Tag: just

“Just in Time” CSS

I believe acss.io is the first usage of “Atomic CSS” where the point of it is to be a compiler. You write CSS like this:

<div class="C(#fff) P(20px)">   text </div>

And it will generate CSS like:

.C(#333) {   color: #333; } .P(20px) {   padding: 20px; }

(Or something like that.)

The point is that it only generates the CSS that you actually need, because you asked for it, and no more. The result is far less CSS than you’d see in an average stylesheet.

That complication process is what has come to be known as “Just in Time” CSS.

The popular Tailwind framework supports it. It kind of flips the mental model of Tailwind on its head, to me. Rather than providing a huge pile of CSS utility classes to use — then “purging” what is unused — it only creates what it needs to begin with.

I’d say “Just in Time” is a concept that is catching on. I just saw Assembler CSS and it leans into it big time. Rather than classes, you do stuff like:

<div x-style="grid; gap:1rem; grid-rows:1; grid-cols:1; sm|grid-cols:3">   <button x-style="^button:red">Submit</button> </div>

I’m pretty torn on this stuff. Some part of me likes how you can get styling done without ever leaving your templates. And I especially like the extremely minimal CSS output since CSS is a blocking resource. Another part of me doesn’t like that it’s a limited abstraction of CSS itself, so you’re at the mercy of the tool to support things that CSS can do natively. It also makes HTML a bit harder to look at — although I certainly got over that with JSX inline event handlers and such.


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When a Click is Not Just a Click

The click event is quite simple and easy to use; you listen for the event and run code when the event is fired. It works on just about every HTML element there is, a core feature of the DOM API.

As often the case with the DOM and JavaScript, there are nuances to consider. Some nuances with the click event are typically not much a concern. They are minor and probably most people would never even notice them in the majority of use cases.

Take, for example, the click event listening to the grandfather of interactive elements, the <button> element. There are nuances associated with button clicks and these nuances, like the difference between a “click” from a mouse pointer and “click” from the keyboard. Seen this way, a click is not always a “click” the way it’s typically defined. I actually have run into situations (though not many) where distinguishing between those two types of clicks comes in handy.

How do we distinguish between different types of clicks? That’s what we’re diving into!

First things first

The <button> element, as described by MDN, is simply:

The HTML element represents a clickable button, used to submit forms or anywhere in a document for accessible, standard button functionality. By default, HTML buttons are presented in a style resembling the platform the user agent runs on, but you can change buttons’ appearance with CSS.

The part we’ll cover is obviously the “anywhere in a document for accessible, standard button functionality” part of that description. As you may know, a button element can have native functionality within a form, for example it can submit a form in some situations. We are only really concerning ourselves over the basic clicking function of the element. So consider just a simple button placed on the page for specific functionality when someone interacts with it.

Consider that I said “interacts with it” instead of just clicking it. For historical and usability reasons, one can “click” the button by putting focus on it with tabbing and then using the Space or Enter key on the keyboard. This is a bit of overlap with keyboard navigation and accessibility; this native feature existed way before accessibility was a concern. Yet the legacy feature does help a great deal with accessibility for obvious reasons.

In the example above, you can click the button and its text label will change. After a moment the original text will reset. You can also click somewhere else within the pen, tab to put focus on the button, and then use Space or Enter to “click” it. The same text appears and resets as well. There is no JavaScript to handle the keyboard functionality; it’s a native feature of the browser. Fundamentally, in this example the button is only aware of the click event, but not how it happened.

One interesting difference to consider is the behavior of a button across different browsers, especially the way it is styled. The buttons in these examples are set to shift colors on its active state; so you click it and it turns purple. Consider this image that shows the states when interacting with the keyboard.

Keyboard Interaction States

The first is the static state, the second is when the button has focus from a keyboard tabbing onto it, the third is the keyboard interaction, and the fourth is the result of the interaction. With Firefox you will only see the first two and last states; when interacting with either Enter or Space keys to “click” it you do not see the third state. It stays with the second, or “focused”, state during the interaction and then shifts to the last one. The text changes as expected but the colors do not. Chrome gives us a bit more as you’ll see the first two states the same as Firefox. If you use the Space key to “click” the button you’ll see the third state with the color change and then the last. Interestingly enough, with Chrome if you use Enter to interact with the button you won’t see the third state with the color change, much like Firefox. In case you are curious, Safari behaves the same as Chrome.

The code for the event listener is quite simple:

const button = document.querySelector('#button');  button.addEventListener('click', () => {   button.innerText = 'Button Clicked!';      window.setTimeout(() => {     button.innerText = '"click" me';   }, 2000); });

Now, let’s consider something here with this code. What if you found yourself in a situation where you wanted to know what caused the “click” to happen? The click event is usually tied to a pointer device, typically the mouse, and yet here the Space or Enter key are triggering the same event. Other form elements have similar functionality depending on context, but any elements that are not interactive by default would require an additional keyboard event to work. The button element doesn’t require this additional event listener.

I won’t go too far into reasons for wanting to know what triggered the click event. I can say that I have occasionally ran into situations where it was helpful to know. Sometimes for styling reasons, sometimes accessibility, and sometimes for specific functionality. Often different context or situations provide for different reasons.

Consider the following not as The Way™ but more of an exploration of these nuances we’re talking about. We’ll explore handling the various ways to interact with a button element, the events generated, and leveraging specific features of these events. Hopefully the following examples can provide some helpful information from the events; or possibly spread out to other HTML elements, as needed.

Which is which?

One simple way to know a keyboard versus mouse click event is leveraging the keyup and mouseup events, taking the click event out of the equation.

Now, when you use the mouse or the keyboard, the changed text reflects which event is which. The keyboard version will even inform you of a Space versus Enter key being used.

Here’s the new code:

const button = document.querySelector('#button');  function reset () {   window.setTimeout(() => {     button.innerText = '"click" me';   }, 2000); }  button.addEventListener('mouseup', (e) => {   if (e.button === 0) {     button.innerText = 'MouseUp Event!';     reset();   } });  button.addEventListener('keyup', (e) => {   if (e.code === 'Space' || e.code === 'Enter') {     button.innerText = `KeyUp Event: $ {e.code}`;     reset();   } });

A bit verbose, true, but we’ll get to a slight refactor in a bit. This example gets the point across about a nuance that needs to be handled. The mouseup and keyup events have their own features to account for in this situation.

With the mouseup event, about every button on the mouse could trigger this event. We usually wouldn’t want the right mouse button triggering a “click” event on the button, for instance. So we look for the e.button with the value of 0 to identify the primary mouse button. That way it works the same as with the click event yet we know for a fact it was the mouse.

With the keyup event, the same thing happens where about every key on the keyboard will trigger this event. So we look at the event’s code property to wait for the Space or Enter key to be pressed. So now it works the same as the click event but we know the keyboard was used. We even know which of the two keys we’re expecting to work on the button.

Another take to determine which is which

While the previous example works, it seems like a bit too much code for such a simple concept. We really just want to know if the “click” came from a mouse or a keyboard. In most cases we probably wouldn’t care if the source of the click was either the Space or Enter keys. But, if we do care, we can take advantage of the keyup event properties to note which is which.

Buried in the various specifications about the click event (which leads us to the UI Events specification) there are certain properties assigned to the event concerning the mouse location, including properties such as screenX/screenY and clientX/clientY. Some browsers have more, but I want to focus on the screenX/screenY properties for the moment. These two properties essentially give you the X and Y coordinates of the mouse click in relation to the upper-left of the screen. The clientX/clientY properties do the same, but the origin is the upper-left of the browser’s viewport.

This trick relies on the fact that the click event provides these coordinates even though the event was triggered by the keyboard. When a button with the click event is “clicked” by the Space or Enter key it still needs to assign a value to those properties. Since there’s no mouse location to report, if it falls back to zero as the default.

Here’s our new code:

const button = document.querySelector('#button');  button.addEventListener('click', (e) => {   button.innerText = e.screenX + e.screenY === 0 || e.offsetX + e.offsetY === 0 ?     'Keyboard Click Event!' : 'Mouse Click Event!';      window.setTimeout(() => {     button.innerText = '"click" me';   }, 2000); });

Back to just the click event, but this time we look for those properties to determine whether this is a keyboard or mouse “click.” We take both screenX and screenY properties, add them together, and see if they equal zero; which makes for an easy test. The possibilities of the button being in the immediate upper-left of the screen to be clicked has to be quite low. It could be possible if one attempted to make such an effort of a pixel-perfect click in such an odd location, but I would think it’s a safe assumption that it won’t happen under normal circumstances.

Now, one might notice the added e.offsetX + e.offsetY === 0 part. I have to explain that bit…

Enter the dreaded browser inconsistencies

While creating and testing this code, the all-too-often problem of cross-browser support reared its ugly head. It turns out that even though most browsers set the screenX and screenY values on a keyboard-caused click event to zero, Safari decides to be different. It applies a proper value to screenX and screenY as if the button was clicked by a mouse. This throws a wrench into my code which is one of the fun aspects of dealing with different browsers — they’re made by different groups of different people creating different outcomes to the same use cases.

But, alas, I needed a solution because I didn’t necessarily want to rely only on the keyup event for this version of the code. I mean, we could if we wanted to, so that’s still an option. It’s just that I liked the idea of treating this as a potential learning exercise to determine what’s happening and how to make adjustments for differences in browsers like we’re seeing here.

Testing what Safari is doing in this case, it appears to be using the offsetX and offsetY properties in the event to determine the location of the “click” and then applying math to determine the screenX and screenY values. That’s a huge over-simplification, but it sort of checks out. The offset properties will be the location of the click based on the upper-left of the button. In this context, Safari applies zero to offsetX and offsetY, which would obviously be seen as the upper-left of the button. From there it treats that location of the button as the determination for the screen properties based on the distance from the upper-left of the button to the upper-left of the screen.

The other usual browsers technically also apply zero to offestX and offsetY, and could be used in place of screenX and screenY. I chose not to go that route. It’s certainly possible to click a button that happens to be at the absolute top-left of the screen is rather difficult while clicking the top-left of a button. Yet, Safari is different so the tests against the screen and offsets is the result. The code, as written, hopes for zeroes on the screen properties and, if they are there, it moves forward assuming a keyboard-caused click. If the screen properties together are larger then zero, it checks the offset properties just in case. We can consider this the Safari check.

This is not ideal, but it wouldn’t be the first time I had to create branching logic due to browser inconsistencies.

In the hope that the behavior of these properties will not change in the future, we have a decent way to determine if a button’s click event happened by mouse or keyboard. Yet technology marches on providing us new features, new requirements, and new challenges to consider. The various devices available to us has started the concept of the “pointer” as a means to interact with elements on the screen. Currently, such a pointer could be a mouse, a pen, or a touch. This creates yet another nuance that we might want to be consider; determining the kind of pointer involved in the click.

Which one out of many?

Now is a good time to talk about Pointer Events. As described by MDN:

Much of today‘s web content assumes the user’s pointing device will be a mouse. However, since many devices support other types of pointing input devices, such as pen/stylus and touch surfaces, extensions to the existing pointing device event models are needed. Pointer events address that need.

So now let’s consider having a need for knowing what type of pointer was involved in clicking that button. Relying on just the click event doesn’t really provide this information. Chrome does have an interesting property in the click event, sourceCapabilities. This property in turn has a property named firesTouchEvents that is a boolean. This information isn’t always available since Firefox and Safari do not support this yet. Yet the pointer event is available much everywhere, even IE11 of all browsers.

This event can provide interesting data about touch or pen events. Things like pressure, contact size, tilt, and more. For our example here we’re just going to focus on pointerType, which tells us the device type that caused the event.

Clicking on the button will now tell you the pointer that was used. The code for this is quite simple:

const button = document.querySelector('#button');  button.addEventListener('pointerup', (e) => {   button.innerText = `Pointer Event: $ {e.pointerType}`;      window.setTimeout(() => {     button.innerText = '"click" me';   }, 2000); });

Really, not that much different than the previous examples. We listen for the pointerup event on the button and output the event’s pointerType. The difference now is there is no event listener for a click event. So tabbing onto the button and using space or enter key does nothing. The click event still fires, but we’re not listening for it. At this point we only have code tied to the button that only responds to the pointer event.

That obviously leaves a gap in functionality, the keyboard interactivity, so we still need to include a click event. Since we’re already using the pointer event for the more traditional mouse click (and other pointer events) we have to lock down the click event. We need to only allow the keyboard itself to trigger the click event.

The code for this is similar to the “Which Is Which” example up above. The difference being we use pointerup instead of mouseup:

const button = document.querySelector('#button');  function reset () {   window.setTimeout(() => {     button.innerText = '"click" me';   }, 2000); }  button.addEventListener('pointerup', (e) => {   button.innerText = `Pointer Event: $ {e.pointerType}`;   reset(); });  button.addEventListener('click', (e) => {   if (e.screenX + e.screenY === 0 || e.offsetX + e.offsetY === 0) {     button.innerText = 'Keyboard  ||Click Event!';     reset();   } });

Here we’re using the screenX + screenY (with the additional offset check) method to determine if the click was caused by the keyboard. This way a mouse click would be handled by the pointer event. If one wanted to know if the key used was space or enter, then the keyup example above could be used. Even then, the keyup event could be used instead of the click event depending on how you wanted to approach it.

Anoher take to determine which one out of many

In the ever-present need to refactor for cleaner code, we can try a different way to code this.

Yep, works the same as before. Now the code is:

const button = document.querySelector('#button');  function btn_handler (e) {   if (e.type === 'click' && e.screenX + e.screenY > 0 && e.offsetX + e.offsetY > 0) {     return false;   } else if (e.pointerType) {     button.innerText = `Pointer Event: $ {e.pointerType}`;   } else if (e.screenX + e.screenY === 0) {     button.innerText = 'Keyboard Click Event!';   } else {     button.innerText = 'Something clicked this?';   }      window.setTimeout(() => {     button.innerText = '"click" me';   }, 2000); }  button.addEventListener('pointerup', btn_handler); button.addEventListener('click', btn_handler);

Another scaled down version to consider: this time we’ve reduced our code down to a single handler method that both pointerup and click events call. First we detect if the mouse “click” caused the event; if it does, we wish to ignore it in favor of the pointer event. This is checked with a test opposite of the keyboard test; is the sum of screenX and screenY larger than zero? This time there’s an alteration to the offset check by doing the same as the screen test, is the sum of those properties larger than zero as well?

Then the method checks for the pointer event, and upon finding that, it reports which pointer type occurred. Otherwise, the method checks for keyboard interactions and reports accordingly. If neither of those are the culprit, it just reports that something caused this code to run.

So here we have a decent number of examples on how to handle button interactions while reporting the source of those interactions. Yet, this is just one of the handful of form elements that we are so accustomed to using in projects. How does similar code work with other elements?

Checking checkboxes

Indeed, similar code does work very much the same way with checkboxes.

There are a few more nuances, as you might expect by now. The normal usage of <input type="checkbox"> is a related label element that is tied to the input via the for attribute. One major feature of this combination is that clicking on the label element will check the related checkbox.

Now, if we were to attach event listeners for the click event on both elements, we get back what should be obvious results, even if they are a bit strange. For example, we get one click event fired when clicking the checkbox. If we click the label, we get two click events fired instead. If we were to console.log the target of those events, we’ll see on the double event that one is for the label (which makes sense as we clicked it), but there’s a second event from the checkbox. Even though I know these should be the expected results, it is a bit strange because we’re expecting results from user interactions. Yet the results include interactions caused by the browser.

So, the next step is to look at what happens if we were to listen for pointerup, just like some of the previous examples, in the same scenarios. In that case, we don’t get two events when clicking on the label element. This also makes sense as we’re no longer listening for the click event that is being fired from the checkbox when the label is clicked.

There’s yet another scenario to consider. Remember that we have the option to put the checkbox inside the label element, which is common with custom-built checkboxes for styling purposes.

<label for="newsletter">   <input type="checkbox" />   Subscribe to my newsletter </label>

In this case, we really only need to put an event listener on the label and not the checkbox itself. This reduces the number of event listeners involved, and yet we get the same results. Clicks events are fired as a single event for clicking on the label and two events if you click on the checkbox. The pointerup events do the same as before as well, single events if clicking on either element.

These are all things to consider when trying to mimic the behavior of the previous examples with the button element. Thankfully, there’s not too much to it. Here’s an example of seeing what type of interaction was done with a checkbox form element:

This example includes both types of checkbox scenarios mentioned above; the top line is a checkbox/label combination with the for attribute, and the bottom one is a checkbox inside the label. Clicking either one will output a message below them stating which type of interaction happened. So click on one with a mouse or use the keyboard to navigate to them and then interact with Space or Enter; just like the button examples, it should tell you which interaction type causes it.

To make things easier in terms of how many event listeners I needed, I wrapped the checkboxes with a container div that actually responds to the checkbox interactions. You wouldn’t necessarily have to do it this way, but it was a convenient way to do this for my needs. To me, the fun part is that the code from the last button example above just copied over to this example.

const checkbox_container = document.querySelector('#checkbox_container'); const checkbox_msg = document.querySelector('#checkbox_msg');  function chk_handler (e) {   if (e.type === 'click' && e.screenX + e.screenY > 0 && e.offsetX + e.offsetY > 0) {     return false;   } else if (e.pointerType) {     checkbox_msg.innerText = `Pointer Event: $ {e.pointerType}`;   } else if (e.screenX + e.screenY === 0) {     checkbox_msg.innerText = 'Keyboard Click Event!';   } else {     checkbox_msg.innerText = 'Something clicked this?';   }      window.setTimeout(() => {     checkbox_msg.innerText = 'waiting...';   }, 2000); }  checkbox_container.addEventListener('pointerup', chk_handler); checkbox_container.addEventListener('click', chk_handler);

That means we could possibly have the same method being called from the the various elements that need the same detecting the pointer type functionality. Technically, we could put a button inside the checkbox container and it should still work the same. In the end it’s up to you how to implement such things based on the needs of the project.

Radioing your radio buttons

Thankfully, for radio button inputs, we can still use the same code with similar HTML structures. This mostly works the same because checkboxes and radio buttons are essentially created the same way—it’s just that radio buttons tend to come in groups tied together while checkboxes are individuals even in a group. As you’ll see in the following example, it works the same:

Again, same code attached to a similar container div to prevent having to do a number of event listeners for every related element.

When a nuance can be an opportunity

I felt that “nuance” was a good word choice because the things we covered here are not really “issues” with the typical negative connotation that word tends to have in programming circles. I always try to see such things as learning experiences or opportunities. How can I leverage things I know today to push a little further ahead, or maybe it’s time to explore outward into new things to solve problems I face. Hopefully, the examples above provide a somewhat different way to look at things depending on the needs of the project at hand.

We even found an opportunity to explore a browser inconsistency and find a workaround to that situation. Thankfully we don’t run into such things that much with today’s browsers, but I could tell you stories about what we went through when I first started web development.

Despite this article focusing more on form elements because of the click nuance they tend to have with keyboard interactions, some or all of this can be expanded into other elements. It all depends on the context of the situation. For example, I recall having to do multiple events on the same elements depending on the context many times; often for accessibility and keyboard navigation reasons. Have you built a custom <select> element to have a nicer design than the standard one, that also responds to keyboard navigation? You’ll see what I mean when you get there.

Just remember: a “click” today doesn’t always have to be what we think a click has always been.


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Just How Niche is Headless WordPress?

I wonder where headless WordPress will land. And by “headless” I mean only using the WordPress admin and building out the user-facing site through the WordPress REST API rather than the traditional WordPress theme structure.

Is it… big? The future of WordPress? Or relatively niche?

Where’s the demand?

Certainly, there is demand for it. I know plenty of people doing it. For instance, Gatsby has a gatsby-source-wordpress plugin that allows you to source content from a WordPress site in a way that consumes the WordPress REST API and caches it as GraphQL for use in a React-powered Gatsby site. It has been downloaded 59k times this month and 851k times overall, as I write. That’s a healthy chunk of usage for one particular site-building technology. Every use case there is technically using WordPress headless-ly. If you’re interested in this, here’s Ganesh Dahal digging deep into it.

What is going headless and improve to?

The Gatsby integration makes a solid case for why anyone would consider a headless WordPress site. I’ll get to that.

Many advocate the main reason is architectural. It de-couples the back end from the front end. It tears down the monolith. As a de-coupled system, the back and front ends can evolve independently. And yet, I’m less hot on that idea as years go by. For example, I’d argue that the chances of simply ripping out WordPress and replace it with another CMS in a headless setup like this is easier said than done. Also, the idea that I’m going to use the WordPress API not just to power a website, but also a native reading app, and some digital internet-connected highway billboard or something is not a use case that’s exploding in popularity as far as I can tell.

The real reason I think people reach for a WordPress back end for a Gatsby-driven front end is essentially this: they like React. They like building things from components. They like the fast page transitions. They like being able to host things somewhere Jamstack-y with all the nice developer previews and such. They like the hot module reloading. They like Prettier and JSX. They just like it, and I don’t blame them. When you enjoy that kind of developer experience, going back to authoring PHP templates where it takes manually refreshing the browser and maintaining some kind of hand-rolled build process isn’t exactly enticing.

Frontity is another product looking to hone in on React + WordPress. Geoff and Sarah shared how to do all this last year on the Vue/Nuxt side.

But will headless WordPress become more popular than the traditional theming model of WordPress that’s based on PHP templates that align to an explicit structure? Nah. Well, maybe it would if WordPress itself champions the idea and offers guidance, training, and documentation that make it easier for developers to adopt that approach. I’d buy into it if WordPress says that a headless architecture is the new course of direction. But none of those things are true. Consequently, to some degree, it’s a niche thing.

Just how niche is headless?

WP Engine is a big WordPress host and has a whole thing called Atlas. And that effort definitely looks like they are taking this niche market seriously. I’m not 100% sure what Atlas all is, but it looks like a dashboard for spinning up sites with some interesting looking code-as-config. One of the elephants in the room with headless WordPress is that, well, now you have two websites to deal with. You have wherever you are hosting and running WordPress, and wherever you are hosting and running the site that consumes the WordPress APIs. Maybe this brings those two things together somehow. The deploy-from-Git-commits thing is appealing and what I’d consider table stakes for modern hosting these days.

Another reason people are into headless WordPress is that the end result can be static, as in, pre-generated HTML pages. That means the server for your website can be highly CDN-ized, as it’s literally only static assets that are instantly available to download. There’s no PHP or database for server-side rendering things, which can be slow (and, to be fair, dealt with) since it adds a process ahead of rendering.

What’s “the WordPress way” for going headless?

I’d lump any service that builds a static version of your WordPress site into the headless WordPress bucket. That’s because, ultimately, those sites are using WordPress APIs to build those static files, just like Gatsby or whatever else would do.

That’s what Strattic does. They spin up a WordPress site for you that they consider staging. You do your WordPress work there, then use their publish system to push a static version of your site to production. That’s compelling because it solves for something that other headless WordPress usage doesn’t: just doing things the WordPress way.

For example, custom WordPress blocks or plugins might produce output that not only contains custom HTML, but CSS and JavaScript as well. Imagine a “carousel” block or plugin. That carousel isn’t going to work if all you’re doing is grabbing the post content from an API and dunking it onto a page. You’ll either need to go extract the CSS and JavaScript from elsewhere and include it, or somehow just know that isn’t how you do things anymore. You might attach the images as metadata somehow, pull them client-side, and do your own implementation of a carousel. With Strattic, theoretically, it’ll work as the HTML, CSS, and JavaScript is still present on the static site. But notably, you don’t have PHP, so Strattic had to hand-build form integrations, they use client-side Algolia for search, Disqus for comments, etc., because there is no server-side language available.

Shifter is another player here. It’s similar to Strattic where you work on your site in the WordPress admin, then publish to a static site. I believe Shifter even spins your WordPress site down when it’s not in use, which makes sense since the output is static and there is no reason a server with PHP and MySQL needs to be running. As an alternative, Shifter has a headless-only WordPress setup that presumably stays spun up all the time for outside API usage.

It’s fun to think about all this stuff

But as I do, I realize that the ideas and discussions around headless WordPress are mostly focused on the developer. WordPress has this huge market of people who just are not developers. Yet, they administer a WordPress site, taking advantage of the plugin and theme ecosystem. That’s kinda cool, and it’s impressive that WordPress serves both markets so well. There’s just a heck of a lot more WordPress site owners who aren’t developers than those who are, I reckon, so that alone will keep headless WordPress from being anything more than a relatively niche concept for some time. But, ya know, if they wanna put GraphQL in core, I’ll still take it kthxbye.


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I Just Wanna Make Sure You Understand the WordPress.com Business Plan

WordPress.com is where you go to use WordPress that is completely hosted for you. You don’t have to worry about anything but building your site. There is a free plan to get started with, and paid plans that offer more features. The Business plan is particularly interesting, and my guess is that most people don’t fully understand everything that it unlocks for you, so let’s dig into that.

You get straight up SFTP access to your site.

Here’s me using Transmit to pop right into one of my sites over SFTP.

What this means is that you can do local WordPress development like you normally would, then use real deployment tools to kick your work out to production (which is your WordPress.com site). That’s what I do with Buddy. (Here a screencast demonstrating the workflow.)

That means real control.

I can upload and use whatever plugins I want. I can upload and use whatever themes I want. The database too — I get literal direct MySQL access.

I can even manage what PHP version the site uses. That’s not something I’d normally even need to do, but that’s just how much access there is.

A big jump in storage.

200 GB. You’ll probably never get anywhere near that limit, unless you are uploading video, and if you are, now you’ve got the space to do it.

Backups you’ll probably actually use.

You don’t have to worry about anything nasty happening on WordPress.com, like your server being hacked and losing all your data or anything. So in that sense, WordPress.com is handling your backups for you. But with the Business plan, you’ll see a backup log right in your dashboard:

That’s a backup of your theme, data, assets… everything. You can download it anytime you like.

The clutch feature? You can restore things to any point in time with the click of a button.

Powered by a global CDN

Not every site on WordPress.com is upgraded to the global CDN. Yours will be if it’s on the Business plan. That means speed, and speed is important for every reason, including SEO. And speaking of SEO tools, those are unlocked for you on the Business plan as well.

Some of the best themes unlock at the Premium/Business plan level.

You can buy them one-off, but you don’t have to if you’re on the Business plan because it opens the door for more playing around. This Aquene theme is pretty stylish with a high-end design:

It’s only $ 300/year.

So it’s not ultra-budget hosting, but the price tag is a lot less if you consider all the things we covered here and how much they cost if you were to cobble something together yourself. And we didn’t even talk about support, which is baked right into the plan.

Hosting, backups, monitoring, performance, security, plugins, themes, and support — toss in a free year or domain registration, and that’s a lot of website for $ 300.

They have less expensive plans as well. But the Business plan is the level where serious control, speed, and security kick in.


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That’s Just How I Scroll

How do you know a page (or any element on that page) scrolls? Well, if it has a scrollbar, that’s a pretty good indication. You might still have to scrapple with your client about “the fold” or whatever, but I don’t think anyone is confused at what a scrollbar is or what it indicates.

But let’s say there is no scrollbar. That’s super common. macOS hides scrollbars by default and only shows them during scroll. Most mobile browsers don’t have scrollbars, even if you attempt to force them with something like overflow: scroll;.

Why does this matter? If you don’t know an area is scrollable, you might miss out on important content or functionality.

I regularly think about the Perfectly Cropped story from Tyler Hall. There is a screen on iOS that has important functionality you need to scroll down to, but there is no indicator whatsoever that you can scroll there.

The result of that was Tyler’s mom literally not being able to find functionality she was used to. Not great.

There is an elaborate way to detect visible scrollbars and force them to be visible, but something about that rubs me the wrong way. It doesn’t honor a user’s preference (assuming it is the user’s preference), requires DOM manipulation tests, and uses vendor-prefixed CSS (which will probably live a long time, but has been standardized now, so maybe not forever).

I enjoy these approaches and by Chris Smith and his thinking:

My favorite are the shadow-based techniques. To me an inset shadow is a really clear indicator, as it makes it appear that content is flowing underneath and the shadow follows an edge that as a hint that you can scroll in that direction. Plus, you’ve got CSS control there so I’d think it could match whatever UI situation you’re in fairly easily.

It should be known though that it can be done entirely in CSS though, no JavaScript, and is one of the great CSS tricks.


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Just another +1 for subgrid

I’d say 85% of my grid usage is in one of these two categories…

  1. I just need some pretty basic (probably equal width) columns that ends up being something like like grid-template-columns: repeat(3, minmax(0, 1fr)); to be safe.
  2. Actually doing some real layout where five minutes in I realize I’d really like subgrid.

Subgrid? It’s a nice intuitive way to have a child element on the grid inherit relevant grid lines from the parent grid.

Here’s a great recent video from Rachel Andrew covering it. Last year, we linked up her talk on the same! It’s such a clutch feature and I wish we could rely on it cross-browser. Right now, Firefox is the only one that has it. (Chrome issue, Safari issue)

In my recent video, right about at 20 minutes, I realize subgrid would make even a fairly simple layout much nicer, like removing the need for variables or resorting to magic numbers.

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Flexbox-like “just put elements in a row” with CSS grid

It occurred to me while we were talking about flexbox and gap that one reason we sometimes reach for flexbox is to chuck some boxes in a row and space them out a little.

My brain still reaches for flexbox in that situation, and with gap, it probably will continue to do so. It’s worth noting though that grid can do the same thing in its own special way.

Like this:

.grid {   display: grid;   gap: 1rem;   grid-auto-flow: column; }

They all look equal width there, but that’s only because there is no content in them. With content, you’ll see the boxes start pushing on each other based on the natural width of that content. If you need to exert some control, you can always set width / min-width / max-width on the elements that fall into those columns — or, set them with grid-template-columns but without setting the actual number of columns, then letting the min-content dictate the width.

.grid {   display: grid;   gap: 1rem;   grid-auto-flow: column;   grid-template-columns: repeat(auto-fit, minmax(min-content, 1fr)); }

Flexible grids are the coolest.

Another thought… if you only want the whole grid itself to be as wide as the content (i.e. less than 100% or auto, if need be) then be aware that display: inline-grid; is a thing.

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Block Links Are a Pain (and Maybe Just a Bad Idea)

As we noted in our complete guide, you can put an <a href=""> link around whatever chunks of HTML you like. Let’s call that a “block link.” Like you are wanting to link up an entire “Card” of content because it makes a big clickable target.

<a href="/article/"> <!-- display: block; -->   <div class="card">     <h2>Card</h2>     <img src="..." alt="...">     <p>Content</p>   </div> </a>

On that, Adrian Roselli:

Perhaps the worst thing you can do for a block link is to wrap everything in the <a href>.

[…] for a screen reader user the entire string is read when tabbing through controls. In the following example, the first link contains the heading, image (without declaring it as an image), and block of text, taking about 25 seconds to read before announcing it as a link. When tabbing, you do not always know the control type until the accessible name is complete.

(The example is a pretty normal looking card with a header, image, and paragraph.)

So don’t do that.

The alternative is to let the link be “normal” like just the header.

<div class="card">   <h2><a href="/article/">Article</a></h2>   <img src="..." alt="...">   <p>Content</p> </div>

The extending the “clickable area” of the link to cover the entire area.

.card {   position: relative; } .card h2 a::after {   content: "";   position: absolute;   top: 0;   left: 0;   width: 100%;   height: 100%; }

That works for the clickable area and solves the penalty to screen reader users.

But there is another problem that hurts both of these solutions, and it’s text selection. You can’t just put your cursor somewhere in the card and select text normally. The click activates the link, waiting for you to mouseup while still on the link to trigger it. You don’t get the ability to select inner parts of the text as you would probably expect. It doesn’t prevent the ability to select the text at all, but it makes it awkward and annoying.

I’m not sure that is easily solveable. Perhaps there is some exotic JavaScript solution that can detect if you’ve started to select text and then not trigger a click, but if you click without dragging then it does go to the link. Something about that is a bit red-flaggy to me though.

All in all, I’d say block links are just a bad idea. But I’d love to be proven wrong and see a really good implementation that solves all these issues.

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Just Dropping Some Type Links

I’ve had a bunch of tabs open that just so happen to all be related to typography, so I figured I’d give myself the mental release of closing them by blogging them. How’s that for a blog post format for ya: whatever random tabs you’ve had open for far too long.

  • Times New Roman is popular on the web in the sense that it’s a default font installed on most computers and safe to use without having to load any web fonts. But it’s also the default font that (all?) web browsers use if you don’t declare a font-family at all so, in that sense, it sometimes feels like a site is broken on accident when Times is used. Typewolf has a nice list of alternatives if you like the vibe but need something different.
  • Speaking of Times, err, The New York Times profiles TypeThursday with a pretty funny correction where they got the typeface name wrong.
  • In the last month of 2019, Tyopgraphica published their favorite typefaces of 2018. Fern grabs me.
  • Una Kravets has a “designing in the browser” video about typography on the Chrome Developers channel on YouTube. About 11 minutes in, she gets into variable fonts which are just incredible. I know they are capable of all sorts of amazing things (even animation), but I remain the most excited about performance: loading one font and having tons of design control.
  • Florens Verschelde’s “A short history of body copy sizes on the Web” gets into how typical font size usage has crept up and up over the years.
  • Alina Sava makes the argument that font licensing is ill. Primarily: pricing web fonts based on page views. As someone who works on some high-traffic / fairly-low-profit websites, it’s hard to disagree.
  • Matej Latin covers five fonts designed for coding that have ligatures. Ya know, instead of != you get , but only visually rather than actually changing the characters that are used as I did there. Ligatures are a neat trick to use (another trick: ligatures as icons), but Matthew Butterick says “hell no”: The ligature introduces an ambiguity that wasn’t there before. I find it notable that Operator Mono chose not to go there. I feel like I overheard a discussion about it once but can’t dig it up now. I know there is a way to add them, and it’s a little surprising to me that’s legal.
  • Trent popped some new fonts on his blog and shared his font shopping list.
  • You might have noticed some new fonts around here on CSS-Tricks as well, as of a few weeks ago. I just wanted to freshen up the place as I was getting sick of looking at system fonts (they started looking bad to me on Catalina, which is something Andy Baio pointed out is a Chrome Bug, but still). The CSS-Tricks logo has long been Gotham Rounded, so I went back to Hoefler&Co. for the font choices here to kinda stay in the family. The headers use Ringside, monospace content uses Operator Mono, and the body uses Sentinel.

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Responsive Grid Magazine Layout in Just 20 Lines of CSS

I was recently working on a modern take of the blogroll. The idea was to offer readers a selection of latest posts from those blogs in a magazine-style layout, instead of just popping a list of our favorite blogs in the sidebar.

The easy part was grabbing a list of posts with excerpts from our favorite RSS feeds. For that, we used a WordPress plugin, Feedzy lite, which can aggregate multiple feeds into a single time-ordered list — perfect for showcasing their latest offerings. The hard part was making it all look awesome.

The plugin’s default list UI is rather bland, so I wanted to style it to look like a newspaper or magazine website with a mixture of smaller and larger “featured content” panels.

This seems like an ideal case for CSS Grid! Create a grid layout for different layouts, say, one five-column layout and one three-column layout, then use media queries to switch between them at different break points. Right? But do we actually need those media queries — and all the hassle of identifying break points — when we can use grid’s auto-fit options to automatically create a fluid responsive grid for us? 

The approach sounded tempting, but when I started introducing column-spanning elements, I ran into trouble with the grid overflowing on narrow screens. Media queries appeared to be the only solution. That is, until I found a workaround!

After looking at several tutorials on CSS Grid, I found that they largely fall into two camps:

  1. Tutorials that show you how to create an interesting layout with spanned elements, but for a fixed number of columns.
  2. Tutorials that explain how to make a responsive grid that resizes automatically, but with all of the grid items the same width (i.e. without any spanned columns).

I want to make the grid do both: create a fully responsive fluid layout that includes responsively resizing multi-column elements as well.

The beauty is that once you understand the limitations of responsive grids, and why and when column spans break grid responsiveness, it is possible to define a responsive magazine/news style layout in just a dozen lines of code plus one simple media query (or even with no media queries if you are willing to limit your span options).

Here’s a visual showing the RSS plugin right out of the box and what it’ll look like after we style it up. 

(Demo)

This magazine-style grid layout is fully responsive with the colored featured panels adjusting dynamically as the number of columns change. The page displays around 50 posts, but the layout code is agnostic as to the number of items displayed. Ramp up the plugin to show 100 items and the layout stays interesting all the way down.

All of this is achieved using only CSS and with only a single media query to deal with a single column display on the narrowest of screens (i.e. smaller than 460px).

Incredibly, this layout only took 21 lines of CSS (excluding global content styling). However, to achieve such flexibility in such a few lines of code, I had to dig deep into the more obscure parts of some of  CSS Grid and learn how to work around some of its inherent limitations.

The essential elements of the code that produce this layout is incredibly short and a testament to the awesomeness of CSS Grid:

.archive {   display: grid;   grid-template-columns: repeat(auto-fit, minmax(210px, 1fr));   grid-gap: 32px;   grid-auto-flow: dense; }  /* Extra-wide grid-posts */ .article:nth-child(31n + 1) {   grid-column: 1 / -1; } .article:nth-child(16n + 2) {   grid-column: -3 / -1; } .article:nth-child(16n + 10) {   grid-column: 1 / -2; }  /* Single column display for phones */ @media (max-width: 459px) {   .archive {     display: flex;     flex-direction: column;   } }

The techniques in this article could be used equally well to style any dynamically generated content such as the output from a latest posts widget, archive pages or search results.

Creating a responsive grid

I have set up seventeen items displaying a variety of mock content — headlines, images and excerpts — which are all contained in a wrapper

<div class="archive">   <article class="article">     <!-- content -->   </article>      <!-- 16 more articles -->    </div>

The code that turns these items into a responsive grid is remarkably compact:

.archive {   /* Define the element as a grid container */   display: grid;   /* Auto-fit as many items on a row as possible without going under 180px */   grid-template-columns: repeat(auto-fit, minmax(180px, 1fr));   /* A little spacing between articles */   grid-gap: 1em; }

Notice how the heights of the rows automatically adjust to accommodate the tallest content in the row. If you change the width of the Pen, you will see the items grow and shrink fluidly and the number of columns change from one to five, respectively.

The CSS Grid magic at play here is the auto-fit keyword that works hand-in-hand with the minmax() function that’s applied to grid-template-columns.

How it works

We could have achieved the five-column layout alone using this:

.archive {   display: grid;   grid-template-columns: repeat(5, 1fr); }

However, this would create five columns that grow and shrink with different screen widths, but always stay at five columns, resulting in them becoming ridiculously narrow on small screens. The first thought might be to create a bunch of media queries and redefine the grid with different numbers of columns. That would work fine, but with the auto-fit keyword, it is all done automatically.

For auto-fit to work the way we want, we need to use the minmax() function. This tells the browser how small the columns can be squeezed down to followed by the maximum width they can expand to. Any smaller, and it will automatically reduce the number of columns. Any larger, and the number of columns increases.

.archive {   grid-template-columns: repeat (auto-fit, minmax(180px, 1fr)); }

In this example, the browser will fit in as many columns as it can 180px wide. If there is space left over the columns will all grow equally by sharing the remaining space between them —  that’s what the 1fr value is saying: make the columns equal fractions of the available width. 

Drag the window out and as the available space increases the columns all grow equally to use up any additional space. The columns will keep growing until the available space allows for an additional 180px column, at which point a whole new column appears. Decrease the screen width, and the process reverses, perfectly adjusting the grid all the way down to a single column layout. Magic!

And you get all this responsiveness out of just one line of code. How cool is that? 

Creating spans with “autoflow: dense”

So far, we have a responsive grid but all items the same width. For a news or magazine layout we need some content to be featured by spanning two or more columns or even, perhaps, to span all the columns.

To create multi-column spans we can add the column-span feature to the grid items we want to take up more space. For example, if we want the third item in our list to be two columns wide we can add:

.article:nth-child(3) {   grid-column: span 2; }

However, once we start adding spans a number of problems can arise. First, gaps may appear in the grid because a wide item may may not fit on the row, so grid auto-fit pushes it onto the next line, leaving a gap where it would have been:

The easy fix is adding grid-auto-flow: dense to the grid element which tells the browser to fill in any gaps with other items, effectively making the narrower content flow around the wider items like this:

Note that the items are now out of order, with the fourth item coming before the third item, which is double the width. There is no way round this as far as I can tell, and it is one of the limitations you have to accept with CSS Grid.

Check out Geoff Graham’s “The Auto-Flowing Powers of Grid’s Dense Keyword” for an introduction to grid-auto-flow: dense with examples of how it behaves.

Ways to specify spans

There are several ways to indicate how many columns an item should span. The easiest is to apply grid-columns: span [n] to one of the items, where n  is the number of columns the element will span. The third item in our layout has grid-column: span 2, which explains why it is double the width of other items that only span a single column.

Other methods require you to explicitly define grid lines. The numbering system for grid lines is as follows:

Grid lines can be specified from left-to-right using positive values (e.g. 1, 2, 3) or negative values (e.g. -1, -2, -3) to go from right-to-left. These can be used to place items on the grid using the grid-column property like this:

.grid-item {   grid-column: (start track) / (end track); }

So, this gives us additional ways to specify a spanned item. This is especially flexible as either the start or end value can be replaced with the span keyword. For example, the three-column blue box in the example above could be created by adding any of the following to the eighth grid item:

  • grid-column: 3 / 6
  • grid-column: -4 / -1
  • grid-column: 3 / span 3
  • grid-column: -4 / span 3
  • grid-column: span 3 / -1
  • Etc.

On a non-responsive (i.e. fixed columns) grid, these all produce the same effect (like the blue box above), however, if the grid is responsive and the number of columns changes, their differences start to become apparent. Certain column spans break the  layout with an auto-flowing grid, making the two techniques appear incompatible. Fortunately, there are some solutions which allow us to combine the two successfully. 

First, however, we need to understand the problem.

Overflow side-scrolling problems

Here are some featured areas created using the notation above:

(Demo)

It all looks good at full-width (five columns) but when resized to what should be two columns, the layout breaks like this:

 As you can see, our grid has lost its responsiveness and, although the container has shrunk, the grid is trying to maintain all five columns. To do so, it has given up trying to keep equal-width columns, and the grid is breaking out of the right-hand side of its container, causing horizontal scrolling.

Why is this? The problem comes about because the browser is trying to honor the explicit grid lines we named. At this width, the auto-fit grid should implicitly be displaying two columns, but our grid line numbering system contradicts this by explicitly referring to the fifth grid line. This contradiction leads to the mess. To display our implicit two-column grid correctly, the only line numbers allowed are 1, 2 and 3 and -3, -2, -1, like this:

But if any of our grid items contains grid-column references that lie outside this, such as grid line number 4, 5 or 6 (or -4, -5 or -6), the browser is getting mixed messages. On the one hand, we have asked it to automatic create flexible columns (which should implicitly give us two columns at this screen width) but we have also explicitly referred to grid lines that don’t appear in a two-column grid. When there is a conflict between implicit (automatic) columns and an implicit number of columns, grid always defers to the explicit grid; hence the unwanted columns and horizontal overflow (which has also been aptly named CSS data loss). Just like using grid line numbers, spans can also create explicit columns. So, grid-column: span 3 (the eighth grid item in the demo) forces the grid to explicitly adopt at least three columns, whereas we want it, implicitly display two.

At this point it might seem like the only way forward is to use media queries to change the grid-column values at the width where our layout breaks — but not so fast! That’s what I assumed at first. But after thinking it though a bit more and playing around with various options, I found there are a limited set of workarounds that work all the way down to two columns, leaving just one media query to cover a single column layout for the narrowest screens.

The solutions

The trick, I realized, is to only specify spans using grid lines that appear in the narrowest grid you intend to display. That is a two-column grid in this case. (We will use a media query to cover the single column scenario for very narrow screens.) That means we can safely use grid lines 1, 2 and 3 (or -3, -2 and -1) without breaking the grid.

I initially thought that meant limiting myself to a maximum span of two columns, using combinations of the following:

  • grid column: span 2
  • grid-column: 1 /3
  • grid-column: -3 / -1

Which remains perfectly responsive right down to two columns:

Although this works, it is rather limiting from a design perspective, and not particularly exciting. I wanted to be able to create spans that would be three, four or even five columns wide on large screens. But how? My first thought was that I would have to resort to media queries (OMG old habits die hard!) but I was trying to get away from that approach and think differently about responsive design.

Taking another look at what we can do with just 1 to 3 and -3 to -1, I gradually realized that I could mix positive and negative line numbers for the grid column’s start and end values ,such as 1/-3 and 2/-2. At first glance, this does not seem very interesting. That changes when you realize where these lines are located as you resize the grid: these spanned elements change width with the screen size. This opened up a whole new set of possibilities for responsive column spans: items that will span different numbers of columns as the screen gets wider, without needing media queries.

The first example I discovered is grid-column: 1/-1.This makes the item act like a full-width banner, spanning from the first to the last column at all column numbers. it even works down to one column wide!

By using grid-column: 1/-2, a left-aligned nearly-full-width span could be created that would always leave a one column item to the right of it. When shrunk to two columns it would shrink responsively to a single column. Surprisingly, it even works when shrunk to a single column layout. (The reason seems to be that grid will not collapse an item to zero width, so it remains one column wide, as does grid-column: 1/1.) I assumed grid-column: 2/-1 would work similarly, but aligned with the right-hand edge, and for the most part it does, except at one column display when it causes overflow.

Next I tried 1/-3  which worked fine on wider screen, showing at least three columns, and smaller screens, showing one column. I thought it would do something weird on a two-column grid as the first grid line is the same as the grid line with -3. To my surprise, it still displays fine as a single-column item. 

After a lot of playing around, I came up with eleven possible grid column values using grid line numbers from the two-column grid. Surprisingly, three of these work right down to single-column layouts. Seven more work down to two columns and would only need a single media query to deal with single column display.

Here is the full list:

Responsive grid-column values, showing how they display at different screen sizes in an auto-fit grid. (Demo)

As you can see, although this is a limited subset of every possible responsive span, there are actually a lot of possibilities.

  • 2/-2 is interesting as it creates a centered span which works all the way down to one column! 
  • 3/-1 is  least useful as it causes overflow even with two-columns.
  • 3/-3 was a surprise.

By using a variety of grid-column values from this list, it is possible to create an interesting and fully responsive layout. Using a single media query for the narrowest single-column display, we have ten different grid-column span patterns to play with.  

The single-column media query is generally straightforward as well. The one on this final demo reverts to using flexbox at smaller screens:

@media (max-width: 680px) {   .archive {     display: flex;     flex-direction: column;   }    .article {     margin-bottom: 2em;   } }

Here is the final grid which, as you can see, is fully responsive from one to five columns:

(Demo)

Using :nth-child() to repeat variable length displays

The last trick I used to get my code down to two dozen lines was the :nth-child(n) selector which I used to style multiple items in my grid. I wanted my span styling to apply to multiple items in my feed, so that the featured post boxes appeared regularly throughout the page. To start with I used a comma-separated selector list, like this:

.article:nth-child(2), .article:nth-child(18), .article:nth-child(34), .article:nth-child(50)  {   background-color: rgba(128,0,64,0.8);   grid-column: -3 / -1; }

But I soon found this cumbersome, especially as I had to repeat this list for each child element I wanted to style within each article — such as the title, links and so on. During prototyping, if I wanted to play around with the position of my spanned elements, I had to manually change the numbers in each of these lists, which was tedious and error prone.

That’s when I realized that I could use a powerful feature :nth-child pseudo-selector instead of a simple integer as I had used in the list above. :nth-child(n) can also take an equation, such as :nth-child(2n+ 2), which will target every second child element.

Here is how I used the :nth-child([formula]) to create the blue full-width panels in my grid which appear at the very top of the page, and is repeated just over half way down:

.article:nth-child(31n + 1) {   grid-column: 1 / -1;   background: rgba(11, 111, 222, 0.5); }

The bit in the brackets (31n + 1 ) ensures that the 1st, 32nd, 63rd, etc. child is selected. The browser runs a loop starting with n=0 (in which case 31 * 0 + 1 = 1), then n=1 (31 * 1 + 1 = 32), then n=2 (31 * 2 + 1 = 63). In the last case, the browser realizes that  there is no 63rd child item so it ignores that, stops looping, and applies the CSS to the 1st and 32nd children.

I do something similar for the purple boxes which alternate down the page from right-to-left:

.article:nth-child(16n + 2) {   grid-column: -3 / -1;   background: rgba(128, 0, 64, 0.8); }  .article:nth-child(16n + 10) {   grid-column: 1 / -2;   background: rgba(128, 0, 64, 0.8); }

The first selector is for the right-hand purple boxes. The 16n + 2 makes sure that the styling applies to every 16th grid item, starting with the second item.

The second selector targets the right-hand boxes. It uses the same spacing (16n) but with a different offset (10). As a result, these boxes appear regularly on the right-hand side for grid items 10, 26, 42, etc.

When it comes to the visual styling for these grid items and their contents, I used another trick to reduce repetition. For styles that both boxes share (such as the background-color, for example) a single selector can be used to target both:

.article:nth-child(8n + 2) {   background: rgba(128, 0, 64, 0.8);   /* Other shared syling */ }

This will target items 2, 10, 18, 26, 34, 42, 50, and so forth.  In other words,  it selects both the left- and right-hand featured boxes.

It works because 8n is exactly half of 16n, and because the offsets used in the two separate selectors have a difference of 8 (i.e. the difference between +10 and +2 is 8) 

Final thoughts

Right now, CSS Grid can be used to create flexible responsive grids with minimal code, but this does come with some significant limitations on positioning elements without the retrograde step of using media queries.

It would be great to be able to specify spans that would not force overflow on smaller screens. At the moment, we effectively tell the browser, “Make a responsive grid, please,” which it does beautifully. But when we continue by saying, “Oh, and make this grid item span four columns,” it throws a hissy-fit on narrow screens, prioritizing the four-column span request rather than the responsive grid. It would be great to be able to tell grid to prioritize responsiveness over our span request. Something like this:

.article {   grid-column: span 3, autofit; }

Another issue with responsive grids is the last row. As the screen width changes the last row will frequently not be filled. I spent a long time looking for a way to make the last grid item span (and hence fill) the remaining columns, but it seems you can’t do it in Grid right now. It would be nice if we could specify the item’s start position with a keyword like auto meaning, “Please leave the left-hand edge wherever it falls.” Like this:

.article {   grid-column: auto, -1; }

…which would make the left-hand edge span to the end of the row.

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