CSS Architecture

for large scale applications

Nikos Zinas

@nzinas

Frontend architect @ bestseller.com

Step 1

Create your

Coding styleguide

All code in any code-base should look like a single person typed it, no matter how many people contributed

- idiomatic.js

Create your Coding styleguide

Decide on your base style

  • Tabs VS spaces
  • Single VS Double quotes
  • New lines & identation
  • Brace format
  • Commenting format
  • CamelCase VS under_scores VS da-shes

No point arguing over these. You just need to pick one and stick to it.

Create your Coding styleguide

Aim for readbility

.rule-one, .rule-two {
  /* Stuff */
}
.rule-one, 
.rule-two {
  /* Stuff */
}

VS

Create your Coding styleguide

Aim for readbility

VS

.rule-one {
  color: blue; background: red; font-weight: bold;
}
.rule-one {
  color: blue; 
  background: red;
  font-weight: bold;
}

Create your Coding styleguide

Defining best practices

but first lets talk about

Specificity

Create your Coding styleguide

#main-navigation .item {
    color: blue;
}

nav .items li.item[data-tag="has-submenu"] {
    color: green;
}
<nav id="main-navigation">
    <ul class="items">
        <li class="item">First item</li>
        <li class="item">Second item</li>
        <li class="item" data-tag="has-submenu">Third item</li>
    </ul>
</nav>

Specificity

Create your Coding styleguide

Specificity

Element selectors

Class and attribute selectors

Id selectors

Inline styles

!important

Create your Coding styleguide

High specificity is bad because...

nav .items li.item[data-tag="has-submenu"] {
    color: green;
}

It hurts reusability

Create your Coding styleguide

High specificity is bad because...

nav .items li.item[data-tag="has-submenu"] {
    color: green;
}

It's error prone

Create your Coding styleguide

High specificity is bad because...

#main-navigation .item {
    color: blue;
}

It's hard to override

Create your Coding styleguide

Limit specificity

Don't use !important

Don't use inline styles

Don't use ids

Don't use long selectors

(max 3)

Don't overqualify

Create your Coding styleguide

Avoid descendant/child selectors

nav .items .item {
    /* Bad */
}

nav > .items  > .item {
    /* Bad */
}
.nav-items {
    /* Good */
}

.nav-item {
    /* Good */
}

Create your Coding styleguide

Name your classes meaningfully

but don't be semantic for the sake of semantics

.redText {
    border: 1px dotted green;
    background: white;
}

Create your Coding styleguide

Separate your styles from your javascript hooks

.js-* works great

Step 2

Define your methodology

Define your methodology

SMACSS

Define your methodology

SMACSS

Separates rules in categories

  • Base
  • Layout
  • Module
  • State
  • Theme

Define your methodology

OOCSS

Define your methodology

OOCSS

a CSS object is a repeating visual pattern, that can be abstracted into an independent snippet of HTML

Define your methodology

OOCSS

Separate structure and appearance

Container agnostic objects

Define your methodology

Atomic CSS

Define your methodology

Atomic CSS

Builds ecosystems

Composes pages out of components

Define your methodology

BEM

(Block Element Modifier)

Define your methodology

Block

A reusable component

Element

One piece of the component

Modifier

Different state for a component

or an element

BEM

(Block Element Modifier)

Define your methodology

BEM

(Block Element Modifier)

/* Block */
.car {}

/* Elements */
.car__door {}
.car__trunk {}
.car__wheel {}

/* Modifiers */
.car--cabrio {}
.car--cabrio .car__trunk {}


.car__wheel--17in {}
.car--cabrio .car__wheel--17in {}

Step 3

Use a preprocessor

Use a preprocessor

Use a preprocessor

Variables

/* Color definitions */
$gray:             #333333;
$lightgray:        #999999;

/* Base variables    */
$headerColor:      $gray;
$borderColor:      $lightgray;

/* Base styles       */
h1, h2, h3, h4, h5, h6 {
    color:         $headerColor;
}

Use a preprocessor

Mixins

/* Eliminate vendor prefixes */
.something-with-a-vertical-gradient {
  @include background-image(linear-gradient($light-gray, $gray));
}

/* Calculate */
@mixin font-size($font-size, $line-height:true){
    font-size:$font-size;
    font-size:($font-size / $base-font-size)*1rem;
    @if $line-height == true {
        line-height:ceil($font-size / $base-line-height) 
            * ($base-line-height / $font-size);
    }
}

.a-block-of-text {
    @include font-size(12px);
}

/* Stay DRY */
.container-with-floated-children {
    @include clearfix;
}

Use a preprocessor

Placeholders and extends

%btn {
  padding: 10px;
  border-radius: 5px;
  display: inline-block;
  cursor: pointer;
  text-decoration: none;
}

.btn {
  @extend %btn;
  color: blue;
  background: transparent;
}

.btn--success {
  @extend %btn;
  color: white;
  background: green;  
}

.btn--error {
  @extend %btn;
  color: white;
  background: red;  
}

Step 4

Create your styleguide

Create your styleguide

A living styleguide is a document containing all the modules and components of your application, fully functional and interactive

Create your styleguide

  • Design consistency
  • Easier testing
  • Minimize code
  • Communication

Why?

Step 6

Measure your results

Measure your results

cssstats.com

Measure your results

stylestats.org

Measure your results

csslint.net

Closing remarks

CSS is easy

to break

Always code as if the guy who ends up maintaining your code will be a violent psychopath who knows where you live.

Step on the shoulders of giants

Thank you!

@nzinas

(Old) CSS Architecture for large scale applications

By Nikos Zinas

(Old) CSS Architecture for large scale applications

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