2021 in Review
Another year gone by, and it’s time to reflect on the highlights and look ahead to some goals for next year. Like Hidde, I prefer not to dwell too much on the negatives for these end-of-year posts. Suffice to say, in another pandemic year, there have been plenty of lows as well as highs.
There hasn’t been one single new CSS feature in 2021 that’s captured my attention above all others. But CSS continues to evolve and keep pace with developers’ needs. It’s great to see browsers coming through with widespread support for
aspect-ratio. I’ve been using
clamp() a lot more now that they’re widely supported, and finding them super convenient. And there are a lot of exciting new CSS features just over the horizon — some of which browsers are already beginning to implement. Here are some I’m looking forward to in 2022:
:has()(otherwise known as the parent selector)
- LAB, LCH and HWB color functions (currently supported in Safari), along with
- Container queries
accent-colour(which already has limited support)
- Subgrid – this has been in Firefox for a while, but finally Chrome is working on implementing it too
- Cascade layers
There are lots of people who have been doing marvellous work with CSS in 2021, so I’d like to draw your attention to some I’ve been inspired by:
Ahmad writes a lot of deep dives into using the latest and greatest CSS to solve real-world UI challenges. He’s incredibly prolific too!
As a Google Dev Rel, it’s kind of Adam’s job to tinker at the cutting edge of CSS, and I love the absolute joy with which he goes about it. One of my favourite article’s this year is his tutorial on creating colour schemes with CSS custom properties, and his Open Props project is pretty cool too.
Stephanie is another incredibly prolific web educator (I know, where do people find the time?!), managing to publish multiple projects on CSS, accessibility, and static site generator Eleventy. Her projects included Modern CSS, Word Wrap podcast and, most recently, 12 Days of Web.
George has been producing absolutely amazing generative SVG artwork this year. Not only that, but he regularly shares his process in tutorials on his beautifully designed blog, including user-friendly interactive demos.
Amit’s Codepen profile is a masterclass in the mind-bending power of CSS. He continues to amaze, with increasingly intricate and elaborate 3D CSS creations, which bring me joy every time they show up in my timeline.
Miriam is a font of CSS knowledge and has been working hard on Container queries and the Cascade Layers specification, which we can hopefully look forward to hearing much more about in the coming year!
Bramus van Damme
Bramus has an awesome blog covering tonnes of new CSS features, and has his finger firmly on the pulse. Definitely the person to follow if you want to hear about the latest CSS features.
I attended one event in person this year: State of the Browser in London. It’s always one of my favourite conferences, so I’m glad I made the effort. One the talks that stayed with me the most was Tom Greenwood’s talk, A Sustainable Web For Everyone which inspired me to get more involved in raising awareness of the web’s carbon footprint and what we can do to reduce it.
This was the first year in a while that I haven’t given any talks myself, and it’s been a welcome break. No doubt I’ll get back to it at some point.
2021 involved a couple of big life changes for me: Firstly, I reduced my working hours as an employee to four days per week, enabling me to spend a full day each week concentrating on writing. This has meant I’ve been able to publish articles on Codrops, Smashing Magazine and CSS Tricks this year, and it’s been great to regularly get paid for doing something I love. The downside is it’s meant I’ve had less appetite for writing and creating demos in my spare time. I’ve certainly spent fewer evenings in front of a computer screen, which on the whole has been a good thing. But I also miss creating playful CSS demos just for the fun of it, so that’s something I’d like to return to in 2022. Writing for this blog has always been hugely enjoyable, so one of my goals in 2022 is to write a little less for other publications and a little more for my own.
The other big change has been starting a new job. In November I said goodbye to the Atomic Smash team, which I’ve enjoyed being a part of for two years, and began a new role as Senior Front End Developer at Ada Mode, building a web app to help wind turbine operators to monitor and maintain their fleet. So far my work has been full of exciting challenges, providing me with plenty of opportunities to learn new skills and stretch my creative muscles. More importantly, I’m thrilled to be working with a company with environmental values at its core.
Goals for 2022
As I mentioned, in 2022 I want to find more time to be playful and creative with CSS, and to focus on this blog a bit more. I feel more passionate about a subject when I make time to have fun with it, and I think that shows in my writing too. I also want to dive more deeply into data visualisation and D3.js, which I’m learning for my job. Perhaps that’ll show up in my writing this year too. But I also want to continue to set boundaries for myself, maintain a decent work-life balance and say “no” to the things I don’t have the time or energy for.
I’ll end this year with a note of appreciation for the wonderful online communities that I feel privileged to be a part of around CSS, web standards and climate action. I’m ever grateful for their support and wisdom, and I don’t know how we’d get through this pandemic without each other.