Sharing code examples with Carbon

dAVE Inden on February 20, 2019

I often find myself thinking about the best way to share something like a code example. Gists seem to work well, especially for something more comp... [Read Full]
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Though I guess it's based on context, I don't really like images of code, since the text in them can't be selected (not sure if they might also make it harder for blind people using screen readers?).

On the other hand, some websites like twitter don't have support for displaying code, so i can see why it's needed.

Maybe the best would be a combination between gist and carbon, that lets you post both an image and a link to the gist? Or maybe a site that embeds the code as an image in the preview of the link.


This is true. Based on experience Carbon pictures yield a lot higher engagement rate than markdown code snippets or gists though.

I usually use Carbon for cover images and tweets (where I need that click) and stick with real snippets in articles.


Great points. I will admit that I didn't think about screen readers when I wrote this article which is a whole other issue. It's definitely important to think about the potential audience and how they may need to consume the content. I am also very bad at writing alt text. I never know how much to say. Is it a good idea to have detailed alt text? Is that what folks with screen readers expect? I want to make any content I create here as accessible as possible to folks. Is there any good examples of sites that use alt text well?
I like the idea of using the examples images as cover images / section headings on articles and in tweets. Then in core content of stuff one can embed gists and link out to them as needed.

I'm not sure to be honest, I remember reading a tweet about how the text should describe only what can be seen in the image, and not additional information that the viewer might not know.

A quick google search led me to this site, in which case I guess code would be "complex information". Maybe a longdesc code pointing at the raw code would work?

Though I don't have any experience with screen readers or helping with accessibility for them, so I don't know how much the different solutions might help, or which ones exist.

That's a good site. I saw a Tweet last night from Jessica Rose asking about wanting information on writing good alt text. Marcy Sutton replied with some great information in this Tweet with links to a webinar about someone using a screen reader and their experience on the internet along with a decision tree for how to decide on what to put in alt text. It looks like some great info.


The screen reader concern is valid. The example in the original post will be announced as «Example Javascript code». You need to be careful with your alt tags. On platforms such as Medium were you cannot set alt tags the situation for screen reader users is even bleaker.

Overall I think Carbon and similar tools are pretty good for illustrative purposes (think Open Graph or intro images) but are not an option for the core content of a text.


Yeah that's a cool idea
I tried contacting Dawn Labs 😅 and suggested to make an api(i would love to make one) so that 3rd party apps could integrate carbon's Feature
But currently they are sticking with the current platform 🙂


Thanks for this article. I love carbon and I think it deserves more recognition.

A tip for new users: click on that sneaky settings button in the top right corner. I usually find a few things (like the default shadow) a bit annoying but pretty much everything can be customized.


Thanks! I'm glad you liked the article. I obviously agree that Carbon is really neat. :) Great tip on the settings button. There is a lot in there to customize.


I wanted a code related image at the top of a post I recently made and I used carbon for that along with stencil to put text on top of it. It's not meant for anyone to really read and copy that code though.

Where I first saw Carbon being used was @samantha_ming's Code Notes on Twitter. I like the way she customizes the carbon images. You can see some on her site

As already mentioned in other comments, accessibility is a concern if the image is the only way to view the code. It would be nice if there was a good way to make the code acccessible for those using screen readers or those who want to copy and paste the code to run it, like maybe a button to expand the code - but I don't know how to make that accessible or if it would work out well in practice. I'm hoping someone comes up with a good way to handle it where the code can be shown on the same page if someone wants a text version of the code.


I like how you used Carbon. That's a great use for it to use it in the cover image of an article. Adding your own text to customize it is great too. I really like what Samantha Ming is doing with code examples. Those look really nice.
Accessibility is a big thing to make sure the code is still usable to everyone. Maybe the simple solution is to use the code image and make it a link out to a gist where the code can be copied and read by a screen reader. Or the gist could be embedded below the image.


I really like this tool ! I even use it to build my CV.
Carbon is totaly worth sharing and awesome to include code in your presentations or share examples with your team, as long as they don't need to copy it.


That's awesome! I really like your CV. I have played around with the idea of presenting my own career info as JSON as well. That is fun. I agree on it being good for presentations. Others have brought up the lack of being able to copy the code as well, which is very true since it is an image. I guess it is all about how one uses it to make sure it is the right tool for the job.


That's super awesome. Thanks for sharing that. I do use VS Code. I love how many cool things can be found for working in VS Code. It seems to have everything.


I'm amused and happy it has syntax highlighting for VHDL


A carbon generated image + a link to a gist would be the perfect combination.

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