An Event Apart Notes: Nicole Sullivan, Our Best Practices are Killing Us

Grep to for analyze css.

CSS duplication is a web-wide problem.

Started helping facebook optimize thier site and they had 1.9MB of css loading. The same color showing up hundreds of times. Many many color statements and declarations.

  • !important declarations get dangerous. Sites found to have over 500 !important declarations!
  • float is a serious problem when there are a lot of them. It’s better to use some sort of abstraction rather than floating everything for layout.
  • font-size: there should not be a need for more than half a dozen size declarations, use abstraction!

insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

We all have this problem of duplication. CSS (like JS) will let you do anything you want (even if it’s stupid). But we don’t have to do stupid things!

New Best practices

  • Pixels for fonts: became frowned on with ie6, but all modern browsers use pixels, ems and percentages just fine. Why not avoid percentage and ems because they have significant drawbacks and compounding effects.
  • Adding extra syntax/markup: separations of concerns – make functionality overlap as little as possible. Solve one problem at a time and use extra mark-up judiciously (don’t go nuts with dives, but also don’t strip out too much and introduce bugs).
  • Semantics: class names and ids are not usually read by end users, so let’s make sure class names and ids work well for developers. More is not always better. Create abstractions that solve problems one time. Don’t couple CSS too tightly to the content or the display. DRY (Don’t Repeat Yourself – Every piece of knowledge must have a single, unambiguous, authoritative representation within a system).
    Media block (like a SLAT in dan’s talk). Separate structure from chrome (design). May have some extra css class names or divs, but it will cut html and css overall.
  • Classitis: use specificity to accurately target elements. Class order in attribute doesn’t matter, but order in the actually cascade. Specificity grows over time and you end up coding via firebug. !important is like nuclear trump in CSS. Avoid the nulcear option: keep specificity low: avoid IDs, inline styles, !important, and very complex selectors. Apply classes to the element we are trying to affect (not to a parent node). Use class “h6” along with h3 elements for visual and code semantics to play nicely.

Great developers can build amazing things if we move worst-best practices out of our way.

oocss – join the oocss google group