Web Standards

Cool Hover Effects That Use Background Properties

Css Tricks - Wed, 04/27/2022 - 4:20am

A while ago, Geoff wrote an article about a cool hover effect. The effect relies on a combination of CSS pseudo-elements, transforms, and transitions. A lot of comments have shown that the same effect can be done using background properties. Geoff mentioned that was his initial thought and that’s what I was thinking as well. I am not saying the pseudo-element he landed on is bad, but knowing different methods to achieve the same effect can only be a good thing.

In this post, we will re-work that hover effect, but also expand it into other types of hover effects that only use CSS background properties.

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You can see the background properties at work in that demo, as well as how we can use custom properties and the calc() function to do even more. We are going to learn how to combine all of these so we are left with nicely optimized code!

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Let’s start with the first effect which is the reproduction of the one detailed by Geoff in his article. The code used to achieve that effect is the following:

.hover-1 { background: linear-gradient(#1095c1 0 0) var(--p, 0) / var(--p, 0) no-repeat; transition: .4s, background-position 0s; } .hover-1:hover { --p: 100%; color: #fff; }

If we omit the color transition (which is optional), we only need three CSS declarations to achieve the effect. You are probably surprised how small the code is, but you will see how we got there.

First, let’s start with a simple background-size transition:

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We are animating the size of a linear gradient from 0 100% to 100% 100%. That means the width is going from 0 to 100% while the background itself remains at full height. Nothing complex so far.

Let’s start our optimizations. We first transform our gradient to use the color only once:

background-image: linear-gradient(#1095c1 0 0);

The syntax might look a bit strange, but we are telling the browser that one color is applied to two color stops, and that’s enough to define a gradient in CSS. Both color stops are 0, so the browser automatically makes the last one 100% and fills our gradient with the same color. Shortcuts, FTW!

With background-size, we can omit the height because gradients are full height by default. We can do a transition from background-size: 0 to background-size: 100%.

.hover-1 { background-image: linear-gradient(#1095c1 0 0); background-size: 0; background-repeat: no-repeat; transition: .4s; } .hover-1:hover { background-size: 100%; }

Let’s introduce a custom property to avoid the repetition of background-size:

.hover-1 { background-image: linear-gradient(#1095c1 0 0); background-size: var(--p, 0%); background-repeat: no-repeat; transition: .4s; } .hover-1:hover { --p: 100%; }

We are not defining --p initially, so the fallback value (0% in our case) will be used. On hover, we define a value that replaces the fallback one ( 100%).

Now, let’s combine all the background properties using the shorthand version to get:

.hover-1 { background: linear-gradient(#1095c1 0 0) left / var(--p, 0%) no-repeat; transition: .4s; } .hover-1:hover { --p: 100%; }

We are getting closer! Note that I have introduced a left value (for the background-position) which is mandatory when defining the size in the background shorthand. Plus, we need it anyway to achieve our hover effect.

We need to also update the position on hover. We can do that in two steps:

  1. Increase the size from the right on mouse hover.
  2. Decrease the size from the left on mouse out.

To do this, we need to update the background-position on hover as well:

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We added two things to our code:

  • A background-position value of right on hover
  • A transition-duration of 0s on the background-position

This means that, on hover, we instantly change the background-position from left (see, we needed that value!) to right so the background’s size will increase from the right side. Then, when the mouse cursor leaves the link, the transition plays in reverse, from right to left, making it appear that we are decreasing the background’s size from the left side. Our hover effect is done!

But you said we only needed three declarations and there are four.

That’s true, nice catch. The left and right values can be changed to 0 0 and 100% 0, respectively; and since our gradient is already full height by default, we can get by using 0 and 100%.

.hover-1 { background: linear-gradient(#1095c1 0 0) 0 / var(--p, 0%) no-repeat; transition: .4s, background-position 0s; } .hover-1:hover { --p: 100%; background-position: 100%; }

See how background-position and --p are using the same values? Now we can reduce the code down to three declarations:

.hover-1 { background: linear-gradient(#1095c1 0 0) var(--p, 0%) / var(--p,0%) no-repeat; transition: .4s, background-position 0s; } .hover-1:hover { --p: 100%; }

The custom property --p is defining both the background position and size. On hover, It will update both of them as well. This is a perfect use case showing how custom properties can help us reduce redundant code and avoid writing properties more than once. We define our setting using custom properties and we only update the latter on hover.

But the effect Geoff described is doing the opposite, starting from left and ending at right. How do we do that when it seems we cannot rely on the same variable?

We can still use one variable and update our code slightly to achieve the opposite effect. What we want is to go from 100% to 0% instead of 0% to 100%. We have a difference of 100% that we can express using calc(), like this:

.hover-1 { background: linear-gradient(#1095c1 0 0) calc(100% - var(--p,0%)) / var(--p,0%) no-repeat; transition: .4s, background-position 0s; } .hover-1:hover { --p: 100%; }

--p will change from 0% to 100%, but the background’s position will change from 100% to 0%, thanks to calc().

We still have three declarations and one custom property, but a different effect.

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Before we move to the next hover effect, I want to highlight something important that you have probably noticed. When dealing with custom properties, I am using 0% (with a unit) instead of a unit-less 0. The unit-less zero may work when the custom property is alone, but will fail inside calc() where we need to explicitly define the unit. I may need another article to explain this quirk but always remember to add the unit when dealing with custom properties. I have two answers on StackOverflow (here and here) that go into more detail.

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We need a more complex transition for this effect. Let’s take a look at a step-by-step illustration to understand what is happening.

Initially, a fixed-height, full-width gradient is outside of view. Then we move the gradient to the right to cover the bottom side. Finally, we increase the size of the gradient from the fixed height to 100% to cover the whole element.

We first have a background-position transition followed by a background-size one. Let’s translate this into code:

.hover-2 { background-image: linear-gradient(#1095c1 0 0); background-size: 100% .08em; /* .08em is our fixed height; modify as needed. */ background-position: /* ??? */; background-repeat: no-repeat; transition: background-size .3s, background-position .3s .3s; } .hover-2:hover { transition: background-size .3s .3s, background-position .3s; background-size: 100% 100%; background-position: /* ??? */; }

Note the use of two transition values. On hover, we need to first change the position and later the size, which is why we are adding a delay to the size. On mouse out, we do the opposite.

The question now is: what values do we use for background-position? We left those blank above. The background-size values are trivial, but the ones for background-position are not. And if we keep the actual configuration we’re unable to move our gradient.

Our gradient has a width equal to 100%, so we cannot use percentage values on background-position to move it.

Percentage values used with background-position are always a pain especially when you use them for the first time. Their behavior is non-intuitive but well defined and easy to understand if we get the logic behind it. I think it would take another article for a full explanation why it works this way, but here’s another “long” explanation I posted over at Stack Overflow. I recommend taking a few minutes to read that answer and you will thank me later!

The trick is to change the width to something different than 100%. Let’s use 200%. We’re not worried about the background exceeding the element because the overflow is hidden anyway.

.hover-2 { background-image: linear-gradient(#1095c1 0 0); background-size: 200% .08em; background-position: 200% 100%; background-repeat: no-repeat; transition: background-size .3s, background-position .3s .3s; } .hover-2:hover { transition: background-size .3s .3s, background-position .3s; background-size: 200% 100%; background-position: 100% 100%; }

And here’s what we get:

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It’s time to optimize our code. If we take the ideas we learned from the first hover effect, we can use shorthand properties and write fewer declarations to make this work:

.hover-2 { background: linear-gradient(#1095c1 0 0) no-repeat var(--p, 200%) 100% / 200% var(--p, .08em); transition: .3s var(--t, 0s), background-position .3s calc(.3s - var(--t, 0s)); } .hover-2:hover { --p: 100%; --t: .3s; }

We add all the background properties together using the shorthand version then we use --p to express our values. The sizes change from .08em to 100% and the position from 200% to 100%

I am also using another variable --t , to optimize the transition property. On mouse hover we have it set to a .3s value, which gives us this:

transition: .3s .3s, background-position .3s 0s;

On mouse out, --t is undefined, so the fallback value will be used:

transition: .3s 0s, background-position .3s .3s;

Shouldn’t we have background-size in the transition?

That is indeed another optimization we can make. If we don’t specify any property it means “all” the properties, so the transition is defined for “all” the properties (including background-size and background-position). Then it’s defined again for background-position which is similar to defining it for background-size, then background-position.

“Similar” is different than saying something is the “same.” You will see a difference if you change more properties on hover, so the last optimization might be unsuitable in some cases.

Can we still optimize the code and use only one custom property?

Yes, we can! Ana Tudor shared a great article explaining how to create DRY switching where one custom property can update multiple properties. I won’t go into the details here, but our code can be revised like this:

.hover-2 { background: linear-gradient(#1095c1 0 0) no-repeat calc(200% - var(--i, 0) * 100%) 100% / 200% calc(100% * var(--i, 0) + .08em); transition: .3s calc(var(--i, 0) * .3s), background-position .3s calc(.3s - calc(var(--i, 0) * .3s)); } .hover-2:hover { --i: 1; }

The --i custom property is initially undefined, so the fallback value, 0, is used. On hover though, we replace 0 with 1. You can do the math for both cases and get the values for each one. You can see that variable as a “switch” that update all our values at once on hover.

Again, we’re back to only three declarations for a pretty cool hover effect!

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We are going to use two gradients instead of one for this effect. We will see that combining multiple gradients is another way to create fancy hover effects.

Here’s a diagram of what we’re doing:

We initially have two gradients that overflow the element so that they are out of view. Each one has a fixed height and toes up half of the element’s width. Then we slide them into view to make them visible. The first gradient is placed at the bottom-left and the second one at the top-right. Finally, we increase the height to cover the whole element.

Here’s how that looks in CSS:

.hover-3 { background-image: linear-gradient(#1095c1 0 0), linear-gradient(#1095c1 0 0); background-repeat: no-repeat; background-size: 50% .08em; background-position: -100% 100%, 200% 0; transition: background-size .3s, background-position .3s .3s; } .hover-3:hover { background-size: 50% 100%; background-position: 0 100%, 100% 0; transition: background-size .3s .3s, background-position .3s; }

The code is almost the same as the other hover effects we’ve covered. The only difference is that we have two gradients with two different positions. The position values may look strange but, again, that’s related to how percentages work with the background-position property in CSS, so I highly recommend reading my Stack Overflow answer if you want to get into the gritty details.

Now let’s optimize! You get the idea by now — we’re using shorthand properties, custom properties, and calc() to tidy things up.

.hover-3 { --c: no-repeat linear-gradient(#1095c1 0 0); background: var(--c) calc(-100% + var(--p, 0%)) 100% / 50% var(--p, .08em), var(--c) calc( 200% - var(--p, 0%)) 0 / 50% var(--p, .08em); transition: .3s var(--t, 0s), background-position .3s calc(.3s - var(--t, 0s)); } .hover-3:hover { --p: 100%; --t: 0.3s; }

I have added an extra custom property, --c, that defines the gradient since the same gradient is used in both places.

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I am using 50.1% in that demo instead of 50% for the background size because it prevents a gap from showing between the gradients. I also added 1% to the positions for similar reasons.

Let’s do the second optimization by using the switch variable:

.hover-3 { --c: no-repeat linear-gradient(#1095c1 0 0); background: var(--c) calc(-100% + var(--i, 0) * 100%) 100% / 50% calc(100% * var(--i, 0) + .08em), var(--c) calc( 200% - var(--i, 0) * 100%) 0 / 50% calc(100% * var(--i, 0) + .08em); transition: .3s calc(var(--i, 0) * .3s), background-position .3s calc(.3s - var(--i, 0) * .3s); } .hover-3:hover { --i: 1; } CodePen Embed Fallback

Are you started to see the patterns here? It’s not so much that the effects we’re making are difficult. It’s more the “final step” of code optimization. We start by writing verbose code with a lot of properties, then reduce it following simple rules (e.g. using shorthand, removing default values, avoiding redundant values, etc) to simplify things down as much as possible.

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I will raise the difficulty level for this last effect, but you know enough from the other examples that I doubt you’ll have any issues with this one.

This hover effect relies on two conic gradients and more calculations.

Initially, we have both gradients with zero dimensions in Step 1. We increase the size of each one in Step 2. We keep increasing their widths until they fully cover the element, as shown in Step 3. After that, we slide them to the bottom to update their position. This is the “magic” part of the hover effect. Since both gradients will use the same coloration, changing their position in Step 4 will make no visual difference — but we will see a difference once we reduce the size on mouse out during Step 5.

If you compare Step 2 and Step 5, you can see that we have a different inclination. Let’s translate that into code:

.hover-4 { background-image: conic-gradient(/* ??? */), conic-gradient(/* ??? */); background-position: 0 0, 100% 0; background-size: 0% 200%; background-repeat: no-repeat; transition: background-size .4s, background-position 0s; } .hover-4:hover { background-size: /* ??? */ 200%; background-position: 0 100%, 100% 100%; }

The positions are pretty clear. One gradient starts at top left (0 0) and ends at bottom left (0 100%) while the other starts at top right (100% 0) and ends at bottom right (100% 100%).

We’re using a transition on the background positions and sizes to reveal them. We only need a transition value for the background-size. And like before, background-position needs to change instantly, so we’re assigning a 0s value for the transition’s duration.

For the sizes, both gradient need to have 0 width and twice the element height (0% 200%). We will see later how their sizes change on hover. Let’s first define the gradient configuration.

The diagram below illustrates the configuration of each gradient:

Note that for the second gradient (indicated in green), we need to know the height to use it inside the conic-gradient we’re creating. For this reason, I am going to add a line-height that sets the element’s height and then try that same value for the conic gradient values we left out.

.hover-4 { --c: #1095c1; line-height: 1.2em; background-image: conic-gradient(from -135deg at 100% 50%, var(--c) 90deg, #0000 0), conic-gradient(from -135deg at 1.2em 50%, #0000 90deg, var(--c) 0); background-position: 0 0, 100% 0; background-size: 0% 200%; background-repeat: no-repeat; transition: background-size .4s, background-position 0s; } .hover-4:hover { background-size: /* ??? */ 200%; background-position: 0 100%, 100% 100%; }

The last thing we have left is to figure out the background’s size. Intuitively, we may think that each gradient needs to take up half of the element’s width but that’s actually not enough.

We’re left with a large gap if we use 50% as the background-size value for both gradients.

We get a gap equal to the height, so we actually need to do is increase the size of each gradient by half the height on hover for them to cover the whole element.

.hover-4:hover { background-size: calc(50% + .6em) 200%; background-position: 0 100%, 100% 100%; }

Here’s what we get after optimizing them like the previous examples:

.hover-4 { --c: #1095c1; line-height: 1.2em; background: conic-gradient(from -135deg at 100% 50%, var(--c) 90deg, #0000 0) 0 var(--p, 0%) / var(--s, 0%) 200% no-repeat, conic-gradient(from -135deg at 1.2em 50%, #0000 90deg, var(--c) 0) 100% var(--p, 0%) / var(--s, 0%) 200% no-repeat; transition: .4s, background-position 0s; } .hover-4:hover { --p: 100%; --s: calc(50% + .6em); } CodePen Embed Fallback

What about the version with only one custom property?

I will leave that for you! After looking at four similar hover effects, you should be able to get the final optimization down to a single custom property. Share your work in the comment section! There’s no prize, but we may end up with different implementations and ideas that benefit everyone!

Before we end, let me share a version of that last hover effect that Ana Tudor cooked up. It’s an improvement! But note that it lacks Firefox supports due to a known bug. Still, it’s a great idea that shows how to combine gradients with blend modes to create even cooler hover effects.

CodePen Embed Fallback Wrapping up

We made four super cool hover effects! And even though they are different effects, they all take the same approach of using CSS background properties, custom properties, and calc(). Different combinations allowed us to make different versions, all using the same techniques that leave us with clean, maintainable code.

If you want to get some ideas, I made a collection of 500 (yes, 500!) hover effects, 400 of which are done without pseudo-elements. The four we covered in this article are just the tip of the iceberg!

Cool Hover Effects That Use Background Properties originally published on CSS-Tricks. You should get the newsletter.

Avoiding the Pitfalls of Nested Components in a Design System

Css Tricks - Tue, 04/26/2022 - 4:30am

When creating a component-based, front-end infrastructure, one of the biggest pain points I’ve personally encountered is making components that are both reusable and responsive when there are nested components within components.

Take the following “call to action” (<CTA />) component, for example:

On smaller devices we want it to look like this:

This is simple enough with basic media queries. If we’re using flexbox, a media query can change the flex direction and makes the button go the full width. But we run into a problem when we start nesting other components in there. For example, say we’re using a component for the button and it already has a prop that makes it full-width. We are actually duplicating the button’s styling when applying a media query to the parent component. The nested button is already capable of handling it!

This is a small example and it wouldn’t be that bad of a problem, but for other scenarios it could cause a lot of duplicated code to replicate the styling. What if in the future we wanted to change something about how full-width buttons are styled? We’d need to go through and change it in all these different places. We should be able to change it in the button component and have that update everywhere.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could move away from media queries and have more control of the styling? We should be using a component’s existing props and be able to pass different values based on the screen width.

Well, I have a way to do that and will show you how I did it.

I am aware that container queries can solve a lot of these issues, but it’s still in early days and doesn’t solve the issue with passing a variety of props based on screen width.

Tracking the window width

First, we need to track the current width of the page and set a breakpoint. This can be done with any front-end framework, but I’m using a Vue composable here as to demonstrate the idea:

// composables/useBreakpoints.js import { readonly, ref } from "vue"; const bps = ref({ xs: 0, sm: 1, md: 2, lg: 3, xl: 4 }) const currentBreakpoint = ref(bps.xl); export default () => { const updateBreakpoint = () => { const windowWidth = window.innerWidth; if(windowWidth >= 1200) { currentBreakpoint.value = bps.xl } else if(windowWidth >= 992) { currentBreakpoint.value = bps.lg } else if(windowWidth >= 768) { currentBreakpoint.value = bps.md } else if(windowWidth >= 576) { currentBreakpoint.value = bps.sm } else { currentBreakpoint.value = bps.xs } } return { currentBreakpoint: readonly(currentBreakpoint), bps: readonly(bps), updateBreakpoint, }; };

The reason we are using numbers for the currentBreakpoint object will become clear later.

Now we can listen for window resize events and update the current breakpoint using the composable in the main App.vue file:

// App.vue <script> import useBreakpoints from "@/composables/useBreakpoints"; import { onMounted, onUnmounted } from 'vue' export default { name: 'App', setup() { const { updateBreakpoint } = useBreakpoints() onMounted(() => { updateBreakpoint(); window.addEventListener('resize', updateBreakpoint) }) onUnmounted(() => { window.removeEventListener('resize', updateBreakpoint) }) } } </script>

We probably want this to be debounced, but I’m keeping things simple for brevity.

Styling components

We can update the <CTA /> component to accept a new prop for how it should be styled:

// CTA.vue props: { displayMode: { type: String, default: "default" } }

The naming here is totally arbitrary. You can use whatever names you’d like for each of the component modes.

We can then use this prop to change the mode based on the current breakpoint:

<CTA :display-mode="currentBreakpoint > bps.md ? 'default' : 'compact'" />

You can see now why we’re using a number to represent the current breakpoint — it’s so the correct mode can be applied to all breakpoints below or above a certain number.

We can then use this in the CTA component to style according to the mode passed through:

// components/CTA.vue <template> <div class="cta" :class="displayMode"> <div class="cta-content"> <h5>title</h5> <p>description</p> </div> <Btn :block="displayMode === 'compact'">Continue</Btn> </div> </template> <script> import Btn from "@/components/ui/Btn"; export default { name: "CTA", components: { Btn }, props: { displayMode: { type: String, default: "default" }, } } </script> <style scoped lang="scss"> .cta { display: flex; align-items: center; .cta-content { margin-right: 2rem; } &.compact { flex-direction: column; .cta-content { margin-right: 0; margin-bottom: 2rem; } } } </style>

Already, we have removed the need for media queries! You can see this in action on a demo page I created.

Admittedly, this may seem like a lengthy process for something so simple. But when applied to multiple components, this approach can massively improve the consistency and stability of the UI while reducing the total amount of code we need to write. This way of using JavaScript and CSS classes to control the responsive styling also has another benefit…

Extensible functionality for nested components

There have been scenarios where I’ve needed to revert back to a previous breakpoint for a component. For example, if it takes up 50% of the screen, I want it displayed in the small mode. But at a certain screen size, it becomes full-width. In other words, the mode should change one way or the other when there’s a resize event.

I’ve also been in situations where the same component is used in different modes on different pages. This isn’t something that frameworks like Bootstrap and Tailwind can do, and using media queries to pull it off would be a nightmare. (You can still use those frameworks using this technique, just without the need for the responsive classes they provide.)

We could use a media query that only applies to middle sized screens, but this doesn’t solve the issue with varying props based on screen width. Thankfully, the approach we’re covering can solve that. We can modify the previous code to allow for a custom mode per breakpoint by passing it through an array, with the first item in the array being the smallest screen size.

<CTA :custom-mode="['compact', 'default', 'compact']" />

First, let’s update the props that the <CTA /> component can accept:

props: { displayMode: { type: String, default: "default" }, customMode: { type: [Boolean, Array], default: false }, }

We can then add the following to generate to correct mode:

import { computed } from "vue"; import useBreakpoints from "@/composables/useBreakpoints"; // ... setup(props) { const { currentBreakpoint } = useBreakpoints() const mode = computed(() => { if(props.customMode) { return props.customMode[currentBreakpoint.value] ?? props.displayMode } return props.displayMode }) return { mode } },

This is taking the mode from the array based on the current breakpoint, and defaults to the displayMode if one isn’t found. Then we can use mode instead to style the component.

Extraction for reusability

Many of these methods can be extracted into additional composables and mixins that can be reuseD with other components.

Extracting computed mode

The logic for returning the correct mode can be extracted into a composable:

// composables/useResponsive.js import { computed } from "vue"; import useBreakpoints from "@/composables/useBreakpoints"; export const useResponsive = (props) => { const { currentBreakpoint } = useBreakpoints() const mode = computed(() => { if(props.customMode) { return props.customMode[currentBreakpoint.value] ?? props.displayMode } return props.displayMode }) return { mode } } Extracting props

In Vue 2, we could repeat props was by using mixins, but there are noticeable drawbacks. Vue 3 allows us to merge these with other props using the same composable. There’s a small caveat with this, as IDEs seem unable to recognize props for autocompletion using this method. If this is too annoying, you can use a mixin instead.

Optionally, we can also pass custom validation to make sure we’re using the modes only available to each component, where the first value passed through to the validator is the default.

// composables/useResponsive.js // ... export const withResponsiveProps = (validation, props) => { return { displayMode: { type: String, default: validation[0], validator: function (value) { return validation.indexOf(value) !== -1 } }, customMode: { type: [Boolean, Array], default: false, validator: function (value) { return value ? value.every(mode => validation.includes(mode)) : true } }, ...props } }

Now let’s move the logic out and import these instead:

// components/CTA.vue import Btn from "@/components/ui/Btn"; import { useResponsive, withResponsiveProps } from "@/composables/useResponsive"; export default { name: "CTA", components: { Btn }, props: withResponsiveProps(['default 'compact'], { extraPropExample: { type: String, }, }), setup(props) { const { mode } = useResponsive(props) return { mode } } } Conclusion

Creating a design system of reusable and responsive components is challenging and prone to inconsistencies. Plus, we saw how easy it is to wind up with a load of duplicated code. There’s a fine balance when it comes to creating components that not only work in many contexts, but play well with other components when they’re combined.

I’m sure you’ve come across this sort of situation in your own work. Using these methods can reduce the problem and hopefully make the UI more stable, reusable, maintainable, and easy to use.

Avoiding the Pitfalls of Nested Components in a Design System originally published on CSS-Tricks. You should get the newsletter.

Writing Strong Front-end Test Element Locators

Css Tricks - Fri, 04/22/2022 - 8:45am

Automated front-end tests are awesome. We can write a test with code to visit a page — or load up just a single component — and have that test code click on things or type text like a user would, then make assertions about the state of the application after the interactions. This lets us confirm that everything described in the tests work as expected in the application.

Since this post is about one of the building blocks of any automated UI tests, I don’t assume too much prior knowledge. Feel free to skip the first couple of sections if you’re already familiar with the basics.

Structure of a front-end test

There’s a classic pattern that’s useful to know when writing tests: Arrange, Act, Assert. In front-end tests, this translates to a test file that does the following:

  1. Arrange: Get things ready for the test. Visit a certain page, or mount a certain component with the right props, mock some state, whatever.
  2. Act: Do something to the application. Click a button, fill out a form, etc. Or not, for simple state-checks, we can skip this.
  3. Assert: Check some stuff. Did submitting a form show a thank you message? Did it send the right data to the back end with a POST?

In specifying what to interact with and then later what to check on the page, we can use various element locators to target the parts of the DOM we need to use.

A locator can be something like an element’s ID, the text content of an element, or a CSS selector, like .blog-post or even article > div.container > div > div > p:nth-child(12). Anything about an element that can identify that element to your test runner can be a locator. As you can probably already tell from that last CSS selector, locators come in many varieties.

We often evaluate locators in terms of being brittle or stable. In general, we want the most stable element locators possible so that our test can always find the element it needs, even if the code around the element is changing over time. That said, maximizing stability at all costs can lead to defensive test-writing that actually weakens the tests. We get the most value by having a combination of brittleness and stability that aligns with what we want our tests to care about.

In this way, element locators are like duct tape. They should be really strong in one direction, and tear easily in the other direction. Our tests should hold together and keep passing when unimportant changes are made to the application, but they should readily fail when important changes happen that contradict what we’ve specified in the test.

Beginner’s guide to element locators in front-end testing

First, let’s pretend we are writing instructions for an actual person to do their job. A new gate inspector has just been hired at Gate Inspectors, Inc. You are their boss, and after everybody’s been introduced you are supposed to give them instructions for inspecting their first gate. If you want them to be successful, you probably would not write them a note like this:

Go past the yellow house, keep going ‘til you hit the field where Mike’s mother’s friend’s goat went missing that time, then turn left and tell me if the gate in front of the house across the street from you opens or not.

Those directions are kind of like using a long CSS selector or XPath as a locator. It’s brittle — and it’s the “bad kind of brittle”. If the yellow house gets repainted and you repeat the steps, you can’t find the gate anymore, and might decide to give up (or in this case, the test fails).

Likewise, if you don’t know about Mike’s mother’s friend’s goat situation, you can’t stop at the right reference point to know what gate to check. This is exactly what makes the “bad kind of brittle” bad — the test can break for all kinds of reasons, and none of those reasons have anything to do with the usability of the gate.

So let’s make a different front-end test, one that’s much more stable. After all, legally in this area, all gates on a given road are supposed to have unique serial numbers from the maker:

Go to the gate with serial number 1234 and check if it opens.

This is more like locating an element by its ID. It’s more stable and it’s only one step. All the points of failure from the last test have been removed. This test will only fail if the gate with that ID doesn’t open as expected.

Now, as it turns out, though no two gates should have the same ID on the same road, that’s not actually enforced anywhere And one day, another gate on the road ends up with the same ID.

So the next time the newly hired gate inspector goes to test “Gate 1234,” they find that other one first, and are now visiting the wrong house and checking the wrong thing. The test might fail, or worse: if that gate works as expected, the test still passes but it’s not testing the intended subject. It provides false confidence. It would keep passing even if our original target gate was stolen in the middle of the night, by gate thieves.

After an incident like this, it’s clear that IDs are not as stable as we thought. So, we do some next-level thinking and decide that, on the inside of the gate, we’d like a special ID just for testing. We’ll send out a tech to put the special ID on just this one gate. The new test instructions look like this:

Go to the gate with Test ID “my-favorite-gate” and check if it opens.

This one is like using the popular data-testid attribute. Attributes like this are great because it is obvious in the code that they are intended for use by automated tests and shouldn’t be changed or removed. As long as the gate has that attribute, you will always find the gate. Just like IDs, uniqueness is still not enforced, but it’s a bit more likely.

This is about as far away from brittle as you can get, and it confirms the functionality of the gate. We don’t depend on anything except the attribute we deliberately added for testing. But there’s a bit of problem hiding here…

This is a user interface test for the gate, but the locator is something that no user would ever use to find the gate.

It’s a missed opportunity because, in this imaginary county, it turns out gates are required to have the house number printed on them so that people can see the address. So, all gates should have an unique human-facing label, and if they don’t, it’s a problem in and of itself.

When locating the gate with the test ID, if it turns out that the gate has been repainted and the house number covered up, our test would still pass. But the whole point of the gate is for people to access the house. In other words, a working gate that a user can’t find should still be a test failure, and we want a locator that is capable of revealing this problem.

Here’s another pass at this test instruction for the gate inspector on their first day:

Go to the gate for house number 40 and check if it opens.

This one uses a locator that adds value to the test: it depends on something users also depend on, which is the label for the gate. It adds back a potential reason for the test to fail before it reaches the interaction we want to actually test, which might seem bad at first glance. But in this case, because the locator is meaningful from a user’s perspective, we shouldn’t shrug this off as “brittle.” If the gate can’t be found by its label, it doesn’t matter if it opens or not — this is is the “good kind of brittle”.

The DOM matters

A lot of front-end testing advice tells us to avoid writing locators that depend on DOM structure. This means that developers can refactor components and pages over time and let the tests confirm that user-facing workflows haven’t broken, without having to update tests to catch up to the new structure. This principle is useful, but I would tweak it a bit to say we ought to avoid writing locators that depend on irrelevant DOM structure in our front-end testing.

For an application to function correctly, the DOM should reflect the nature and structure of the content that’s on the screen at any given time. One reason for this is accessibility. A DOM that’s correct in this sense is much easier for assistive technology to parse properly and describe to users who aren’t seeing the contents rendered by the browser. DOM structure and plain old HTML make a huge difference to the independence of users who rely on assistive technology.

Let’s spin up a front-end test to submit something to the contact form of our app. We’ll use Cypress for this, but the principles of choosing locators strategically apply to all front-end testing frameworks that use the DOM for locating elements. Here we find elements, enter some test, submit the form, and verify the “thank you” state is reached:

// &#x1f44e; Not recommended cy.get('#name').type('Mark') cy.get('#comment').type('test comment') cy.get('.submit-btn').click() cy.get('.thank-you').should('be.visible')

There are all kinds of implicit assertions happening in these four lines. cy.get() is checking that the element exists in the DOM. The test will fail if the element doesn’t exist after a certain time, while actions like type and click verify that the elements are visible, enabled, and unobstructed by something else before taking an action.

So, we get a lot “for free” even in a simple test like this, but we’ve also introduced some dependencies upon things we (and our users) don’t really care about. The specific ID and classes that we are checking seem stable enough, especially compared to selectors like div.main > p:nth-child(3) > span.is-a-button or whatever. Those long selectors are so specific that a minor change to the DOM could cause a test to fail because it can’t find the element, not because the functionality is broken.

But even our short selectors, like #name, come with three problems:

  1. The ID could be changed or removed in the code, causing the element to go overlooked, especially if the form might appear more than once on a page. A unique ID might need to be generated for each instance, and that’s not something we can easily pre-fill into a test.
  2. If there is more than one instance of a form on the page and they have the same ID, we need to decide which form to fill out.
  3. We don’t actually care what the ID is from a user perspective, so all the built-in assertions are kind of… not fully leveraged?

For problems one and two, the recommended solution is often to use dedicated data attributes in our HTML that are added exclusively for testing. This is better because our tests no longer depend on the DOM structure, and as a developer modifies the code around a component, the tests will continue to pass without needing an update, as long as they keep the data-test="name-field" attached to the right input element.

This doesn’t address problem three though — we still have a front-end interaction test that depends on something that is meaningless to the user.

Meaningful locators for interactive elements

Element locators are meaningful when they depend on something we actually want to depend on because something about the locator is important to the user experience. In the case of interactive elements, I would argue that the best selector to use is the element’s accessible name. Something like this is ideal:

// &#x1f44d; Recommended cy.getByLabelText('Name').type('Mark')

This example uses the byLabelText helper from Cypress Testing Library. (In fact, if you are using Testing Library in any form, it is probably already helping you write accessible locators like this.)

This is useful because now the built-in checks (that we get for free through the cy.type() command) include the accessibility of the form field. All interactive elements should have an accessible name that is exposed to assistive technology. This is how, for example, a screenreader user would know what the form field they are typing into is called in order to enter the needed information.

The way to provide this accessible name for a form field is usually through a label element associated with the field by an ID. The getByLabelText command from Cypress Testing Library verifies that the field is labeled appropriately, but also that the field itself is an element that’s allowed to have a label. So, for example, the following HTML would correctly fail before the type() command is attempted, because even though a label is present, labeling a div is invalid HTML:

<!-- &#x1f44e; Not recommended --> <label for="my-custom-input">Editable DIV element:</label> <div id="my-custom-input" contenteditable="true" />

Because this is invalid HTML, screenreader software could never associate this label with this field correctly. To fix this, we would update the markup to use a real input element:

<!-- &#x1f44d; Recommended --> <label for="my-real-input">Real input:</label> <input id="my-real-input" type="text" />

This is awesome. Now if the test fails at this point after edits made to the DOM, it’s not because of an irrelevant structure changes to how elements are arranged, but because our edits did something to break a part of DOM that our front-end tests explicitly care about, that would actually matter to users.

Meaningful locators for non-interactive elements

For non-interactive elements, we should put on our thinking caps. Let’s use a little bit of judgement before falling back on the data-cy or data-test attributes that will always be there for us if the DOM doesn’t matter at all.

Before we dip into the generic locators, let’s remember: the state of the DOM is our Whole Thing™ as web developers (at least, I think it is). And the DOM drives the UX for everybody who is not experiencing the page visually. So a lot of the time, there might be some meaningful element that we could or should be using in the code that we can include in a test locator.

And if there’s not, because. say, the application code is all generic containers like div and span, we should consider fixing up the application code first, while adding the test. Otherwise there is a risk of having our tests actually specify that the generic containers are expected and desired, making it a little harder for somebody to modify that component to be more accessible.

This topic opens up a can of worms about how accessibility works in an organization. Often, if nobody is talking about it and it’s not a part of the practice at our companies, we don’t take accessibility seriously as front-end developers. But at the end of the day, we are supposed to be the experts in what is the “right markup” for design, and what to consider in deciding that. I discuss this side of things a lot more in my talk from Connect.Tech 2021, called “Researching and Writing Accessible Vue… Thingies”.

As we saw above, with the elements we traditionally think of as interactive, there is a pretty good rule of thumb that’s easy to build into our front-end tests: interactive elements should have perceivable labels correctly associated to the element. So anything interactive, when we test it, should be selected from the DOM using that required label.

For elements that we don’t think of as interactive — like most content-rendering elements that display pieces of text of whatever, aside from some basic landmarks like main — we wouldn’t trigger any Lighthouse audit failures if we put the bulk of our non-interactive content into generic div or span containers. But the markup won’t be very informative or helpful to assistive technology because it’s not describing the nature and structure of the content to somebody who can’t see it. (To see this taken to an extreme, check out Manuel Matuzovic’s excellent blog post, “Building the most inaccessible site possible with a perfect Lighthouse score.”)

The HTML we render is where we communicate important contextual information to anybody who is not perceiving the content visually. The HTML is used to build the DOM, the DOM is used to create the browser’s accessibility tree, and the accessibility tree is the API that assistive technologies of all kinds can use to express the content and the actions that can be taken to a disabled person using our software. A screenreader is often the first example we think of, but the accessibility tree can also be used by other technology, like displays that turn webpages into Braille, among others.

Automated accessibility checks won’t tell us if we’ve really created the right HTML for the content. The “rightness” of the HTML a judgement call we are making developers about what information we think needs to be communicated in the accessibility tree.

Once we’ve made that call, we can decide how much of that is suitable to bake into the automated front-end testing.

Let’s say that we have decided that a container with the status ARIA role will hold the “thank you” and error messaging for a contact form. This might be nice so that the feedback for the form’s success or failure can be announced by a screenreader. CSS classes of .thank-you and .error could be applied to control the visual state.

If we add this element and want to write a UI test for it, we might write an assertion like this after the test fills out the form and submits it:

// &#x1f44e; Not recommended cy.get('.thank-you').should('be.visible')

Or even a test that uses a non-brittle but still meaningless selector like this:

// &#x1f44e; Not recommended cy.get('[data-testid="thank-you-message"]').should('be.visible')

Both could be rewritten using cy.contains():

// &#x1f44d; Recommended cy.contains('[role="status"]', 'Thank you, we have received your message') .should('be.visible')

This would confirm that the expected text appeared and was inside the right kind of container. Compared to the previous test, this has much more value in terms of verifying actual functionality. If any part of this test fails, we’d want to know, because both the message and the element selector are important to us and shouldn’t be changed trivially.

We have definitely gained some coverage here without a lot of extra code, but we’ve also introduced a different kind of brittleness. We have plain English strings in our tests, and that means if the “thank you” message changes to something like “Thank you for reaching out!” this test suddenly fails. Same with all the other tests. A small change to how a label is written would require updating any test that targets elements using that label.

We can improve this by using the same source of truth for these strings in front-end tests as we do in our code. And if we currently have human-readable sentences embedded right there in the HTML of our components… well now we have a reason to pull that stuff out of there.

Human-readable strings might be the magic numbers of UI code

A magic number (or less-excitingly, an “unnamed numerical constant”) is that super-specific value you sometimes see in code that is important to the end result of a calculation, like a good old 1.023033 or something. But since that number is not unlabeled, its significance is unclear, and so it’s unclear what it’s doing. Maybe it applies a tax. Maybe it compensates for some bug that we don’t know about. Who knows?

Either way, the same is true for front-end testing and the general advice is to avoid magic numbers because of their lack of clarity. Code reviews will often catch them and ask what the number is for. Can we move it into a constant? We also do the same thing if a value is to be reused multiple places. Rather than repeat the value everywhere, we can store it in a variable and use the variable as needed.

Writing user interfaces over the years, I’ve come to see text content in HTML or template files as very similar to magic numbers in other contexts. We’re putting absolute values all through our code, but in reality it might be more useful to store those values elsewhere and bring them in at build time (or even through an API depending on the situation).

There are a few reasons for this:

  1. I used to work with clients who wanted to drive everything from a content management system. Content, even form labels and status messages, that didn’t live in the CMS were to be avoided. Clients wanted full control so that content changes didn’t require editing code and re-deploying the site. That makes sense; code and content are different concepts.
  2. I’ve worked in many multilingual codebases where all the text needs to be pulled in through some internationalization framework, like this:
<label for="name"> <!-- prints "Name" in English but something else in a different language --> {{content[currentLanguage].contactForm.name}} </label>
  1. As far as front-end testing goes, our UI tests are much more robust if, instead of checking for a specific “thank you” message we hardcode into the test, we do something like this:
const text = content.en.contactFrom // we would do this once and all tests in the file can read from it cy.contains(text.nameLabel, '[role="status"]').should('be.visible')

Every situation is different, but having some system of constants for strings is a huge asset when writing robust UI tests, and I would recommend it. Then, if and when translation or dynamic content does become necessary for our situation, we are a lot better prepared for it.

I’ve heard good arguments against importing text strings in tests, too. For example, some find tests are more readable and generally better if the test itself specifies the expected content independently from the content source.

It’s a fair point. I’m less persuaded by this because I think content should be controlled through more of an editorial review/publishing model, and I want the test to check if the expected content from the source got rendered, not some specific strings that were correct when the test was written. But plenty of people disagree with me on this, and I say as long as within a team the tradeoff is understood, either choice is acceptable.

That said, it’s still a good idea to isolate code from content in the front end more generally. And sometimes it might even be valid to mix and match — like importing strings in our component tests and not importing them in our end-to-end tests. This way, we save some duplication and gain confidence that our components display correct content, while still having front-end tests that independently assert the expected text, in the editorial, user-facing sense.

When to use data-test locators

CSS selectors like [data-test="success-message"] are still useful and can be very helpful when used in an intentional way, instead of used all the time. If our judgement is that there’s no meaningful, accessible way to target an element, data-test attributes are still the best option. They are much better than, say, depending on a coincidence like whatever the DOM structure happens to be on the day you are writing the test, and falling back to the “second list item in the third div with a class of card” style of test.

There are also times when content is expected to be dynamic and there’s no way to easily grab strings from some common source of truth to use in our tests. In those situations, a data-test attribute helps us reach the specific element we care about. It can still be combined with an accessibility-friendly assertion, for example:

cy.get('h2[data-test="intro-subheading"]')

Here we want to find what has the data-test attribute of intro-subheading, but still allow our test to assert that it should be a h2 element if that’s what we expect it to be. The data-test attribute is used to make sure we get the specific h2 we are interested in, not some other h2 that might be on the page, if for some reason the content of that h2 can’t be known at the time of the test.

Even in cases where we do know the content, we might still use data attributes to make sure the application renders that content in the right spot:

cy.contains('h2[data-test="intro-subheading"]', 'Welcome to Testing!')

data-test selectors can also be a convenience to get down to a certain part of the page and then make assertions within that. This could look like the following:

cy.get('article[data-test="ablum-card-blur-great-escape"]').within(() => { cy.contains('h2', 'The Great Escape').should('be.visible') cy.contains('p', '1995 Album by Blur').should('be.visible') cy.get('[data-test="stars"]').should('have.length', 5) })

At that point we get into some nuance because there may very well be other good ways to target this content, it’s just an example. But at the end of the day, it’s a good if worrying about details like that is where we are because at least we have some understanding of the accessibility features embedded in the HTML we are testing, and that we want to include those in our tests.

When the DOM matters, test it

Front-end tests bring a lot more value to us if we are thoughtful about how we tell the tests what elements to interact with, and what to contents to expect. We should prefer accessible names to target interactive components, and we should include specific elements names, ARIA roles, etc., for non-interactive content — if those things are relevant to the functionality. These locators, when practical, create the right combination of strength and brittleness.

And of course, for everything else, there’s data-test.

Writing Strong Front-end Test Element Locators originally published on CSS-Tricks. You should get the newsletter.

Adding Tailwind CSS to New and Existing WordPress Themes

Css Tricks - Wed, 04/20/2022 - 5:30am

In the 15 or so years since I started making WordPress websites, nothing has had more of an impact on my productivity — and my ability to enjoy front-end development — than adding Tailwind CSS to my workflow (and it isn’t close).

When I began working with Tailwind, there was an up-to-date, first-party repository on GitHub describing how to use Tailwind with WordPress. That repository hasn’t been updated since 2019. But that lack of updates isn’t a statement on Tailwind’s utility to WordPress developers. By allowing Tailwind to do what Tailwind does best while letting WordPress still be WordPress, it’s possible to take advantage of the best parts of both platforms and build modern websites in less time.

The minimal setup example in this article aims to provide an update to that original setup repository, revised to work with the latest versions of both Tailwind and WordPress. This approach can be extended to work with all kinds of WordPress themes, from a forked default theme to something totally custom.

Why WordPress developers should care about Tailwind

Before we talk about setup, it’s worth stepping back and discussing how Tailwind works and what that means in a WordPress context.

Tailwind allows you to style HTML elements using pre-existing utility classes, removing the need for you to write most or all of your site’s CSS yourself. (Think classes like hidden for display: hidden or uppercase for text-transform: uppercase.) If you’ve used frameworks like Bootstrap and Foundation in the past, the biggest difference you’ll find with Tailwind CSS is its blank-slate approach to design combined with the lightness of being CSS-only, with just a CSS reset included by default. These properties allow for highly optimized sites without pushing developers towards an aesthetic built into the framework itself.

Also unlike many other CSS frameworks, it’s infeasible to load a “standard” build of Tailwind CSS from an existing CDN. With all of its utility classes included, the generated CSS file would simply be too large. Tailwind offers a “Play CDN,” but it’s not meant for production, as it significantly reduces Tailwind’s performance benefits. (It does come in handy, though, if you want to do some rapid prototyping or otherwise experiment with Tailwind without actually installing it or setting up a build process.)

This need to use Tailwind’s build process to create a subset of the framework’s utility classes specific to your project makes it important to understand how Tailwind decides which utility classes to include, and how this process affects the use of utility classes in WordPress’s editor.

And, finally, Tailwind’s aggressive Preflight (its version of a CSS reset) means some parts of WordPress are not well-suited to the framework with its default settings.

Let’s begin by looking at where Tailwind works well with WordPress.

Where Tailwind and WordPress work well together

In order for Tailwind to work well without significant customization, it needs to act as the primary CSS for a given page; this eliminates a number of use cases within WordPress.

If you’re building a WordPress plugin and you need to include front-end CSS, for example, Tailwind’s Preflight would be in direct conflict with the active theme. Similarly, if you need to style the WordPress administration area — outside of the editor — the administration area’s own styles may be overridden.

There are ways around both of these issues: You can disable Preflight and add a prefix to all of your utility classes, or you could use PostCSS to add a namespace to all of your selectors. Either way, your configuration and workflow are going to get more complicated.

But if you’re building a theme, Tailwind is an excellent fit right out of the box. I’ve had success creating custom themes using both the classic editor and the block editor, and I’m optimistic that as full-site editing matures, there will be a number of full-site editing features that work well alongside Tailwind.

In her blog post “Gutenberg Full Site Editing does not have to be full,” Tammie Lister describes full-site editing as a set of separate features that can be adopted in part or in full. It’s unlikely full-site editing’s Global Styles functionality will ever work with Tailwind, but many other features probably will.

So: You’re building a theme, Tailwind is installed and configured, and you’re adding utility classes with a smile on your face. But will those utility classes work in the WordPress editor?

With planning, yes! Utility classes will be available to use in the editor so long as you decide which ones you’d like to use in advance. You’re unable to open up the editor and use any and all Tailwind utility classes; baked into Tailwind’s emphasis on performance is the limitation of only including the utility classes your theme uses, so you need to let Tailwind know in advance which ones are required in the editor despite them being absent elsewhere in your code.

There are a number of ways to do this: You can create a safelist within your Tailwind configuration file; you can include comments containing lists of classes alongside the code for custom blocks you’ll want to style in the block editor; you could even just create a file listing all of your editor-specific classes and tell Tailwind to include it as one of the source files it monitors for class names.

The need to commit to editor classes in advance has never held me back in my work, but this remains the aspect of the relationship between Tailwind and WordPress I get asked about the most.

A minimal WordPress theme with a minimal Tailwind CSS integration

Let’s start with the most basic WordPress theme possible. There are only two required files:

  • style.css
  • index.php

We’ll generate style.css using Tailwind. For index.php, let’s start with something simple:

<!doctype html> <html lang="en"> <head> <?php wp_head(); ?> <link rel="stylesheet" href="<?php echo get_stylesheet_uri(); ?>" type="text/css" media="all" /> </head> <body> <?php if ( have_posts() ) { while ( have_posts() ) { the_post(); the_title( '<h1 class="entry-title">', '</h1>' ); ?> <div class="entry-content"> <?php the_content(); ?> </div> <?php } } ?> </body> </html>

There are a lot of things a WordPress theme should do that the above code doesn’t — things like pagination, post thumbnails, enqueuing stylesheets instead of using link elements, and so on — but this will be enough to display a post and test that Tailwind is working as it should.

On the Tailwind side, we need three files:

  • package.json
  • tailwind.config.js
  • An input file for Tailwind

Before we go any further, you’re going to need npm. If you’re uncomfortable working with it, we have a beginner’s guide to npm that is a good place to start!

Since there is no package.json file yet, we’ll create an empty JSON file in the same folder with index.php by running this command in our terminal of choice:

echo {} > ./package.json

With this file in place, we can install Tailwind:

npm install tailwindcss --save-dev

And generate our Tailwind configuration file:

npx tailwindcss init

In our tailwind.config.js file, all we need to do is tell Tailwind to search for utility classes in our PHP files:

module.exports = { content: ["./**/*.php"], theme: { extend: {}, }, plugins: [], }

If our theme used Composer, we’d want to ignore the vendor directory by adding something like "!**/vendor/**" to the content array. But if all of your PHP files are part of your theme, the above will work!

We can name our input file anything we want. Let’s create a file called tailwind.css and add this to it:

/*! Theme Name: WordPress + Tailwind */ @tailwind base; @tailwind components; @tailwind utilities;

The top comment is required by WordPress to recognize the theme; the three @tailwind directives add each of Tailwind’s layers.

And that’s it! We can now run the following command:

npx tailwindcss -i ./tailwind.css -o ./style.css --watch

This tells the Tailwind CLI to generate our style.css file using tailwind.css as the input file. The --watch flag will continuously rebuild the style.css file as utility classes are added or removed from any PHP file in our project repository.

That’s as simple as a Tailwind-powered WordPress theme could conceivably be, but it’s unlikely to be something you’d ever want to deploy to production. So, let’s talk about some pathways to a production-ready theme.

Adding TailwindCSS to an existing theme

There are two reasons why you might want to add Tailwind CSS to an existing theme that already has its own vanilla CSS:

  • To experiment with adding Tailwind components to an already styled theme
  • To transition a theme from vanilla CSS to Tailwind

We’ll demonstrate this by installing Tailwind inside Twenty Twenty-One, the WordPress default theme. (Why not Twenty Twenty-Two? The most recent WordPress default theme is meant to showcase full-site editing and isn’t a good fit for a Tailwind integration.)

To start, you should download and install the theme in your development environment if it isn’t installed there. We only need to follow a handful of steps after that:

  • Navigate to the theme folder in your terminal.
  • Because Twenty Twenty-One already has its own package.json file, install Tailwind without creating a new one:
npm install tailwindcss --save-dev
  • Add your tailwind.config.json file:
npx tailwindcss init
  • Update your tailwind.config.json file to look the same as the one in the previous section.
  • Copy Twenty Twenty-One’s existing style.css file to tailwind.css.

Now we need to add our three @tailwind directives to the tailwind.css file. I suggest structuring your tailwind.css file as follows:

/* The WordPress theme file header goes here. */ @tailwind base; /* All of the existing CSS goes here. */ @tailwind components; @tailwind utilities;

Putting the base layer immediately after the theme header ensures that WordPress continues to detect your theme while also ensuring the Tailwind CSS reset comes as early in the file as possible.

All of the existing CSS follows the base layer, ensuring that these styles take precedence over the reset.

And finally, the components and utilities layers follow so they can take precedence over any CSS declarations with the same specificity.

And now, as with our minimal theme, we’ll run the following command:

npx tailwindcss -i ./tailwind.css -o ./style.css --watch

With your new style.css file now being generated each time you change a PHP file, you should check your revised theme for minor rendering differences from the original. These are caused by Tailwind’s CSS reset, which resets things a bit further than some themes might expect. In the case of Twenty Twenty-One, the only fix I made was to add text-decoration-line: underline to the a element.

With that rendering issue resolved, let’s add the Header Banner Component from Tailwind UI, Tailwind’s first-party component library. Copy the code from the Tailwind UI site and paste it immediately following the “Skip to content” link in header.php:

Pretty good! Because we’re now going to want to use utility classes to override some of the existing higher-specificity classes built into the theme, we’re going to add a single line to the tailwind.config.js file:

module.exports = { important: true, content: ["./**/*.php"], theme: { extend: {}, }, plugins: [], }

This marks all Tailwind CSS utilities as !important so they can override existing classes with a higher specificity. (I’ve never set important to true in production, but I almost certainly would if I were in the process of converting a site from vanilla CSS to Tailwind.)

With a quick no-underline class added to the “Learn more” link and bg-transparent and border-0 added to the dismiss button, we’re all set:

It looks a bit jarring to see Tailwind UI’s components merged into a WordPress default theme, but it’s a great demonstration of Tailwind components and their inherent portability.

Starting from scratch

If you’re creating a new theme with Tailwind, your process will look a lot like the minimal example above. Instead of running the Tailwind CLI directly from the command line, you’ll probably want to create separate npm scripts for development and production builds, and to watch for changes. You may also want to create a separate build specifically for the WordPress editor.

If you’re looking for a starting point beyond the minimal example above — but not so far beyond that it comes with opinionated styles of its own — I’ve created a Tailwind-optimized WordPress theme generator inspired by Underscores (_s), once the canonical WordPress starter theme. Called _tw, this is the quick-start I wish I had when I first combined Tailwind with WordPress. It remains the first step in all of my client projects.

If you’re willing to go further from the structure of a typical WordPress theme and add Laravel Blade templates to your toolkit, Sage is a great choice, and they have a setup guide specific to Tailwind to get you started.

However you choose to begin, I encourage you to take some time to acclimate yourself to Tailwind CSS and to styling HTML documents using utility classes: It may feel unusual at first, but you’ll soon find yourself taking on more client work than before because you’re building sites faster than you used to — and hopefully, like me, having more fun doing it.

Adding Tailwind CSS to New and Existing WordPress Themes originally published on CSS-Tricks. You should get the newsletter.

Making Mermaid Diagrams in Markdown

Css Tricks - Mon, 04/18/2022 - 6:01am

Mermaid diagrams and flowcharts have been gaining traction, especially with GitHub’s announcement that they are natively supported in Markdown. Let’s take a look at what they are, how to use them, and just as importantly: why.

Just like you might want to embed your CodePen demo directly in your documentation source, having your diagrams and charts live adjacent to your text helps prevent them from rotting — that is, drifting out of sync with the state of your document. Just as unhelpful, obsolete, or otherwise misleading comments in your code can be objectively worse than no comments, the same goes for diagrams.

Mermaid diagrams pair well with Jamstack and static site generators, which continue to grow in popularity. The pairing is natural. While Mermaid diagrams aren’t Markdown-exclusive, they are Markdown-inspired. Using the same markup abstractions Markdown provides to notate code, Mermaid can be represented the same to output diagrams and flowcharts. And Markdown is to Jamstack and static sites as peanut butter is to jelly.

If your site is authored in Markdown, processed into HTML, and you have enough control to add a bit of custom JavaScript, then you can use the ideas we’re covering in this article to fit your own needs and implement diagrams with Mermaid conveniently alongside the rest of your Markdown. Is “diagrams-as-code” a term yet? It should be.

For example, let’s say you’re working on a fancy new product and you want to provide a roadmap in the form of a Gantt chart (or some other type — say flowcharts, sequences, and class diagrams). With Mermaid, you can do this in a small handful of lines:

gantt title My Product Roadmap dateFormat YYYY-MM-DD section Cool Feature A task :a1, 2022-02-25, 30d Another task :after a1, 20d section Rad Feature Task in sequence :2022-03-04, 12d Task, No. 2 :24d

Which will render a nice SVG diagram like so:

Nine lines of code gets us a full-fledged Gantt chart that can be used for product roadmaps and such.

Pro tip: Mermaid has a live editor which lets you try it out without the commitment over at mermaid.live.

Mermaid diagrams in Markdown

Mermaid goes well with Markdown because it presents itself as just another fenced code block, only using the mermaid language syntax set. For example, this block of code:

```mermaid graph TD; A-->B; A-->C; B-->D; C-->D; ```

…produces an HTML <pre> element with the code block contents inside:

<pre class="mermaid"><code>graph TD; A-->B; A-->C; B-->D; C-->D;</code></pre>

If you’re using a Markdown processor aligned with the CommonMark spec, it’ll more resemble this:

<pre><code class="language-mermaid">graph TD; A-->B; A-->C; B-->D; C-->D; </code></pre> View demo

The Mermaid API’s default behavior expects a <div class="mermaid"> tag that directly contains the contents — so, no <code> or <span> (like from a syntax highlighter) that you might see in the conversion from Markdown-to-HTML.

Finessing with JavaScript

With a bit of JavaScript, it’s reasonable to take the Markdown-generated HTML and finesse it into the <div class="mermaid"> tag that Mermaid targets. It’s worth noting that $element.textContent is purposeful here: Markdown will HTML-encode specific characters (like > into &gt;) that Mermaid uses. It also filters out any erroneous HTML elements that are descendants of the <pre> element.

// select <pre class="mermaid"> _and_ <pre><code class="language-mermaid"> document.querySelectorAll("pre.mermaid, pre>code.language-mermaid").forEach($el => { // if the second selector got a hit, reference the parent <pre> if ($el.tagName === "CODE") $el = $el.parentElement // put the Mermaid contents in the expected <div class="mermaid"> // plus keep the original contents in a nice <details> $el.outerHTML = ` <div class="mermaid">${$el.textContent}</div> <details> <summary>Diagram source</summary> <pre>${$el.textContent}</pre> </details> ` })

Now that our HTML is properly-formatted, let’s implement Mermaid to do the rendering.

Using Mermaid

Mermaid is published as an npm package, so you can grab a copy by using a package-aware CDN, like unpkg. You’ll want to use the minified code (e.g., mermaid.min.js) instead of the default export of mermaid.core.js. For example:

<script src="https://unpkg.com/mermaid@8.14.0/dist/mermaid.min.js"></script>

Mermaid is also ESM-ready, so you can use Skypack to load it up as well:

<script type="module"> import mermaid from "https://cdn.skypack.dev/mermaid@8.14.0"; </script>

You could stop right here if you want to keep things simple. By default, Mermaid will auto-initialize itself when the document is ready. As long as you do the Markdown-to-HTML finessing with JavaScript mentioned earlier — before loading in Mermaid — you’ll be all set.

However, Mermaid has a couple settings worth configuring:

// initialize Mermaid to [1] log errors, [2] have loose security for first-party // authored diagrams, and [3] respect a preferred dark color scheme mermaid.initialize({ logLevel: "error", // [1] securityLevel: "loose", // [2] theme: (window.matchMedia && window.matchMedia("(prefers-color-scheme: dark)").matches) ? "dark" : "default" // [3] })
  1. logLevel will give you a bit more visibility into any errors that may arise. If you want to see more information, you can choose a more verbose level (or vice versa).
  2. securityLevel relates to the level of trust for the diagram source. If it’s content that you are authoring, then "loose" is fine. If it’s user-generated content, it’s probably best leaving the "strict" default in place.
  3. theme changes the styling of the rendered diagrams. By querying the preferred color scheme and leveraging a ternary operator, we can specify "dark" as appropriate.
All together now!

Here are a couple of Mermaid diagrams examples in Markdown:

CodePen Embed Fallback Deeper waters

This strategy is particularly effective because it’s progressive: if JavaScript is disabled then the original Mermaid source is displayed as-is. No foul.

There’s also a fully-fledged command line interface for Mermaid which, if you’re interesting in exploring, could potentially be leveraged to display diagrams that are completely server-side rendered. Between the Mermaid CLI and the online generator, it may even be possible to hook into whatever build process you use to generate a snapshot of a diagram and display it as an <img> fallback instead of the source code.

Hopefully, we’ll see more native Mermaid integrations like this as Mermaid continues to grow in popularity. The usefulness of having visual charts and diagrams alongside documentation is unquestionable — from product roadmaps to decision trees and everything in between. That’s the sort of information that’s just plain difficult to document with words alone.

Mermaid charts solve that, and in a way that ensures the information can be managed and maintained alongside the rest of the documentation.

Making Mermaid Diagrams in Markdown originally published on CSS-Tricks. You should get the newsletter.

Add a CSS Lens Flare to Photos for a Bright Touch

Css Tricks - Tue, 04/12/2022 - 7:10am

I’m a big fan of movies by J.J. Abrams. I enjoy their tight plots, quippy dialog, and of course: anamorphic lens flares. Filmmakers like Abrams use lens flare to add a dash of ‘homemade’ realism to their movies, a technique we can easily recreate in tools like Photoshop, then add to our sites as raster images.

But what if we wanted to apply the same lens flare look without the use of photo editing tools? We can create a CSS lens flare to add a cinematic touch to our gallery images, background photos, or user profiles.

There are different types of flares in photography. The one we’re working with is known as artifacts, as they leave behind little blotches of light that take the shape of a camera’s aperture where the light enters and reflects off the surface of the lens.

Source: Wikipedia

Here’s a good example of the sort of lens flare we’re going to make, pulled straight from a J.J. Abrams movie still, naturally:

Star Trek (2009)

There are a few parts to the lens flare above. Let’s list them out so we know what we’re aiming for:

  1. The center light source appears as a glowing ball of light.
  2. There are some horizontal elliptical light streaks — rays of light that are distorted and blurred, resulting in elongated ellipses.
  3. Random rays of light shoot off from the center light source at various angles.

We start with the HTML elements below that map to our flare components. There is a central light source and two off-diagonal circular flares, three horizontal lens flares, and three conical ray-like flares.

<div class="lens-center"></div> <div class="circle-1"></div> <div class="circle-2"></div> <div class="left-flare horizontal-flare"></div> <div class="right-flare horizontal-flare"></div> <div class="full-flare horizontal-flare"></div> <div class="conic-1"></div> <div class="conic-2"></div> <div class="conic-3"></div> </div>

Lastly, in order for our lens flare to be believably superimposed on an image, its center light source has to be adjustable. This way, we can place it over a believable existing light source on a picture and not overlap with any faces.

The background and light source of a CSS lens flare

Let’s start with a black background and central light source for our CSS lens flare. Most gradients on the web are linear gradients with solid-color transitions, but we can apply alpha channels to them which is actually a nice way to produce a glowing effect. A circular-shaped radial gradient with multiple layers of semi-transparent colors gives us a good camera center effect.

background: radial-gradient( closest-side circle at center, hsl(4 5% 100% / 100%) 0%, hsl(4 5% 100% / 100%) 15%, hsl(4 10% 70% / 70%) 30%, hsl(4 0% 50% / 30%) 55%, hsl(4 0% 10% / 5%) 75%, transparent 99 ); filter: blur(4px);

Curious about that HSL syntax? It’s new and appears to be the future direction of defining alpha transparency in all CSS color functions.

Notice we’re using a CSS blur filter in there to make the gradients look a bit closer to layers of diffused light.

Now that we know how to add circular flares, we will also add a larger, diffused flare behind the light source, as well as three additional flares at a 45deg angle from the center, to give the effect a more realistic look.

CodePen Embed Fallback Setting up horizontal light streaks

Let’s start with horizontal flares. There are a few options we can take, a very elongated ellipse gradient would be the simplest approach. However, I’ve noticed that horizontal lens flares are usually less symmetrical than the ones in my reference photos, so I wanted to make mine a little less symmetrical as well.

Luckily, radial gradients have an optional location argument in CSS. We can create two slightly differently-sized left and right portions of the same horizontal flare, and with slightly different colors. We can also add an opacity filter to make the area where the horizontal flares join the center to make the flare less jarring.

background: radial-gradient( closest-side circle at center, transparent 50%, hsl(4 10% 70% / 40%) 90%, transparent 100% ); filter: blur(5px);

While we are at it, let’s also add a single full elongated elliptical bottom flare three-quarters of the way down the viewport for another touch of “realism.”

CodePen Embed Fallback Creating the diffused rays of light

With both the radial and horizontal flares in place, all we have left are the angled rays of light shooting off from the light source. We could add additional elliptical radial gradients then skew and translate the container to get a close approximation. But we also have a CSS gradient that’s already made for the job, the conic gradient. Below is an example that gives us a 7deg conic gradient at a 5deg offset from its container’s bottom-right corner.

background: conic-gradient( from 5deg at 0% 100%, transparent 0deg, hsl(4 10% 70% / 30%) 7deg, transparent 15deg ); transform-origin: bottom left; transform: rotate(-45deg);

We’ll add a few conic gradients centered at our flare center, with various gradient angles of semi-transparent colors. Because conic gradients can show the corner of its container div, we will rotationally transform them using our light source as its origin, resulting in an offset diffused ray filter effect.

CodePen Embed Fallback Using CSS custom properties for a more flexible lens flare

So far, we’ve created a responsive, but statically-positioned, lens flare effect at a fixed location. It would be difficult to adjust the center of the lens flare without also breaking the horizontal and conic flares around it.

To make the CSS lens flare both adjustable and less brittle, we’ll expose the light source flare’s position, size, and hue via a set of custom properties.

:root { --hue: 4; --lens-center-size: 40%; --lens-spread-size: 80%; --lens-left: 55%; --lens-top: 15%; }

While we are at it, we are also going to adjust the flare hue and the size of the horizontal flare height. For horizontal flare width, we use CSS variable overloading to make them adjustable on their own; otherwise, we fall back to the light source flare center or the image center.

.left-flare { width: var(--left-flare-width, var(--lens-left, 50%)); }

This is what the completed CSS lens flare effect looks like with a photo background and the lens flare moved up so the light source location looks believable. Go ahead, add your own photo to see how it works in different contexts!

CodePen Embed Fallback Other CSS and non-CSS lens flare examples

This is just one way to create a CSS lens flare, of course. I like this approach because it’s flexible in terms of the color, size, and positioning of the flare and its parts. That makes it more of a reusable component that can be used in many contexts.

Here’s one by Keith Grant that uses a linear gradient as well as CSS custom properties. Then it sprinkles some JavaScript in there to randomize the HSLA values.

CodePen Embed Fallback

Nicholas Guest has another CSS lens flare that applies a box shadow on the ::before and ::after pseudo-elements of a .flare element to get the effect, plus a smidge of jQuery that makes the flare follow the mouse on hover.

CodePen Embed Fallback

This one is made with Canvas and is neat in how the light source follows the mouse on hover while showing how the lens flare artifacts change position as the light source position changes.

CodePen Embed Fallback

The same sort of idea here:

CodePen Embed Fallback

And a fun one that uses GSAP, Canvas, and a library called JS.LensFlare:

CodePen Embed Fallback

How would you approach a CSS lens flare effect? Share in the comments!

Add a CSS Lens Flare to Photos for a Bright Touch originally published on CSS-Tricks. You should get the newsletter.

Adding CDN Caching to a Vite Build

Css Tricks - Mon, 04/04/2022 - 8:25am

Content delivery networks, or CDNs, allow you to improve the delivery of your website’s static resources, most notably, with CDN caching. They do this by serving your content from edge locations, which are located all over the world. When a user browses to your site, and your site requests resources from the CDN, the CDN will route that request to the nearest edge location. If that location has the requested resources, either from that user’s prior visit, or from another person, then the content will be served from cache. If not, the CDN will request the content from your underlying domain, cache it, and serve it.

There are countless CDNs out there, but for this post we’ll be using AWS CloudFront. We’ll look at setting up a CloudFront distribution to serve all our site’s assets: JavaScript files, CSS files, font files, etc. Then we’ll see about integrating it into a Vite build. If you’d like to learn more about Vite, I have an introduction here.

Setting up a CloudFront CDN distribution

Let’s jump right in and set up our CloudFront CDN distribution.

For any serious project, you should be setting up your serverless infrastructure with code, using something like the Serverless Framework, or AWS’s CDK. But to keep things simple, here, we’ll set up our CDN using the AWS console.

Head on over to the CloudFront homepage. At the top right, you should see an orange button to create a new distribution.

The creation screen has a ton of options, but for the most part the default selections will be fine. First and foremost, add the domain where your resources are located.

Next, scroll down and find the Response headers policy dropdown, and choose “CORS-With-Preflight.”

Lastly, click the Create Distribution button at the bottom, and hopefully you’ll see your new distribution.

Integrating the CDN with Vite

It’s one thing for our CDN to be set up and ready to serve our files. But it’s another for our site to actually know how to request them from our CDN. I’ll walk through integrating with Vite, but other build systems, like webpack or Rollup, will be similar.

When Vite builds our site, it maintains a “graph” of all the JavaScript and CSS files that various parts of our site import, and it injects the appropriate <script> tags, <link> tags, or import() statements to load what’s needed. What we need to do is tell Vite to request these assets from our CDN when in production. Let’s see how.

Open up your vite.config.ts file. First, we’ll need to know if we’re on the live site (production) or in development (dev).

const isProduction = process.env.NODE_ENV === "production";

This works since Vite sets this environment variable when we run vite build, which is what we do for production, as opposed to dev mode with hot module reloading.

Next we tell Vite to draw our assets from our CDN like so, setting the base property of our config object:

export default defineConfig({ base: isProduction ? process.env.REACT_CDN : "",

Be sure to set your REACT_CDN environment variable to your CDN’s location, which in this case, will be our CloudFront distribution’s location. Mine looks something (but not exactly) like this:

https://distributiondomainname.cloudfront.net Watch your VitePWA settings!

As one final piece of cleanup, if you happen to be using the VitePWA plugin, be sure to reset your base property like this:

VitePWA({ base: "/",

Otherwise, your web.manifest file will have invalid settings and cause errors.

Let’s see the CDN work

Once you’re all set up, browse to your site, and inspect any of the network requests for your script or CSS files. For starters, the protocol should be h2.

From there, you can peek into the response headers of any one of those files, and you should see some CloudFront data in there:

Cache busting

It’s hard to talk about CDNs without mentioning cache busting. CDNs like CloudFront have functionality to manually “eject” items from cache. But for Vite-built assets, we get this “for free” since Vite adds fingerprinting, or hash codes, to the filenames of the assets it produces.

So Vite might turn a home.js file into home-abc123.js during a build, but then if you change that file and rebuild, it might become home-xyz987.js. That’s good, as it will “break the cache,” and the newly built file will not be cached, so the CDN will have to turn to our host domain for the actual content.

CDN caching for other static assets

JavaScript, CSS, and font files aren’t the only kinds of assets that can benefit from CDN caching. If you have an S3 bucket you’re serving images out of, consider setting up a CloudFront distribution for it as well. There are options specifically for S3 which makes it a snap to create. Not only will you get the same edge caching, but HTTP/2 responses, which S3 does not provide.

Advanced CDN practices

Integrating a CDN here was reasonably straightforward, but we’re only enjoying a fraction of the potential benefits. Right now, users will browse to our app, our server will serve our root HTML file, and then the user’s browser will connect to our CDN to start pulling down all our static assets.

Going further, we would want to serve our entire site from a CDN. That way, it can communicate with our web server as needed for non-static and non-cached assets.

Conclusion

CDNs are a great way to improve the performance of your site. They provide edge caching and HTTP/2 out of the box. Not only that, but they’re reasonably easy to set up. Now you have a new tool in your belt to both set up a CDN and integrate it with Vite.

Adding CDN Caching to a Vite Build originally published on CSS-Tricks. You should get the newsletter.

Tricks to Cut Corners Using CSS Mask and Clip-Path Properties

Css Tricks - Wed, 03/30/2022 - 6:35am

We recently covered creating fancy borders with CSS mask properties, and now we are going to cut the corners with CSS mask and clip-path! A lot of techniques exist to cut different shapes from the corners of any element. In this article, we will consider modern techniques to create unique corner shapes while trying to work from reusable code that allows us to produce different results by adjusting variables.

Check this online tool to get an idea of what we are building. It’s a CSS generator where you select the shape, the corners, and the size then you get the code in no time!

We mainly have two types of cuts: a circular one and an angled one. For each, we can get the full shape or the border-only shape, not to mention that we can select the corners we want to cut. A lot of combinations!

Like in the previous article, we will make lots of use of the CSS mask property. So, if you are not familiar with it, I recommend reading the quick primer I wrote before continuing.

Circular cut-out

For a circular or rounded cut, we will use radial-gradient(). To cut four corners, the logical solution is to create four gradients, one for each corner:

CodePen Embed Fallback

Each gradient is taking a quarter of the element’s dimensions. The syntax of the gradient is self-explanatory:

radial-gradient(circle 30px at top left, #0000 98%, red) top left;

Translated, this renders a circle at the top-left corner with a 30px radius. The main color is transparent (#0000) and the remaining is red. The whole gradient is also placed so that it starts at the element’s top-left corner. Same logic for the three other gradients. The keyword circle can be omitted since we explicitly specified one value for the radius.

Like I did in the previous article, I will be using slightly bigger or smaller values this time around in order to avoid bad visual result. Here, I am using 98% instead of 100% to avoid jagged edges and 51% instead of 50% to create an overlap between gradients and avoid white spaces. This logic will follow throughout this article. In fact, you will find that adding or removing 1% or 1deg typically results in a nice visual.

We apply this to the CSS mask property and we are done!

CodePen Embed Fallback

We can actually optimize that code a little:

--g: #0000 98%,#000; --r: 30px; mask: radial-gradient(var(--r) at 0 0 ,var(--g)) 0 0, radial-gradient(var(--r) at 100% 0 ,var(--g)) 100% 0, radial-gradient(var(--r) at 0 100%,var(--g)) 0 100%, radial-gradient(var(--r) at 100% 100%,var(--g)) 100% 100%; mask-size: 51% 51%; mask-repeat: no-repeat;

This way, we use custom properties for the redundant values and, as a personal preference, I am using numeric values for the positions instead of keywords.

In the generator, I will use the following syntax:

--g: #0000 98%,#000; --r: 30px; mask: radial-gradient(var(--r) at 0 0 ,var(--g)) 0 0 /51% 51% no-repeat, radial-gradient(var(--r) at 100% 0 ,var(--g)) 100% 0 /51% 51% no-repeat, radial-gradient(var(--r) at 0 100%,var(--g)) 0 100%/51% 51% no-repeat, radial-gradient(var(--r) at 100% 100%,var(--g)) 100% 100%/51% 51% no-repeat;

The shorthand syntax is easier to generate plus the whole value can be used as one custom property.

Can we use fewer gradients if we want?

Sure! One gradient can do the job. Hover the below to see the trick:

CodePen Embed Fallback

Here, we define one radial-gradient() with no size (by default it is 100% height and 100% width). This gives us a hole in the center. We translate/move the gradient by half the width and height of the image to move the hole to one corner. Since, by default, the CSS mask repeats, we get the same on each corner. We have four cut corners with only one gradient!

The only drawback of this method is that we need to know the width and height of the element in advance.

Can’t we use -50% instead of half the width and height?

Unfortunately, we’re unable to do that here because percentages doesn’t behave the same as pixel values when used with the CSS mask-position property. They’re tricky.

I have a detailed Stack Overflow answer that explains the difference. It deals with background-position but the same logic applies to the CSS mask-position property.

However, we can use some tricks to make it work with percentage values and without the need to know the width or the height. When a gradient (or a background layer) has a width and height equal to the element, we cannot move it using percentage values. So we need to change its size!

I will define a size equal to 99.5% 99.5%. I am reducing 0.5% from the width and the height to have a value different from 100% and at the same time keep the same visual result since we won’t notice a big difference between 100% and 99.5%. Now that our gradient has a size different from 100% we can move it using percentage values.

I will not detail all the math, but to move it by half the width and the height we need to use this equation:

100% * (50/(100 - 99.5)) = 100% * 100 = 10000%

It’s a strange value but it does the job:

CodePen Embed Fallback

As you can see, the trick works just fine. Whatever the size of the element is, we can cut four corners using only one gradient. However, this method has a small drawback when the width or the height of the element is a decimal value. Here is an example with an image having a width equal to 150.5px:

CodePen Embed Fallback

The use of 99.5% combined with 150.5px will create rounding issues that will break the calculation, resulting in the mask being misaligned. So, use this method with caution.

To overcome the rounding issue, we can combine the last trick with a pseudo-element. Here is a step-by-step illustration to understand the idea:

CodePen Embed Fallback

Here’s what going on in there:

  1. We define a pseudo-element that behaves as our background layer. Logically, we should use inset:0 to make it cover the entire area, but we will create a small overflow by using inset: -10% meaning that the pseudo element will overflow each side by 10%.
  2. We set our CSS mask to the pseudo-element. The mask size needs to match the size of the main element, not the pseudo-element. In other words, it will be smaller than the size of the pseudo-element and this is what we want to be able to move using percentage values. After we do the math, the size needs to be 100%/1.2. Notice in the demo above that the CSS mask is within the green border so that it matches the size of the container.
  3. Now, we need to move it in a way that simulates cutting the corner of the main element. The center of the hole needs to be in the corner of the main element, as illustrated in the demo. To do this, we use mask-position: 300% 300% ( 300% = 50%/(1 - 1/1.2) ).
  4. We remove no-repeat to activate the repetition and get the same effect for every corner.
  5. We clip the overflow and we get our final result!

I know it’s a bit overkill, but it does work and it requires only one gradient instead of four.

Let’s quickly recap the three methods we just covered:

  • The first method uses four gradients and has no drawbacks as far as usage. Sure, it’s verbose but it works with any kind of element and size. I recommend using this one.
  • The second method uses one gradient and works with any element, but it can break in some particular cases. It’s suitable with fixed-size elements. It’s ok to use, but maybe less frequently.
  • The third method uses one gradient and requires a pseudo-element. It won’t work with <img> and other elements that unable to support a pseudo-element.

The generator only supports the first and third methods.

Now that we saw the case with all the corners, let’s disable some of them. Using the first method, any corner we want to keep uncut we simply remove its gradient and adjust the size of what remains.

CodePen Embed Fallback

To disable the top-right corner:

  • We remove the top-right gradient (the blue one).
  • We have an empty corner, so we increase the size of the red gradient (or the purple one) to cover that leftover space.

Done!

You probably see just how many possibilities and combinations we can do here. If we want to cut N corners (where N ranges from 1 to 4), we use N gradients. All we need is to correctly set the size of each one to leave no space.

What about the other methods where there’s only one gradient? We will need another gradient! Those two methods use only one radial-gradient() to cut the corners, so we will rely on another gradient to “hide” the cut. We can use a conic-gradient() with four sections for this task:

conic-gradient(red 25%, blue 0 50%, green 0 75%, purple 0)

We add it on the top of the radial gradient to get the following:

CodePen Embed Fallback

The conic-gradient() covers the radial-gradient() and no corner is cut. Let’s change one color in the conic-gradient() to transparent. The one at the top-right, for example:

CodePen Embed Fallback

Did you see that? We revealed one corner of the radial-gradient() and we end with one cut corner!

Now let’s do the same thing, but for the bottom-left corner.

CodePen Embed Fallback

I think you probably get the trick by now. By changing the colors of the conic-gradient() from opaque to transparent, we reveal the corners we want to cut and gain all kinds of possible combinations. The same can be done with the third method.

Circular border-only cut-out

Let’s make the border-only version of the previous shape. In other words, we achieve the same shape but knock out the fill so all we’re left with is a border of the shape.

This is a bit tricky because we have different cases with different code. Fair warning, I will be using a lot of gradients here while finding opportunities to trim the number of them.

It should be noted that we will consider a pseudo-element in this case. Showing only the border means we need to hide the inner “fill” of the shape. Applying this to the main element will also hide the content — that’s why this is a nice use case for a pseudo-element.

One cut corner

This one needs one radial gradient and two conic gradients:

CodePen Embed Fallback

The first example illustrates the radial gradient (in red) and both conic gradients (in blue and green). In the second example, we apply all of them inside the CSS mask property to create the border-only shape with one cut corner.

Here’s a diagram of the game plan.

As the diagram shows, the radial-gradient() creates the quarter of a circle and each conic-gradient() creates two perpendicular segments to cover two sides. It should be noted that overlapping gradients is not an issue since we are not going to change the CSS mask-composite property value.

Using the same code an adjusting a few variables, we can get the shape for the other corners.

Two cut corners

For the two-corner configuration we have two situations taking place.

In the first situation, there are two opposite corners where we need two radial gradients and two conic gradients.

CodePen Embed Fallback

The configuration is almost the same as cutting only one corner: we add an extra gradient and update a few variables.

In the second situation, there are two adjacent corners and, in this case, we need two radial gradients, one conic gradient, and one linear gradient.

CodePen Embed Fallback

“Wait!” you might exclaim. “How come the conic gradient covers three sides?” If you check the code, notice the repeat-y. In all of the examples, we always used no-repeat for the gradients, but for this we can repeat one of them to cover more sides and reduce the number of gradients we use.

Here is an example with only the conic-gradient() to understand the repetition. The trick is to have a height equal to 100% minus the border size so that the gradient fills that space when repeating, which covers the third side in the process.

CodePen Embed Fallback Three cut corners

For this configuration, we need three radial gradients, one conic gradient, and two linear gradients.

CodePen Embed Fallback Four corners cut

It takes four radial gradients and two linear gradients to cut all four corners.

CodePen Embed Fallback

I can hear you screaming, “How the heck am I supposed to memorize all these cases?!” You don’t need to memorize anything since you can easily generate the code for each case using the online generator. All you need is to understand the overall trick rather than each individual case. That’s why I’ve only gone into fine detail on the first configurations — the rest are merely iterations that tweak the initial foundation of the trick.

Notice there’s a general pattern we’ve been following throughout the examples:

  1. We add a radial-gradient() on the corners we want to cut.
  2. We fill the sides using either a conic-gradient() or a linear-gradient() to create the final shape.

It should be noted that we can find different ways to create the same shape. What I am showing in this post are the methods I found to be best after trying lots of other ideas. You may have a different approach you consider to be better! If so, definitely share it in the comments!

Angled cut-out

Let’s tackle another type of cut shape: the angled cut.

We have two parameters: the size and angle of the cut. To get the shape, we need a conic-gradient() for each corner. This configuration is very similar to the example that kicked off this article.

CodePen Embed Fallback

Here is an illustration of one corner to understand the trick:

The difference between each corner is an extra offset of 90deg in from and the at position. The full code is like below:

--size: 30px; --angle: 130deg; --g: #0000 var(--angle), #000 0; mask: conic-gradient(from calc(var(--angle)/-2 - 45deg) at top var(--size) left var(--size),var(--g)) top left, conic-gradient(from calc(var(--angle)/-2 + 45deg) at top var(--size) right var(--size),var(--g)) top right, conic-gradient(from calc(var(--angle)/-2 - 135deg) at bottom var(--size) left var(--size),var(--g)) bottom left, conic-gradient(from calc(var(--angle)/-2 + 135deg) at bottom var(--size) right var(--size),var(--g)) bottom right; mask-size: 51% 51%; mask-repeat: no-repeat;

If we want to disable one corner, we remove the conic-gradient() for that corner and update the size of another one to fill the remaining space exactly like we did with the circular cut. Here’s how that looks for one corner:

CodePen Embed Fallback

We can do the exact same thing for all the other corners to get the same effect.

In addition to CSS mask, we can also use the CSS clip-path property to cut the corners. Each corner can be defined with three points.

The shape consists of two points at each end of the cut, and one between them to form the angle.

The other corners will have the same value with an offset of 100%. This gives us the final code with a total of 12 points — three per corner.

/* I will define T = [1-tan((angle-90)/2)]*size */ clip-path: polygon( /* Top-left corner */ 0 T, size size,0 T, /* OR 0 0 */ /* Top-right corner */ calc(100% - T) 0,calc(100% - size) size,100% T, /* OR 100% 0 */ /* Bottom-right corner*/ 100% calc(100% - T),calc(100% - size) calc(100% - size), calc(100% - T) 100%, /* OR 100% 100% */ /* Bottom-left corner */ T 100%, size calc(100% - size),0 calc(100% - T) /* OR 0 100% */ )

Notice the OR comments in that code. It defines the code we have to consider if we want to disable a particular corner. To cut a corner, we use three points. To uncut a corner, we use one point — which is nothing but the coordinate of that corner.

Border-only angled cut

Oof, we have reached the last and trickiest shape at last! This one can be achieved with either gradients or clip-path, but let’s go with the clip-path approach.

Things would get complex and verbose if we go with the gradient approach. Here’s a demo that illustrates that point:

CodePen Embed Fallback

There are nine gradients total, and I am still not done with the calculation. As you can tell, the thickness of the border is incorrect, plus the final result is unsatisfying due to the nature of gradients and their anti-aliasing issues. This approach might be a good exercise to push the limit of gradients, but I don’t recommend it in a production environment.

So, back to the clip-path method. We will still wind up with verbose code, but less of a big deal since the generator can do the job for us with a cleaner end result.

Here is an overview of the path. I am adding a small gap to better see the different points but we should have an overlap of points instead.

We have 13 outer points (the ones in black) and 13 inner points (the ones in blue).

The way we calculate the outer points is the same as how we did it for the regular angled cut. For the inner points, however, we need more math. Don’t worry, I’ll spare you some “boring” geometry explanation for this one. I know most of you don’t want it, but in case you need to dig into this, you can check the JavaScript file of the generator to find the code and the math I am using to generate the shape.

The 180deg special case

Before we end, there’s a special case for the angle cut I want to call out. It’s where we use an angle equal to 180deg. Here’s what that produces:

We have a straight line on the corner so we can optimize the clip-path code. For the full shape, we can use eight points (two points per corner) instead of 12. And for the border-only version, we can use 18 points (nine inner points and outer points) instead of 26. In other words, we can remove the middle point.

The border-only shape can also be made using gradients. But rather than using nine gradients like we did before, we can get away with only four linear gradients and a clean result.

CodePen Embed Fallback Conclusion

We just combined CSS masks with gradients to create some fancy shapes without resorting to hacks and a lot of code! We also experienced just how much it takes to strike the right balance of code to get the right results. We even learned a few tricks along the way, like changing values by one or even half a unit. CSS is super powerful!

But, as we discussed, the online generator I made is a great place to get the code you need rather than writing it out by hand. I mean, I went through all the work of figuring out how all of this works and I would likely still need to reference this very article to remember how it’s all put together. If you can memorize all of this, kudos! But it’s nice to have a generator to fall back on.

Tricks to Cut Corners Using CSS Mask and Clip-Path Properties originally published on CSS-Tricks. You should get the newsletter.

Top 6 Trends in Product Development You Need to Know

Usability Geek - Thu, 03/24/2022 - 7:02am
Product development has been a hit sauce for the last two years now. Not participating in this debate seems challenging when all that’s been trending is the widespread hiring of expert product...
Categories: Web Standards

Write HTML, the HTML Way (Not the XHTML Way)

Css Tricks - Mon, 03/21/2022 - 10:08am

You may not use XHTML (anymore), but when you write HTML, you may be more influenced by XHTML than you think. You are very likely writing HTML, the XHTML way.

What is the XHTML way of writing HTML, and what is the HTML way of writing HTML? Let’s have a look.

HTML, XHTML, HTML

In the 1990s, there was HTML. In the 2000s, there was XHTML. Then, in the 2010s, we switched back to HTML. That’s the simple story.

You can tell by the rough dates of the specifications, too: HTML “1” 1992, HTML 2.0 1995, HTML 3.2 1997, HTML 4.01 1999; XHTML 1.0 2000, XHTML 1.1 2001; “HTML5” 2007.

XHTML became popular when everyone believed XML and XML derivatives were the future. “XML all the things.” For HTML, this had a profound effect: The effect that we learned to write it the XHTML way.

The XHTML way of writing HTML

The XHTML way is well-documented, because XHTML 1.0 describes in great detail in its section on “Differences with HTML 4”:

  • Documents must be well-formed.
  • Element and attribute names must be in lower case.
  • For non-empty elements, end tags are required.
  • Attribute values must always be quoted.
  • Attribute minimization is not supported.
  • Empty elements need to be closed.
  • White space handling in attribute values is done according to XML.
  • Script and style elements need CDATA sections.
  • SGML exclusions are not possible.
  • The elements with id and name attributes, like a, applet, form, frame, iframe, img, and map, should only use id.
  • Attributes with pre-defined value sets are case-sensitive.
  • Entity references as hex values must be in lowercase.

Does this look familiar? With the exception of marking CDATA content, as well as dealing with SGML exclusions, you probably follow all of these rules. All of them.

Although XHTML is dead, many of these rules have never been questioned again. Some have even been elevated to “best practices” for HTML.

That is the XHTML way of writing HTML, and its lasting impact on the field.

The HTML way of writing HTML

One way of walking us back is to negate the rules imposed by XHTML. Let’s actually do this (without the SGML part, because HTML isn’t based on SGML anymore):

  • Documents may not be well-formed.
  • Element and attribute names may not be in lower case.
  • For non-empty elements, end tags are not always required.
  • Attribute values may not always be quoted.
  • Attribute minimization is supported.
  • Empty elements don’t need to be closed.
  • White space handling in attribute values isn’t done according to XML.
  • Script and style elements don’t need CDATA sections.
  • The elements with id and name attributes may not only use id.
  • Attributes with pre-defined value sets are not case-sensitive.
  • Entity references as hex values may not only be in lowercase.

Let’s remove the esoteric things; the things that don’t seem relevant. This includes XML whitespace handling, CDATA sections, doubling of name attribute values, the case of pre-defined value sets, and hexadecimal entity references:

  • Documents may not be well-formed.
  • Element and attribute names may not be in lowercase.
  • For non-empty elements, end tags are not always required.
  • Attribute values may not always be quoted.
  • Attribute minimization is supported.
  • Empty elements don’t need to be closed.

Peeling away from these rules, this looks a lot less like we’re working with XML, and more like working with HTML. But we’re not done yet.

“Documents may not be well-formed” suggests that it was fine if HTML code was invalid. It was fine for XHTML to point to wellformedness because of XML’s strict error handling. But while HTML documents work even when they contain severe syntax and wellformedness issues, it’s neither useful for the professional — nor our field — to use and abuse this resilience. (I’ve argued this case before in my article, “In Critical Defense of Frontend Development.”)

The HTML way would therefore not suggest “documents may not be well-formed.” It would also be clear that not only end, but also start tags aren’t always required. Rephrasing and reordering, this is the essence:

  • Start and end tags are not always required.
  • Empty elements don’t need to be closed.
  • Element and attribute names may be lower or upper case.
  • Attribute values may not always be quoted.
  • Attribute minimization is supported.
Examples

How does this look like in practice? For start and end tags, be aware that many tags are optional. A paragraph and a list, for example, are written like this in XHTML:

<p>Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit.</p> <ul> <li>Praesent augue nisl</li> <li>Lobortis nec bibendum ut</li> <li>Dictum ac quam</li> </ul>

In HTML, however, you can write them using only this code (which is valid):

<p>Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. <ul> <li>Praesent augue nisl <li>Lobortis nec bibendum ut <li>Dictum ac quam </ul>

Developers also learned to write void elements, like so:

<br />

This is something XHTML brought to HTML, but as the slash has no effect on void elements, you only need this:

<br>

In HTML, you can also just write everything in all caps:

<A HREF="https://css-tricks.com/">CSS-Tricks</A>

It looks like you’re yelling and you may not like it, but it’s okay to write it like this.

When you want to condense that link, HTML offers you the option to leave out certain quotes:

<A HREF=https://css-tricks.com/>CSS-Tricks</A>

As a rule of thumb, when the attribute value doesn’t contain a space or an equal sign, it’s usually fine to drop the quotes.

Finally, HTML–HTML — not XHTML–HTML — also allows to minimize attributes. That is, instead of marking an input element as required and read-only, like this:

<input type="text" required="required" readonly="readonly">

You can minimize the attributes:

<input type="text" required readonly>

If you’re not only taking advantage of the fact that the quotes aren’t needed, but that text is the default for the type attribute here (there are more such unneeded attribute–value combinations), you get an example that shows HTML in all its minimal beauty:

<input required readonly> Write HTML, the HTML way

The above isn’t a representation of where HTML was in the 90s. HTML, back then, was loaded with <table> elements for layout, packed with presentational code, largely invalid (as it’s still today), with wildly varying user agent support. Yet it’s the essence of what we would have wanted to keep if XML and XHTML hadn’t come around.

If you’re open to a suggestion of what a more comprehensive, contemporary way of writing HTML could look like, I have one. (HTML is my main focus area, so I’m augmenting this by links to some of my articles.)

  1. Respect syntax and semantics.
  2. Use the options HTML gives you, as long as you do so consistently.
    • Remember that element and attribute names may be lowercase or uppercase.
  3. Keep use of HTML to the absolute minimum
    • Remember that presentational and behavioral markup is to be handled by CSS and JavaScript instead.
    • Remember that start and end tags are not always required.
    • Remember that empty elements don’t need to be closed.
    • Remember that some attributes have defaults that allow these attribute–value pairs to be omitted.
    • Remember that attribute values may not always be quoted.
    • Remember that attribute minimization is supported.

It’s not a coincidence that this resembles the three ground rules for HTML, that it works with the premise of a smaller payload also leading to faster sites, and that this follows the school of minimal web development. None of this is new — our field could merely decide to rediscover it. Tooling is available, too: html-minifier is probably the most established and able to handle all HTML optimizations.

You’ve learned HTML the XHTML way. HTML isn’t XHTML. Rediscover HTML, and help shape a new, modern way of writing HTML — which acknowledges, but isn’t necessarily based on XML.

Write HTML, the HTML Way (Not the XHTML Way) originally published on CSS-Tricks. You should get the newsletter.

New business wanted

QuirksBlog - Thu, 09/30/2021 - 12:22am

Last week Krijn and I decided to cancel performance.now() 2021. Although it was the right decision it leaves me in financially fairly dire straits. So I’m looking for new jobs and/or donations.

Even though the Corona trends in NL look good, and we could probably have brought 350 people together in November, we cannot be certain: there might be a new flare-up. More serious is the fact that it’s very hard to figure out how to apply the Corona checks Dutch government requires, especially for non-EU citizens. We couldn’t figure out how UK and US people should be tested, and for us that was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Cancelling the conference relieved us of a lot of stress.

Still, it also relieved me of a lot of money. This is the fourth conference in a row we cannot run, and I have burned through all my reserves. That’s why I thought I’d ask for help.

So ...

Has QuirksMode.org ever saved you a lot of time on a project? Did it advance your career? If so, now would be a great time to make a donation to show your appreciation.

I am trying my hand at CSS coaching. Though I had only few clients so far I found that I like it and would like to do it more. As an added bonus, because I’m still writing my CSS for JavaScripters book I currently have most of the CSS layout modules in my head and can explain them straight away — even stacking contexts.

Or if there’s any job you know of that requires a technical documentation writer with a solid knowledge of web technologies and the browser market, drop me a line. I’m interested.

Anyway, thanks for listening.

position: sticky, draft 1

QuirksBlog - Wed, 09/08/2021 - 7:44am

I’m writing the position: sticky part of my book, and since I never worked with sticky before I’m not totally sure if what I’m saying is correct.

This is made worse by the fact that there are no very clear tutorials on sticky. That’s partly because it works pretty intuitively in most cases, and partly because the details can be complicated.

So here’s my draft 1 of position: sticky. There will be something wrong with it; please correct me where needed.

The inset properties are top, right, bottom and left. (I already introduced this terminology earlier in the chapter.)

h3,h4,pre {clear: left} section.scroll-container { border: 1px solid black; width: 300px; height: 250px; padding: 1em; overflow: auto; --text: 'scroll box'; float: left; clear: left; margin-right: 0.5em; margin-bottom: 1em; position: relative; font-size: 1.3rem; } .container,.outer-container { border: 1px solid black; padding: 1em; position: relative; --text: 'container'; } .outer-container { --text: 'outer container'; } :is(.scroll-container,.container,.outer-container):before { position: absolute; content: var(--text); top: 0.2em; left: 0.2em; font-size: 0.8rem; } section.scroll-container h2 { position: sticky; top: 0; background: white; margin: 0 !important; color: inherit !important; padding: 0.5em !important; border: 1px solid; font-size: 1.4rem !important; } .nowrap p { white-space: nowrap; } Introduction

position: sticky is a mix of relative and fixed. A sticky box takes its normal position in the flow, as if it had position: relative, but if that position scrolls out of view the sticky box remains in a position defined by its inset properties, as if it has position: fixed. A sticky box never escapes its container, though. If the container start or end scrolls past the sticky box abandons its fixed position and sticks to the top or the bottom of its container.

It is typically used to make sure that headers remain in view no matter how the user scrolls. It is also useful for tables on narrow screens: you can keep headers or the leftmost table cells in view while the user scrolls.

Scroll box and container

A sticky box needs a scroll box: a box that is able to scroll. By default this is the browser window — or, more correctly, the layout viewport — but you can define another scroll box by setting overflow on the desired element. The sticky box takes the first ancestor that could scroll as its scroll box and calculates all its coordinates relative to it.

A sticky box needs at least one inset property. These properties contain vital instructions, and if the sticky box doesn’t receive them it doesn’t know what to do.

A sticky box may also have a container: a regular HTML element that contains the sticky box. The sticky box will never be positioned outside this container, which thus serves as a constraint.

The first example shows this set-up. The sticky <h2> is in a perfectly normal <div>, its container, and that container is in a <section> that is the scroll box because it has overflow: auto. The sticky box has an inset property to provide instructions. The relevant styles are:

section.scroll-container { border: 1px solid black; width: 300px; height: 300px; overflow: auto; padding: 1em; } div.container { border: 1px solid black; padding: 1em; } section.scroll-container h2 { position: sticky; top: 0; } The rules Sticky header

Regular content

Regular content

Regular content

Regular content

Regular content

Regular content

Regular content

Content outside container

Content outside container

Content outside container

Content outside container

Content outside container

Content outside container

Now let’s see exactly what’s going on.

A sticky box never escapes its containing box. If it cannot obey the rules that follow without escaping from its container, it instead remains at the edge. Scroll down until the container disappears to see this in action.

A sticky box starts in its natural position in the flow, as if it has position: relative. It thus participates in the default flow: if it becomes higher it pushes the paragraphs below it downwards, just like any other regular HTML element. Also, the space it takes in the normal flow is kept open, even if it is currently in fixed position. Scroll down a little bit to see this in action: an empty space is kept open for the header.

A sticky box compares two positions: its natural position in the flow and its fixed position according to its inset properties. It does so in the coordinate frame of its scroll box. That is, any given coordinate such as top: 20px, as well as its default coordinates, is resolved against the content box of the scroll box. (In other words, the scroll box’s padding also constrains the sticky box; it will never move up into that padding.)

A sticky box with top takes the higher value of its top and its natural position in the flow, and positions its top border at that value. Scroll down slowly to see this in action: the sticky box starts at its natural position (let’s call it 20px), which is higher than its defined top (0). Thus it rests at its position in the natural flow. Scrolling up a few pixels doesn’t change this, but once its natural position becomes less than 0, the sticky box switches to a fixed layout and stays at that position.

The sticky box has bottom: 0

Regular content

Regular content

Regular content

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Regular content

Regular content

Sticky header

Content outside container

Content outside container

Content outside container

Content outside container

Content outside container

Content outside container

It does the same for bottom, but remember that a bottom is calculated relative to the scroll box’s bottom, and not its top. Thus, a larger bottom coordinate means the box is positioned more to the top. Now the sticky box compares its default bottom with the defined bottom and uses the higher value to position its bottom border, just as before.

With left, it uses the higher value of its natural position and to position its left border; with right, it does the same for its right border, bearing in mind once more that a higher right value positions the box more to the left.

If any of these steps would position the sticky box outside its containing box it takes the position that just barely keeps it within its containing box.

Details Sticky header

Very, very long line of content to stretch up the container quite a bit

Regular content

Regular content

Regular content

Regular content

Regular content

Regular content

Content outside container

Content outside container

Content outside container

Content outside container

Content outside container

Content outside container

Content outside container

The four inset properties act independently of one another. For instance the following box will calculate the position of its top and left edge independently. They can be relative or fixed, depending on how the user scrolls.

p.testbox { position: sticky; top: 0; left: 0; }

Content outside container

Content outside container

Content outside container

Content outside container

Content outside container

The sticky box has top: 0; bottom: 0

Regular content

Regular content

Regular content

Regular content

Sticky header

Regular content

Regular content

Regular content

Regular content

Regular content

Content outside container

Content outside container

Content outside container

Content outside container

Content outside container

Setting both a top and a bottom, or both a left and a right, gives the sticky box a bandwidth to move in. It will always attempt to obey all the rules described above. So the following box will vary between 0 from the top of the screen to 0 from the bottom, taking its default position in the flow between these two positions.

p.testbox { position: sticky; top: 0; bottom: 0; } No container

Regular content

Regular content

Sticky header

Regular content

Regular content

Regular content

Regular content

Regular content

Regular content

Regular content

Regular content

Regular content

So far we put the sticky box in a container separate from the scroll box. But that’s not necessary. You can also make the scroll box itself the container if you wish. The sticky element is still positioned with respect to the scroll box (which is now also its container) and everything works fine.

Several containers Sticky header

Regular content

Regular content

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Regular content

Regular content

Regular content

Content outside container

Content outside container

Content outside outer container

Content outside outer container

Or the sticky item can be several containers removed from its scroll box. That’s fine as well; the positions are still calculated relative to the scroll box, and the sticky box will never leave its innermost container.

Changing the scroll box Sticky header

The container has overflow: auto.

Regular content

Regular content

Regular content

Regular content

Regular content

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Content outside container

Content outside container

Content outside container

One feature that catches many people (including me) unaware is giving the container an overflow: auto or hidden. All of a sudden it seems the sticky header doesn’t work any more.

What’s going on here? An overflow value of auto, hidden, or scroll makes an element into a scroll box. So now the sticky box’s scroll box is no longer the outer element, but the inner one, since that is now the closest ancestor that is able to scroll.

The sticky box appears to be static, but it isn’t. The crux here is that the scroll box could scroll, thanks to its overflow value, but doesn’t actually do so because we didn’t give it a height, and therefore it stretches up to accomodate all of its contents.

Thus we have a non-scrolling scroll box, and that is the root cause of our problems.

As before, the sticky box calculates its position by comparing its natural position relative to its scroll box with the one given by its inset properties. Point is: the sticky box doesn’t scroll relative to its scroll box, so its position always remains the same. Where in earlier examples the position of the sticky element relative to the scroll box changed when we scrolled, it no longer does so, because the scroll box doesn’t scroll. Thus there is no reason for it to switch to fixed positioning, and it stays where it is relative to its scroll box.

The fact that the scroll box itself scrolls upward is irrelevant; this doesn’t influence the sticky box in the slightest.

Sticky header

Regular content

Regular content

Regular content

Regular content

Regular content

Regular content

Regular content

Content outside container

Content outside container

Content outside container

Content outside container

Content outside container

Content outside container

One solution is to give the new scroll box a height that is too little for its contents. Now the scroll box generates a scrollbar and becomes a scrolling scroll box. When we scroll it the position of the sticky box relative to its scroll box changes once more, and it switches from fixed to relative or vice versa as required.

Minor items

Finally a few minor items:

  • It is no longer necessary to use position: -webkit-sticky. All modern browsers support regular position: sticky. (But if you need to cater to a few older browsers, retaining the double syntax doesn’t hurt.)
  • Chrome (Mac) does weird things to the borders of the sticky items in these examples. I don’t know what’s going on and am not going to investigate.

Breaking the web forward

QuirksBlog - Thu, 08/12/2021 - 5:19am

Safari is holding back the web. It is the new IE, after all. In contrast, Chrome is pushing the web forward so hard that it’s starting to break. Meanwhile web developers do nothing except moan and complain. The only thing left to do is to pick our poison.

blockquote { font-size: inherit; font-family: inherit; } blockquote p { font-size: inherit; font-family: inherit; } Safari is the new IE

Recently there was yet another round of “Safari is the new IE” stories. Once Jeremy’s summary and a short discussion cleared my mind I finally figured out that Safari is not IE, and that Safari’s IE-or-not-IE is not the worst problem the web is facing.

Perry Sun argues that for developers, Safari is crap and outdated, emulating the old IE of fifteen years ago in this respect. He also repeats the theory that Apple is deliberately starving Safari of features in order to protect the app store, and thus its bottom line. We’ll get back to that.

The allegation that Safari is holding back web development by its lack of support for key features is not new, but it’s not true, either. Back fifteen years ago IE held back the web because web developers had to cater to its outdated technology stack. “Best viewed with IE” and all that. But do you ever see a “Best viewed with Safari” notice? No, you don’t. Another browser takes that special place in web developers’ hearts and minds.

Chrome is the new IE, but in reverse

Jorge Arango fears we’re going back to the bad old days with “Best viewed in Chrome.” Chris Krycho reinforces this by pointing out that, even though Chrome is not the standard, it’s treated as such by many web developers.

“Best viewed in Chrome” squares very badly with “Safari is the new IE.” Safari’s sad state does not force web developers to restrict themselves to Safari-supported features, so it does not hold the same position as IE.

So I propose to lay this tired old meme to rest. Safari is not the new IE. If anything it’s the new Netscape 4.

Meanwhile it is Chrome that is the new IE, but in reverse.

Break the web forward

Back in the day, IE was accused of an embrace, extend, and extinguish strategy. After IE6 Microsoft did nothing for ages, assuming it had won the web. Thanks to web developers taking action in their own name for the first (and only) time, IE was updated once more and the web moved forward again.

Google learned from Microsoft’s mistakes and follows a novel embrace, extend, and extinguish strategy by breaking the web and stomping on the bits. Who cares if it breaks as long as we go forward. And to hell with backward compatibility.

Back in 2015 I proposed to stop pushing the web forward, and as expected the Chrome devrels were especially outraged at this idea. It never went anywhere. (Truth to tell: I hadn’t expected it to.)

I still think we should stop pushing the web forward for a while until we figure out where we want to push the web forward to — but as long as Google is in charge that won’t happen. It will only get worse.

On alert

A blog storm broke out over the decision to remove alert(), confirm() and prompt(), first only the cross-origin variants, but eventually all of them. Jeremy and Chris Coyier already summarised the situation, while Rich Harris discusses the uses of the three ancient modals, especially when it comes to learning JavaScript.

With all these articles already written I will only note that, if the three ancient modals are truly as horrendous a security issue as Google says they are it took everyone a bloody long time to figure that out. I mean, they turn 25 this year.

Although it appears Firefox and Safari are on board with at least the cross-origin part of the proposal, there is no doubt that it’s Google that leads the charge.

From Google’s perspective the ancient modals have one crucial flaw quite apart from their security model: they weren’t invented there. That’s why they have to be replaced by — I don’t know what, but it will likely be a very complicated API.

Complex systems and arrogant priests rule the web

Thus the new embrace, extend, and extinguish is breaking backward compatibility in order to make the web more complicated. Nolan Lawson puts it like this:

we end up with convoluted specs like Service Worker that you need a PhD to understand, and yet we still don't have a working <dialog> element.

In addition, Google can be pretty arrogant and condescending, as Chris Ferdinandi points out.

The condescending “did you actually read it, it’s so clear” refrain is patronizing AF. It’s the equivalent of “just” or “simply” in developer documentation.

I read it. I didn’t understand it. That’s why I asked someone whose literal job is communicating with developers about changes Chrome makes to the platform.

This is not isolated to one developer at Chrome. The entire message thread where this change was surfaced is filled with folks begging Chrome not to move forward with this proposal because it will break all-the-things.

If you write documentation or a technical article and nobody understands it, you’ve done a crappy job. I should know; I’ve been writing this stuff for twenty years.

Extend, embrace, extinguish. And use lots of difficult words.

Patience is a virtue

As a reaction to web dev outcry Google temporarily halted the breaking of the web. That sounds great but really isn’t. It’s just a clever tactical move.

I saw this tactic in action before. Back in early 2016 Google tried to break the de-facto standard for the mobile visual viewport that I worked very hard to establish. I wrote a piece that resonated with web developers, whose complaints made Google abandon the plan — temporarily. They tried again in late 2017, and I again wrote an article, but this time around nobody cared and the changes took effect and backward compatibility was broken.

So the three ancient modals still have about 12 to 18 months to live. Somewhere in late 2022 to early 2023 Google will try again, web developers will be silent, and the modals will be gone.

The pursuit of appiness

But why is Google breaking the web forward at such a pace? And why is Apple holding it back?

Safari is kept dumb to protect the app store and thus revenue. In contrast, the Chrome team is pushing very hard to port every single app functionality to the browser. Ages ago I argued we should give up on this, but of course no one listened.

When performing Valley Kremlinology, it is useful to see Google policies as stemming from a conflict between internal pro-web and anti-web factions. We web developers mainly deal with the pro-web faction, the Chrome devrel and browser teams. On the other hand, the Android team is squarely in the anti-web camp.

When seen in this light the pro-web camp’s insistence on copying everything appy makes excellent sense: if they didn’t Chrome would lag behind apps and the Android anti-web camp would gain too much power. While I prefer the pro-web over the anti-web camp, I would even more prefer the web not to be a pawn in an internal Google power struggle. But it has come to that, no doubt about it.

Solutions?

Is there any good solution? Not really.

Jim Nielsen feels that part of the issue is the lack of representation of web developers in the standardization process. That sounds great but is proven not to work.

Three years ago Fronteers and I attempted to get web developers represented and were met with absolute disinterest. Nobody else cared even one shit, and the initiative sank like a stone.

So a hypothetical web dev representative in W3C is not going to work. Also, the organisational work would involve a lot of unpaid labour, and I, for one, am not willing to do it again. Neither is anyone else. So this is not the solution.

And what about Firefox? Well, what about it? Ten years ago it made a disastrous mistake by ignoring the mobile web for way too long, then it attempted an arrogant and uninformed come-back with Firefox OS that failed, and its history from that point on is one long slide into obscurity. That’s what you get with shitty management.

Pick your poison

So Safari is trying to slow the web down. With Google’s move-fast-break-absofuckinglutely-everything axiom in mind, is Safari’s approach so bad?

Regardless of where you feel the web should be on this spectrum between Google and Apple, there is a fundamental difference between the two.

We have the tools and procedures to manage Safari’s disinterest. They’re essentially the same as the ones we deployed against Microsoft back in the day — though a fundamental difference is that Microsoft was willing to talk while Apple remains its old haughty self, and its “devrels” aren’t actually allowed to do devrelly things such as managing relations with web developers. (Don’t blame them, by the way. If something would ever change they’re going to be our most valuable internal allies — just as the IE team was back in the day.)

On the other hand, we have no process for countering Google’s reverse embrace, extend, and extinguish strategy, since a section of web devs will be enthusiastic about whatever the newest API is. Also, Google devrels talk. And talk. And talk. And provide gigs of data that are hard to make sense of. And refer to their proprietary algorithms that “clearly” show X is in the best interest of the web — and don’t ask questions! And make everything so fucking complicated that we eventually give up and give in.

So pick your poison. Shall we push the web forward until it’s broken, or shall we break it by inaction? What will it be? Privately, my money is on Google. So we should say goodbye to the old web while we still can.

Custom properties and @property

QuirksBlog - Wed, 07/21/2021 - 3:18am

You’re reading a failed article. I hoped to write about @property and how it is useful for extending CSS inheritance considerably in many different circumstances. Alas, I failed. @property turns out to be very useful for font sizes, but does not even approach the general applicability I hoped for.

Grandparent-inheriting

It all started when I commented on what I thought was an interesting but theoretical idea by Lea Verou: what if elements could inherit the font size of not their parent, but their grandparent? Something like this:

div.grandparent { /* font-size could be anything */ } div.parent { font-size: 0.4em; } div.child { font-size: [inherit from grandparent in some sort of way]; font-size: [yes, you could do 2.5em to restore the grandparent's font size]; font-size: [but that's not inheriting, it's just reversing a calculation]; font-size: [and it will not work if the parent's font size is also unknown]; }

Lea told me this wasn’t a vague idea, but something that can be done right now. I was quite surprised — and I assume many of my readers are as well — and asked for more information. So she wrote Inherit ancestor font-size, for fun and profit, where she explained how the new Houdini @property can be used to do this.

This was seriously cool. Also, I picked up a few interesting bits about how CSS custom properties and Houdini @property work. I decided to explain these tricky bits in simple terms — mostly because I know that by writing an explanation I myself will understand them better — and to suggest other possibilities for using Lea’s idea.

Alas, that last objective is where I failed. Lea’s idea can only be used for font sizes. That’s an important use case, but I had hoped for more. The reasons why it doesn’t work elsewhere are instructive, though.

Tokens and values

Let’s consider CSS custom properties. What if we store the grandparent’s font size in a custom property and use that in the child?

div.grandparent { /* font-size could be anything */ --myFontSize: 1em; } div.parent { font-size: 0.4em; } div.child { font-size: var(--myFontSize); /* hey, that's the grandparent's font size, isn't it? */ }

This does not work. The child will have the same font size as the parent, and ignore the grandparent. In order to understand why we need to understand how custom properties work. What does this line of CSS do?

--myFontSize: 1em;

It sets a custom property that we can use later. Well duh.

Sure. But what value does this custom property have?

... errr ... 1em?

Nope. The answer is: none. That’s why the code example doesn’t work.

When they are defined, custom properties do not have a value or a type. All that you ordered the browsers to do is to store a token in the variable --myFontSize.

This took me a while to wrap my head around, so let’s go a bit deeper. What is a token? Let’s briefly switch to JavaScript to explain.

let myVar = 10;

What’s the value of myVar in this line? I do not mean: what value is stored in the variable myVar, but: what value does the character sequence myVar have in that line of code? And what type?

Well, none. Duh. It’s not a variable or value, it’s just a token that the JavaScript engine interprets as “allow me to access and change a specific variable” whenever you type it.

CSS custom properties also hold such tokens. They do not have any intrinsic meaning. Instead, they acquire meaning when they are interpreted by the CSS engine in a certain context, just as the myVar token is in the JavaScript example.

So the CSS custom property contains the token 1em without any value, without any type, without any meaning — as yet.

You can use pretty any bunch of characters in a custom property definition. Browsers make no assumptions about their validity or usefulness because they don’t yet know what you want to do with the token. So this, too, is a perfectly fine CSS custom property:

--myEgoTrip: ppk;

Browsers shrug, create the custom property, and store the indicated token. The fact that ppk is invalid in all CSS contexts is irrelevant: we haven’t tried to use it yet.

It’s when you actually use the custom property that values and types are assigned. So let’s use it:

background-color: var(--myEgoTrip);

Now the CSS parser takes the tokens we defined earlier and replaces the custom property with them:

background-color: ppk;

And only NOW the tokens are read and intrepreted. In this case that results in an error: ppk is not a valid value for background-color. So the CSS declaration as a whole is invalid and nothing happens — well, technically it gets the unset value, but the net result is the same. The custom property itself is still perfectly valid, though.

The same happens in our original code example:

div.grandparent { /* font-size could be anything */ --myFontSize: 1em; /* just a token; no value, no meaning */ } div.parent { font-size: 0.4em; } div.child { font-size: var(--myFontSize); /* becomes */ font-size: 1em; /* hey, this is valid CSS! */ /* Right, you obviously want the font size to be the same as the parent's */ /* Sure thing, here you go */ }

In div.child he tokens are read and interpreted by the CSS parser. This results in a declaration font-size: 1em;. This is perfectly valid CSS, and the browsers duly note that the font size of this element should be 1em.

font-size: 1em is relative. To what? Well, to the parent’s font size, of course. Duh. That’s how CSS font-size works.

So now the font size of the child becomes the same as its parent’s, and browsers will proudly display the child element’s text in the same font size as the parent element’s while ignoring the grandparent.

This is not what we wanted to achieve, though. We want the grandparent’s font size. Custom properties — by themselves — don’t do what we want. We have to find another solution.

@property

Lea’s article explains that other solution. We have to use the Houdini @property rule.

@property --myFontSize { syntax: "<length>"; initial-value: 0; inherits: true; } div { border: 1px solid; padding: 1em; } div.grandparent { /* font-size could be anything */ --myFontSize: 1em; } div.parent { font-size: 0.4em; } div.child { font-size: var(--myFontSize); }

Now it works. Wut? Yep — though only in Chrome so far.

@property --myFontSize { syntax: ""; initial-value: 0; inherits: true; } section.example { max-width: 500px; } section.example div { border: 1px solid; padding: 1em; } div.grandparent { font-size: 23px; --myFontSize: 1em; } div.parent { font-size: 0.4em; } div.child { font-size: var(--myFontSize); } This is the grandparent This is the parent This is the child

What black magic is this?

Adding the @property rule changes the custom property --myFontSize from a bunch of tokens without meaning to an actual value. Moreover, this value is calculated in the context it is defined in — the grandfather — so that the 1em value now means 100% of the font size of the grandfather. When we use it in the child it still has this value, and therefore the child gets the same font size as the grandfather, which is exactly what we want to achieve.

(The variable uses a value from the context it’s defined in, and not the context it’s executed in. If, like me, you have a grounding in basic JavaScript you may hear “closures!” in the back of your mind. While they are not the same, and you shouldn’t take this apparent equivalency too far, this notion still helped me understand. Maybe it’ll help you as well.)

Unfortunately I do not quite understand what I’m doing here, though I can assure you the code snippet works in Chrome — and will likely work in the other browsers once they support @property.

Misson completed — just don’t ask me how.

Syntax

You have to get the definition right. You need all three lines in the @property rule. See also the specification and the MDN page.

@property --myFontSize { syntax: "<length>"; initial-value: 0; inherits: true; }

The syntax property tells browsers what kind of property it is and makes parsing it easier. Here is the list of possible values for syntax, and in 99% of the cases one of these values is what you need.

You could also create your own syntax, e.g. syntax: "ppk | <length>"

Now the ppk keyword and any sort of length is allowed as a value.

Note that percentages are not lengths — one of the many things I found out during the writing of this article. Still, they are so common that a special value for “length that may be a percentage or may be calculated using percentages” was created:

syntax: "<length-percentage>"

Finally, one special case you need to know about is this one:

syntax: "*"

MDN calls this a universal selector, but it isn’t, really. Instead, it means “I don’t know what syntax we’re going to use” and it tells browsers not to attempt to interpret the custom property. In our case that would be counterproductive: we definitely want the 1em to be interpreted. So our example doesn’t work with syntax: "*".

initial-value and inherits

An initial-value property is required for any syntax value that is not a *. Here that’s simple: just give it an initial value of 0 — or 16px, or any absolute value. The value doesn’t really matter since we’re going to overrule it anyway. Still, a relative value such as 1em is not allowed: browsers don’t know what the 1em would be relative to and reject it as an initial value.

Finally, inherits: true specifies that the custom property value can be inherited. We definitely want the computed 1em value to be inherited by the child — that’s the entire point of this experiment. So we carefully set this flag to true.

Other use cases

So far this article merely rehashed parts of Lea’s. Since I’m not in the habit of rehashing other people’s articles my original plan was to add at least one other use case. Alas, I failed, though Lea was kind enough to explain why each of my ideas fails.

Percentage of what?

Could we grandfather-inherit percentual margins and paddings? They are relative to the width of the parent of the element you define them on, and I was wondering if it might be useful to send the grandparent’s margin on to the child just like the font size. Something like this:

@property --myMargin { syntax: "<length-percentage>"; initial-value: 0; inherits: true; } div.grandparent { --myMargin: 25%; margin-left: var(--myMargin); } div.parent { font-size: 0.4em; } div.child { margin-left: var(--myMargin); /* should now be 25% of the width of the grandfather's parent */ /* but isn't */ }

Alas, this does not work. Browsers cannot resolve the 25% in the context of the grandparent, as they did with the 1em, because they don’t know what to do.

The most important trick for using percentages in CSS is to always ask yourself: “percentage of WHAT?”

That’s exactly what browsers do when they encounter this @property definition. 25% of what? The parent’s font size? Or the parent’s width? (This is the correct answer, but browsers have no way of knowing that.) Or maybe the width of the element itself, for use in background-position?

Since browsers cannot figure out what the percentage is relative to they do nothing: the custom property gets the initial value of 0 and the grandfather-inheritance fails.

Colours

Another idea I had was using this trick for the grandfather’s text colour. What if we store currentColor, which always has the value of the element’s text colour, and send it on to the grandchild? Something like this:

@property --myColor { syntax: "<color>"; initial-value: black; inherits: true; } div.grandparent { /* color unknown */ --myColor: currentColor; } div.parent { color: red; } div.child { color: var(--myColor); /* should now have the same color as the grandfather */ /* but doesn't */ }

Alas, this does not work either. When the @property blocks are evaluated, and 1em is calculated, currentColor specifically is not touched because it is used as an initial (default) value for some inherited SVG and CSS properties such as fill. Unfortunately I do not fully understand what’s going on, but Tab says this behaviour is necessary, so it is.

Pity, but such is life. Especially when you’re working with new CSS functionalities.

Conclusion

So I tried to find more possbilities for using Lea’s trick, but failed. Relative units are fairly sparse, especially when you leave percentages out of the equation. em and related units such as rem are the only ones, as far as I can see.

So we’re left with a very useful trick for font sizes. You should use it when you need it (bearing in mind that right now it’s only supported in Chromium-based browsers), but extending it to other declarations is not possible at the moment.

Many thanks to Lea Verou and Tab Atkins for reviewing and correcting an earlier draft of this article.

Let&#8217;s talk about money

QuirksBlog - Tue, 06/29/2021 - 1:23am

Let’s talk about money!

Let’s talk about how hard it is to pay small amounts online to people whose work you like and who could really use a bit of income. Let’s talk about how Coil aims to change that.

Taking a subscription to a website is moderately easy, but the person you want to pay must have enabled them. Besides, do you want to purchase a full subscription in order to read one or two articles per month?

Sending a one-time donation is pretty easy as well, but, again, the site owner must have enabled them. And even then it just gives them ad-hoc amounts that they cannot depend on.

Then there’s Patreon and Kickstarter and similar systems, but Patreon is essentially a subscription service while Kickstarter is essentially a one-time donation service, except that both keep part of the money you donate.

And then there’s ads ... Do we want small content creators to remain dependent on ads and thus support the entire ad ecosystem? I, personally, would like to get rid of them.

The problem today is that all non-ad-based systems require you to make conscious decisions to support someone — and even if you’re serious about supporting them you may forget to send in a monthly donation or to renew your subscription. It sort-of works, but the user experience can be improved rather dramatically.

That’s where Coil and the Web Monetization Standard come in.

Web Monetization

The idea behind Coil is that you pay for what you consume easily and automatically. It’s not a subscription - you only pay for what you consume. It’s not a one-time donation, either - you always pay when you consume.

Payments occur automatically when you visit a website that is also subscribed to Coil, and the amount you pay to a single site owner depends on the time you spend on the site. Coil does not retain any of your money, either — everything goes to the people you support.

In this series of four articles we’ll take a closer look at the architecture of the current Coil implementation, how to work with it right now, the proposed standard, and what’s going to happen in the future.

Overview

So how does Coil work right now?

Both the payer and the payee need a Coil account to send and receive money. The payee has to add a <meta> tag with a Coil payment pointer to all pages they want to monetize. The payer has to install the Coil extension in their browsers. You can see this extension as a polyfill. In the future web monetization will, I hope, be supported natively in all browsers.

Once that’s done the process works pretty much automatically. The extension searches for the <meta> tag on any site the user visits. If it finds one it starts a payment stream from payer to payee that continues for as long as the payer stays on the site.

The payee can use the JavaScript API to interact with the monetization stream. For instance, they can show extra content to paying users, or keep track of how much a user paid so far. Unfortunately these functionalities require JavaScript, and the hiding of content is fairly easy to work around. Thus it is not yet suited for serious business purposes, especially in web development circles.

This is one example of how the current system is still a bit rough around the edges. You’ll find more examples in the subsequent articles. Until the time browsers support the standard natively and you can determine your visitors’ monetization status server-side these rough bits will continue to exist. For the moment we will have to work with the system we have.

This article series will discuss all topics we touched on in more detail.

Start now!

For too long we have accepted free content as our birthright, without considering the needs of the people who create it. This becomes even more curious for articles and documentation that are absolutely vital to our work as web developers.

Take a look at this list of currently-monetized web developer sites. Chances are you’ll find a few people whose work you used in the past. Don’t they deserve your direct support?

Free content is not a right, it’s an entitlement. The sooner we internalize this, and start paying independent voices, the better for the web.

The only alternative is that all articles and documentation that we depend on will written by employees of large companies. And employees, no matter how well-meaning, will reflect the priorities and point of view of their employer in the long run.

So start now.

In order to support them you should invest a bit of time once and US$5 per month permanently. I mean, that’s not too much to ask, is it?

Continue

I wrote this article and its sequels for Coil, and yes, I’m getting paid. Still, I believe in what they are doing, so I won’t just spread marketing drivel. Initially it was unclear to me exactly how Coil works. So I did some digging, and the remaining parts of this series give a detailed description of how Coil actually works in practice.

For now the other three articles will only be available on dev.to. I just published part 2, which gives a high-level overview of how Coil works right now. Part 3 will describe the meta tag and the JavaScript API, and in part 4 we’ll take a look at the future, which includes a formal W3C standard. Those parts will be published next week and the week after that.

Wed, 12/31/1969 - 2:00pm
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