Tag: calc

CSS Variables + calc() + rgb() = Enforcing High Contrast Colors

As you may know, the recent updates and additions to CSS are extremely powerful. From Flexbox to Grid, and — what we’re concerned about here — Custom Properties (aka CSS variables), all of which make robust and dynamic layouts and interfaces easier than ever while opening up many other possibilities we used to only dream of.

The other day, I was thinking that there must be a way to use Custom Properties to color an element’s background while maintaining a contrast with the foreground color that is high enough (using either white or black) to pass WCAG AA accessibility standards.

It’s astonishingly efficient to do this in JavaScript with a few lines of code:

var rgb = [255, 0, 0];  function setForegroundColor() {   var sum = Math.round(((parseInt(rgb[0]) * 299) + (parseInt(rgb[1]) * 587) + (parseInt(rgb[2]) * 114)) / 1000);   return (sum > 128) ? 'black' : 'white'; }

This takes the red, green and blue (RGB) values of an element’s background color, multiplies them by some special numbers (299, 587, and 144, respectively), adds them together, then divides the total by 1,000. When that sum is greater than 128, it will return black; otherwise, we’ll get white. Not too bad.

The only problem is, when it comes to recreating this in CSS, we don’t have access to a native if statement to evaluate the sum. So,how can we replicate this in CSS without one?

Luckily, like HTML, CSS can be very forgiving. If we pass a value greater than 255 into the RGB function, it will get capped at 255. Same goes for numbers lower than 0. Even negative integers will get capped at 0. So, instead of testing whether our sum is greater or less than 128, we subtract 128 from our sum, giving us either a positive or negative integer. Then, if we multiply it by a large negative value (e.g. -1,000), we end up with either very large positive or negative values that we can then pass into the RGB function. Like I said earlier, this will get capped to the browser’s desired values.

Here is an example using CSS variables:

:root {   --red: 28;   --green: 150;   --blue: 130;    --accessible-color: calc(     (       (         (var(--red) * 299) +         (var(--green) * 587) +         (var(--blue) * 114) /         1000       ) - 128     ) * -1000   ); }  .button {   color:     rgb(       var(--accessible-color),       var(--accessible-color),       var(--accessible-color)     );   background-color:     rgb(       var(--red),       var(--green),       var(--blue)     ); }

If my math is correct (and it’s very possible that it’s not) we get a total of 16,758, which is much greater than 255. Pass this total into the rgb() function for all three values, and the browser will set the text color to white.

At this point, everything seems to be working in both Chrome and Firefox, but Safari is a little cranky and gives a different result. At first, I thought this might be because Safari was not capping the large values I was providing in the function, but after some testing, I found that Safari didn’t like the division in my calculation for some reason.

Taking a closer look at the calc() function, I noticed that I could remove the division of 1,000 by increasing the value of 128 to 128,000. Here’s how that looks so far:

:root {   --red: 28;   --green: 150;   --blue: 130;    --accessible-color: calc(     (       (         (var(--red) * 299) +         (var(--green) * 587) +         (var(--blue) * 114)       ) - 128000 /* HIGHLIGHT */     ) * -1000   ); }  .button {   color:     rgb(       var(--accessible-color),       var(--accessible-color),       var(--accessible-color)     );   background-color:     rgb(       var(--red),       var(--green),       var(--blue)     ); }

Throw in a few range sliders to adjust the color values, and there you have it: a dynamic UI element that can swap text color based on its background-color while maintaining a passing grade with WCAG AA.

See the Pen
CSS Only Accessible Button
by Josh Bader (@joshbader)
on CodePen.

Putting this concept to practical use

Below is a Pen showing how this technique can be used to theme a user interface. I have duplicated and moved the --accessible-color variable into the specific CSS rules that require it, and to help ensure backgrounds remain accessible based on their foregrounds, I have multiplied the --accessible-color variable by -1 in several places. The colors can be changed by using the controls located at the bottom-right. Click the cog/gear icon to access them.

See the Pen
CSS Variable Accessible UI
by Josh Bader (@joshbader)
on CodePen.

There are other ways to do this

A little while back, Facundo Corradini explained how to do something very similar in this post. He uses a slightly different calculation in combination with the hsl function. He also goes into detail about some of the issues he was having while coming up with the concept:

Some hues get really problematic (particularly yellows and cyans), as they are displayed way brighter than others (e.g. reds and blues) despite having the same lightness value. In consequence, some colors are treated as dark and given white text despite being extremely bright.

What in the name of CSS is going on?

He goes on to mention that Edge wasn’t capping his large numbers, and during my testing, I noticed that sometimes it was working and other times it was not. If anyone can pinpoint why this might be, feel free to share in the comments.

Further, Ana Tudor explains how using filter + mix-blend-mode can help contrast text against more complex backgrounds. And, when I say complex, I mean complex. She even goes so far as to demonstrate how text color can change as pieces of the background color change — pretty awesome!

Also, Robin Rendle explains how to use mix-blend-mode along with pseudo elements to automatically reverse text colors based on their background-color.

So, count this as yet another approach to throw into the mix. It’s incredibly awesome that Custom Properties open up these sorts of possibilities for us while allowing us to solve the same problem in a variety of ways.

The post CSS Variables + calc() + rgb() = Enforcing High Contrast Colors appeared first on CSS-Tricks.

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Fun Tip: Use calc() to Change the Height of a Hero Component

The concept of Fluid Typography was tossed around a couple of years ago. The main idea is that if you know what size your font is at two different viewport sizes, then you can have the font scaling smoothly between the two sizes. We had a jQuery solution for this in FitText (meant of headings, of course) until the calc() function was shipped giving us a pure CSS solution.

p {   font-size: calc(16px + (24 - 16)*(100vw - 400px)/(800 - 400)); }

See the Pen Fluid Typography by Martino Stenta (@martinostenta) on CodePen.

The important numbers here are 24px (the larger font up to 800px viewports) and 16px (the smaller font size down to 400px viewports). I wouldn’t use the terms “minimum” or “maximum” to describe font sizes and viewports in this context because it is a little misleading. In fact, you still need to provide a default font size for viewports smaller than 400px and bigger than 800px — otherwise, the font will keep getting smaller (or bigger) with the same scale of the equation. Or, if you are fancy, you could define another scale for bigger screen sizes.

See the Pen Fluid Typography with reset size by Martino Stenta (@martinostenta) on CodePen.

It works really well and you should definitely check the math behind this.

Padding and line height?

I liked the concept of Fluid Typography so much that I asked myself if it could work with other properties. And it does! You can’t use a percentage, but as long as you stick with px, em or rem units, then it’s OK. I’m a pixel guy, so all my experiments have used those, but there is this neat generatorthat helps you with conversions if you need it.

So, back to padding and line-height. Using the same calc() logic, we can achieve a fully fluid *layout* with fixed values for defined screen sizes.

See the Pen Pure CSS Variable Padding, Font Size and Line Height by Martino Stenta (@martinostenta) on CodePen.

I implemented this idea on this website, but kept it to font-size and line-height. And, yes, it gets easier to look past all that math and put to use the more you work with it.

See the Pen Working Example of calc() on font-size and line-hieght by Martino Stenta (@martinostenta) on CodePen.

A digression about “Hero” components

If you’re like me, then you might take issue with what we all have come to know as the hero component. It’s ubiquitous to the extent that it’s become a staple in design systems (like Bootstrap) and you may have even seen it satirized on sites like this.

My main gripe concerns the best way to make them responsive. If it’s not a *full screen* hero (i.e. takes over the entire viewport at any size), then I usually ask the designer how the page should behave. There’s often a proportion of the hero page that works fine, so that allows me to use padding-bottom in % with absolute positioning of the inner content. That tactic works most of the time,

This is fun and it works fine especially on the desktop version of a website. You end up with a neat hero section, the proportion is good and the content is centered.

See the Pen Standard hero section with ‘padding-bottom’ by Martino Stenta (@martinostenta) on CodePen.

But what happens when you start shrinking the viewport? The hero remains readable up to a point, you really need to change the proportion.

Assuming we are working with a desktop-first responsive approach, we could start with a horizontal rectangle that scales down to the point where we’re left with a vertical rectangle on small screens.

Hero component with different proportions based on device

This is a PITA because you could end up with many lines of CSS to have a nice and readable hero section at various breakpoints.

There has to be a better way, right? What if the hero could increase its height while the page width gets narrower?

Back to fluidity!

So, I turned back to the calc() function that worked in those other situations, like making the browser handle the math and scale things accordingly as the viewport changes.

Here’s the CSS from the Fluid Typography example we started with:

p {   width: 100%;   max-width: 1200px;   margin: 0 auto;   font-family: 'Open Sans', sans-serif;   font-size: calc(24px + (18 - 24)*(100vw - 400px)/(1200 - 400));   line-height: 1.5;   padding: 10px; }

Here’s what we want: a hero component that gets bigger while you shrink the page. I used pixel units for the fluid part and percentages everywhere else.

Here’s a screencast of how the solution I landed on:

Live Demo

This is pretty useful when you want to give more vertical space to the text. Shrinking the viewport width from large to small will end up having more lines for the same text, since the font size can’t be too small.

See the Pen Hero section with calc() by Martino Stenta (@martinostenta) on CodePen.

Pretty nice, right? Yet another way calc() proved it could solve a scenario for me.

Yes, there are some caveats

Browser support is very good, tallying almost 93% of the users (at the time of writing), with the main exception being Opera mini.

This browser support data is from Caniuse, which has more detail. A number indicates that browser supports the feature at that version and up.

Desktop

Chrome Opera Firefox IE Edge Safari
19* 15 4* 10 12 6*

Mobile / Tablet

iOS Safari Opera Mobile Opera Mini Android Android Chrome Android Firefox
6.0-6.1* 46 No 67 69 62

Also, remember that this calc() technique supports only px, em, and rem units. But the examples we covered here are pretty easy to convert units for things like padding-bottom percentages to pixels since the hero is typically 100% in width.

Oh! And remember to reset your values before and after the breakpoints in the calc() function. Otherwise you’ll end up with either very big or very small values for the target properties.

What say you?

This is probably just one way we can handle the situation and it was primarily driven by my interest in the calc() function. So, that begs the question: how have you handled scaling hero component height? Have you put calc() to use for it? Do you prefer wrangling breakpoints at various widths? Is there something else you use? Light up the comments!

The post Fun Tip: Use calc() to Change the Height of a Hero Component appeared first on CSS-Tricks.

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