Article Archives


Filling the Space in the Last Row with Flexbox

Chris Albrecht posted a question on StackOverflow about grids. Essentially: imagine you have an element with an unknown number of children. Each of those children is some percentage of the width of parent such that they make equal rows, like 25% wide each for four columns, 33.33% wide each for three columns, etc. The goal is to fill the space of this "grid" evenly. There are an unknown number of children, so let's say you were going with 25% and …

Thoughts on Media Queries for Elements

Imagine something like these Transformer Tabs as a widget in a fluid column in a responsive design. Depending on the browser window width, perhaps this design is either 4, 2, or 1 column wide. When it breaks from 4 to 2, the column probably temporarily gets wider than it was, even though the screen is narrower. It would be preferable when writing the media query logic for those tabs to consider how much space the widget has available rather …


Flexbox Bar Navigation Demo

Someone wrote in to me asking how to create a simple bar navigation with icons. This is a pretty simple layout thing that could be accomplished loads of different ways. List items as inline-block probably makes the most sense in general.

But I've been enjoying tinkering with flexbox, so I decided to toss it together with that, and it made for a pretty educational example I think.…

css perf

Mark Otto "derping around with measuring CSS performance". Nothing looks particularly concerning to me, to the point where I would change how I do things. The most surprising numbers were in background vs background-color, but Paul Irish debunks that a bit.

There must be something in the water as Ben Frain has dug in a little bit on CSS performance as well. I like Ben's soundbite:

With CSS, architecture is outside the braces; performance is inside

This is

srcset in Chrome

It's worth noting that the srcset attribute for the img element has landed in Chromium (Chrome will get it in 34, Opera 21). Their example: <img alt="A rad wolf." src="pic1x.jpg" srcset="pic1x.jpg 1x, pic2x.jpg 2x, pic4x.jpg 4x"> And:

Stay tuned for the <picture> element

We needed this. The fight was arduous. The solution is good. Other browsers will be on the way. This is notable as once a browser supports something, the tendency is for it to always be supported. Plus …


CSS Gradients

This article was originally published on March 2, 2010. It was updated April 1, 2011, July 20, 2011, and again March 3, 2014, each time to clarify and correct browser prefixes and best practices.

Just as you can declare the background of an element to be a solid color in CSS, you can also declare that background to be a gradient. Using gradients declared in CSS, rather using an actual image file, is better for control and performance.

Gradients are …


Basics of CSS Blend Modes

Bennett Feely has been doing a good job of showing people the glory of CSS blend modes. There are lots of designerly effects that we're used to seeing in static designs (thanks to Photoshop) that we don't see on the web much, with dynamic content. But that will change as CSS blend modes get more support. I'd like to look at the different ways of doing it, since it's not exactly cut and dry.…

Responsive Strategy

Responsive design is a pretty well defined strategy, but how you come at it can vary quite a bit. Brad Frost covers the angles. …

Confused About REM and EM?

Jeremy Church:

While em is relative to the font-size of its direct or nearest parent, rem is only relative to the html (root) font-size.

Jeremy tends to favor em, because of the ability to control an area of a design. As in, scale the type in that specific area relatively. I have tended to like rem because of the ability to scale type across the entire page easily, but I've gotten into issues where that wasn't good enough control …


Float Labels with CSS

You've probably seen this pattern going around. It's an input that appears as if it has placeholder text in it, but when you click/tap into that input, that text moves out of the way and allows you to type there. It's rather clever, I think. Brad Frost has a really good post on it, detailing the pros and cons and such.

Many of the demos I've seen involve JavaScript. The other day I was checking out at, saw …


Stackicons: Doing More with Icon Fonts

The following is a guest post by Parker Bennett. While icon fonts are efficient and easy to use and scaleable and all that, one of the classic "strikes" against them is that the icon can only be one color. Parker has a brand new project that solves that issue in a simple and clever way. I'll let him introduce it for you.


Multiple Simultaneous Ajax Requests (with one callback) in jQuery

Let's say there is a feature on your website that only gets used 5% of the time. That feature requires some HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to work. So you decide that instead of having that HTML, CSS, and JavaScript on the page directly, you're going to Ajax that stuff in when the feature is about to be used.

We'll need to make three Ajax requests. Since we don't want to show anything to the user until the feature is ready …


Sticking Around

I'll be danged if I can find it but someone tweeted to @CodePen the other day something like: "Is it worth it for me to go PRO? Or are you going to up and shut down one day like so many startups do?" It was a hard question to answer, and not because I'm not sure what the answer is.…


Test for Support of SVG as img

Browser support for SVG isn't quite as simple as yes or no. In addition to some quirks on how that support plays out, it depends on how that SVG is being used. One common way is right within an image tag, like <img src="image.svg" alt="description"/>.

How can you detect if a browser supports SVG use in that way?…

Getting started with Gulp

I followed this guide by Mark Goodyear to try Gulp (a Grunt competitor) out. I don't use either of them at a level where I'm qualified to have a strong opinion about betterness. They both work for me. I do enjoy the piping in Gulp how you say "take this, do this, this, and this, then put it here" - rather than configuring a source and destination on each thing like in Grunt.

One hiccup I faced: I was running …


Draggable Elements That Push Others Out Of Way

Aside from a few esoteric tricks involving stuff like the resize handle on textareas, draggable elements is JavaScript territory on the web. E.g. click on element, hold down mouse button, drag mouse cursor, element drags with the mouse, release mouse button to release element. Or the touch equivalents. Fortunately this is well-tread territory. Time tested tools like jQuery UI offer Draggable (and other similar methods) to make this easy.

But recently in trying to achieve a certain effect (see title …


Force Quit a Tab in Google Chrome

Normally Google Chrome is very good at allowing you to close misbehaving tabs. Each tab is like its own little universe so if it crashes it doesn't affect other tabs. That's the whole "multi process" thing that Chrome brought to the WebKit party and was part of the reason for the Blink break-up.

But let's say there is a tab that just won't close. …


International box-sizing Awareness Day

It's February 1st today, which I've decided to declare International box-sizing Awareness Day. In honor of, you guessed it, the most humble and undersung, yet awesome and useful CSS property: box-sizing.…

CSS Regions Matter

On the heels of Håkon Wium Lie's condemning of CSS regions, Sara Soueidan writes about all their benefits. Having read both now carefully, I think Hakon is wrong on each point and CSS regions are quite useful.

Paramount to the discussion:

CSS Regions are not a layout feature — they're a fragmentation feature

Whatever any of us think, Blink is going to yank out early support for regions, mainly citing performance reasons. Weird to me: why was this reported on …

You Might Not Need jQuery

I'm of the opinion that you probably usually do need jQuery (I explain why many times in my latest course on it).

But I'm also of the opinion that reference guides like this a super cool and useful for those of us who came into the world of JavaScript through jQuery. I'll probably reference this thing a zillion times. …


If you need to change the styles of some elements using jQuery, you might use .css(), but that applies inline styles and we generally don't like that. You could add/remove/change a class name to control the style, which is better, but then still only works on matching elements that are currently in the DOM.

This neat mini jQuery plugin by Danny Povolotski actually injects real CSS on the page so all (even future) matching elements get that style. Kinda …


Boxes That Fill Height (Or More) (and Don’t Squish)

It's hard to sum up all the awesome that is flexbox in a little ol' blog post. Although we gave it a shot here. Here, let's just try and focus on one thing that flexbox solves very nicely: the ability to have an arbitrary set of boxes fill up all the available height of a parent box. And not only that, but expand beyond that if needed (not squish them to fit). …


Play and Pause Buttons for YouTube and Vimeo Videos (via Their APIs)

Sometimes you just need to start a video playing by some user interaction on the page other than clicking right on that video itself. Perhaps a "Play Video" button of your own creation lives on your page and you want to start that video when that button is clicked. That's JavaScript territory. And if that video is a YouTube or Vimeo video, we'll need to make use of the APIs they provide. No problem.…


Thought Process of a Front End Problem

Someone graciously takes the time to write in to let me know the fonts on this site look weird in Opera Mobile. What is a poor front end developer to do?

Single Page Refresh for Client Side Data Server Side

UPDATE: I have a newer article "Server Side Mustard Cut" that covers this same ground and has many of the quirks worked out. That's probably a better read.

We recently covered how you could get client-side information and make it available server side. Do real tests on the client, like measure browser window width and do feature tests. Then save that data to a Cookie. Then next time the page is loaded, you'll have that data in a cookie.…

A Dive Into Plain JavaScript

I think jQuery provides so much benefit it still makes sense to use on projects of even modest scope and up. But knowing how to do the simple stuff without it is very good to know, and getting pretty easy these days as long as you "cut the mustard" first.…


Changing Between Spaces and Tabs in Sublime Text

Sublime Text is pretty dang good at making it easy to switch between using tabs and spaces to indent your code. More importantly, it makes it easy to adjust the indentation of code that doesn't match your preference. I thought I'd put this together for reference, as there is a particular sequence of steps for some of the transitions that needs to be followed.…

How fast is fast enough?

100ms is the ultimate goal since that feels instantaneous. 20% faster than a competitor will be noticed. 1000ms is a practical goal, which refers to "Speed Index" (visually and functionally ready) not window.onload.…


When to use target=”_blank”

Anchor links1 may have a target attribute which controls what happens when that link is clicked. One of the possible values of that attribute is _blank, which tells the browser to open a new window (or tab, if that's the user's preference) when that link is clicked.

This used to be "invalid" in HTML (maybe only XHTML?) but people used it anyway since it worked. It's now perfectly valid in HTML5. But are there good reasons to do …

// in CSS

A lot of people, me included, wish we could use // for single line comments in CSS. Tab Atkins explains why it's probably not going to happen, but weirdly enough, you can actually use them now if you're careful.…


The Syntax vs The Spirit

Sometimes I literally can't remember how to write a for loop. Not like funny ha-ha I can't remember how to spell "psychology" but really I can figure it out in a few seconds. Like, go to Google, type in "for loop PHP", click on a promising result, copy and paste, then alter it.

I'm mostly a front-end guy, but I'm essentially a professional programmer. Isn't that ridiculous and embarrassing? Meh.…

Front End Ops

As Alex Sexton laid out, it's a thing. More and more people will be hired to do it specifically and organizations will start thinking of it as an important piece of the pie. These slides by Ian Feather help explain what that might look like.…


When To Use The Button Element

You use it when, uhm, you want a button on your page that users can click, right? Well, unfortunately it's a bit more complicated than that. It's not too bad though, let's figure it out.…

Web Standards Killed The HTML Star

Jeff Croft argues that because the web standards movement did such a good job, the "HTML and CSS guru" of old is a commoditized job. "Diversify or die", he says, meaning level up your abilities in other web tech to remain employed.

I agree with the sentiment. Web standards have become a thing to be thankful for, not a scrappy underdog. Not that we shouldn't keep a keen eye out for wrong turns.

But I don't think HTML/CSS people …

The Intrinsic Value of Blogging

Speaking of writing tips, Matt Mullenweg on how you should write for just two people: yourself, and

a single person who you have in mind as the perfect person to read what you write, almost like a letter, even if they never will, or a person who you’re sure will read it because of a connection you have to them (hi Mom!).…


Words To Avoid in Educational Writing

I'm no English major, but as a writer and consumer of loads of educational (mostly tech) writing, I've come to notice a number of words and phrases that come up fairly often and don't add anything to the writing. In fact, they might detract from it.

This started as a Twitter discussion so I thought I'd write it up more clearly.…


Thank You (2013 Edition)

GROUP HUG! It's that time of year I give ya'll the biggest warmest THANKS I can. CSS-Tricks is the foundation of my career and makes my life possible. And thus it is to you, dear reader, that I owe everything.…


What is the DOM?

A reader recently wrote in asking me what the DOM was. They said they've heard it mentioned and alluded to, but aren't sure they really understand it.

We can fix that. …

On interviewing front-end engineers

Nicholas C. Zakas with a follow up to Philip Walton's article.

Front-end engineers are, of course, specialists. We care about things that seem insane to others: understanding differences between dozens of browsers, pixels vs. ems, PNG vs. JPEG, compatibility of JavaScript APIs, how to construct a DOM to represent a UI, and so on.

The things I look for in a front-end engineer have little to do with traditional computer science concepts.…


Animated GIFs, aside from being megalolfunny, can be tremendously useful in communicating an idea. Like this or this. I get asked often how I make those. There is nothing to it, just use this app.…


Make Sure Your Columns Don’t Collapse Horizontally

You might be familiar with elements collapsing vertically. If an element only contains other elements that are floated, the parent element will collapse to zero height. We often employ the clear fix for that. But if an element doesn't contain anything, it can collapse horizontally as well, which can be quite awkward for layout.…

CSS is 17

Some nice history on the birth of CSS by John Allsopp.…

The Growth of CSS Repos on GitHub

Interesting statistic uncovered by Donnie Berkholz: the number of repos that GitHub classifies as "CSS" (has more CSS in it than any other language) grew 13.6x in 2013. Doubling would be crazy, this is something else entirely. Assuming this isn't a fluke in how GitHub classifies this kind of thing.…

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