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The Staggering Frontiers of CSS

The Staggering Frontiers of CSS

2023-06-17 17:06:38

Pals! Friends! CSS deviants!

One factor I’ve all the time liked about CSS, apart from its apparent and rapid impact on a webpage—wow this desk is now pink!—is that it prods, pokes, and questions you through the years. CSS by no means sits nonetheless, not simply when it comes to small properties and browser quirks that get pushed out over time, however massive philosophical issues about CSS too.

And since I quit my job last week, I’ve been tryna compensate for all of the CSS drama that’s been taking place currently. There’s a lot information! However right here’s a number of issues that I reckon are gonna change how I make web sites within the close to future.


First up, View Transitions appears like its gonna have a big effect on how web sites transfer. The TL;DR is that this API provides us management over how new pages load whenever you click on a hyperlink. Earlier than you’d have to make use of a JavaScript framework to regulate how issues animate between web page masses however now the browser lets us animate between masses. Tyler Graw’s example for multi-page apps is what makes me most enthusiastic about this…

It jogs my memory of how indie sport design extraordinaire Joni Korpi was rethinking web site navigation past “scroll all the way down to see extra”: Zoomable person interfaces! Animations that grounds content material in time and area! So the View Transitions API lets us ask these questions over again however now we are able to make actual, browser-optimized solutions for them.


Subsequent up: anchor positioning. Roman Komarov had a mind-bending blog post about this lately. So far as I perceive issues, anchor positioning lets us bind two components collectively in area in order that in case you transfer certainly one of them, the opposite can adapt to it. Or, as Roman says:

…anchor positioning augments absolute positioning by permitting us to make use of the positions and dimensions of components aside from the aspect’s standard positioning context.

In response to Jhey Thompkins this’ll be particularly useful for tooltips in the future, which have been notoriously annoying whenever you click on one thing and a menu seems someplace, just for it to not reply in the way in which you may anticipate to the aspect that you simply clicked.

However Roman blew my thoughts when he confirmed how small issues in CSS have all the time been inconceivable as a result of we haven’t been in a position to make relationships between components. Take hover states on nav gadgets for instance, like this one beneath:

Stuff like that is now doable with anchor positioning however the philosophical and mind-boggling bit was this part, the place Roman writes:

It turns into doable to focus on one thing in a totally totally different place on the web page, permitting components to “know of one another”.


That is type of what I imply when the underlying philosophy of CSS modifications in only a few temporary years as a result of there’s tons of issues in UI design that we’ve needed to depend on JavaScript for up to now. However now? I can think about this anchor positioning stuff taking on in a giant method. That is incredible! And thrilling! And…scary?


Subsequent subsequent: Dynamic Viewport models. This fixes that age-old bug with vh models that I stored bumping into on aspect initiatives the place writing one thing like this…

…wouldn’t think about the browser chrome so stuff would all the time be minimize off. Now I can principally all the time exchange it with this:

.hero {
    peak: 100dvh;


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Lastly: subgrid. I had an thought for a aspect undertaking that’s gonna clarify subgrid in additional element so I received’t rant an excessive amount of right here for now. Ideally although, subgrid permits us to have a single grid on a webpage which is a BIG deal. It’ll makes grid techniques a lot simpler to construct sooner or later.

And that’s about it! There’s ten million different new options in CSS that Chris covers in Modern CSS in Real Life and I really feel like I type of share Paul Robert Lloyd’s ideas about how CSS is spiraling out of control. There’s simply an amazing variety of new options to maintain monitor of and keep in mind now.

Again in Could, Una Kravets, Bramus, and Adam Argyle wrote about everything new in CSS simply this 12 months alone and it’s fairly staggering: there’s nesting and cascade layers, a wider colour gamut, scoped CSS, the popover API, selectmenu, scroll-driven animations, trig features and that’s not even half of all of it. Jen Simmons additionally has an incredible video from WWDC about what’s new in CSS and its equally mind-unravelling.

That is totally thrilling to me, and I don’t wanna whine about enhancements in CSS, but it surely’s a bit regarding since I really feel like what the net is now able to is slipping by my fingers. And I assume that’s what I’m anxious about; I not have a good suggestion of how these items work together with one another, or the place the frontier is now.

The map of CSS in my thoughts is actual messy, confused, and teetering with particulars that I can’t preserve straight in my head.

It appears like we’ve entered this new section within the lifetime of CSS the place simply maintaining with what’s delivery every year is an excessive amount of for anybody particular person to maintain monitor of, not to mention make the most of. And possibly that’s a very good factor! It’s definitely higher than the last decade of stagnation we had when one browser dominated every part.

But the frontiers of CSS are shifting so quick that it’s definitely laborious to maintain up. Maybe that’s the entire level of a frontier although; this unattainable, unknowable factor that’s all the time across the nook however by no means totally in attain.

See you subsequent Saturday,
✌️ Robin

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