24 ways is not the only advent calendar for web geeks. There's one for everyone, covering topics as diverse as web performance, UX and Perl. We compile the best ones for you to check out and talk to their creators, too
It is the season to be nerdy. Over the last few years, virtual advent calendars for web designers and developers have become increasingly popular. There are many that have come and gone.
In the last few years, for example, we had the Adfont Calendar, presented by Fontdeck, which gave away a free web font every day, as well as the MDN Holiday calendar, by the Mozilla Developer Network and built by Christian Heilmann. It provided daily resources "for you to look at, enjoy and even give some editing love".
None of these calendars have been updated for 2013 but all the articles are still online, so if you missed them initially, make sure you take a look. Here are the best ones for this year:
01. 24 Ways
"It's aimed at designers, developers, copy writers, producers and others who work in whatever capacity to create websites. We cover a whole range of topics from design and development to business matters and inspiration.
"24 ways has been running since 2005. Despite being in a compressed timescale, we publish about the same number of articles each year as A List Apart. The site is very popular, with traffic in the region of 70,000 visitors a day, so the decision to carry on is an easy one. We'll stop when people are no longer excited to read the articles in the lead up to Christmas."
For more on 24 ways, check out our full interview with Drew McLellan.
02. 24 Pull Requests
Celebrate the holiday season with 24 Pull Requests, an initiative to encourage developers around the world to send a pull request every day in December up to Christmas.
The project aims to promote open source collaboration during the festive period, with the team behind 24 Pull Requests commenting on the site: "You've been benefiting from the use of open source projects all year. Now is the time to say thanks to the maintainers of those projects, and a little birdy tells me that they love receiving pull requests!"
The Web Performance Calendar, started by Stoyan Stefanov in 2009, is the one for speed geeks.
Stoyan told us: "I modeled it after 24ways.org. The first year in 2009 was mostly me, I wanted to give an overview of the web performance optimisation (WPO) discipline and the self-imposed deadline of an-article-a-day was very effective ABS (or rather AWBS – Anti writer's block system). I only had a few contributions from friends from the industry.
"Next year in 2010, it was already something people were looking forward to reading but also contributing to. And it promises to be the same this year too."
UXmas is an advent calendar for user experience designers. Every day at 8.00am (Australian EST) a bauble is opened to reveal a new gift to the UX community. UXmas is a joint effort from the teams at Thirst Studios & UX Mastery, with delightful illustrations provided by Supereight Studio.
Benjamin Tollady, user experience director at Thirst Studios, told us: "We'd had the idea to put together a UX-specific advent calendar for a while but it wasn't until we came up with the UXmas name that we really started to take the idea seriously. We wanted to create the site as a way to give back to the UX community during the festive season. That, and the pun was too good to pass up!
"We're good mates with the guys from UX Mastery, who are pretty well connected and specialise in educational content for UX designers. We floated the idea past them, and it turns out they'd been toying with doing something similar, so it really was a perfect match. UX Mastery leveraged their network to pull in some unbelievably huge names from the UX world, while we set to work designing and building the website.
"The project has been a really nice, collaborative effort and we've been overwhelmed by the positive response from the community so far. We're planning to run the calendar again next year and hope to introduce even more great authors and interesting articles."
This year we've already had some tools that help you identify how you end up with bad news clients or projects, a free worksheet to help you identify your ideal clients, and one to help you define your idea of a successful year.
Don't laugh, there's even Perl Advent Calendar! It's been going since 2000 and features a different Perl module each day for the 24 of advent, and an extra module on Christmas day.
It all started, when the London Perl Mongers were having a quiet social drink in the pub. They were talking about online advent calendars and the impracticality of shipping chocolate through your web browser. Mark Fowler then quickly hacked together a calendar and lo and behold it proved very popular.
We couldn't do a list of brilliant online advent calendars without including our own. While not soley aimed at web developers and designers, we've got a selection of goodies lined up for designers of all disciplines. So make sure you check the site each day to see what's on offer!
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If we missed any calendars that you think should be in this list, please let us know in the comments!