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Utility: Convert SVG path to all-relative or all-absolute commands

I like hand-editing my SVGs. Often I will create an initial version in Illustrator, and then export and continue with hand editing. Not only is it a bit of a meditative experience and it satisfies my obsessive-compulsive tendencies to clean up the code, it has actual practical benefits when you need to make certain changes or introduce animation. Some things are easier to do in a GUI, and others are easier to do in code, and I like having the flexibility to pick which one fits my use case best.

However, there was always a thing that was a PITA: modifying paths. Usually if I need anything more complicated than just moving them, I’d do it in Illustrator, but even moving them can be painful if they are not all relative (and no, I don’t like introducing pointless transforms for things that should really be in the d attribute).

For example, this was today’s result of trying to move an exported “a” glyph from Raleway Bold by modifying its first M command:

Trying to move a path by changing its first M command when not all of its commands are relative.

This happened because even though most commands were exported as relative, several were not and I had not noticed. I have no idea why some commands were exported as absolute, it seems kind of random.

When all commands are relative, moving a path is as simple as manipulating its initial M command and the rest just adapts, because that’s the whole point of relative commands. Same with manipulating every other part of the path, the rest of it just adapts. It’s beautiful. I honestly have no idea why anybody would favor absolute commands. And yet, googling “convert SVG path to relative” yields one result, whereas there are plenty of results about converting paths to absolute. No idea why that’s even desirable, ever (?).

I remembered I had come across that result before. Thankfully, there’s also a fiddle to go with it, which I had used in the past to convert my path. I love it, it uses this library called Snap.svg which supports converting paths to relative as a just-add-water utility method. However, that fiddle is a quick demo to answer a StackOverflow question, so the UI is not super pleasant to use (there is no UI: you just manipulate the path in the SVG and wait for the fiddle to run). This time around, I needed to convert multiple paths, so I needed a more efficient UI.

So I created this demo which is also based on Snap.svg, but has a slightly more efficient UI. You just paste your path in a textarea and it both displays it and instantly converts it to all-relative and all-absolute paths (also using Snap.svg). It also displays both your original path and the two converted ones, so you can make sure they still look the same. It even follows a pending-delete pattern so you can just focus on the output textarea and hit Cmd-C in one fell swoop.

I wasn’t sure about posting this or just tweeting it (it literally took less than 30 minutes — including this blog post — and I tend to only post small things like that on my twitter), but I thought it might be useful to others googling the same thing, so I may as well post it here for posterity. Enjoy!

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Quicker Storify export

If you’ve used Storify, you probably know by now it’s closing down soon. They have an FAQ up to help people with the transition which explains that to export your content you need to…

  1. Log in to Storify at www.storify.com.
  2. Mouse over the story that contains content you would like to export and select “View.”
  3. Click on the ellipses icon and select “Export.”
  4. Choose your preferred format for download.
  5. To save your content and linked assets in HTML, select – File > Save as > Web Page, Complete. To export your content to PDF, select Export to HTML > File > Print > Save as PDF.
  6. Repeat the process for each story whose content you would like to preserve.

So I started doing that. I wasn’t sure if JSON or HTML would be more useful to me, so I was exporting both. It was painful. Each export required 3 page loads, and they were slow. After 5 stories, I started wondering if there’s a quicker way. I’m a programmer after all, my job is to automate things. However, I also didn’t want to spend too long on that, since I only had 40 stories, so the effort should definitely not be longer than it would have taken to manually export the remaining 35 stories.

I noticed that the HTML and JSON URLs for each story could actually be recreated by using the slug of the Story URL:

https://storify.com/LeaVerou/css-variables-var-subtitle-cssconf-asia.html
https://api.storify.com/v1/stories/LeaVerou/css-variables-var-subtitle-cssconf-asia

The bold part is the only thing that changes. I tried that with a different slug and it worked just fine. Bingo! So I could write a quick console script to get all these URLs and open them in separate tabs and then all I have to do is go through each tab and hit Cmd + S to save. It’s not perfect, but it took minutes to write and saved A LOT of time.

Following is the script I wrote. Go to your profile page, click “Show more” and scroll until all your stories are visible, then paste it into the console. You will probably need to do it twice: once to disable popup blocking because the browser rightfully freaks out when you try to open this many tabs from script, and once to actually open all of them.

var slugs = [... new Set($$(".story-tile").map(e => e.dataset.path))]
slugs.forEach(s => { open(`https://api.storify.com/v1/stories/${s}`); open(`https://storify.com/${s}.html`) })

This gets a list of all unique (hence the [...new Set(array)]) slugs and opens both the JSON and HTML export URLs in new tabs. Then you can go through each tab and save.

You will notice that the browser becomes REALLY SLOW when you open this many tabs (in my case 41 stories × 2 tabs each = 82 tabs!) so you may want to do it in steps, by using array.slice(). Also, if you don’t want to save the HTML version, the whole process becomes much faster, the HTML pages took AGES to load and kept freezing the browser.

Hope this helps!

PS: If you’re content with your data being held hostage by a different company, you could also use this tool by Wakelet. I’ve done that too, but I also wanted to own my data as well.

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git commit -m “EVERYTHING”

I was working on a project today, when I realized that I had forgotten to commit for days (local only repo). I switched to my terminal, spent at least five minutes trying to decide on the commit message before settling to the completely uninformative “Another commit”. Embarrassed with myself, I shared my frustration with twitter:

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/#!/LeaVerou/status/187533962283986944″]

Immediately, I started getting a flood of suggestions of what that commit message could have been. Some of them were hilarious, some clever and some both. So, I decided I wouldn’t be selfish and I’d share them. Enjoy: