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Cascading Style Systems

New CSS features are shipping at an unprecedented rate – cascade layers, container queries, the :has() selector, subgrid, nesting, and so much more. It’s a good time to step back and understand how these tools fit together in a declarative system – a resilient cascade of styles.

This workshop is available to companies as well as conferences.

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It’s an exciting time, but the list can also feel overwhelming. Do I really need grids if I already know flexbox? What problem do layers actually solve? Should I rewrite my styles with each feature release, or stick with the tools that I know?

If you ever feel lost in the CSS weeds, wrestling with the cascade, or you just want to improve your workflow with modern, efficient, and maintainable stylesheets, then this workshop is for you! We’ll approach the language as a cohesive system, learn new features along the way, and then put it all in practice with a resilient approach to CSS architecture.

Join Miriam for a deep dive into what makes the language work, and how we can harness its power to develop resilient and delightful experiences that hold up across browsers, languages, and device interfaces.

This workshop is intended for designers & developers with at least a basic understanding in HTML and CSS. You don’t need to be an expert to keep up, but even the experts are likely to learn something new.

The workshop is taught in five sessions, each with two parts:

1. Resilient Styles: a Declarative Cascade

First, Do No Harm

CSS is fundamentally different from other languages or design tools, built around a radical vision for contextual style and user-control. We’ll dig into the practical implications of that vision, and how the ‘grain’ of the language can guide us to more performant and resilient styles.

Cascading & Inheritance

A deep-dive into the algorithms that take us from simple property/value declarations to a fully-styled web application. Along the way, we’ll explore new features like nesting, cascade layers, scope, and the :has() selector.

2. Dynamic Systems: Custom Properties & Value Resolution

Custom Properties Reveal the Matrix

CSS custom properties (aka “variables”) expose the internals of CSS value resolution and error recovery. What does it even mean for properties to become ‘invalid at computed value time’? And how can we use these CSS internals to our advantage, developing more robust and dynamic style systems?

CSS Variables in Practice

Practical use-cases, and interactive exercises related to CSS variables and functions.

3. Intrinsic Layouts: Distributing Space

Flowing & Flexing

Unlike the printed page, web content and context can be unpredictable. CSS provides tools to manage that uncertainty, aligning & distributing objects on the page. We’ll talk about normal flow, intrinsic and extrinsic sizing, logical properties, box sizing & alignment, and the flexible box model.

Flex & Alignment in Practice

Practical use-cases, and interactive exercises related to distributing space.

4. Intrinsic Layouts: Defining Structure

Defining Structure

Sometimes we also need to impose external structure to create consistent and reliable layouts, even with unpredictable content. This is a full session dedicated to grid & subgrid, the multiple ‘stages of squishiness’, and container queries.

Grids & Containers in Practice

Practical use-cases, and interactive exercises related to defining layouts.

5. Resilient Styles: Organizing Conventions

Cascade Aligned Programming

There are many conventions for organizing CSS, but the best systems all share underlying principles based on CSS itself. What would it mean to use the cascade itself as our guide for writing maintainable CSS?

Modern and Resilient

CSS is designed to adapt to context – failing silently, and enhancing progressively. We have tools to manage that context and support everyone, without giving up on the latest features. The details may vary from project to project, but we’ll look at practical strategies for building an expressive and robust CSS system that works for you.

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