Technology Tales

Adventures & experiences in contemporary technology

Are developers and designers overcomplicating their CSS?

11th May 2007

I have been tweaking the widgets in this blog and the thought has crossed my mind that purveyors of open source blogging and CMS’s may be overcomplicating matters with the CSS that they are writing. Using inheritance without much thought as to others having to pick it up is one irritation but bunching styles together can confuse too. For instance, you can draw from from two different styles for the same HTML element (it’s what’s going when you see class="class1 class2" in a tag definition), which is OK if done simply but can confuse matters when customisation is attempted later. Drupal particularly suffers from this bugbear but it’s their in WordPress too, though not to the same extent. Using a hierarchy to define and attach your styles (#id1 .class2 tag1 {style definition…} is the kind of thing that I have in mind), can also confound but I admit to finding the approach very useful for myself. I think that I know what’s driving this: the need to cut down the bulk of CSS files but using the advanced features that I mentioned above without clear commenting and other documentation hampers later efforts. It would be nice if every developer of a theme for use blogging or CMS software was forced to document their work extensively and share that documentation with interested users. After all, sharing is the whole purpose of their endeavours…

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