/PNG/SVG image stack, like animation, lossy compressions paired with alpha channels and better quality at higher compression levels. However, each browser seems to support only some of these formats. With the <picture> element, along with the picturefill polyfill, you can use these great formats today while using the older formats for an old-fashioned fallback. This blog post will explain how to use picturefill or modernizr to use these formats, why you would want to use these image formats, and what tools you can use to generate them.

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Fixing Cross-Browser Issues With CSS3 Viewport Units in IE9+ and Safari for iOS

September 24th, 2014 by zoltan · 1 Comment

With viewport units, you can describe width, height, font-size and other CSS styles as percentages of the viewport width and height. There are, however, a few nasty gotchas when it comes to using them in iOS Safari and IE9 and 10. They also don’t always play nice in CSS3 calc() statements and don’t work at all in IE Visual Filters. Using them in iframes can also be problematic. This post talks about how to work around these issues easily using a JavaScript buggyfill (not polyfill). I have used viewport units in production sites today, and now you can too, on any phone or device used in the wild today.

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Fixing Typography Inside of 2-D CSS Transforms

May 4th, 2014 by zoltan · 2 Comments

If you’ve been using CSS3 Transforms, you have probably seen that sometimes, transformed text that is not spaced correctly, is rendered with jagged edges, and letters are placed correctly on the transformed baseline. Furthermore, transformed text becomes smoother when animating, but about a second after the animation stops, you’ll see it reverts back to its former jaggedy self. This effect is really pronounced in Windows, but also appears in Mac OS X and Linux browsers. What is a typography nut to do? In this article, I present three fixes to this issue using the CSS perspective, filter and outline properties.

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Better Web Typography With font-weight, Autohinting and font-feature-settings

September 20th, 2013 by zoltan · 2 Comments

After playing around with the technology for the past two years, I have done research on how to improve the look and legibility of @font-face type. Faux-bolding and faux-italicizing (i.e. “obliquing”) can be easily avoided a lot more easily with new browsers (and in some cases, even older IE!). Fonts that look horrible in Windows can be improved with autohinting. And best of all, advanced features of OpenType fonts, like ligatures, alternative glyphs, and other character variations are almost in all the major browsers (Safari, the only holdout, will have it later this year). Let’s see how we can put this all into practice today.

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Cross-Browser SVG Text-Paths Without JavaScript — Even In Older IE.

May 20th, 2013 by zoltan · No Comments

c-is-for-cookie Designers have been using textpaths for years in print, but doing this on the web is a little tricky. SVG, which supports textpaths in modern browsers, is not supported by IE <= 8. Older IE does, however, support VML, another vector markup format that can do textpaths as well. After playing around, I found it is possible to put both on a web page and even code common CSS to style them — all without JavaScript. I’ll explain how we can layout and style textpaths in all browsers (including IE <= 8) as well as what a Bézier Curve is, and a bit of a code that will show how to push text on a path as well tween a textpath.

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How To Create SVG Paths Easily Using The GIMP

April 26th, 2013 by zoltan · 6 Comments

When writing my blog post about Clicking Through Clipped Images Using CSS Pointer Events, SVG Paths and VML, I needed to create SVG paths. The problem is that they look so complicated and are not intuitive enough to produce by hand. However, I came across a cheap and simple way of creating SVG paths using the GIMP. People tell me I am also cheap and simple, so maybe that is why I love this solution so much (It takes only six simple steps!) So, for the rest of you like-minded people, I would like to share it this solution with you.

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