Tag: Than

The Web is for More Than Document Viewing

I poked at a tweet from Ken Kocienda over the weekend:

I don’t know Ken, so I feel a little bad for being harsh. But I haven’t changed how I feel. Saying “Web browsers are for viewing documents” is silly to me at this point, and suggesting it’s “the biggest wrong turn in the history of computing” feels like “your career in web development is invalid” and when people dig at what I do, I notoriously don’t take it well.

The point is silly anyway. Ken posted this on Twitter-dot-com, and then followed up with a link to job postings. I hope we all can see that Ken was literally leveraging the not-just-a-document-viewer nature of the web to help spread his message and help himself. It feels like saying “cars are bad” and then getting in your car to go to the grocery store.

Ship: sailed. The web is incredibly feature-rich far beyond viewing documents. I know the argument is that this was a mistake, not that web browsers aren’t currently capable of more. If that’s true though, what would you have the web do? Start stripping away features? Should we strip browsers down to document viewers? Maybe we just hand the keys to Facebook and we’ll just do whatever they say we should (lolz).

A super-capable open web is excellent. It means we can build things on open standards on the open web rather than things on proprietary technologies in walled gardens. It’s the better place to build things. URLs alone are a reason to build on the web.

There is still nuance to getting it right though. I enjoyed Noam Rosenthal’s baby bear porridge “Should The Web Expose Hardware Capabilities?”, which begins by discussing Alex Russell’s “Platform Adjacency Theory”:

I relate with the author’s passion for keeping the open web relevant, and with the concern that going too slow with enhancing the web with new features will make it irrelevant. This is augmented by my dislike of app stores and other walled gardens. But as a user I can relate to the opposite perspective — I get dizzy sometimes when I don’t know what websites I’m browsing are capable or not capable of doing, and I find platform restrictions and auditing to be comforting.

Maybe we just take it slow and do things carefully. Good slow. Slow, like brisket.

We’re doing that now, if by accident. Google forges ahead extremely quickly. Apple says hold on there, there are security issues here. And a smidge of vice-versa. I’d point out the other forces at work, but I guess we’re kinda down to two major browser vendor players. Not to discount Mozilla, but the choices they make with the web platform don’t affect the momentum of the web all that much at the moment.

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Computed Values: More Than Meets the Eye

Browser DevTools are indispensable for us front end developers. In this article, we’ll take a look at the Computed tab, a small corner of the DevTools panel that shows us big things, like how relative CSS values are resolved. We’ll also see how inheritance fits into the browser’s style computation process.

Screenshot of DevTools window for Chrome in dark mode.
The “Computed” tab is generally located in the right panel of the DevTools interface, like it is shown here in Chrome.

The content in the Computed tab is important because it shows us the values that the browser is actually using on the rendered website. If an element isn’t styled how you think it should be, looking at its computed values can help you understand why.

If you’re more accustomed to using the Styles tab (called Rules in Firefox), you may wonder how it differs from the Computed tab. I mean, they both show styles that apply to an element. The answer? The Computed tab displays an alphabetized list of resolved styles that include what is declared in your stylesheet, those derived from inheritance, and the browser’s defaults.

Screenshot of Chrome DevTools in dark mode. DOM elements are on the left and the Computed Properties information is on the right.
The “Computed” tab takes a selected element (1) and displays a list of CSS properties (2) that have been rendered, allowing each one to be expanded (3) to reveal the cascade of inherited values alongside the actual computed value (4) that is currently in use.

The Styles tab, on the other hand, displays the exact rulesets of a selected element exactly as they were written. So while the Styles tab might show you something like .subhead {font-size: 75%}, the Computed tab will show you the actual font size, or what 70% currently resolves to. For example, the actual font size for the rendered text as shown above is 13.2px.

Screenshot of Chrome DevTools in dark mode. DOM elements are on the left and the Styles information is on the right.
The “Styles” tab takes a selected element (1) and displays the ruleset (2) that is explicitly declared in the stylesheet, followed by other related rulesets that are included in the cascade (3), including those from other stylesheets (4). Notice how overridden values are crossed out, indicating that another property takes precedence.

Next, let’s briefly review the concepts of inheritance and the cascade, two things that are a huge part of how the computed values in the Computed tab are arrived at.

Crash course on inheritance and the cascade

CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheets, and that first word cascading is incredibly important to understand – the way that the cascade behaves is key to understanding CSS.


The cascade is notable because it’s the “C” in CSS. It’s the mechanism used for resolving conflicts that exist between the different sources of style declarations for a document.

For example, imagine a stylesheet that defines the width of a div twice:

div {   width: 65vw; } 
 /* Somewhere, further down */ div {   width: 85vw; }

In this specific example, the second width wins out since it is declared last. The first width could still win with !important but that’s technically breaking the cascade by brute force. The point here is that the cascade algorithm determines what styles apply to each element and prioritizes them in a predetermined order to settle on a value.

The cascade is applied for properties that are set explicitly, whether by the browser, the web developer, or the user. Inheritance comes into the picture when the output of the cascade is empty. When this happens, the computed value of a property on an element’s parent is pulled in as its own value for that property. For example, if you specify a color for an element, all child elements will inherit that color if you don’t specify theirs.

There are four key property values related to inheritance that we should get acquainted with before we plow ahead. We’ll be using these throughout the article.


In an HTML document where the highest level of the DOM tree is the <html> element, when we use the initial keyword on an element like this…

…the text color for that element is black, even though the body element is set to green. There’s the matter of the div selector having a higher specificity, however we’re interested in why initial translated to black.

In plain terms, this keyword sets the default value of a property as specified in its definition table (in the CSS specs). In this case, black happens to be the browser’s implementation of the initial color value.

I mention near the end of the article that you can learn whether or not a property is inherited by default by checking out its page on MDN. Well, you can also find the initial value for any property this way.


For non-inherited properties, this keyword forces inheritance. In the following example, the <body> element has a solid red border. The border property isn’t inherited by default, but we can tell our div to inherit the same red border declared on the <body> element by using the inherit keyword on its border property:


unset will resolve to an inherited value if a property is inherited. Otherwise, the initial value is used. This basically means unset resets a property based on whether it is inherited or not. Here’s a demo that toggles unset to show its effect on elements with different levels of specificity.


If no CSS properties are set on an element, then does it get any styles at all? You bet. It uses the browser’s default styles.

For example, the initial value for the display property for span elements is inline, but we can specify it as block in our stylesheet. Use the button in the following demo to toggle revert on both the span element’s display and color properties:

The span properly reverts to an inline element, but wait! Did you notice that the color of the span goes to a green color instead of the browser’s default black value? That’s because revert allows for inheritance. It will go as far back as the browser’s default to set the color, but since we’ve explicitly set a green color on the <body> element, that’s what is inherited.

Finding computed values in DevTools 

This is where we start talking about the computed values in DevTools. Just as with the default values of properties, the computed value of a CSS property is determined by that property’s definition table in the CSS specifications. Here’s what that looks like for the height property.

Say we use relative lengths in our CSS, like one of 10em or 70% or 5vw. Since these are “relative” to something font-size or the viewport they’ll need to get resolved to a pixel-absolute value. For example, an element with a 10% width may compute to 100px if the viewport is 1000px wide, but some other number altogether when the viewport width changes.

Screenshot of Chrome with DevTools open in dark mode on the right. CSS-Tricks is the open site, the elements tab is open in the center, and the Computed Properties values are open on the left.
A button (1) is the current selected element in DevTools (2). The declared width of the button is 100% (3), which computes to 392px (4) when the viewport is in this condition.

These values are calculated whenever the DOM is modified in a process called computed styles calculation. This is what lets the browser know what styles to apply to each page element.

Style calculations happen in multiple steps involving several values. These are documented in the CSS Cascading and Inheritance Level 4 specification and they all impact the final value we see in the Computed tab. Let’s take a look at those next.

Values and how they’re processed

The values defined for the style calculation process include the declared value, the specified value, the cascaded value, the computed value, the used value, and the actual value. Who knew there were so many, right?

Declared values

A declared value is any property declaration applies to an element. A browser identifies these declarations based on a few criteria, including:

  • the declaration is in a stylesheet that applies to the current document
  • there was a matching selector in a style declaration
  • the style declaration contains valid syntax (i.e, valid property name and value)

Take the following HTML:

<main>   <p>It's not denial. I'm just selective about the reality I accept.</p> </main>

Here are declared values that apply to the font-size of the text:

main {   font-size: 1.2em; /* this would apply if the paragraph element wasn't targeted specifically, and even then, as an inherited value, not "declared value" */ } 
 main > p {   font-size: 1.5em; /* declared value */ }

Cascaded values

The list of all declared values that apply to an element are prioritized based things like these to return a single value:

  • origin of the declaration (is it from the browser, developer, or another source?)
  • whether or not the declaration is marked ‘!important’
  • how specific a rule is (e.g, span {} vs section span {})
  • order of appearance (e.g, if multiple declarations apply, the last one will be used)

In other words, the cascaded value is the “winning” declaration. And if the cascade does not result in a winning declared value, well, then there is no cascaded value.

main > p  {   font-size: 1.2em; } 
 main > .product-description { /* the same paragraph targeted in the previous rule */   font-size: 1.2em; /* cascaded value based on both specificity and document order, ignoring all other considerations such as origin */ }

Specified values

As mentioned earlier, it is possible for the output of the cascade to be empty. However, a value still needs to be found by other means.

Now, let’s say we didn’t declare a value for a specific property on an element, but did for the parent. That’s something we often do intentionally because there’s no need to set the same value in multiple places. In this case, the inherited value for the parent is used. This is called the specified value.

In many cases, the cascaded value is also the specified value. However, it can also be an inherited value if there is no cascaded value and the property concerned is inherited, whether by default or using the inherit keyword. If the property is not inherited, then the specified value is the property’s initial value, which, as mentioned earlier, can also be set explicitly using the initial keyword.

In summary, the specified value is the value we intend to use on an element, with or without explicitly declaring it on that element. This is a little murky because the browser’s default can also become the specified value if nothing is declared in the stylesheet.

/* Browser default = 16px */ 
 main > p {   /* no declared value for font-size for the paragraph element and all its ancestors */ }

Computed values

Earlier, we discussed, briefly, how relative values needed to be resolved to their pixel-absolute equivalent. This process, as already noted, is pre-determined. For example, property definition tables have a “Computed value” field that detail how specified values, in general, are resolved.

Screenshot of the specifications section of the color property, taken from the MDN docs. The "Computed value" field is highlighted.
The specifications section of the MDN docs for the color property.

In the following example, we’re working with the em, a relative unit. Here, the final value used when rendering the element to which the property applies is not a fixed number as seen in our declared value, but something that needs to be calculated based on a few factors.

main {   font-size: 1.2em; } 
 main > p {   font-size: 1.5em; /* declared value */ }

The font-size of the paragraph element is set to 1.5em, which is relative to the font-size value of the main element, 1.2em. If main is a direct child of the body element – and no additional font-size declarations are made above that, such as by using the :root selector – we can assume that the calculation for the paragraph’s font-size will follow this approximate course:

Browser_Default_FontSize = 16px; Calculated_FontSize_For_Main = 1.2 * Browser_Default_FontSize; // 19.2px Calculated_FontSize_For_Paragraph = 1.5 * Calculated_FontSize_For_Main; // 28.8px

That 28.8px is the computed value. Here’s a demo:

Open up DevTools and check out the computed font sizes in the Computed tab.

Screenshot of Chrome DevTools open to the Element view with Computed Properties open.
The declared font-size for the main element is 1.2em, which computes to 19.2px.
Screenshot of Chrome DevTools open to the Element view with Computed Properties open.
The declared font-size for the paragraph element is 1.5em, which computes to 28.8px.

Let’s say we’re using rem units instead:

html {   font-size: 1.2em; } 
 main {   font-size: 1.5rem; } 
 div {   font-size: 1.7rem; }

The computed value of a rem unit is based on the font-size of the root HTML element, so that means that the calculation changes a little bit. In this specific case, we’re using a relative unit on the HTML element as well, so the browser’s default font-size value is used to calculate the base font-size we’ll use to resolve all our rem values.

Browser_Default_FontSize = 16px Root_FontSize = 1.2 * Browser_Default_FontSize; // 19.2px Calculated_FontSize_For_Main = 1.5 * Root_FontSize; // 28.8px Calculated_FontSize_For_Div = 1.7 * Root_FontSize; // 32.64px

Open up DevTools again for this demo:

The value, 16px, for Browser_Default_FontSize is commonly used by browsers, but this is subject to variation. To see your current default, select the <html> element in DevTools and check out the font-size that is shown for it. Note that if a value was set for the root element explicitly, just as in our example, you may have to toggle it off in the Rules tab. Next, toggle on the “Show all” or “Browser styles” (Firefox) checkbox in the Computed tab to see the default.

During inheritance, computed values are passed down to child elements from their parents. The computation process for this takes into account the four inheritance-controlling keywords we looked at earlier. In general, relative values become absolute (i.e. 1rem becomes 16px). This is also where relative URLs become absolute paths, and keywords such as bolder (value for the font-weight property) get resolved. You can see some more examples of this in action in the docs.

Used values

The used value is the final result after all calculations are done on the computed value. Here, all relative values are turned absolute. This used value is what will be applied (tentatively) in page layout. You might wonder why any further calculations have to happen. Wasn’t it all taken care of at the previous stage when specified values were processed to computed values?

Here’s the thing: some relative values will only be resolved to pixel-absolutes at this point. For example, a percentage-specified width might need page layout to get resolved. However, in many cases, the computed value winds up also being the used value.

Note that there are cases where a used value may not exist. According to the CSS Cascading and Inheritance Level 4 specification:

…if a property does not apply to an element, it has no used value; so, for example, the flex property has no used value on elements that aren’t flex items.

Actual values

Sometimes, a browser is unable to apply the used value straightaway and needs to make adjustments. This adjusted value is called the actual value. Think of instances where a font size needs to be tweaked based on available fonts, or when the browser can only use integer values during rendering and need to approximate non-integer values.

Inheritance in browser style computations

To recap, inheritance controls what value is applied to an element for a property that isn’t set explicitly. For inherited properties, this value is taken from whatever is computed on the parent element, and for non-inherited properties, the initial value for that property is set (the used value when the keyword initial is specified).

We talked about the existence of a “computed value” earlier, but we really need to clarify something. We discussed computed values in the sense of one type of value that takes part in the style resolution process, but “computed value” is also a general term for values computed by the browser for page styling. You’ll typically understand which kind we mean by the surrounding context.

Only computed values are accessible to an inherited property. A pixel-absolute value such as 477px, a number such as 3, or a value such as left (e.g. text-align: left) is ready for the inheritance process. A percentage value like 85% is not. When we specify relative values for properties, a final (i.e. “used”) value has to be calculated. Percentage values or other relative values will be multiplied by a reference size (font-size, for instance) or value (e.g. the width of your device viewport). So, the final value for a property can be just what was declared or it might need further processing to be used.

You may or may not have already noticed, but the values shown in the Computed tab of the browser will not necessarily be the computed values we discussed earlier (as in computed vs. specified or used values). Rather, the values shown are the same as returned by the getComputedStyle() function. This function returns a value which, depending on the property, will either be the computed value or the used value.

Now, let’s see some examples.

Color inheritance

main {   color: blue; }  /* The color will inherit anyway, but we can be explicit too: */ main > p {   color: inherit; }

The value computed for the color property on the main element will be blue. As color is inherited by default, we really didn’t need color: inherit for the paragraph child element because it would wind up being blue anyway. But it helps illustrate the point.

Color values undergo their own resolution process to become used values.

Font size inheritance

main {   font-size: 1.2em; }  main > p {   /* No styles specified */ }

As we saw earlier in the section on values and how they are processed, our relative value for font-size will compute to an absolute value and then be inherited by the paragraph element, even if we don’t explicitly declare it (again, font-size is inherited by default). If we had previously set styles via a global paragraph element selector, then the paragraph may gain some extra styles by virtue of the cascade. Any property values that may be inherited will be, and some properties for which the cascade and inheritance didn’t produce a value will be set to their initial value.

Percentage-specified font size inheritance

body {   font-size: 18px; }  main {   font-size: 80%; }  main > p {   /* No styles specified */ }

Similar to the previous example, the <main> element’s font-size will be absolutized in preparation for inheritance and the paragraph will inherit a font-size that is 80% of the body’s 18px value, or 14.4px.

Forced inheritance and post-layout computation

Computed values generally resolve the specified value as much as possible without layout, but as mentioned earlier, some values can only be resolved post-layout, such as percentage-specified width values. Although width isn’t an inherited property, we can force inheritance for the purpose of illustrating pre-layout and post-layout style resolution.

This is a contrived example but what we’re doing is taking an element out of the page layout by setting its display property to none. We have two divs in our markup that inherit a width, 50%, from their parent element <section>. In the Computed tab in DevTools, the computed width for the first div is absolute, having been resolved to a pixel value (243.75px for me). On the other hand, the width of the second div that was taken out of the layout using display: none is still 50%.

We’ll imagine that the specified and computed value for the parent <section> element is 50% (pre-layout) and the used value is as shown under the Computed tab – that’s 487.5px for me, post-layout. This value is halved for inheritance by the child divs (50% of the containing block).

These values have to be computed whenever the width of the browser’s viewport changes. So, percentage-specified values become percentage-computed values, which become pixel-used values.

Properties that inherit by default

How do you know if a property inherits by default or not? For each CSS property in the MDN docs, there is a specifications section that provides some extra details that include whether or not the property is inherited. Here’s what that looks like for the color property:

Screenshot of the specifications section of the color property, taken from the MDN docs. The "Inherited" field is highlighted.
The specifications section of the MDN docs for the color property.

Which properties are inherited by default and which aren’t is largely down to common sense.


Another reference option is the properties section of the W3C specs. Still another is this StackOverflow thread which may not be exhaustive at the time of writing.

Here are some examples of properties that inherit by default:

Examples of properties that do not (but which you can force to inherit with the inherit keyword):

Hopefully this gives you a solid idea of how browsers compute styles and how to reference them in DevTools. As you can see, there’s a lot that goes into a value behind the scenes. Having that context goes a long way in helping you troubleshoot your work as well as furthering your general understanding of the wonderful language we know as CSS.

Further reading

The post Computed Values: More Than Meets the Eye appeared first on CSS-Tricks.

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Is it better to use ems/rems than px for font-size?

The answer used to be absolutely yes because, if you used px units, you prevented the text from being resized by the user at all.

But browser zoom is the default method for making everything bigger (including text) these days and it works great even if you use px.

But… Kathleen McMahon really digs into this and finds that it’s still worth setting all your type (both font-size and line-height) in relative units because:

  1. setting type in px prevents browser settings from making font size adjustments (which some people definitely use) and
  2. setting type in relative units maintains greater design fidelity as users use browser zoom (which a lot of people definitely use).

Direct Link to ArticlePermalink

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Is Web Design Easier or Harder Than it was 10 Years Ago?

Is it harder or easier to build a website now than 10 years ago? Has the bar gone up or down? I don’t have any data for you, but I can shell out some loosey-goosey opinions.


HTML5 was the only big HTML change in the last decade, and it wasn’t particularly dramatic. It’s cool it’s the looser variant (instead of getting XHTML3 or something). More compatible this way. Maybe I’ll close my <br /> and maybe I <br> won’t. Having better semantic tags (e.g. <article>) is great. Input types are wonderful. But none of this pushes HTML to be significantly easier or harder.



CSS has gotten easier. We use way fewer “hacks” all the time. I can literally feel it. The CSS we write today feels so intentional and direct. 10 years ago I feel like every other element had some kind of weird hack on it, and today, almost none. If CSS feels any harder, I’d wager it’s because the sites we’re building are bigger and more complex so the styling systems for them need to be all the more robust and the dangers of getting it wrong more stark.



I’m sure there are strong arguments to be made both ways here. The language, perhaps, with all its recent syntactic innovation… perhaps easier. But what JavaScript is being asked to do, and what we’re doing with it, is so astronomically larger that more difficulty comes along for the ride. It’s similar to CSS in that way, but even more pronounced since we’re not just doing what we were before on a new scale; we’re building entire interfaces with the language in a way we just weren’t before.



I mention this one because it’s such a crucial step in any given person’s ability to go from zero to actually having a website.

I don’t think buying a domain name is any easier. Domain names are a commodity market, so the companies selling you them are selling you them for some other reason, meaning the incentive is very high for them to push other products on you. For someone entirely green, I can imagine the confusion is either high or they don’t know enough for the confusion to settle in yet. Do I buy it through this page builder thing? Do I have to buy it through this page builder thing? Do I need the WHOIS protection? Oh god, what even is DNS? I guess I do want email, right? Or is that like some weird special hosted email? Ughjakd. I’m gonna call it a wash. Nothing has made this any easier or harder in a decade.



There is so much money in hosting it kind of blows my mind that we don’t see deeper innovation here. I might argue it’s a little easier these days. But commodity low-end hosting isn’t terribly different or being any more or less helpful than it was a decade ago. We’re still largely stringing together our own bespoke build and deployment processes like we were 10 years ago.

Large-scale stuff might have seen a lot of innovation, a la AWS, but nobody is going to argue that stuff is anywhere near easy.

The most innovation we’ve seen is from companies like Netlify and Zeit who are looking at the developer experience wholistically from helping you run things locally, to testing builds in staging, to immutable deploys. I’d love to see all hosting companies realize that every single one of their customers needs to get their code onto their platforms and they have a massive opportunity to help us do that directly.

Slightly easier.

How people actually do it

I like thinking about HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. But of course, precious few people actually start with those technologies to build actual websites from scratch. Really they end up being treated as underlying technologies you dabble in amongst a slew of other tech.

You can build a website from just an index.html file. I’d argue more people should. But people reach for more “complete” solutions and customize from there. I know I did. The first websites I ever created were WordPress because it was a whole website in a box (with its own struggles) and I customized it. People still do that today, probably more now than 10 years ago, and I don’t feel like it’s significantly easier or harder. Or they reach for something familiar. I made a one-page index.html site not long ago, only to have it picked up by another developer who turned it into a create-react-app site but otherwise changed nothing. They just didn’t know how to work on it without React.

Or they use WordPress.com, or Squarespace, or Wix, or Shopify, or BigCommerce, or you know what I mean. This isn’t about what people can do, it’s about what people do do. And for most people, these apps significantly lower the bar of creating a website.

So, for the average person, is it easier or harder to go from zero to having some kind of website?

Much easier.

Can people actually do it?

If we’re talking about creating from scratch, it’s interesting to see who feels like they even hold those keys anymore. The whole idea for this post came from a conversation I had with someone who has been a front-end developer and was asked to build a website by a friend. They declined because they didn’t know how.

Some part of that doesn’t surprise me. As I write, the world is awfully full of React-specific developers working on huge sites (partially due to boot camps, partially due to market demand). They understand that very specific ecosystem and are perfectly productive within it, but don’t have a wider understanding of how it all comes together to make the complete site.

Specialists are specialists!

Another part of me is surprised. You know an index.html file with “Hello, World!” in it can be a website, right? Even React devs are generally highly aware of create-react-app and how that scaffolds out a ready-to-rock site. Tools like Stackbit slap together a JAMstack site for you that can go anywhere. For developers, it seems to be going from zero to website is a heck of a lot easier these days.

Much easier.

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Filtering Lists Dynamically With Vue on the Server Side is Easier Than You’d Think

I recently attended the ARTIFACT conference in Austin, TX, and was inspired by a few talks about accessibility through the lens of site performance. It became clear to me that there is this tendency to rely on big JavaScript frameworks to handle the work — like React, Vue, and Angular — but that can be overkill in some cases. That is, negatively affecting site performance, and thus accessibility. At the same time, these frameworks can make development easier and more efficient for developers. My big takeaway from the conference was to see how a fast, performant experience can be balanced with my own development process.

This was on my mind as I was building a list-filtering feature on a project a few days after the conference. Pretty standard stuff: I needed a list of posts and some category filtering. I was using CraftCMS for front-end routes and templating as well as some Vue components here and there for some added JavaScript juiciness. Not a full-on “single page app” but more like a sprinkle of Vue.

The typical way one might approach this is to:

  1. render the page with an empty div using Craft/Twig
  2. mount a Vue component to that div
  3. make an Ajax call from the Vue component to an API to gather the posts as JSON
  4. render the posts and tie in the filtering.

Since the posts are held as an array within Vue, dynamic list rendering is a pretty cut and dry task.

Simple. Done, right? Well… that extra Ajax request means the user is presented with no content on the initial load depending on the user’s network, which might take some time. We could add a loading indicator, but maybe we can do better?

Preferably, the posts are rendered on the initial page request from the CMS.

But how do we get the static HTML “hooked up” with Vue for the filtering?

After taking a step back to rethink the problem, I realized I could use v-if directives to achieve the same thing with some inline JavaScript from Twig (“in the loop”). Below, I’ll show how I went about it.

My original project used CraftCMS, but I’m going to do the demos below in WordPress. This is just a concept. It can be applied to CraftCMS/Twig or any other CMS/templating engine combo.

First we need a filtering UI. This will likely go above the start of the loop in an archive template.

<?php $  terms = get_terms( [   'taxonomy' => 'post_tag', // I used tags in this example, but any taxonomy would do   'hide_empty' => true,   'fields' => 'names' ] );  if(!empty($  terms)): ?>   <div>     Filter:      <ul class="filters">       <li class="filters__item"><button class="filters__button" :class="{'filters__button--active': tag === ''}" @click="tag = ''">All</button></li>       <?php foreach($  terms as $  term): ?>       <li class="filters__item">         <button class="filters__button" :class="{'filters__button--active': tag === '<?php echo $  term; ?>'}" @click="tag = '<?php echo $  term; ?>'"><?php echo $  term; ?></button>       </li>       <?php endforeach; ?>     </ul>     <p aria-live="polite">Showing posts tagged {{ tag ? tag : 'all' }}.</p>   </div> <?php endif; ?>

Following along with the code, we get some tags from WordPress with get_terms() and output them in a foreach loop. You’ll notice the button for each tag has some Vue directives we’ll use later.

We have our loop!

    <div class="posts">       <?php       // Start the Loop.       while ( have_posts() ) : the_post();              <article id="post-<?php the_ID(); ?>"           <?php post_class(); ?>           v-if='<?php echo json_encode(wp_get_post_tags(get_the_ID(),  ['fields' => 'names'])); ?>.includes(tag) || tag === ""'         >           <header class="entry-header">             <h2><?php the_title(); ?></h2>           </header>                <div class="entry-content">             <?php the_excerpt(); ?>           </div>         </article>            // End the loop.       endwhile; ?>     </div>

This is a pretty standard WordPress loop for posts. You’ll notice some Vue directives that make use of PHP outputting CMS content.

Aside from some styling, all that’s left is the Vue “app.” Are you ready for it? Here it is:

new Vue({   el: '#filterablePosts',   data: {     'tag': ''   } });

Yes, really, that’s all that’s needed in the JavaScript file to get this to work!

So, what’s going on here?

Well, instead of some JSON array of posts that gets fed into Vue, we output the posts on the initial page load with WordPress. The trick is to use PHP to output what’s needed in the Vue directives: v-if and :class.

What’s happening on the filter buttons is an onclick event handler (@click) that sets the Vue variable “tag” to the value of the WordPress post tag.

@click="tag = '<?php echo $  term; ?>'"

Also, if that Vue variable equals the value of the button (in the :class directive), it adds an active class for the button. This is just for styling.

:class="{'filters__button--active': tag === '<?php echo $  term; ?>'}"

For the list of articles, we conditionally display them based on the value of the Vue “tag” variable:

v-if='<?php echo json_encode(wp_get_post_tags(get_the_ID(),  ['fields' => 'names'])); ?>.includes(tag) || tag === ""'

The PHP function json_encode allows us to output an array of post tags as JavaScript, which means we can use .includes() to see if the Vue “tag” variable is in that array. We also want to show the article if no tag is selected.

Here it is put together using the Twenty Nineteen theme template archive.php as a base:

<?php get_header(); ?>   <section id="primary" class="content-area">     <main id="main" class="site-main">       <?php if ( have_posts() ) : ?>         <header class="page-header">           <?php the_archive_title( '<h1 class="page-title">', '</h1>' ); ?>         </header>          <div class="postArchive" id="filterablePosts">           <?php $  terms = get_terms( [               'taxonomy' => 'post_tag',               'hide_empty' => true,               'fields' => 'names'           ] );            if(!empty($  terms)): ?>             <div class="postArchive__filters">               Filter:                <ul class="postArchive__filterList filters">                 <li class="filters__item"><button class="filters__button" :class="{'filters__button--active': tag === ''}" @click="tag = ''" aria-controls="postArchive__posts">All</button></li>                    <?php foreach($  terms as $  term): ?>                   <li class="filters__item">                     <button class="filters__button" :class="{'filters__button--active': tag === '<?php echo $  term; ?>'}" @click="tag = '<?php echo $  term; ?>'" aria-controls="postArchive__posts"><?php echo $  term; ?></button>                   </li>                 <?php endforeach; ?>                  </ul>                  <p aria-live="polite">Showing {{ postCount }} posts tagged {{ tag ? tag : 'all' }}.</p>             </div>           <?php endif; ?>              <div class="postArchive__posts">               <?php               // Start the Loop.               while ( have_posts() ) : the_post(); ?>                 <article                   id="post-<?php the_ID(); ?>"                   <?php post_class(); ?>                   v-if='<?php echo json_encode(wp_get_post_tags(get_the_ID(), ['fields' => 'names'])); ?>.includes(tag) || tag === ""'                 >                   <header class="entry-header">                     <h2><?php the_title(); ?></h2>                   </header>                            <div class="entry-content">                       <?php the_excerpt(); ?>                   </div>                  </article>               <?php endwhile; // End the loop. ?>           </div>         </div>               <?php       // If no content, include the "No posts found" template.       else :         get_template_part( 'template-parts/content/content', 'none' );       endif; ?>     </main>   </section>  <?php get_footer();

Here’s a working example on CodePen

See the Pen
Dynamic List Filtering in Vue using Server-side data fetching
by Dan Brellis (@danbrellis)
on CodePen.

Bonus time!

You may have noticed that I added in an aria-live="polite" notifier below the filter button list to let assistive tech users know the content has changed.

<p aria-live="polite">Showing {{ postCount }} posts tagged {{ tag ? tag : 'all' }}.</p>

To get the postCount Vue variable, we add some extra JavaScript to our Vue component:

new Vue({   el: '#filterablePosts',   data: {     'tag': '',     'postCount': '' },   methods: {     getCount: function(){       let posts = this.$  el.getElementsByTagName('article');       return posts.length;   }   },   beforeMount: function(){     this.postCount = this.getCount();   },   updated: function(){     this.postCount = this.getCount();   } });</p>

The new method getCount is used to select the article elements in our component div and return the length. Before the Vue component mounts we get the count to add to our new Vue postCount variable. Then, when the component updates after the user selects a tag, we get the count again and update our variable.


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Better Than Native

Andy Bell wrote up his thoughts about the whole web versus native app debate which I think is super interesting. It was hard to make it through the post because I was nodding so aggressively as I read:

The whole idea of competing with native apps seems pretty daft to me, too. The web gives us so much for free that app developers could only dream of, like URLs and the ability to publish to the entire world for free, immediately.

[…] I believe in the web and will continue to believe that building Progressive Web Apps that embrace the web platform will be far superior to the non-inclusive walled garden that is native apps and their app stores. I just wish that others thought like that, too.

Andy also quotes Jeremy Keith making a similar claim to bolster the point:

If the goal of the web is just to compete with native, then we’ve set the bar way too low.

I entirely agree with both Andy and Jeremy. The web should not compete with native apps that are locked within a store. The web should be betterin every way — it can be faster and more beautiful, have better interactions, and smoother animations. We just need to get to work.

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Web Designs That Feel Like Ancient History, but Are More Recent Than You Think

Flickr announced not long ago that they are limiting free accounts to 1,000 photos. I don’t particularly mind that (because it seems like sound business sense), although it is a bit sad that a ton of photos will be nuked from the internet. I imagine the Internet Archive will swoop in and get most of it. And oh hey, the Twitter account @FlickrJubilee is showcasing Flickr users that could really use a gifted pro account so their amazing photos are not lost, if you’re feeling generous and want to contribute.

This change doesn’t affect pro accounts. I’ve been pro forever on Flickr, so my photos were never at risk, but the big change has me thinking it’s about time to spin down Flickr for myself. I’ve been keeping all my photos on iCloud/Photos for years now anyway so it seems kind redundant to keep Flickr around.

I went into the Flickr settings and exported all my photos, got a bunch of gigabytes of exported photos, and loaded them into Photos. Sadly, the exported photos have zero metadata, so there will forever be this obnoxious chunk of thousands upon thousands of photos in my Photos collection that all look like they were taken on the same day and with no location.

Anyway, that was way too long of an intro to say: I found a bunch of old website screenshots! Not a ton, but it looks like I used Flickr to store a handful of web designs I found interesting in some way a number of years back. What’s interesting today is how dated they look when they were created not that long ago. Shows how fast things change.

Here they are.

It’s not terribly surprising to me to hear people push back on the same-ness of web design these days, and to blame things like frameworks, component-driven architecture, and design systems for it. It wasn’t long ago when it seemed like we were trying harder to be fancy and unique with our designs — things like shadow treatments, reflective images and skeuomorphic enhancements. I don’t mean to make sweeping generalizations here… merely a difference between what we considered to be boring and fancy work back than compared to now, of course.

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