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Re: The CSS Problem

From: Tab Atkins Jr. <jackalmage@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, 13 Nov 2012 11:39:53 -0800
Message-ID: <CAAWBYDCG6LA8U0Y_W7hEt5q+-PeUO5GBq1e8+nWf=Y2MFO1fsg@mail.gmail.com>
To: Sylvain Galineau <sylvaing@microsoft.com>
Cc: "liam@w3.org" <liam@w3.org>, "Jens O. Meiert" <jens@meiert.com>, "www-style@w3.org" <www-style@w3.org>
On Tue, Nov 13, 2012 at 8:40 AM, Sylvain Galineau
<sylvaing@microsoft.com> wrote:
> As to the general topic, CSS cannot become smaller as the web platform enables
> more and more scenarios. It is bound to grow and managing the growth of a
> successful standard is a fine first-world problem to have (if you like things
> to stay the same how about XHTML2?). So I don't really care about the absolute
> size of CSS or anything else as measured by arbitrary metrics such as the
> number of properties or specs. Actual adoption by implementors and usage by
> authors are the metrics I believe to matter most. (And I'd love to hear from
> others about the acquisition and sharing such data)

+1. The growth of CSS is tied both to the growth of the web as a
medium for more and more types of applications, and (seemingly
perversely) our attempts to *simplify* CSS.  For example, while
Flexbox and Grid grow CSS, they should allow authors to mostly forget
the tons of layout-hack knowledge they currently have to maintain just
to get their jobs done.

I know this from personal experience.  At the risk of tooting my own
horn, I was *very good* at CSS layout a few years ago, when my job
revolved around it, and could always pull out the appropriate hack for
whatever effect you wanted, or tell you that it was impossible.  Now
that I only work on personal sites and can freely rely on Flexbox,
though, I've forgotten almost everything I knew beyond the bare
outlines, but the work I do is faster and more feature-ful.

> As for those who worry CSS may grow so large people can't hold it in their
> head: we passed that point a while back.

Yeah, only toy languages can be completely held in one's head.
However, CSS is mostly growing larger, not more complex - if you want
to design the same sites you did 5 years ago, you can use the same
properties you did 5 years ago.  As I argued above, some of the growth
is directly related to making CSS *less* complex in practice, at the
cost of *appearing* to be more complex.

Received on Tuesday, 13 November 2012 19:40:40 UTC

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