Toptal Blog

The Toptal Blog is the top hub for software engineers, designers, project managers, and entrepreneurs, featuring in-depth coverage of platforms and technologies, comprehensive tutorials by professional Toptal talent, and resources to help ambitious freelancers stay on the cutting edge.
Subscribe today for email updates.
A Step-by-step Guide to Designing Custom Illustrations Without Any Drawing Skills

Many designers shy away from making their own custom illustrations for the fear that they don’t have conventional drawing skills. What if we could show you how to make your own great custom illustrations, no sketching skills required? In this article, Toptal Design Blog Editor Tidjane Tall guides us through three step-by-step illustrations each with different styles.

Continue reading →
Immutability in JavaScript using Redux

In an ever growing ecosystem of rich and complicated JavaScript applications, there’s more state to be managed than ever before: the current user, the list of posts loaded, etc.Managing state can be hard and error prone, but immutability and Redux- a predictable state container for JavaScript apps- can help significantly.

In this article, Toptal Programmer David Xu talks about managing state using immutability with Redux, a predictable state container.

Continue reading →
Illustration Inspirations to Help Breathe Life Into Your Brand

Check out a collection of custom illustration inspirations created by different designers from around the world. Toptal Illustrator Waldek Graczyk curated a selection of illustrations that each finds a way to represent its respective brand.

Some of the illustrations are captured from live products, some are still in development, and some are purely concepts designed to push the bounds of what is even considered possible.

Continue reading →
A Guide to Managing Webpack Dependencies

The Webpack module bundler processes JavaScript code and all static assets, such as stylesheets, images, and fonts. However, configuring Webpack and its dependencies can be cumbersome and not always a straightforward process, especially for beginners.

In this article, Toptal Software Engineer Andrej Gajdos provides a guide with examples on how to configure Webpack for different scenarios and points out the most common pitfalls connected to project dependencies and their bundling when using Webpack.

Continue reading →
UX Propaganda: Psychological Techniques to Make Your Product Addictive

On average, apps lose 77 percent of their users in the first three days. In a time when meeting basic usability requirements is a must, and competing products are reaching feature parity fairly quickly, what makes users stick around?

In this post, Toptal Design Blog Editor Kent Mundle details proven, UX propaganda techniques that will make your app the next most addicting thing.

Continue reading →
How to Build a Multilingual App: A Demo With PHP and Gettext

Making your website or web app available to a wider audience often requires it to be available in multiple languages. For non-English projects, you can increase your audience by releasing it in English as well as your native language. Internationalizing and localizing your project, however, becomes a much easier process if you start during its infancy.

In this article, Toptal Software Engineer Igor Gomes dos Santos shows us how to leverage simple tools, like Gettext and Poedit, to internationalize and localize a PHP project.

Continue reading →
Logo Animation Inspirations to Make Your Brand More Relatable

Check out a collection of brand animation inspirations created by different designers from around the world. Toptal Designer Jason Gonzalez curated a selection of designs that each finds a way to energize its respective brand.

Some of the designs are captured from live products, some are still in development, and some are purely concepts designed to push the bounds of what is even considered possible.

Continue reading →
Realm Is the Best Android Database Solution

Since the inception of the platform, Android developers have had pretty much only one option for a database: SQLite. Although feature-rich and powerful, it wasn’t quite what Android app developers needed. Realm, a modern, efficient database solution for mobile platforms, turned out to be an amazing replacement for SQLite on Android.

In this article, Toptal Software Engineer Mateus Gondim Romão Batista explains why you should use Realm for your next Android application.

Continue reading →
The 11 Photoshop Plugins That Made Me a Better Designer in 2016

Despite Photoshop’s unparalleled feature set, everyone has a few extra things that they wish the product could do. Fortunately, there is a rich community of third party developers who are regularly pumping outout fantastic plugins and extensions to make you a better designer.

In this article, Toptal Design Blog Editor Michael Abehsera has lined up some of the best Photoshop plugins that make him a better, more efficient designer. There are a plethora of plugins out there, but these are the essentials.

Continue reading →
PostCSS: Sass’s New Play Date

PostCSS is the hot new tool that’s making the rounds on the front-end side of web development. It has been quickly and widely adopted, and possibly will have a significant impact on how we base our present-day CSS.

In this article, Toptal Software Engineer Nicolás J. Engler introduces us and guides us on how to start using this tool, expand it with plugins, or integrate with other CSS processors, task runners, or bundlers.

Continue reading →
Please Your Readers With These Blog Layout Inspirations

Check out a collection of blog layout design inspirations created by different designers from around the world. Toptal Designer Francesca Gilbert curated a selection of designs that each finds ways to communicate a blog’s unique personality.

Some of the designs are captured from live products, some are still in development, and some are purely concepts designed to push the bounds of what is even considered possible.

Continue reading →
The Best Design Articles of 2016

Today, in a world where only three percent of adults spend time learning each day, reading is a competitive advantage.

To jumpstart your learning in 2017, we’ve curated the absolute best design links published around the web in 2016. You’re welcome.

Continue reading →
Make Your Web Front-end Reliable with Elm

If you’ve spent your fair share of time developing web front-ends, you know that no amount of libraries and plugins are sufficient enough to make the development experience pleasant. Unpredictable event chains, complex data binding, and lack of structured data modeling only makes things worse.

Elm, a programming language built for front-end development, cuts to the root of all these problems and solves them there.

In this post, Toptal Software Engineer Stanislav Davydov provides a detailed guide to Elm and shows us how The Elm Architecture solves some of the most fundamental challenges of front-end development.

Continue reading →
The Art of Building Self-Service Admin Areas

Software is regular and predictable, so it seems paradoxical that practically every web app needs a sizable administrative area. The explanation for this paradox lies in software’s interaction with humans. While you probably can’t build a fully automated system, there’s a lot you can do to save time and money.

In this post, Entrepreneur Jack Kinsella explains what you can do to streamline administration, thus saving valuable time and making your projects more profitable. Adminimisation is the word of the day!

Continue reading →
Don't Hate WordPress: 5 Common Biases Debunked

Today, WordPress covers more than 50 percent of website shares and serves nearly 60 million websites worldwide. Its popularity has resulted in many misconceptions that have grown and spread like a forest fire, and have made people stay away from WordPress.

In this post, Toptal Software Engineer Donald Mudenge explains the five most common WordPress taboos and myths, clarifies them, and offers solutions on how to overcome them.

Continue reading →
Retain Users With These Mobile App Onboarding Inspirations

Check out a collection of onboarding design inspirations created by different designers from around the world. Toptal Design Blog Lead Editor Michael Abehsera curated a selection of designs that each finds creative ways to retain users.

Some of the designs are captured from live products, some are still in development, and some are purely concepts designed to push the bounds of what is even considered possible.

Continue reading →
A Node.js Guide to Actually Doing Integration Tests

Your software isn’t fully tested until you write integration tests for it. While unit tests help ensure that functions are properly written, integration tests help ensure that the system is working properly as a whole.

In this article, Toptal Software Engineer Luka Blažecki uses Node.js to explain why integration testing is important for every development platform and how to write clean, composable integration tests.

Continue reading →
The Ultimate Guide to Building a WordPress Plugin

WordPress plugins can be both a blessing and a curse. With more than 45,000 plugins available in its official repository, WordPress users can customize their website to their heart’s content. However, not all plugins follow the standards necessary to keep the platform performant and secure while also delivering a solid user experience.

In this tutorial, Toptal Software Engineer Ratko Solaja shows us how to build a robust WordPress plugin, following all the necessary best practices.

Continue reading →
Convert Visitors With These Landing Page Inspirations

Check out a collection of landing page design inspirations created by different designers from around the world. Toptal Technical Blog Editor Kent Mundle curated a selection of designs that each finds creative ways to convert visitors into leads.

Some of the designs are captured from live products, some are still in development, and some are purely concepts designed to push the bounds of what is even considered possible.

Continue reading →
How to Make an Android and iOS App in C# on a Mac

In the past few years, Microsoft has pulled a few aces from up its sleeve. Yes, they messed up Skype, failed with smartphones, and almost succeeded with tablets. But, they did some really amazing things as well.

Relinquishing their closed empire approach, they open-sourced .NET, joined the Linux Foundation, released SQL Server for Linux, and created this great new tool called Visual Studio for Mac.

In this post, Head of Open Source Demir Selmanovic details how to make an Android and iOS app in C# on your Mac.

Continue reading →