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New Poll: In The Next 10 Years, Will We See CSS Competitor?

Published by Chris Coyier

What do you think folks? Is a new language going to come along in the next ten years that deals with layout / style / design and unseat CSS? Or at least give it a run for its money?

You should vote not based on if there will be any attempt at it, which there certainly will be and already has. But instead if you think one of those attempts will actually make it into native support by a browser with significant market share and see a significant number of web workers building web sites in it.

Full, real time results for this poll and all post polls are in the polls archive.

Comments

  1. A lot can happen in 10 years. Yet, I still feel there wont be anything drastically different than CSS that could compete. Don’t get me wrong I would love to see that happen, but CSS3 and HTML5 have done such great things already it’s hard to see something come up at the same caliber and compete right now.

  2. Luís Marques
    Permalink to comment#

    I believe that webgl will dominate the web in 10 or 20 years.

    The only thing missing is support (getting it right now) and simpler frameworks.

    I also believe that this will unleash an insane amount of creativity by the designers and will bring an incredible evolution to the web.

    • sdvdczxc
      Permalink to comment#

      Agreed. We’ll see more support for Canvas and SVG (which will be awesome), but once browsers start showering WebGL with love…. oh man… it’ll be sweet…

    • Permalink to comment#

      I think you’re right regarding the increasing support and usage. But I don’t think that WebGL/Canvas/SVG will replace CSS because of different purposes.
      The former are used to create experiences in a programmatic way and I don’t see it coming that websites will completly depend on them, because its simply inaccessible.
      The latter however is used to style (HTML) documents.
      These are in my opinion two very different worlds.

    • I totally agree with you nils. CSS and the other technologies are like comparing apples to horses.

  3. Permalink to comment#

    forecasting 10 years for the web is just silly. who knows?

  4. Sara
    Permalink to comment#

    Well that’s kind of like asking if anything will come along to replace HTML. I don’t see anything usurping the place of CSS, but I figure we’ll see more stuff like Sass and Less, more changes to the CSS spec itself, etc. Basically, the tools, frameworks and programming methods will continue to grow and change, but I think CSS is here to stay.

    • Permalink to comment#

      Just what I was going to say. Who knows about 10 years forward, but SCSS/SASS is an awesome addition as of now.

    • Permalink to comment#

      Sass, Haml and CoffeeScript, once you try them you can’t left it.

  5. Bill Ludwig
    Permalink to comment#

    Unless something major happens and we can somehow move past needing to support decades old browsers and computers we can’t move too far. Look how long CSS3 has been in development and were still not there yet, 10 years isn’t that long.

    • Permalink to comment#

      My thoughts exactly, html5 has been in the works for at least three years now, maybe more…. …but browser support is still a landmine. As such, nothing is going to unseat css within 10 years, nor should anything do so. If we want to see new amazing and great things visually… …why wouldn’t we propose them for the css4 spec?

  6. Eloise
    Permalink to comment#

    I think there’s two slightly different things that will prevent it.

    One is that the browsers, W3C etc. are still finalising CSS3, that will take a little while. Then we’ll have a phase when HTML5, CSS3 etc. will bed down and become widespread and hopefully well used on the vast majority of sites. It wouldn’t surprise me if by 2010 or so we’re looking at HTML6 and CSS4 but not a serious alternative.

    The other thing is that you have a lot of players to convince to change. You need a really, really good advantage to do that – if only one browser supports the new tool will you really tie your site to only people that use that browser? You’ve got to be absolutely sure that there’s enough of a gain to persuade everyone to do that, or a massively dominant marketshare and I think neither of those will happen as Android fractures its OS market, RIM may or may not survive, Chrome, Opera, Safari (mobile and desktop), Camino, IE and Firefox fight it out and so on.

    The thing we desperately need is some ability to determine screen size and adjust layout nicely. There are various bodges and hacks for this, but I imagine we’ll shoehorn a best answer into the existing tools rather than rewrite them all for a new styling language.

    • Jason
      Permalink to comment#

      We’ve passed 2010… xD

    • Ryan Sharp
      Permalink to comment#

      Ummm, media queries have been doing that just fine since 2010. JavaScript document.height and document.width has been doing it for over a decade.

      Perhaps you should read more and specualte about things you don’t understand less?

  7. Permalink to comment#

    I don’t know. Since that is not an answer in the poll, I chose “Nope” ;-)

  8. Jason
    Permalink to comment#

    Maybe it will still be called CSS.. But smartest thing will be sticky fat standard built right in the browser, dealing with layout/grids and UI. I was just looking at bootstrap 2.0, beautiful done, but if you think about it, such a shame that that’s even necessary. There are just so many things everyone uses and still have to make it yourself.. Still don’t understand why for instance JQuery isn’t baked into Chrome, or call it JavascriptX, and create better syntaxes and all the stuff Jquery and other frameworks make easier.

    On the other hand, this is what makes the web so diverse. if you look at iOS/Android Apps. They all have about the same GUI. I like it personally, but I am a nerd and think its functional. In a general opinion it’s very boring.

    Reminds me on the CompuServe time, where websites where “channels” I think, and all had the same layout. Was very handy. But again boring.

    So maybe there will come a new language with UI elements and a way to make Apps with a same consistent look and feel that are good natively integrated. Cause the whole webapps things is just horrible in my beliefs, I know it’s a good approuch and I am fully behind it, but it just isn’t as quality/snappy as native software. There’s still a gap, pretty huge one.

    If you look at facebook and myspace. Myspace everyone had the ability to insert CSS and f**k things up with crazy styles, and facebook was stable, boring and consistent (except their privacy statements), and that’s the clear winner. So maybe people tend to creativity/personalizing but in the end want stability and consistency. I don’t know. This is kind of philosophical question Chris :)

    Regards J

  9. It’s more than likely that someone or some organisation somewhere will attempt to introduce a new language. It’s pretty much human nature to try and better what someone else has done. However I don’t thing this will work..

    What I do feel may happen sometime in the future, would be some form of CSS Library/framework, (like jQuery for JS) and (CodeIgniter/CakePHP for PHP).. With things such as media query’s and webkit transitions being introduced, I don’t see it being long until similar “features?” are added to the language.

    I think that would be cool anyway..

  10. Ryan
    Permalink to comment#

    Putting any kind of opinion here in the comments is just setting yourself up for a chuckle in ten years time. “Ha, I was so oblivious! And I nearly forgot this site used to be called CSS-Tricks”.

  11. Permalink to comment#

    I certainly can’t imagine a replacement for CSS ten years from now – but I couldn’t imagine keyframes or media queries ten years ago. And….ten years ago lots of folks thought Flash was king, and now look at it! So maybe CSS will be replaced, maybe it won’t.

    I will predict that CSS libraries and frameworks will develop:
    CSS will be to XXX what JavaScript is to jQuery.

    That, and I predict that CSS will eventually accept variables and many, many events that account for touch devices.

  12. Permalink to comment#

    What about XSL? :P

  13. Conor Haining
    Permalink to comment#

    I can see some browsers processing certain ‘preprocessers’ but nothing that will take over CSS.

  14. Permalink to comment#

    I think stuff from less and sass will find its way into native css and will be available in 10 years … thinking optimistic here ;)

  15. Permalink to comment#

    I’m just hoping we can quit using browser prefixes by then…

  16. Permalink to comment#

    Highly unlikely. People won’t want to switch, browsers have too much invested in CSS and CSS is bringing a lot of features developers have been begging for in its newest iterations. Changing and starting over is ridiculous. We should work to improve CSS, not compete.

  17. Red
    Permalink to comment#

    In ten years, any browser that is not wc3 compliant is automatically deleted from all of cyberspace! I can dream can’t I? :D

    Why? Looking to purchase a new domain name?
    HTTSVGxyz-tricks.com :D lol

  18. Permalink to comment#

    I think that solutions like LESS will be the future of css, a different way to do the same,

  19. cnwtx
    Permalink to comment#

    I think that CSS will become to JS what JS was to flash. Hopefully with keyframes, transitions, transforms, 3dtransforms, gradients, etc, CSS will be able to knock JS out of presentational use completely. But, then we’ve got to deal with all those non-standards browsers, which, hopefully, will be gone by 2022.

  20. Permalink to comment#

    Either CSS will adapt to the demands of users, and the shape of the web, or another consortium will step in and fill the void. The question is not as much whether or not W3C will continue to stay on top of the standard (they have shown over the years that they have every intention of doing so) but rather what shape the standard will take over the next 10 years.

    I would be more interested in seeing more organized dialogue on the evolution of CSS over the decade ahead.

  21. Anything can happen during 10 years, may SASS or LESS be standardized?

  22. Permalink to comment#

    In a context of the visual web, I hope that the fairly natural dichotomy that exists between HTML and CSS continues to be developed.

    CSS may evolve, most likely to become object oriented making things like SASS redundant; while languages like jQuery may rise to even greater prominence by its side to handle animations and mass-market Javascript solutions.

  23. I do think we will see a competitor ::: have to say that I think the current format is restricting web advancement ::: Think about it a couple of years ago we could not have imagined the impact of jQuery, Mootools etc. ::: Try build a “decent” site with these tools ::: So Yes! I really do think advancement ( cross platform ) in css is next on the cards :::

  24. Permalink to comment#

    “A lot can happen in 10 years”.

    I don’t agree. It’s strange. It does seem the web is rapidly innovating but at the same time it is not. 15 years ago I was doing roughly the same thing as I do know, technology-wise. We now have slighlty better CSS, we have jQuery, and numerous frameworks but the core technology is pretty similar.

    Add to that the fact that XUL and SVG both didn’t make it mainstream, as well as any attempt to introduce a new non-backwards compatible technology completely failing, and I can only conclude we’re sticking the course. Having said that, the frameworks will improve, the layout techniques will improve and the tools will improve. I am hopeful that 10 years from now advanced layout management isn’t the pain it is now.

    • Permalink to comment#

      Totally agreed!

    • Permalink to comment#

      I have to agree with this.

      I see HTML & CSS becoming one of those things that will linger for decades, even once something else that’s new and awesome (and *a different concept* rather than a replacement) comes along.

      As a (slightly tangential) example, how many programmers write software these days, to work on an operating system? These days we’ve got programmers writing .NET apps, Java tools, iOS apps and much more, but it seems like the vast majority of people write code *for* the web, or they write HTML/CSS/JS that works *on* the web. As an IT person, you can still make a simple Windows batch file, Apple Script, or unix script, but more likely you’ll be spending most of your time on the web.

  25. Permalink to comment#

    Stupid clients will still be using IE6, so nope!

  26. Permalink to comment#

    Well, yes and no:

    I think at some point poeple will get really tired of writing code in 3+ languages and javascript will take over (think of extjs + nodejs).

    On the other hand, if companies like Adobe get their stuff together and make a good frontend editor, they’ll need css for backwards compatibility.

  27. Anthoni
    Permalink to comment#

    There should be an ‘I hope so’ option to that poll.

  28. Andrew
    Permalink to comment#

    I think the most likely “development” will be a convergence of CSS frameworks( LESS was given as an exmaple above); think what jQuery (etc) has done for Javascript. That’s something I’d welcome as an amateur.

  29. Andrew
    Permalink to comment#

    I think the most likely “development” will be a convergence of CSS frameworks( LESS was given as an example above); think what jQuery (etc) has done for Javascript. That’s something I’d welcome as an amateur.

  30. Permalink to comment#

    I hope not !
    I voted No – css is almost unrecognisable to what it was 15 years ago. I reckon another 10 years will see it developed further (like most people here seem to think).

  31. Permalink to comment#

    No way!

  32. Permalink to comment#

    I think it’s very possible that we will see something emerge that will challenge the use of CSS. It’s very possible that may be something more native to browsers. Either way it goes, it would be shortsighted to think there wouldnt be something more advanced in the next 10 years.

  33. Permalink to comment#

    I hope for the sake of web design that nothing else comes along, its taken Internet Explorer years to get to where its at and now finally with IE9 and IE10, things are really looking promising. You should definitely check out the game Cut the rope that was rebuilt n html5. Heres the link: http://www.cuttherope.ie/ It will show you just how involved the IE team is getting. For the sake of cross browser issues I just dont want to ever go backwards, the web is just such a cool place to be right now.

  34. I hope to be ruling the internet with in ten years!

  35. Permalink to comment#

    i belive that in the next 10 years all the major web developing languages php,html,css, javascript will converge into one that will alow was to program, design and structurate more eficiantly than ever

  36. I don’t see CSS going away, but I do see it progressing and gaining new features / power. I think the LESS framework is a great indication of where things are heading. It would be great if stylesheets became more dynamic and simpler to write and maintain.

  37. CSS has been around for some time, and is used by everything and everyone; it’s set in stone as we might say, and nobody will ever want to take something over it.

  38. I remember reading an article a few months back that talked about how Google was working on a styling language that had some of the SCSS functionality, such as variables and mixins. I can’t find the article anymore, but I think this is something that could replace CSS.

    The use of variables and functions in CSS would be a huge win to a lot of developers, and the increase in popularity of LESS and SASS proves that developers want this functionality. I figure someone is working on getting this functionality directly in the browser.

  39. siggi
    Permalink to comment#

    i don’t think css will be replaced nor will be some new styling “language”.
    as said before by others, css might (hopefully) change in a direction with more functionality like mixins and variables, like sass and less.
    nevertheless the basics of css are profound, well established and pretty straight forward. we might need to discuss further on some details and their implementations, but you can’t beat the basic idea of css: a simple textfile describing the display properties for each element.

    as the use cases for HTML and CSS grow, and they are no longer used for text-based documents only, wee will need to adopt them. things like alternative ways for selcetion chains, a more generic approach to conditional stylings etc. will be subjects to discuss.

    as browsers evolve we migth see alternative ways of rendering CSS (speed vs. quality optimazations). as webgl and 3d options will be more and more adopted in the browsers, some of their options will find their way into CSS (maybe even textures and shaders).
    one major point may also be CSS-scoping to different parts of a page,
    improved namespacing availability and shadow trees (these go hand in hand with HTML and Javascript implementation)

    i think we will see more frameworks (in quantity and quality) for (semi)automated css-generation in the future, as well as something i would call “dynamic CSS” (think cgi for CSS)

  40. Permalink to comment#

    Well, if it does come along in 10 years from now, that means IE will add it 30 years from now and by then I’ll be pushing daisies or retired. (Hopefully retired.)

  41. Chris
    Permalink to comment#

    There won’t be internet in 10 years.

  42. Mayan Witchdoctor
    Permalink to comment#

    CSS in 10 years… blaaaah… have you heard of the Mayan’s prediction about 2012?

  43. Permalink to comment#

    I see CSS still being the norm, but greatly evolved: more animation/transition effects, plus the use of variables. CSS cannot survive without adding variables eventually. I generally use CSS.php files and set the header content type to text/stylesheet so that I can use variables and man, does it ever make a HUGE difference. Set your image path once and reuse it? Check. Set text colors once and reuse it? Check. This and so much more can be made sooo easy with allowing CSS variables. Just my two cents.

  44. Adinan
    Permalink to comment#

    I don’t believe it.
    Css is so esay and simple, maybe some additions in css 4 and so one.
    A feature I sure would like in css4 is something like this:
    .class-base {
    ……
    }
    .class {
    extend: .class-base
    }

    Ps: Excuse my englisth.

  45. Adinan
    Permalink to comment#

    I don’t believe it.
    Css is so esay and simple, maybe some additions in css 4 and so on.
    A feature I sure would like in css4 is something like this:
    .class-base {
    ……
    }
    .class {
    extend: .class-base
    }

    Ps: Excuse my englisth.

  46. Permalink to comment#

    new language? no, never i think CSS will be more complex

  47. I think it’s most likely that there will be a new default method of generating style code, there’s more and more maths required for responsive development and the need for that will only increase, so a dreamweaver for developers, grid based, but still hand styled (an evolution of SASS etc), but in the end it’s output will be css 8 or some such… it’s to well embedded and defacto for a competitor to be ousted I think..

  48. Permalink to comment#

    Chris, this is a good thought experiment. I was impressed that you remembered your responsive design when describing where your poll was located in your design:-)

  49. Permalink to comment#

    Five years ago no one would have ever predicted how portable devices was going to affect the web. I remember back in 07 a co-worker of mine was completely geeked over the iPhone. Today you actually have companies developing operating systems for smartphones because that market is big business. Did the smartphone craze have an effect on the arrival of CSS3? Maybe, maybe not. 10 years from now what will be the new phenomenon and how will that affect CSS? I’m not sure, but where ever there’s a dollar or euro to be made, technology will be in the thick of it.

    CSS is going to get better, no denying that. Trying to replace it is a waste of time in my opinion. It’s place is secure, anything else that comes along will most likely be an extension like a JS library.

  50. Permalink to comment#

    … came in thru about(dot)com, and had that stubborn iframe rendering the page to 3/4 view from top, guess that was CSS :-) I feel certainly that it’s still goin to be the only standard for the next decade … just as many stand-alone codes/scripts do. As opposed to what is happening to Flash/ActionScript. It’s the best thing that got onto webdesign after Flash. As with scripting we do have fashionable experience as opposed to styling,

    ~ fashion goes but style remains. [CSS]

  51. cnwtx
    Permalink to comment#

    Another related question: Will we as designers find ways to make what we have do more? Almost certainly yes. People will figure out how to do stuff we would have thought to been impossible.

  52. I think the way we write CSS will change at least, people are already writing it using SASS and LESS, and while I’m not a fan, many people are using this to write CSS. I’m a purist and think it’s actually easier to just write normal CSS because it’s clearer, but even I have to admit when it comes to adding in extremely long lines of CSS gradients and transitions it’d be nice to have something shorthand

  53. What is differance bitween “ID” And “Class” in CSS?

  54. I don’t think we’ll replace CSS, but I do think we’ll abstract away from it. Other posters have already mentioned solutions like LESS and SASS for CSS, but it could be more fundamental than even that: completely new layout languages that ‘compile’ at preprocessing time to ‘native’ Javascript and CSS.

    At the very least, some kind of superset of CSS has to appear. Without features like mixins and variables, CSS resources for large projects can be quite difficult to keep organized and readable. This , I think, makes consistency and DRY harder to achieve, and the consequences annoy both designers and end-users all round.

    At the very least, I’m hoping that SASS or some similar variant really takes off. The only issue now is getting all our colleagues to jump into SCSS with us…

    • Absolutely I think CSS should get better at scaling for large projects, although I don’t want the simple craft of creating CSS to be abstracted so that it’s far too complicated to see what’s happening. I think CSS should be a simple list of styles, and not a mess of complicated if else or where loops that might make it hard to work with.

  55. Maya say: „No.“

  56. It would be nice and very lazy if you could “program” the functions of a page while doing its lay-out in a image editor (nowdays i’m using fireworks for that), i know that fireworks can also do that, but it just feel too culmsy nowdays. So i think there will be something that does that in a way it actually works.

    also, since the problem with IE is kindof obvious and pcs have useful life of 3 to 5 years, once microsoft makes IE outmatically updated always IE will be fixed, and there will be more problems making your site up to date in a working way then to adapt it to old versions.

    Finally, high resolution screens will become a bigger problem to us then different screen sizes or old browsers. but that i think is gonna happen this year or next year, not in 10 years.

  57. Permalink to comment#

    Some CSS1 stuff is not supported by some old browsers which are still around, so even if there will be a competitor it has to spread to get serious, so it can be used.

  58. Permalink to comment#

    Difficult ….

  59. Permalink to comment#

    I don’t think that CSS will be replaced or get some serious competitor, but it will definetely evolve and will include e.g. features from otf fonts.

  60. There’s no way of telling, but I really wouldn’t expect it. CSS is about as simple and well designed as I can imagine. I really can’t see where there’s room for enough improvement to give a rival enough advantages to make it successful.

  61. Permalink to comment#

    yes maybe

  62. I’d imagine HTML and CSS will continue to evolve and will look quite different in 10 years compared to now. Similar to how CSS3 and HTML5 are big steps compared to the older versions used in the last 10 or 15 years.

    But a direct competitor or replacement? I don’t think so.

  63. Permalink to comment#

    I think CSS will grab some of the features of programming languages. It won’t become one of course!

    Something from PHP, like inheritance and classes…
    Or maybe some alternative technologies will appear and we’ll just laugh from all that stuff like HTML and CSS )))

    As an experiment I tried to create a table-based website layout – that was hell of a day – I just can’t imagen how could one build a nice layout with that :)

  64. Chris W
    Permalink to comment#

    Yeah, I think that a SASS/LESS type language will end up with browser support because of all that can be accomplished with it. It gives the styling that CSS offers and other programming features that languages like PHP or Javascript offer. I just hope all these advances don’t take away from the accessibly we try to bring to websites today.

  65. I love reading all the comments, but I got to say some people have some ideas that sound crazy to me.

    I think CSS is here to stay. HTML is the beginning, and I really can’t think of any serious sites that don’t rely on at least tiny bit of CSS right now. What functionality are we really missing that would cause CSS to be thrown away or replaced? I understand that a lot of people complain about their sites not working properly in all the different variants of browsers. But we need to consider the fact that we might be writing bad code and I know this is difficult thing to do. I personally have only within the last year or so have found ways of writing code where I can do everything I want in my most elaborate design and yet have only minor changes to get IE6 show almost everything.

    If you ask me, “We need to learn to code smarter, and to try our hardest to not use JavaScript.”

  66. Permalink to comment#

    definitely!

  67. Permalink to comment#

    A few people pointed already, but LESS, SASS are good pretenders!

  68. agentsuperdave
    Permalink to comment#

    what a stupid question. why don’t you ask “will there ever be a website with more users than yahoo?” or “will there be an all-encompassing website which half the planet will use daily?”. how old is facebook? nobody dreamed of the money or penetration possible 10 years ago. why is today any different? and most of the answers here relate to technologies and languages already existing today, the lemmings can’t think into the future, and neither can i.

    • I would have asked those questions, but this site is about CSS, so the question was about CSS.

      And I bet you can think into the future a little bit. That’s one of those neat things human beings can do. We can’t SEE the future, but we can guess what is likely to happen based on our own experiences. That’s why the poll is interesting to me. What do people THINK MIGHT happen?

      And it gets even more interesting than that.

  69. In my opinion, everything will happen in the next 10 years. But css will be very power than today. I dont think css will be lost in the next 10 years. and I think a new language no need to come along in the next 10 years. I think css is enough to solve the web standard.

  70. If all browsers can get on the same page you never know what could happen! i.e. render the same formatting.

  71. I am not actually convinced the web is sustainable enough at the moment to last another 10 years without major changes happening soon. I don’t know what needs to happen, but something does. I will be writing an article about this shortly.

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