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CSS Aliases

From: Matt Patenaude <MattPat@mattpat.net>
Date: Mon, 6 Oct 2008 22:21:16 -0400
Message-Id: <47F23D40-5972-4E9E-855B-6FE9743576C7@mattpat.net>
To: www-style@w3.org

Hi all,

I was working on a project today, and I thought of something that  
might be a useful and powerful addition to CSS: aliases.

It happens all too often that I want to completely duplicate a style  
definition for a class to another class, in order to have a better  
semantic name for the data I'm styling. For instance, lets say I have  
the class "product" and the class "service." On my page, I would like  
these to be style similarly. If I have an existing declaration for  
"product" like so...

.product {
	font-weight: bold;

... it isn't a problem, I can just change the selector to  
".product, .service". However, let's say my rules get a little more  

div.product:first-child > h3 + p {
	font-weight: bold;

Contrived example? Absolutely. But just to make the point, the  
selector would now have to become "div.product:first-child > h3 + p,  
div.service:first-child > h3 + p", which is more than a little  
redundant. And let's say I have several rules, all of which  
contain .product in some permutation or another. Isn't it an awful lot  
of work to have to duplicate those selectors across the board (along  
with being difficult to maintain), just to add a little extra semantic  

My proposal: CSS Aliases. CSS should allow you to map one selector as  
an alias as another selector, that works intelligently across the  
board. In a simple example, imagine something like this:

@alias selector(.product) selector(.service)

In this example, any element with the class of "service" would inherit  
all styles of the class "product" automatically. Let's make it a bit  
more complex:

@alias selector(.alternateRow) selector(#myTable tr.oddRow)

Essentially, something intelligent like this would make it much easier  
to adapt CSS styles to pages regardless of the semantic naming of  
their elements. In the example above, the styles for anything with  
class "alternateRow" is also applied to rows with class "oddRow" in  
the table identified as "myTable".

The beauty here is that the selectors can be as complex as desired.  
For instance, let's say that, through inherited styles, the first  
paragraph of every "product" has styling I want to apply to the  
entirety of every "client." Even if I don't have a rule definition  
called ".product p:first-child", this should still work:

@alias selector(.product p:first-child) selector(.client)

If I tried really hard, I could come up with a more complex example  
that would show even more benefit to something like this, but I think  
what I've come up with is sufficient. ;) It may be superfluous, but  
personally I think it would be a great language feature to have.


Matt Patenaude
Received on Tuesday, 7 October 2008 02:22:04 UTC

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