Web ❤ Print

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I strongly advise you to take a look at one of the latestvideos fromJen Simmons on Youtube. She speaks about web of course, but especially about printing techniques and we begin to see real “bridges” between graphic disciplines.

Anyone working in communication, digital, publishing or content production in general has one day suffered, participated or ardently and maliciously poisoned a debate of this kind where the “print people” opposed the “web people” on the real or supposed merits of their preferred medium.

Most of the conflict was often rooted in the techniques, the history, the almost infinite layout capabilities of the print in the face of the “poverty” of HTML, which put everything in “boxes”.

The people of the Web clumsily defended themselves by dressing in the costume of the Moderns, arguing of their gift of ubiquity and instantaneity, called the people of the Print of “old world” and the debate generally closed on this exit by the bottom.

CSS “Grid”

The subject of his intervention concerns a still “green” CSS functionality, namely the “CSS Grid”. In short, the ability for a developer to build, on screen, a layout much more freely, almost close to that of print.

From her lab (http://labs.jensimmons.com/2017/03-004.html) some examples actually show advanced possibilities, which can even be combined with responsive.



“Paste-Up” and “Hot Metal”

During the video the “web technique” is superficially approached and Jen Simmons quickly summons the History of publishing and layout techniques.

She approaches a technique that she practiced herself, at the time of her beginnings in graphic design: the “Paste Up” or the assembly of the elements of the page, by hand.

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The layout was very free, simply “collage” in fact, and allowed a true release of graphic designers’ creativity after centuries of “rigid” composition and in “boxes” imposed by “historical” printing techniques.

Before the advent of photography and “Paste up” the layout was heavily constrained by the printing techniques then in use: designing text blocks from molten typographic lead, arranging these blocks in metal frames, clamping, locking, and sending to the presses. This was obviously extremely “rigid” and left very few possibilities for a layout beyond the right angle.

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This revolution that printing has undergone, by passing from metal characters (“Hot metal”) to “Paste up” is similar, according to Jen Simmons, to what the web will experience by passing from a layout in “table layout” (to speak quickly) to the famous CSS grid: more freedom and more creativity.

We will add the end of the sterile print vs. web debate and especially the fact of being able to dive into the treasures of printing knowledge to bring them to the screen.


Jen Simmons is developper advocate at Mozilla (editor of the Firefox browser), which means that her mission is to keep ahead of the progress of the techno, and summarize the whole to the People of the Web whose head remains buried in the everyday flow of things. You know what I’m talking about.

Her website : http://jensimmons.com/

Her lab : http://labs.jensimmons.com/

Photo : unsplash-logoHenk Mul