Is There Too A lot CSS Now? | CSS-Tips

As front-end builders, we’ve needed for numerous issues through the years — techniques to heart issues in CSS, encapsulate types, set a component’s side ratio, get finer-grained regulate over our colours, make a selection a component in line with its youngsters’s homes, set up layers of specificity, permit parts to answer the width in their oldsters… the checklist is going on and on.

And now that we were given all we needed for and extra, a few of us are asking — do we have an excessive amount of CSS?

The darkish instances

When you, like me, got here up in internet construction right through CSS’s infancy, the speculation of getting an excessive amount of of it kind of feels ludicrous.

Again within the days, nearly all the task description of a front-end developer consisted of coping with CSS’s barriers. The clearfix hack to transparent floats, the 100% padding hack to make sq. divs, to not point out semi-randomly making use of unrelated homes to trick Web Explorer into doing all of your bidding.

On the time, the browser used to be a devious foe to be defeated via sheer crafty and arcane incantations. Nowadays, the very best assets is ready and only a copy-paste away on MDN.

The brand new technology of CSS

However these days issues are massively other: now not solely are issues shifting a lot sooner, however browser distributors if truth be told care about making builders glad! I do know, I couldn’t consider it both. However I run the annual State of CSS developer survey (which is open now via the best way — move take it!) and I do know for a undeniable fact that browser construction groups use the survey effects (amongst many different knowledge issues) to tell their roadmap.

Past this, Google has additionally helped finance my paintings at the survey, or even employed Lea Verou to take the lead on settling on this yr’s survey questions.

It’s now not simply Google. It’s turn into trendy to bash Safari and Apple on the whole (every so often deservedly so), however you’ll’t deny how passionate any person like Jen Simmons is set paying attention to builders and bettering the internet.

And now not solely are browser distributors bettering CSS on their very own; they’re even taking part throughout combat traces with tasks comparable to Interop 2023 to lend a hand scale back inconsistencies and incompatibilities between browsers.

An excessive amount of of a just right factor?

The results of all that is that we are actually confronted with a humiliation of CSS riches, and it may be onerous to catch up. CSS Grid began being supported in primary browsers virtually 5 years in the past, but I nonetheless test a reference each and every time I take advantage of it. And as cool as subgrid turns out, I’ve but to even check it out.

All through the method of settling on which CSS options to incorporate or now not within the State of CSS, Lea and myself regarded as many options, however we additionally rejected reasonably a couple of. Some examples of the function we didn’t come with are:

  • The linear() easing serve as, which helps you to outline easing curves with extra granularity. 
  • The env() serve as, which helps you to use variables outlined via the browser or instrument. 
  • The scrollbar-width assets, which is helping regulate a scrollbar’s look. 
  • The margin-trim assets, which helps you to regulate how a container’s youngsters’s margins behave. 

Those are all doubtlessly very helpful, and would’ve all been giant information right through the CSS drought of previous years. However in these days’s context they’ve to combat for consideration with a lot higher bulletins, just like the has() selector or CSS nesting!

No longer excited

As Silvestar Bistrović writes, he’s “now not that occupied with some of these new CSS options.” This discovered an echo on Twitter, with Sara Soueidan declaring that what she cares about is “practicality, now not how glossy a function seems to be nowadays.”

This may increasingly look like a damaging angle, however I believe it’s comprehensible. No person will also be anticipated to stay alongside of such a lot of new options!

Any other accidental (or perhaps, supposed?) result is that the extra complicated CSS turns into, the extra it raises the bar for any new corporate in need of to broaden a browser engine — to mention not anything of the added workload in terms of keeping up and documenting some of these new options. 

CSS overreach

There’s additionally the very legitimate fear that CSS could be branching out into spaces it’s now not reasonably appropriate to deal with. That’s every other factor Sara Soueidan identified when reacting to the brand new CSS Toggles experimental implementation (right here’s a price tag discussing it):

Many have made the very fair level that this type of conduct could be highest treated via a brand new HTML component as a substitute of managing toggle state purely via CSS, and that CSS might not be the most productive medium to verify accessibility problems are correctly addressed. 

When CSS takes over one thing that used to be prior to now treated via JavaScript, that is usually noticed as a just right factor, because it ceaselessly reduces the volume of code the browser has to load. So, I’m cautiously constructive about CSS Toggles and believe that the CSS Running Team will correctly deal with the troubles of the group. However there would possibly but come an afternoon after we begin to fear that CSS is also increasing past its borders and encroaching on HTML and JavaScript’s obligations.

New expectancies

And perhaps that is what wishes to switch: perhaps we will have to drop the expectancy that CSS builders have to grasp all of CSS? 

This expectation stems from the times the place CSS used to be an afterthought, that little traumatic syntax you needed to discover ways to make your button blue and ambitious identical to the buyer requested. However I believe we want to settle for that these days’s CSS may simply be manner too huge for a unmarried particular person to grasp, particularly along with different front-end tasks.

As Michelle Barker places it:

And that’s the place I, myself, land finally. I’ve made my peace with the truth that I can most certainly by no means use — and even learn about — all imaginable CSS options. And that is coming from any person who runs a survey about CSS!

However those new options will for sure be helpful to any person. Somebody will write weblog posts about them, create cool CodePens with them, give talks about them. That particular person will probably be a groovy, younger, lively developer who nonetheless have all their hair. In different phrases, it gained’t be me — and that’s high quality. 

And perhaps you’re anxious that this new developer will probably be crushed via all of the stuff they’ve to be informed immediately. However do be mindful all of the issues they gained’t have to be informed about, exactly as it’s been changed via those more moderen possible choices. I do know I’d take that deal anytime.

However consider it: up to now couple years, now not solely have we noticed an enormous build up within the collection of gadgets we want to cater to, we’ve additionally began to acknowledge that all of us eat the internet in fairly other manners, whether or not because of disabilities, present context, or simply non-public personal tastes. Shouldn’t CSS adapt to this new fact?

Now, I’ve to admit this has all made me really feel just a little nostalgic… so excuse me whilst I am going transparent a pair floats, only for outdated time’s sake.


As I discussed, the annual State of CSS survey is now open. Whether or not you suppose there’s an excessive amount of CSS or now not, the survey is a good way to let browser builders know the way you’re feeling, so move fill it out if in case you have 10 mins. 

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