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Think Vitamin - CSS Frameworks

Nathan Smith
March 02, 2012

Think Vitamin - CSS Frameworks

Online talk I gave for Think Vitamin's online HTML & CSS conference, on the topic of "The Why, How, and When?" of CSS Frameworks.


Nathan Smith

March 02, 2012

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  1. Just a brief intro, then we’ll dig right into the

    good stuff... I’m Nathan. I am a designer (slash) front-end developer at Fellowship Technologies. http://fellowshiptech.com/
  2. But I’m not (entirely) one dimensional. Today, I we are

    going to discuss some of the benefits (and drawbacks) of using CSS frameworks such as...
  3. You know why? CSS frameworks are not magic. Because CSS

    itself isn’t. Let’s not treat code like it’s mystical. (Same for jQuery. But that’s another soapbox entirely.)
  4. Veteran “ninjas” master a variety of tools – Not just

    one. Use a framework as an extension of yourself – Not just as a crutch. BY HAND FRAMEWORK http://imdb.com/title/tt1046173/
  5. WHY use a Framework? + Increase efficiency + Code consistency

    + Browser tested + Ease of maintenance + Repeatable process + CMS driven templates
  6. WHY not? – Learning curve – Bloated HTML – Bloated

    CSS – Code feels foreign – Longhand is quicker? – Unsemantic classes
  7. I have found that many of those who cry “bloat”

    (as a reason not to use frameworks) are themselves guilty of not doing all they can to reduce client-side latency. For instance, referencing multiple CSS files of the same media type is wasteful because it necessitates an HTTP request for each file, thereby delaying page rendering until all the files have been downloaded and parsed. Additionally, whitespace can quickly add up: newline characters, tabbed (or spaced) indentation, etc... — Nathan Smith (.Net Magazine July 2010)
  8. ... Regardless of if you are using a CSS framework,

    you can and should be using techniques to mitigate the impact of CSS downloads, including minification and concatenation – two fancy terms that simply refer to the removal of unnecessary whitespace, and combining multiple CSS files into one... If you want to minify your CSS manually, I would recommend CSS Drive’s compressor. — Nathan Smith (.Net Magazine July 2010) http://www.cssdrive.com/index.php/main/csscompressor/
  9. http://www.w3.org/TR/html401/struct/global.html#h-7.5.4 The div and span elements, in conjunction with the

    id and class attributes, offer a generic mechanism for adding structure to documents. These elements define content to be inline (span) or block-level (div) but impose no other presentational idioms on the content. — World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) DIV + SPAN ARE SEMANTICALLY MEANINGLESS (aka NEUTRAL)
  10. http://www.w3.org/standards/semanticweb/ The term “Semantic Web” refers to W3C’s vision of

    the Web of linked data. Semantic Web technologies enable people to create data stores on the Web, build vocabularies, and write rules for handling data. Linked data are empowered by technologies such as RDF, SPARQL, OWL, and SKOS. — World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) SORRY CSS... YOU WEREN’T INVITED TO THIS PARTY. WE STILL — YOU.
  11. <header> ... </header> <nav> ... </nav> <article> ... </article> <footer>

    ... </footer> <div class="header"> ... </div> <div class="nav"> ... </div> <div class="article"> ... </div> <div class="footer"> ... </div> DIV + ID / CLASS = ZERO SEMANTIC VALUE HTML5 TAGS = RICH SEMANTIC VALUE
  12. Grid Typography PSD files Form styles Print styles “Plugins” RTL

    lang Blueprint ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ YUI ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ 960.gs ✓ ✓ ✓ * ✓ 1KB Grid ✓ CSS Framework Comparison Matrix – Sounds really official, huh?
  13. http://960.gs/ + Acorn + Adobe Fireworks + Adobe Flash +

    Adobe InDesign + Adobe Illustrator + Adobe Photoshop + Corel DRAW + Expression Design + GIMP + InkScape + OmniGraffle + Visio ... and printable PDF sketch sheets. The 960 Grid System has templates for... *
  14. <div class="container"> <div class="span-8"> 1/3 width </div> <div class="span-8"> 1/3

    width </div> <div class="span-8 last"> 1/3 width </div> <div class="span-12"> <div class="span-6"> 1/8 width </div> <div class="span-6 last"> 1/4 width </div> </div> <div class="span-12 last"> <div class="span-6 prepend-3 append-3 last"> 1/4 width </div> </div> </div> Example of Blueprint HTML http://blueprintcss.org/
  15. http://960.gs/ <div class="container_24"> <div class="grid_8"> 1/3 width </div> <div class="grid_8">

    1/3 width </div> <div class="grid_8"> 1/3 width </div> <div class="grid_12"> <div class="grid_6 alpha"> 1/8 width </div> <div class="grid_6 omega"> 1/4 width </div> </div> <div class="grid_12"> <div class="grid_6 prefix_3 suffix_3 alpha omega"> 1/4 width </div> </div> </div> Comparable example of 960.gs HTML (24-col)
  16. .span-1, .span-2, ... { float: left; margin-right: 10px; } .span-1

    { width: 30px; } .prepend-1 { padding-left: 40px; } .append-1 { padding-right: 40px; } .last { margin-right: 0; } Example of Blueprint CSS http://blueprintcss.org/ .pull-1, .pull-2, ... { float: left; position:relative; } .pull-1 { margin-left: -40px; } .push-1, .push-2, ... { float: right; position:relative; } .push-1 { margin: 0 -40px 1.5em 40px; }
  17. .container_24 .grid_1, .container_24 .grid_2, ... { display: inline; float: left;

    margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px; } .container_24 .grid_1 { width: 30px; } .container_24 .prefix_1 { padding-left: 40px; } .container_24 .suffix_1 { padding-right: 40px; } .alpha { margin-left: 0; } .omega { margin-right: 0; } Example of 960.gs CSS (24-col) .push_1, .pull_1, .push_2, .pull_2 { position: relative; } .container_24 .push_1 { left: 40px; } .container_24 .pull_1 { right: 40px; } Note: Whereas Blueprint’s push + pull classes are used for content (offset images / quotes), the push + pull classes in 960.gs are used to rearrange entire columns, independent of source order. This has practical implications for SEO. http://960.gs/
  18. http://developer.yahoo.com/yui/3/ <div class="container"> <div class="yui3-g"> <div class="yui3-u-1-2"> 1/2 width </div>

    <div class="yui3-u-1-2"> 1/2 width </div> </div> <div class="yui3-g"> <div class="yui3-u-1-24"> 1/24 width </div> <div class="yui3-u-23-24"> 23/24 width </div> </div> </div> YUI 3’s grid is fluid. It doesn’t use any floats. WHAT!?
  19. .yui3-g { /* webkit: collapse white-space between units */ letter-spacing:

    -0.31em; /* reset IE < 8 */ *letter-spacing: normal; /* IE < 8 && gecko: collapse white-space between units */ word-spacing: -0.43em; } .yui3-u, .yui3-u-1, .yui3-u-1-2, ... { display: inline-block; /* IE < 8: fake inline-block */ zoom: 1; *display: inline; letter-spacing: normal; word-spacing: normal; vertical-align: top; } .yui3-u-1 { display: block; } .yui3-u-1-2 { width: 50%; } .yui3-u-1-3 { width: 33.33333%; } Example of YUI 3 Grid CSS Note: Because nothing is floated in YUI, this means that no additional files are needed in order to support languages that read right-to-left (Hebrew, Arabic, etc). But because everything is essentially display: inline-block, and is fluid width, this also means columns cannot be rearranged for SEO purposes. Additionally, an extra wrapping <div> is required to create gutters between content areas. http://developer.yahoo.com/yui/3/
  20. http://1kbgrid.com/ .grid_1 { width:60px; } .grid_2 { width:140px; } .grid_3

    { width:220px; } .grid_4 { width:300px; } .grid_5 { width:380px; } .grid_6 { width:460px; } .grid_7 { width:540px; } .grid_8 { width:620px; } .grid_9 { width:700px; } .grid_10 { width:780px; } .grid_11 { width:860px; } .grid_12 { width:940px; } .column { margin: 0 10px; overflow: hidden; float: left; display: inline; } .row { width: 960px; margin: 0 auto; overflow: hidden; } .row .row { margin: 0 -10px; width: auto; display: inline-block; } 1KB Grid – Entire CSS file! The 1KB Grid has everything you need, and nothing you don’t. Okay, maybe it doesn’t have everything you need. It is – after all – less than 1 kilobyte of code, so it can’t do it all. No right-to-left support. No SEO column re-ordering. But it is incredibly efficient! The 960 Grid System is 5.5KB. You can think of the 1KB Grid as a “lite” version.
  21. <div class="row"> <div class="column grid_6"> <div class="row"> <div class="column grid_6">

    1/2 width </div> </div> <div class="row"> <div class="column grid_2"> 1/6 width </div> <div class="column grid_2"> 1/6 width </div> <div class="column grid_2"> 1/6 width </div> </div> </div> <div class="column grid_6"> 1/2 width </div> </div> Example of 1KB Grid HTML http://1kbgrid.com/
  22. So which CSS framework is the best? It depends... +

    What size site are you building? + Are you working alone or with a team? + Is pixel precision a make-or-break factor? + Do you need right-to-left language support? + Is your layout complex enough to merit SEO? + Do you want ready-made design or just a grid?
  23. Pros: + Fluid (or fixed) Width + Easy RTL support

    + Tested by Yahoo! devs + Part of a larger ecosystem YUI 3.0 Grid Cons: – Source dependent layout – No gutters by default – Rounding % inconsistencies Use when: You need a flexible layout, and when a margin of error ± a few pixels is acceptable. http://developer.yahoo.com/yui/3/
  24. Pros: + Ruby build scripts + Form, button, tab “plugins”

    + Extensive typography + Print stylesheet Blueprint Cons: – Source dependent layout – No outer gutters by default – Design presuppositions (could be a positive though) Use when: You want a design that is ready to go “out of the box” with many of the default details handled for you by default. You want to generate grids via Ruby scripts. http://blueprintcss.org/
  25. Pros: + 12, 16, or 24 column grids + PS

    + FW plugins, templates + Possible SEO benefits + IA, Designer, Dev friendly 960.gs Cons: – Less features than YUI / BP – Focuses solely on grids (could be a positive though) Use when: Building a site with layouts driven by a CMS. If you are doing rapid prototyping or have IA > Designer > Dev workflow. Want layout to differ from source order. http://960.gs/
  26. Pros: + Handy grid generator tool + Easy to get

    started + Lightweight code + No extra nesting classes 1KB Grid Cons: – Source dependent layout – Features < than YUI / BP / 960 – Focuses solely on grids (could be a positive though) Use when: You are building a site that needs a grid layout, but the site’s requirements do not necessitate the overhead of a robust CSS framework. Or code size is a concern. http://1kbgrid.com/
  27. When to build your own... ✓ You have a specific

    need no other framework addresses ✓ You require a grid that is atypical of common frameworks ✓ To try your hand at architecting something others may use Pros: + 100% control over code + Build only what you need Cons: – Debugging is all your burden – Re-inventing the wheel?
  28. 5 Simple Steps to Designing Grid Systems A five-part series

    by Mark Boulton. http://www.markboulton.co.uk/journal/comments/five-simple-steps-to-designing-grid-systems-part-1
  29. FURTHER READING... Frameworks for Designers – Jeff Croft — http://alistapart.com/articles/frameworksfordesigners

    Smart CSS ain’t always sexy CSS – Martin Ringlein — http://digital-web.com/articles/smart_CSS_aint_always_sexy_CSS/ Object Oriented CSS – Nicole Sullivan — http://wiki.github.com/stubbornella/oocss/