Answers from AMA on Hashnode

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I recently did an AMA on Hashnode and it was lots of fun! I enjoyed the questions and the simple format. I figured I’d plop some of my answers here in the spirit of blogging.

Michele Bourdon: Are you a fan of CSS frameworks? What do you think of them?

Maybe a telling fact: I’ve never used one for a real project.

When I’m the CSS lead on a project (kinda my thing), I feel most comfortable when I’m intimately familiar with everything happening in the stylesheets. I get that intimacy by writing it (and reviewing what other people write). Not to mention I enjoy writing CSS.

I get squirmy when using any outside CSS at all.

But as usual, I’m of two minds. I’m also extremely impressed by some CSS frameworks. Bootstrap is kind of amazing and I feel like the “ugh, bootstrap is everywhere blah blah” sentiment is overblown and unnecessary. I’m super impressed by Foundation. I think it’s approach is probably my favorite (I get good results applying it to raw semantic markup.) It’s starting to get a little weird though recently with all the different varieties native apps and stuff.

For the teams out there that don’t really have a CSS lead, or don’t have one that is excited about that being their job, you can likely get a lot of productivity out of a framework.

There are also about 20 billion of them because of this weird thing that happens where people that have some success writing CSS from scratch want to turn their thinking into a framework for the rest of the world.

Ida Hansen: How do you maintain and manage both CodePen and CSS-Tricks?

A photo was recently taken of me proving that I actually have three hands.

Also a tiny monster forces me to code quickly.

But really, this is my favorite quote about productivity.

I just work on stuff and that’s it. I don’t even work particularly hard. I just checked my RescueTime and it’s kind of embarrassing actually. It’s not even 8 hours a day. I need to up my game there.

Also, if it’s not clear, I’m a founder at both CSS-Tricks and CodePen, but many people work on both projects. Here’s the CSS-Tricks Team and the CodePen Team. I also do ShopTalk Show with my friend and co-host Dave Rupert.

Pankaj Parashar: What are your thoughts about Atomic CSS?

It weirds me out.

I’m not super compelled by it.

But, I know some very smart people that ARE compelled by it. I would use this kind of thinking:

  1. Can we be comfortable and productive with this thing?
  2. Does it seem like this thing will serve us well into the future?

If both of those questions get confident YES’s, use the thing and ignore the nay-sayers.

Fred Copeland: What made CodePen a huge success, given that the front-end world already had jsFiddle, Plunker etc?

Thanks for considering CodePen a huge success. Time will tell, on that one, but I’m very confident!

It’s true that tools like jsFiddle and JSBin predate CodePen, and CodePen was born in their shadow. We had this consideration: “What are the coolest demos people have made on jsFiddle, TODAY?” How do you find them? Who decides that?

Based on that, we decided to make the homepage of CodePen a showcase rather than the editor itself. We decided to have user accounts and make CodePen a social network in addition to a code editor. We decided we’ll pick some of the best work on CodePen and show it to you. We decided we’ll use algorithms to determine popular work, so you have a voice in what is popular as well. The community that came out of that is what makes CodePen different. Well, one of many things ;)

Sirwan Afifi: What tech/language/framework you’re going to utilize in the next 6 months?

The biggest project going right now is Rails, but React/Redux inside of it, and SCSS/PostCSS.

(From another related question:) I’d prefer nobody in the world picks a JavaScript framework based on what I use. I’m a follower in that regard, and definitely not qualified to be a trendsetter.

Why did object-oriented CSS (ala @stubbornella) never take off?

I think it did! Just in a more insidious and effective way. Nicole’s lessons were things like…

  • Be very careful about specificity
  • Think in patterns
  • Use classes a lot
  • Use tools and analytics and heuristics to inform CSS choices

If any of these things seem obvious now, know that they weren’t always. Even if we don’t call it OOCSS much anymore, Nicole was way ahead of the curve on this stuff and influenced how the community thinks about CSS immensely.

A bunch more on the AMA page.