Article Archives

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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.…

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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.…

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 Digg.com 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. …

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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 …

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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 …

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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.…

Calypso

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 WordPress.org variant? At the moment, they are saying "Install JetPack and you can …

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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.

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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.

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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 */ }
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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.…

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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

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