Welcome back to the 23rd edition of The Lab Report!

After a quiet week last week, there’s lots of good stuff to talk about this week.

In the meantime I also took a couple hours to revamp my newsletter archive page.

I used to only have the newsletter subject lines, so it was really hard to reference something from a previous issue:

Now I’ve added the main topics, a cover image, and a search bar:

Overall I think it looks a lot better.

And if you’re ever looking for something from a previous issue, it should be much easier to find.

Now I just need to get a few testimonials on there. 🙂

Alright, let’s get into this week’s newsletter!

🎨 Figma gets some great updates at #Config2022

Over the last couple days, Figma hosted their virtual Config 2022 conference live from San Francisco. The event focused a lot on the future of design, accessibility, and design systems.

Figma also showed off their latest product updates, and I’m SUPER happy with the improvements.

Among them:

  • Dark mode
  • Redesigned auto layout
  • Component properties
  • Variable fonts
  • Individual borders

Auto Layout was a great feature when it first launched, but it had some limitations that made it unusable at times.

My biggest issue was that you couldn’t exclude a layer from the automatic positioning.

Borders were also a pain. Not to mention that text didn’t always look properly aligned because of its baseline spacing.

Figma’s new auto layout redesign addresses all of those issues and more, making it a much more powerful feature.

It behaves closer to actual CSS now.

Component properties is another great update that will greatly reduce the number of variants needed when creating components.

If you want to check out a 30-min run down of all the new features, you can watch the opening keynote here.

Oxygen Builder screenshot

After first releasing the 4.0 alpha in December, finally getting a release candidate has been a long time coming.

Why is it such a big deal?

While alpha and beta releases are meant for testing only, the Oxygen team officially provides support for release candidates.

That means you can use it on a production site and not be down the creek without a paddle if something goes wrong.

Of course, just because you can use it on a production site doesn’t mean you should.

Since it’s not a stable version, it’s possible you’ll encounter new bugs.

Personally I’m going to wait a couple weeks before updating my sites. There are a lot of 3rd party addons that still need to catch up, and I’ve seen a few confirmed bugs.

One of my favorite new features from the RC1 are the padding & margin controls.

We saw a few different variations tested during the early releases, and I wasn’t a fan of any of them.

Now we’re back to the original layout (which I found most intuitive), but as a bonus we get input fields that expand on focus when set to a custom unit:

That makes it WAY nicer for entering CSS variables or calc functions.

David Browne suggested “The ultimate improvement would be only having to type in — and it auto fill the var()” – which would make this even better.

You can read the full RC1 release notes here.

🧑‍⚖️ What are the costs of GDPR?

Hypothetical question for you…

If GDPR was a real life person, would you go out and grab a beer with him?

The answer is no.

He’s annoying and only makes our lives as web designers harder.

It turns out we’re not the only ones who would prefer a quiet night in.

According to a new report by the National Bureau of Economic Research, “GDPR induced the exit of about a third of available apps; and in the quarters following implementation, entry of new apps fell by half.”

That’s really interesting.

I always knew cookie consent popups were annoying, but I never considered GDPR’s impact on innovation.

I’m all for consumer privacy, but it sounds like the consequences of implementing such strict measures may not have been analyzed as thoroughly.

If you want to do more reading, you can find the full report here.

⭐️ Deals of the week



Brain.fm is running a promo this month in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month.

I’ve never actually tried it for relaxation, but their focus music is really good.

Funny story: I fully bought into Brain.fm the first time I tried it ~8 years ago.

At first, I wasn’t so sure.

A coworker and I were talking about how we were both getting headaches after a listening session. We looked it up, and apparently it had something to do with increased blood flow and metabolism in the brain.

I’m not a doctor so I’m not going to sit here and pretend like I know anything about the science behind it, but I definitely wasn’t expecting to feel a difference.

Since then, it’s been a handy tool to have in my back pocket whenever I need to get a super productive work sesh in.

(Btw the headaches went away after about a week).

Here’s the link if you want to try it out free for 3 days. You can use the code newpulse to get 20% off at checkout.

WP Adminify

I’ve never tried this, but I’ve seen a few people talking about WP Adminify – which is currently available on AppSumo.

It could be worth checking out if you’re looking to whitelabel your WordPress dashboard.

It’s $59 for 5 sites, and $118 for 200 sites.

💬 Closing Comments

That’s all for this week.

If you’ve made it this far, I want to thank you again for sticking along for the ride.

I appreciate your support, comments and feedback more than you know.

And if you ever want to discuss any of the topics in this newsletter, I post a dedicated thread each week inside of the NewPulse Labs Facebook group.

You can also suggest any topics you think I should cover there, so be sure to join 🙂

Stay safe and talk soon.