Poll Wrapup: The Number of People Touching CSS

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The last poll around here was:

How many people touch the CSS in your current main project?

Defined as:

  • Actually author and edit it.
  • Or, are an active consumer of it. You/they write HTML and use the CSS available thus have a vested interest in the actual CSS, not just the outcome.

My desire with this poll was to get a sense of how shared CSS is. Is CSS the kind of code that is generally in and out of a lot of different peoples hands and heads? Or is it more intimate than that?

The answer: the vast majority of CSS is handled by a small number of people. Here’s the breakdown:

See the Pen Chart for How many people touch the CSS in your current main project? by Chris Coyier (@chriscoyier) on CodePen.

Over half of the almost 32,000 of you (56%) say that only you touch the CSS on your main project. Another 19% say that just two people touch it. That’s just ahead of small 3-5 person teams with 17%. Medium 6-10 person teams make up only 3%, surprisingly a slightly smaller number than huge 25+ person teams at 4%. The smallest chunk was large 11-25 person teams at only 1%.

Breaking it down another way, just about three quarters of CSS is only touched by one or two people. Add in small teams, and 92% of CSS is touched by 5 or less people.

So what is to be learned here? Well, like all one-question anonymous non-scientific polls, probably not much. What motivated me to do the poll was to get a sense of exactly what I asked. How many of you CSS authors out there are collaborating on the very CSS files themselves, and to what degree. When someone asserts that CSS must be written such that anyone can jump in and work, how true is that? Are style guides and elaborate comments an overall best practice, or only appropriate sometimes? Are your weird CSS writing habits OK if you are a loner? Or will you suffer? Are team-oriented best practices too slow?

I don’t have the answers. But it’s interesting to see how generally-few people touch CSS overall.

It certainly would be interesting to compare that to other kinds of code. There are typically way more back end developers at companies, right? Does that mean the teams are larger and more people are in and out of their code? Does it vary by language?

New poll tomorrow.