Article Archives

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.…


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 …


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

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.…

New Improved Illustrator SVG Export Settings

If you use Illustrator for SVG wrangling, you'll love last night's release. All of the new features make for an easier workflow. Some of them include:

  • Better default code that's easier to hand-edit
  • Better ID's (gone are the days of #foo_1_), with new options for unique IDs or layer names
  • Ability to export individually selected elements at a time
  • Higher quality output of SVG shapes, gradients, patterns, symbols, and masked objects
  • Ability to change the decimal place precision
  • Ability

Animating Your Brand

Donovan Hutchinson kicks off this years 24 ways, the webnerd advent calendar which is always a great way to close off the year.

They have an RSS feed, and since I know that 42% of you read this site with RSS that might be of interest. I've been enjoying as a feed reader.…

Sponsor: Syncano – a serverless architecture to help you build apps more efficiently

Syncano is all about giving creative freedom to the front end developer. Here are a few ways Syncano can make it easier to build apps:

  • Run your own code (Python, Ruby, JavaScript, etc) without setting up any servers.
  • Build your own microservices. A "CodeBox" is a script you can run on our servers, that you can communicate with, that can do things that are too expensive to do on mobile/front end (e.g. use a third-party API, process an image, etc).

I’m personally responsible for every bug on every website

Sorry the website I just sent you the link to wasn't looking right on your phone. I checked it out, and the layout was pretty jacked up. I personally caused that, as I'm solely responsible for each and every website on the internet. My bad, everybody.…

Building for HTTP/2

Rebecca Murphey:

This is everything-you-thought-you-knew-is-wrong kind of stuff. In an HTTP/2 world, there are few benefits to concatenating a bunch of JS files together, and in many cases the practice will be actively harmful. Domain sharding becomes an anti-pattern. Throwing a bunch of <script> tags in your HTML is suddenly not a laughably terrible idea. Inlining of resources is a thing of the past. Browser caching — and cache busting — can occur on a per-module basis.

I can't help …

Metadata Markup

Jeremy Keith looks at the competing standards for the metadata that goes in the head which ultimately helps services such as Slack, Twitter and Facebook to create a preview of the content of a website. Unfortunately the lack of consensus is an annoying problem for developers:

We’ve seen this kind of waste before. I remember when Netscape and Microsoft were battling it out in the browser wars: Internet Explorer added a proprietary acronym element, while Netscape added the abbr element. …


Drag and Drop File Uploading

The following is a guest post by Osvaldas Valutis. Osvaldas is going to show us not only how drag and drop file uploading works, but goes over what nice UI and UX for it can be, browser support, and how to approach it from a progressive enhancement standpoint.

40% Sale in the Shop

Have you been trying to find some kind of SALE happening online today, but coming up empty handed? We have some CSS-Tricks T-Shirts and hoodies in the store at 40% off (use coupon code trikzare4kids) now through Monday.

If you're size Small or XXL/XXXL, most of the designs are available. If you're Medium or Large, not so much, but we hope to have some kind of new fun merch soon.…

Rolling Out Responsive

Redesigning a site with responsive design? The tech stuff can be challenging, but easy compared to the decision-making, process-defining, and organization-wrangling before you even get there. Karen McGrane has a new book on all this stuff called Going Responsive, and this link post links to Chapter 2 of that, published on A List Part.

In other book news, Christopher Schmitt is working on a book around one of those rollout options: retrofitting. And there is a new Ethan …


A New Responsive Font Format for the Web

Nick Sherman gave a fascinating talk at Ampersand earlier this month which was based on an article he wrote called Variable Fonts for Responsive Design. In both the talk and the essay he suggests that we need a new font format to solve complex responsive design problems:

…the glyph shapes in modern fonts are restricted to a single, static configuration. Any variation in weight, width, stroke contrast, etc.—no matter how subtle—requires separate font files. This concept may not seem …


Scaled/Proportional Content with CSS and JavaScript

The web is a fluid place. Different sized screens, yadda yadda yadda. Fortunately for us, the web is ready for it. Text wraps. CSS gives us control over how to size things. What we don't get (easily, anyway) is a way to scale whole element (and it's children) proportionally—retaining its exact layout as it changes size.

We can do it though.…

WPO stats

WPO, as in, "Web Performance Optimizations", I believe.

Case studies and experiments demonstrating the impact of performance optimization on user experience and business metrics.

Real companies, real performance changes, real impact. Ya know, Little things like:

Staples reduced median homepage load time by 1 second and reduced load time for the 98th percentile by 6 seconds. As a result, they saw a 10% increase in their conversion rate.…

Animate box-shadow with Silky Smooth Performance

Neat trick by Tobias Ahlin:

How do you animate the box-shadow property in CSS without causing re-paints on every frame, and heavily impacting the performance of your page? Short answer: you don’t. Animating a change of box-shadow will hurt performance.

There’s an easy way of mimicking the same effect, however, with minimal re-paints, that should let your animations run at a solid 60 FPS: animate the opacity of a pseudo element.…


Pretty bold step for WordPress. Totally new UI. Totally new technologies. No more PHP and MySQL, it's Node.js, React, Flux, Babel, Webpack... the fanciest of fancy modern tooling. Still completely open source.

Matt Mullenweg:

On one hand it seems risky. How much of WordPress' success is based on the epic backwards compatibility and ability to run on nearly any server? Will this ever become the self-hosted variant? At the moment, they are saying "Install JetPack and you can …


On Keeping Breakpoints DRY

The following is a guest post by Eduardo Bouças. Eduardo is back to follow up on his journey of approaching media queries programatically. He'll catch you up on how this started, where it's went, and how that's going.


Creating an Animated Menu Indicator with CSS Selectors

The following article is by James Nowland, a front end developer for Headjam, a creative agency in Newcastle, Australia. James has created a fairly simple little effect here, but one that you might think would require a little JavaScript. Instead, it uses some clever selector usage.


The Cost of Frameworks Recap

A classic blog-and-forth, my favorite form of internet discussion.

Paul Lewis does some research on the performance of differnet frameworks, pitting each of their TodoMVC versions against one another:

For me the results are pretty clear: there appears to be a pretty hefty tax to using Frameworks on mobile, especially compared to writing vanilla JavaScript.

Tom Dale:

Most critics miss the key [value to using a framework]: frameworks let you manage the complexity of your application as it and

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How Our CSS Framework Helps Enforce Accessibility

Ian McBurnie:

A user interface control not only needs to look like a certain control, it must be described as that control too.

What if we could also write our CSS framework in a way that acts as another layer in our line of defense? Read on to find out how!

One of the tricks:

[role=button].btn { /* Gotta be the right role before it gets the styles */ }

Dear CSS-Tricks Reader, Who Are You?

I'd love to gather some anonymous aggregate information about all y'all who read CSS-Tricks. In part, to help guide upcoming content. Also just because it's fun and it will be interesting data for us all to look at.…


Visual Regression Testing with PhantomCSS

The following is a guest post by Jon Bellah, a Lead Front End Engineer at 10up. Jon reached out to us about writing on the idea of visual regression testing, which is a form of CSS testing (i.e. making sure you don't screw up your site by accident). I thought the use-case was particularly interesting: re-architecting CSS (converting to Sass, splitting up files, etc) and making sure there wasn't regressions during that process. Here Jon will go into


Loading Web Fonts with the Web Font Loader

Several years ago the consensus on font loading in the community was that, as a website loads, all fonts should be hidden until the correct resources have been downloaded. Many designers and developers argued that the default font loading method called the “Flash of Unstyled Text”, or FOUT, was an annoyance to users. This is when the fallback web font, say Georgia, is shown on screen first then replaced by a custom font when it loaded. They argued that it …


Recreating the Google Logo Animation with SVG and GreenSock

The following is a guest post by Petr Tichy. Petr writes a lot about animation, interaction, and SVG, so I'm excited to have him here to share some of that expertise with such a fun demo. It's an animation I bet a lot of you have seen before, but feels kinda magical perhaps outside of what it feels like we can do on the web. Like was created by video artists / video editing software. But nope, SVG-can-do-that.


Making a Simple Site Work Offline with ServiceWorker

When Nicolas Bevacqua (of Pony Foo) started talking about a potential guest post, I knew right away we should do something with offline. Nicolas has been writing a lot about the ServiceWorker API and offline stuff is one of the things it was made for. Rather than a theoretical look with code snippets, I thought we could combine that with a demo website with it all working. So that's what we did - take it away Nicolas!


CSS Wisdom from Goofus and Gallant

I found some old Highlights magazines and these Goofus and Gallant characters sure had some prescient wisdom to share.…


The Making of the CSS-Tricks Logo Easter Egg Animation

When Chris first started the CSS-Tricks redesign, he came to me with some screenshots of the direction it was headed in, and suggested that I make an animation for the logo as part of the design refresh. I was excited about this project, and my mind immediately started to shuffle through possible animation and interaction.

I’ve been working a ton with the GreenSock Animation Platform and SVG lately. If you are not aware of it, is worth checking out. It’s …

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Join Telerik on Thursday, Dec 3, 11 a.m. ET, as we show you how you can build the next generation of mobile apps …


Posting Code Blocks on a WordPress Site

Originally published in February 2014, now updated/corrected/expanded.

So you've installed WordPress and want to blog about code. Yay! You're a hero and I thank on behalf of myself an coders everywhere. Here's what you'll need to do and think about to actually get publishing blocks of code.…

Do We Actually Need Specificity In CSS?

Philip Walton:

While it’s not possible to simply instruct the browser to ignore specificity altogether, it is possible to prevent specificity from affecting the cascade for a particular CSS file or set of CSS files.

How? The answer is to make specificity and source order the same.

Imagine a stylesheet in which all rules were ordered from least specific to most specific. In such a stylesheet, since the specificity of the rules also corresponds to the source order or the …


The Image Replacement Museum

CSS image replacement is a technique of replacing a text element (usually a header tag like an <h1></h1>) with an image (often a logo). It has its origins in the time before web fonts and SVG. For years, web developers battled against browser inconsistencies to craft image replacement techniques that struck the right balance between design and accessibility.

Now that web fonts and SVG do much more of the heavy lifting for stylized text on the web, these techniques …


Throttling the Network in Chrome DevTools

The Network tab in Chrome DevTools has an option to faux throttle your network, so you can experience what your users might experience visiting your website on 3G, 2G and GPRS connections. Besides the obvious, it's also useful for visualising how fonts load.

Here’s how to do it in Chrome v.46:

  1. Open DevTools (cmd + alt + i)
  2. Click the ‘Network’ tab
  3. Select which type of connection you want to imitate
  4. Reload the page to see assets downloading at that

font: caption;

Joe Richardson shared this little trick over on CodePen:

body { /* operating system font */ font: caption; }
  • If you're on Ubuntu this will be the Ubuntu Font.
  • If you're on Yosemite this will be Helvetica.
  • If you're on El Capitan this will be San Francisco.
  • If you're on Microsoft this will be Segoe UI.

Not entirely sure the support of this, but if it works for your needs it's a lot easier than declaring them directly or …


Background Image Shapes

The following is a guest post by Joe Markevicius. Joe had a particular design he needed to implement for the BFI's Britain on Film website. Like a true front end developer, Joe considered the requirements and went through many different options to find the best approach. He'll take us through that journey here. I don't know about you but I love this kind of thing.

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Fresh SVG Talks

I'm just back from CSS Dev Conf (Dave and I wrapped it up over on ShopTalk) and it was a pleasant surprise for me to have seen four (!) SVG talks back-to-back on the first day. Just a little confirmation SVG is a hot topic these days. Anytime anyone asked the room who was using SVG, nearly every hand in the room went up. Here's the presentations:

  1. Sara Soueidan (@SaraSoueidan): SVG For Web Designers (and Developers)
  2. Brenda

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