Article Archives

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Planning a Tech Event in 6 Months

The following is a guest post by Brad Westfall. I ran into Brad at a conference not long ago and we talked about potential guest post ideas. Brad recently ran a conference of his own, CSSDay.io, and as you would expect he is full of thoughts on that experience. The perfect time to write!

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The Current State of Web Security (An Interview with Anselm Hannemann)

Anselm Hannemann recently made a post about some of the misconceptions that front-end developers might have about web security. Since I had lots of questions about these things, I thought I'd interview Anselm to get his take on the surprising complexity of getting set up with HTTPS. We talk about things like generating certificates and how we might best make sense of the conflicting opinions many developers, including myself, have about third-party services such as Cloudflare.

The HTTPS-Only Standard

A project by the U.S. General Services Administration that outlines how Federal agencies should implement basic web security, going into great detail as to why government websites should always use HTTPS over HTTP:

HTTP has become central to today’s way of life. HTTP is currently the primary protocol for applications used on computers, tablets, smartphones, and many other devices. As our dependency on the internet has grown, the risk to users' privacy and safety has grown along with it. Every …

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A _______ of JSON

JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) is a lightweight data-interchange format. It is easy for humans to read and write. It is easy for machines to parse and generate. Yadda yadda yadda.

But what do you call a small amount of it?…

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Designing A Product Page Layout with Flexbox

The following is a guest post by Levin Mejia, a Designer Advocate at Shopify. Shopify uses flexbox in a new theme they developed and they wanted to share some of the techniques they used to do it here. To that I say: yes please.

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Influencing Web Layouts with Print Layouts

Jen Simmons has a compelling talk (video) where she calls out web design as being far too dominated by the HEADER CONTENT SIDEBAR FOOTER pattern we're all too familiar with. Print design, despite so often being dubbed "dead" or in massive decline by those of us in web design, still excels in quality and variety of layout.

Certainly we can learn from print design on the web, yeah?…

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The Sass Ampersand

The following is a guest post by Rich Finelli. Rich told me he used to have some trouble with the special ampersand character in Sass, but then had a bit of an epiphany and wanted to share that understanding (it's powers and limitations) with others. My favorite!

The & is an extremely useful feature in Sass (and Less). It's used when nesting. It can be a nice time-saver when you know how to use it, or a bit …

Moving Along a Curved Path in CSS

motion-path is specced and already has some support. But there is another way to replicate curved motion paths, as Tobias Ahlin points out:

... if we add a container around the object we want to animate, we can apply one timing function for the X-axis, and another one for the Y-axis. Below, we're using ease-in for the X-axis, and ease-out for the Y-axis.…

Optimizing SVGs for Web Use

An in-depth series of posts by Andreas Larsen that walks us through the process of how to (hand) optimize SVGs. He suggests optimizations that it's unlikely software could do for you. Things like changing the viewBox size to accommodate simple, rounded integers.

Adding this one to our compendium of SVG info.…

Safari 9.1

There are lots of exciting new features rolling out in Safari 9.1 such as support for the picture element, enhancements to the web inspector, CSS variables and gesture events for iOS. Although, what I’m most excited for is the OpenType support with properties such as font-feature-settings and its variants like font-variant-ligatures and font-variant-caps, all of which give us more fine-tuned control over typesetting.

You can play around with these new features in the OSX 10.11.4 and iOS 9.3 betas …

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What is Bikeshedding?

The #1 place I hear people use this unusual term is standards people talking about standards stuff. It's not an intuitive term, but what it means is quite a useful and short way to describe a certain situation.…

Sponsor: ​LightCMS

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If you're thinking about switching CMS providers, or even …

Swiss in CSS

Swiss in CSS is a delightful project by Jon Yablonski that recreates posters made in the International Typographic Style, a visual design movement that began in the 1940s.

Open the examples in CodePen to take a look at how each of them work under the hood.…

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Thank You (2015 Edition)

GOSH! Don't the years roll by fast? It's that time of year to say "Thank you!" I am grateful for the CSS-Tricks community: you read, help me, and help each other be better at our craft. It is each of you that has made this site what it is today. We get mushy on you every year, if you're keeping track.…

DuoTone themes

Some classy understated themes for Atom by simurai. This might be the little thing that gets me to try switching to Atom. I gotta imagine people will port them over to other apps, though.…

A Few Picks from 24 Ways 2015

Strong year for 24 Ways! The whole archives is worth browsing through and bookmarking the articles that most interest you. Here's some of our favorites:

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Should I use a video as a background?

A reader writes in:

I've seen done beautifully, but I'm having a hard time finding any articles on best practices. I try to steer clients away from wanting video background even though it's hard to argue against it because it does look stunning when done right.

"Look at my competitor's website, they have a video!! You can do it!!", they say.

The problem I run into is when a client actually sends me a video they want to use, it's …

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`flex-grow` is weird. Or is it?

The following is a guest post by Manuel Matuzovic. It illustrates how flex-grow works, weird quirks and all. Then he goes into several examples on how common layout patterns may be implemented using flex-grow and flex-basis.

When I found out about flex-grow, I made a simple demo to find out what it did and how it worked.
I thought I got everything figured out, but when I tried it on a website a colleague has recently made, …

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Click SVG Element to Focus (and Style)

A reader writes in:

Is there anything on your site that shows me how to make an SVG clickable using CSS? As in, I have an SVG and I click on part of it and it should reveal an outline on that part of the element? I have a telephone interview Tuesday for a job as a remote SVG Illustrator and I don't want to look like a turkey.…

The Website Obesity Crisis

Maciej Ceglowski’s latest talk is all about front-end performance, the advertising bubble and surveillance on the web. It’s interesting that he argues how each of these separate problems are really interrelated issues that ultimately damages how the web is built.…

Sponsor: Christmas Came Early (Take 20% Off Top Design Resources at Creative Market)

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New Poll: “front” “end” ughck.

I don't think it causes confusion, but there doesn't seem to be any consensus on how we write out the word front end. I had to make a choice right there. My preferred style, for now, is just that: front end. But I figured it would be a fun and potentially interesting poll to see what everyone thinks. Voting in the widget in the sidebar (large screen) or somewhere-down-there (small screen).…

TypeKit Starts Using Native Font Loading API

Typekit has updated the WebFont Loader project with support for the new CSS font loading API:

Before the introduction of the native API, we detected font loading by inserting test elements in the page. These elements were regularly polled for width to see if the font had loaded. This process is very expensive because it triggers a page wide style reflow each time the elements are checked. Using the native API, we can bypass this process completely, which results …

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Poll Results on Performance Culture

Our latest poll asked:

What's the web performance situation on your main project?

Then provided five possible answers related to the general attitude of the team as it relates to web performance, ranging from "everybody cares" to "nobody cares".

With over 13,000 votes, the data is in!…

Building a Better Web Browser

James Mickens, an associate professor of computer science at Harvard, gave a talk about the various flaws of web browsers and how we might go about making them more secure and robust:

To fix the browser, we need to radically restructure the browser architecture…so in particular I propose that we dramatically narrow the responsibilities of the browser itself and give more responsibilities to web pages. So in this new model the web developer defines her own rendering engine and her …

ShopTalk 2015 Holiday Gift Guide

There are some things Dave and I talk about regularly on ShopTalk. Certain hardware we use. Software we like. Books we recommend. Services that make life easier. We rounded them up into a little list for the holidays. Enjoy!…

Smaller, Faster Websites

Mat Marquis’ talk from TXJS 2015 is a rallying cry for performance, responsive images and trying to build websites in the most conscientious way possible:

We, as an industry, have nearly decided that we’re doing a great job as long as we don’t count the cases where we’re doing a terrible job. We want the user to think about The Website—to sympathize with us—over their reason for being there. We’re making them sit through a lecture about furniture design …

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SMIL is dead! Long live SMIL! A Guide to Alternatives to SMIL Features

SMIL, SVG’s native animation specification, has been highly regarded because it offers so many bells and whistles for performant SVG animation rendering. Unfortunately, support for SMIL is waning in WebKit, and has never (nor will likely ever) exist for Microsoft’s IE or Edge browsers. Have no fear! We’ve got you covered. This article explores some of those SMIL-specific features and delves into the alternatives to achieve the same effects with a longer tail of support.…

CSS-Tricks Chronicle XXV

It's been a few months since I've done a Chronicle post around here. There are the posts in which I catch you up with all the goings on of the site and myself. A roundup of life, if you will.…

Sponsor: An Event Apart

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What is going to an An Event …

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Using Multi-Step Animations and Transitions

CSS animations are rad and the concept is fairly simple. Name the animation, define the movement in @keyframes and then call that animation on an element. If you haven't worked with them, you can level up on the syntax right here in the Almanac.

While the concept is simple, there are little tricks to make the animations seem complex and one of those is multi-step transitions. That's what we're going to look at in this post.…

Caring about OpenType features

Type aficionado Tim Brown has written a great piece about how to make typographic enhancements with the OpenType features of a web font. These additions can be subtle, such as ligatures and small caps, but other tools such as kerning or contextual alternates can often have a big impact on the overall reading experience:

More than fancy swashes and superfluous ligatures, OpenType features are font superpowers. The best, most capable typefaces are full of sophisticated reasoning and delightful surprises …

Intrinsic Placeholders with the Picture Element

By using intrinsic ratios and the picture element, Dave Rupert describes his attempts to stop the clunky page reflow when images load on a page. He also shows us how it’s possible to style this element with a background-color to give users a more elegant loading experience.…

Getting Started with the WordPress Customizer

The following is a guest post by Scott Fennell, a WordPress theme & plugin developer in Anchorage, AK and a regular contributor around here.

Let's say you have a client whose business is large enough to have several departments. Now let's say that this client wants each of their departments to have their own website on a dedicated domain. Each site is to have the same layout, but a different color scheme. This is a phenomenal use-case for the …

Why I’m Excited About Native CSS Variables

Philip Walton:

Native CSS variables weren’t just an attempt to copy what CSS preprocessors could already do. In fact, if you read some of the initial design discussions, you’ll see that most of the motivation for native CSS variables was to make it possible to do things you can’t do with preprocessors!

CSS preprocessors are fantastic tools, but their variables are static and lexically scoped. Native CSS variables, on the other hand, are an entirely different kind of variable: …

I Turned Off JavaScript for a Whole Week and it Was Glorious

As you can imagine, I ran into some problems. Netflix wouldn’t work. Neither would YouTube, at least not without turning on Adobe Flash, which would kind of defeat the point of turning off JavaScript. And of course you can forget using Google Docs without JavaScript.

But the most surprising thing is that most things just worked. And in many cases, worked better. Pages loaded nearly instantly, my laptop battery lasted longer, and I could browse the web with fewer distractions.…

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The “Blur Up” Technique for Loading Background Images

The following is a guest post by Emil Björklund. Filter effects in CSS have been around for a while, and together with things like blend modes, they bring new possibilities for recreating and manipulating stuff in the browser that we previously had to do in Photoshop. Here, Emil explores a performance technique using one of the more forgotten filter effects – the filter function – as well as recreating it with SVG.…

Some Great Flexbox Links Lately…

  • Flexbox Froggy: A game from Thomas Park where by you learn about differnet flexbox properties and values by positioning a frog.
  • Flexbox Grid Finesse: Heydon Pickering shows off that useful feature of flexbox where a grid with leftover boxes can be distributed along the final line. But you can caress things a bit ensuring you don't get a 4-4-4-1 situation and instead get a 4-4-3-2 situation with some min-width and :nth-child stuff.
  • Flexbox’s Best-Kept Secret: Sam Provenza

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A Guide to 2016 Front End Conferences

It's difficult to keep track of all of the great talks and conferences happening in our industry. Sometimes you may find out too late that an event is taking place, and it's a real shame when it's an something you might have attended. We've compiled this list so you can see what's happening, both in your hometown, and abroad. This list will be updated throughout the year.…

Putting Thought into Things

A 2014 article from Information Architects on the process of modern day web design:

  1. Make a tree structure
  2. Photoshop the Home, Section, and Article pages
  3. Hack on WordPress or one of its cousins
  4. Fill in the content
  5. Complain that people are stupid, or evil, or both

Do web projects fail because everybody except us is stupid? Or evil? Or both? Is it because small agencies get small budgets and no time? Because established web designers lie a lot? Because while …

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Password Strength `meter`

The following is a guest post by Pankaj Parashar. Pankaj is our resident expert on all things <progress></progress> and <meter></meter> and this post is more evidence of that. Here, he walks us through implementing a password strength meter using what is likely the semantically best option.

Building and Shipping Functional CSS

Cole Peters has written a great piece on his work refactoring the TrialReach CSS codebase:

A functional approach to CSS has thus far played out really well for us at TrialReach — we’ve significantly reduced complexity and bloat in our CSS, and find ourselves reusing existing styles far more often than we create new ones...

A few quick notes about Cole’s post that I find interesting:

  • The style guide acts as a guide, rather than as a final arbiter
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Creating a Web Type Lockup

A type lockup is a typographic design where the words and characters are styled and arranged very specifically. Like the design is literally locked in place. This idea is slightly at-odds with the responsive web that we know and love, where text is fluid and wrappable and whatnot. Yet, the design possibilities of lockups are very appealing. I think we can hang onto what makes them awesome while still holding onto what makes the web awesome.…

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