Regarding CSS’s Global Scope

html { font-family: Roboto, sans-serif;
}

With the except of some form elements, you’ve just set a font on every bit of text on a site! Nice! That’s probably what you were trying to do, because of the probably hundreds of elements all over your site, setting that font-family every time would be tedious and error-prone.

CSS is global by nature. On purpose!

I like how David Khourshid put it:

You ever stop and think about why CSS has a global scope? Maybe we want to use consistent typography, colors, sizing, spacing, layout, transitions, etc. and have our websites & apps feel like one cohesive unit?

Love the cascade, the cascade is your friend.

And yet. The global nature of CSS is perhaps the most-pointed-at anti-feature of CSS. Some people really don’t like it. We all know it’s very easy to write a single CSS rule that has implications all over a site, breaking things you really didn’t want to break.

There are whole new categories of testing to assist with these problems.

Scoped styles aren’t the only reason there is such interest and adoption in the landscape of tools that is CSS-in-JS, but it’s a big one. There are loads of sites that don’t directly author any CSS at all — even preprocessed styles — and go for a JavaScript library instead where styles are authored quite literally in JavaScript. There is a playground demonstrating the syntax of the various options. Here’s how styled-components works:

import React from 'react';
import styled from 'styled-components'; const Container = styled.main` display: flex; flex-direction: column; min-height: 100%; width: 100%; background-color: #f6f9fc;
`; export default function Login() { return ( <Container> ... Some stuff .... </Container> );
}

There are literally dozens of options, each doing things a bit differently while offering slightly different syntaxes and features. Vue even offers scoped CSS directly in .vue files:

<style scoped>
.example { color: red;
}
</style> <template> <div class="example">hi</div>
</template>

Unfortunately, <style scoped> never quite made it as a native web platform feature. There is shadow DOM, though, where a style block can be injected in a template and those styles will be isolated from the rest of the page:

let myElement = document.querySelector('.my-element'); let shadow = myElement.attachShadow({ mode: 'closed'
});
shadow.innerHTML = ` <style> p { color: red; } </style> <p>Element with Shadow DOM</p>
`;

No styles will leak into or out of that shadow DOM boundary. That’s pretty cool for people seeking this kind of isolation, but it could be tricky. You’d likely have to architect the CSS to have certain global styles that can be imported with the shadow DOM’d web component so it can achieve some styling cohesion in your site. Personally, I wish it was possible to make the shadow DOM one-way permeable: styles can leak in, but styles defined inside can’t leak out.

CSS-in-JS stuff is only one way to scope styles. There are actually two sides to the spectrum. You could call CSS-in-JS total isolation, whereas you could author CSS directly with total abstraction:

Total abstraction might come from a project, like Tachyons, that gives you a fixed set of class names to use for styling (Tailwind is like a configurable version of that), or a programmatic tool (like Atomizer) that turns specially named HTML class attributes into a stylesheet with exactly what it needs.

Even adhering 100% to BEM across your entire site could be considered total CSS isolation, solving the problems that the global scope may bring.

Personally, I’d like to see us move to this kind of future:

When we write styles, we will always make a choice. Is this a global style? Am I, on purpose, leaking this style across the entire site? Or, am I writing CSS that is specific to this component? CSS will be split in half between these two. Component-specific styles will be scoped and bundled with the component and used as needed.

Best of both worlds, that.

Anyway, it’s tricky.

Maybe this will be the hottest CSS topic in 2019.

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