The Way We Talk About CSS

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There’s a ton of very quotable stuff from Rachel Andrew’s latest post all about CSS and how we talk about it in the community:

CSS has been seen as this fragile language that we stumble around, trying things out and seeing what works. In particular for layout, rather than using the system as specified, we have so often exploited things about the language in order to achieve far more complex layouts than it was ever designed for. We had to, or resign ourselves to very simple looking web pages.

Rachel goes on to argue that we probably shouldn’t disparage CSS for being so weird when there are very good reasons for why and how it works — not to mention that it’s getting exponentially more predictable and powerful as time goes by:

There is frequently talk about how developers whose main area of expertise is CSS feel that their skills are underrated. I do not think we help our cause by talking about CSS as this whacky, quirky language. CSS is unlike anything else, because it exists to serve an environment that is unlike anything else. However we can start to understand it as a designed language, with much consistency. It has codified rules and we can develop ways to explain and teach it, just as we can teach our teams to use Bootstrap, or the latest JavaScript framework.

I tend to feel the same way and I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about how best to reply to folks that argue that “CSS is dumb and weird.” It can sometimes be a demoralizing challenge, attempting to explain why your career and area of expertise is a useful one.

I guess the best way to start doing that is to stand up and say, “No, CSS is not dumb and weird. CSS is awesome!”