border-radius support represented the crowning, final achievement of web browser technology.
But all of a sudden, things started picking up. Flexbox came out, representing the first new and widely adopted layout method in over a decade. And Grid came shortly after that, sweeping away years of hacky grid frameworks into the gutter of bad CSS practices.
And now it’s 2019, and the Flexbox Cheatsheet tab I’ve kept open for the past two years has now been joined by a Grid Cheatsheet, because no matter how many times I use them, I still need to double-check the syntax. And despite writing a popular introduction to CSS-in-JS, I still lazily default to familiar Sass for new projects, promising myself that I’ll “do things properly” the next time.
Starting from scratch
Coming up with the idea for a CSS survey was easy, but deciding on the questions themselves was far from straightforward. Like I said, I didn’t feel confident in my own CSS knowledge, and simply asking about Sass vs. Less for the 37th time felt like a missed opportunity…
Thankfully, the CSS Gods decided to smile down upon me: while attending the DotJS conference in France I discovered that, not only did fellow speaker Florian Rivoal live in Kyoto, Japan, just like me; but that he was a member of the CSS Working Group! In other words, one of the people who knows the most about CSS on the planet was living a few train stops away from me!
Florian was a huge help in coming up with the overall structure and content of the survey. And he also helped me realize how little I really knew about CSS.
You don’t know CSS
I’m not only talking about obscure CSS properties here, or even new up-and-coming ones, but about how CSS itself is developed. For example, did you know that the development of the CSS Grid spec was sponsored by Bloomberg, because they needed a way to port the layout of their famous terminal to the web?
Did you ever stop to wonder what
top: 30px is supposed to mean on a circular screen, such as the one on a smartwatch? Or did you know that some people are laying out entire printed books in CSS, effectively replacing software like InDesign?
Talking with Florian really expanded my mind to how broad and interesting CSS truly is, and convinced me doing the survey was worth it.
About that divide…
Myself, personally, I’ve always enjoyed being a generalist in the sense that I happily hop from one side of the great divide to another whenever I feel like it. At the same time, I’m also wholly convinced that the world needs specialists like Florian; people who dedicate their lives to championing and improving a single aspect of the web.
Thankfully, I feel like a minority of developers hold those views, and those who do generally hold them do so out of ignorance for what the “other side” really stands for more than any well-informed opinion.
So that’s where the survey comes in: I’m not saying I can fill up the divide, but maybe I can throw a couple walkways across, or distribute some jetpacks — you know, whatever works. 🚀
If that sounds good, then the first step is — you guessed it — taking the survey!
i love this part
I usually do backend development now after years of frontend development, and recently got sucked into a frontend project. I was immediately amazed that CSS had actually changed! Since when we are allowed to use this flex nonsense? I go to caniuse and it says I can use the things! When did this happen?
Back in my day, all we had was floats and when things went wrong, border: 1px solid red, AND WE WERE THANKFUL!
So I thank you for this post. It’s a reminder that in any field you can scratch any expert, and you’ll still find some dude muddling his way through, just at a slightly higher level due to years of acquired wisdom, and to never stop learning ;)