CSS { In Real Life }

Tips, tricks and tutorials on the web’s most beautiful language.

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Building A Dynamic Header With Intersection Observer

Have you ever needed to build a UI where some component on the page needs to respond to elements as they’re scrolled to a certain threshold within the viewport — or perhaps in and out of the viewport itself?

  • Inspecting Sizes

    I don’t know about you, but I’ve often had a designer, looking over a site I’m developing, say something like “Can you move that five pixels to the left?”. The problem is, most of the time I’m not using pixels. It’s frustrating that despite rem or em units generally being a better choice for the web, design tools tend to favour pixels. It means that designers and developers are often speaking different languages when it comes to sizes.

  • Detecting Hover-Capable Devices

    With a greater proliferation of devices than ever before, we developers can no longer rely on viewport size as the factor that determines the styles we serve up to our website users. Up until fairly recently, we might have caught ourselves making assumptions based on the size of a device: that mobile devices would rely on touch input, for instance, while for larger screen sizes we might assume the majority of users would interact with our webpage using a mouse. We might provide different experiences with a media query:

  • Video: Dev Roulette Live

    Last week I had the honour of participating in Dev Roulette Live — a new video series co-ordinated by Stephanie Eckles, where developers are paired up for live conversation about their specialist subjects. The added twist is a roulette wheel, spun at different points to choose topics at random. One of my favourite things to do is talk about CSS, so this was super fun to be a part of!

  • Trigonometry in CSS and JS: A Series

    While working on some demos earlier this year, I started to get really interested in trigonometry. Having left the subject alone since school, I initially started brushing up on my knowledge to solve a specific problem. But I was soon drawn in by how a grasp of trigonometry opens up the possibilities for creative coding!

  • Creating Generative SVG Characters

    I came across George Francis’ work recently, and am completely in love with his generative SVG characters — especially the googly eyes! What I particularly love about these is that they underline how generative art doesn’t have to be serious — it can be playful, whimsical and fun.

  • Toggling CSS Custom Properties with Radio Buttons

    As part of a recent article published on Codrops, I made some demos that allowed the user to toggle between three different values for a clip path using radio buttons. As with so many things these days, I found myself reaching for custom properties! Let’s take a look at why custom properties are great for this.

  • Dynamic CSS Masks with Custom Properties and GSAP

    Learn how to animate CSS masks based on the cursor position using GSAP and custom properties for a unique spotlight effect.

  • Development Budgets

    Personally, I find that one of the hardest things to do as a developer is estimate how long a piece of work will take. At Atomic Smash we’ve developed some processes over time that enable us to estimate a lot of common development tasks with some degree of accuracy:

  • Paper Snowflakes: Combining Clipping and Masking in CSS

    Just after Christmas I made a fun little Codepen demo recreating realistic-looking paper snowflakes in CSS, inspired by our homemade decorations! Christmas might be a distant memory, but there were plenty of learnings from this process that might be interesting to share.

  • Quick Tip: Style Pseudo-elements with Javascript Using Custom Properties

    In Javascript we have a few ways of selecting elements, but we can’t directly target pseudo-elements. Something like this, for instance, won’t work, and will return null:

  • Animating Underlines

    I recently gave my personal website a makeover and included a few cool little CSS tricks. Over the next few posts I’ll share some of these. The first one is all about underlines. Hover over any of the links in the body copy on the site and you’ll notice the underline transitions downwards. On the web it’s pretty common to seeing animated underline effects using pseudo-elements and/or borders. Try hovering on the examples in this demo.

  • Debugging Media Queries: A Dev Tools Wish List

    The Level 5 Media Queries specification brings us the ability to detect a whole load of different user preferences from within our CSS file, and serve up styles accordingly. Current support for the various media queries within the specification is mixed, but there are some that already have widespread support and are safe to use right now. For instance, we can detect whether a user has their system preferences set to dark mode using the prefers-color-scheme media query: