A while ago I started an Apple collection. I've been following Apple hardware (and its aesthetics) since I was a teenager, but at that time I didn't the have money to own a Mac.

I got my first Mac when I was 19. It was an iBook 700 Mhz, acquired on an eBay-like website in Brazil. The money came from a Flash project.

After living in Canada for a few years now, I have some extra money to spend on a hobby. Most of the time I buy the devices from people on Craigslist.

After a few laptops and iDevices, I decided that I should start collecting info about my iThings. In the beginning, I created a Gist containing the model, serial number, how I got the device, the minimum/maximum OS, and so on.

The list kept getting bigger and bigger, and the content started looking messy. I thought showing this content on a website would be perfect, and I didn't need to hire a developer :D

At first, I decided I would organize my data in an SQL database, with the information distributed in different columns and tables. After that, I would create a graphQL API to provide me the data needed to populate my UI – probably written in React, compiled with Babel and packed with Webpack.

Reading the previous paragraph aloud, you can see that there are many technologies, and that I even ignored the backend language and UI details like SASS or styled-components. It all sounded a bit overwhelming when my ultimate goal was showing a list of items in a nice design.

That being said, I thought about how I can deliver this content without:

  • An API or any backend work
  • Any JS framework/library
  • Any JS tooling (Webpack, Babel, etc.)
  • Any CSS work

On top of these constraints, I had a few stretch goals:

  • Create a website with good accessibility
  • Create a website that works on old browsers, since I have computers running Mac OS 9.2 and iDevices running iOS 3

Challenge accepted. One index.html, a few vanilla JS files, and no custom CSS. I'd like to share the experience of building the site with you.


Let's talk about the constraints, point by point:

No API or any backend work

A while ago I saw a SaaS product called Stein. You create your data inside a Google Sheets document and they give you an endpoint with your data. Their library works like Handlebars, and it looked perfect for my use case:

<div data-stein-url="https://api.steinhq.com/v1/storages/5cc158079ec99a2f484dcb40/Sheet1" data-stein-limit="2">
    <h6>By {{author}}</h6>
    Read on <a href="{{link}}">Medium</a>

No JS framework/library and tooling

I decided to avoid adding a framework or library in this project since the use case didn’t need one. All JS interactions on this page are quite simple (show/hide menus, open a modal screen, handle permalinks).

Since I was not using a framework/library, I could avoid adding Webpack and Babel. No need to dig into presets and loaders.

P.S. You can argue that I could have chosen create-react-app or Next.js and get all these problems solved, but no.

No CSS work

I love writing CSS, especially when I can use SASS, but I decided not to write any CSS here. I had a few good reasons to avoid doing it:

  • I had no designs in mind, and despite the fact that I could do something decent-looking, I didn’t want to put time and energy into it
  • I wanted to use Tailwind CSS

If you've never heard about Tailwind CSS, please don’t just think, “It's just an alternative to Bootstrap.” Here is a good, short explanation from their website:

Most CSS frameworks do too much.

Instead of opinionated predesigned components, Tailwind provides low-level utility classes that let you build completely custom designs without ever leaving your HTML.

This is pretty much true. A quick search gives you many web apps “rebuilt” with Tailwind CSS:

Create a website with good accessibility

Last month I started taking accessibility courses at Deque University. Their content is great and it reminded me that HTML is accessible by default. By using a semantic HTML structure and testing basic things like keyboard navigation and colour contrast you eliminate several barries that move people with disabilities away from your content.

I am not an accessibility expert, but here are a few accessibility-related things I’ve worked on for this website:

  • Disable stylesheets: By disabling stylesheets you can ensure that your content follows a logical/structural way.
  • VoiceOver: VoiceOver is included in macOS and iOS. It is very simple to use, and by experimenting with it you can have a better understanding of how people use this feature.
  • Modals: Modals can be problematic. I decided to follow Ire Aderinokun’s approach.
  • axe: The extension is an accessibility checker for WCAG 2 and Section 508 accessibility rules.

It is not perfect -- there are a few things that I didn’t work on for my site, like adding a skip link to the main content. If you are curious, here is the Pull Request with all the changes.

Create a website that works in old browsers

I couldn’t achieve this objective since I had no control over scripts and styles. However, it doesn’t seem to be impossible. A few things I noticed:

  • Expedite (Stein client) uses fetch, which was only added in Safari 10. The request to their server could be probably replaced with an XMLHttpRequest.
  • Tailwind uses Flexbox in many elements. Safari only started supporting Flexbox in iOS 7. Maybe I could write a few properties for their existing elements to achieve a decent look.
  • SSL Certificates may be an issue for old browsers.


Making this website was super fun. Having this kind of pet project gave me a good reason to work with tech that I don't use in my job. Maybe in the future, Stein and/or TailwindCSS will be useful to prototype a feature or build a hackathon project.

The fact that I added “constraints” to my project made me think outside the box. Even though I didn't achive all my objectives, it helped me understand more and more about how all the pieces are connected.

I totally recommend doing something like this to give you a chance to play with different tech. It doesn't need to be an Apple collection -- you can create a site to list your favourite books or the best hikes you've done. In this case, the journey matters more than the goal.

Out of curiosity, I tracked my time using Clockify and between coding, creating the data, testing and writing this post I’ve worked 13 hours on this.

Also posted on my blog. Follow me on Twitter