International and Element Fashion Settings with CSS Variables

Ever since I discovered about CSS Variables a couple of years again, my absolute favourite function has been the power to scope variables to parts. However to be trustworthy, I have never been placing this function to a lot use over time, till I created my very own sample library final 12 months to hurry up prototyping and consumer work. That’s the place scoped CSS variables actually shined for me. So I need to share my favourite two methods to make use of CSS Variables to prepare and keep kinds in my tasks at the moment.

Over the previous few months, I’ve began approaching the way in which I manage and handle my CSS in another way…

International Venture Settings

At the moment, originally of every undertaking, I create a _settings.scss stylesheet. This stylesheet accommodates the worldwide settings for the undertaking. These settings are normally derived from the design fashion information offered by the design staff I’d be working with.

An instance of visible settings outlined in a method information for my present consumer undertaking. The fashion information accommodates coloration swatches, model colours, interplay and UI colours, font kinds, sort scales, spacing scales, icons, and so on. I used the fashion information as a place to begin in my CSS, as I created and outlined the worldwide undertaking kinds by deriving their values from their visible equivalents within the fashion information.

Identical to the fashion information accommodates settings for visible kinds like colours, field shadow kinds, font kinds, sort scales, and so on., the _settings stylesheet accommodates variables that function the code equal of these settings, and which can be used throughout the CSS to keep up visible consistency throughout the undertaking.

/* UI Colours */
–primary-hue: 12;
–color–primary: hsl(var(–primary-hue), 100%, 44%);
–color–primary–hover: hsl(var(–primary-hue), 100%, 39%);
–color–primary–active: hsl(var(–primary-hue), 84%, 30%);

/* … */

–border-color: #ebebeb;

/* Field Shadows */
–shadow-01: 0px 2px 4px rgba(37, 37, 37, zero.1);
–shadow-02: 0px 4px 8px rgba(37, 37, 37, zero.1);
–shadow-03: 0px 8px 16px rgba(37, 37, 37, zero.1);
–shadow-04: 0px 16px 24px rgba(37, 37, 37, zero.1);
–shadow-05: 0px 24px 32px rgba(37, 37, 37, zero.1);

/* … */

An instance of worldwide fashion settings outlined in a _settings.scss fashion sheet in my present consumer undertaking.

If at any level through the undertaking any of these settings want to vary, I do know precisely the place to go make that change, and I do know it should propagate persistently all through my whole system.

Along with these settings, I’ve been discovering probably the most worth and comfort in utilizing CSS variables to outline native, component-scoped kinds…

Faster Prototyping with “Skeleton” Elements

Over time, and within the curiosity of saving myself time and rushing up prototyping concepts and consumer work, I’ve created a library of UI and design patterns that I discover myself needing to recreate on most of my tasks. The library now accommodates a rising assortment of simply reusable UI patterns that I can reliably copy-paste into my tasks once I want them. Every sample is progressively enhanced utilizing fashionable CSS and JavaScript, and is cross-browser and cross-platform accessible from the bottom up.

Since I created the library as an ‘inside’ undertaking, it presently lives in a non-public Github repository, and behind a password on the .dev area of my web site.

screenshot of the Skeleton component library

I named the library ‘Skeleton’, and I constructed it with Fractal. I’ve been utilizing Fractal for a few years now. I selected it over different sample library instruments as a result of it match my wants completely — I wished a software that was unopinionated and versatile sufficient to permit me to arrange and construction my undertaking the way in which I wished to. Fractal match the outline completely as a result of it’s agnostic as to the way in which I develop or the instruments I take advantage of. And I used to be additional offered on it after studying about how Rachel Andrew makes use of it to handle CSS utilizing a pattern-first method, which was precisely what I used to be going for. I notably love that parts might be nested into folders to make it simpler to find explicit parts, and the way you construction the folders is totally as much as you.

I manage my patterns so that every sample lives in its personal listing, containing the element’s HTML template, CSS, and vanilla JavaScript information, together with any extra Fractal-specific property (similar to config information).

partial screenshot of the folder structure in my component library

Utilizing this construction, every of my patterns is self-contained. And I can embrace and concatenate the sample’s kinds and scripts in my tasks as I would like.

/* kinds.scss */

@import “accordion”;
@import “modal”;

To cite Tyler Sticka in “Ideas for Transportable Patterns”: Patterns, like songs, are simpler to remix when every grasp observe is separated.

My objective from creating this library is to create a software that enables me to prototype quicker, and that’s versatile and environment friendly sufficient to make use of throughout totally different tasks. And since patterns are normally styled in another way throughout my tasks, I wished a approach to simplify the method of customizing or “configuring” them for every undertaking. Enter CSS Variables.

Scoped Element Settings

As a result of I don’t need to spend so much of time overriding and undoing kinds once I use a sample in a brand new undertaking, I created this library with the parts having little to no styling by default — principally white (no colours), minimal spacing, and solely borders the place visually acceptable. So the patterns actually appear to be skeletons of type, therefore the title. Now once I want to make use of one in all these parts, I’ve little CSS to override earlier than they’re able to be plugged into the brand new undertaking.

For every sample, I’ve discovered myself modifying the identical properties each time I wanted to make use of it — just like the font, colours (textual content, background, border), field shadow, spacing, and so on. So I figured it will be helpful and time-saving if I created variables for these properties, outline these variables within the ‘root’ of the element, and ‘move in’ the values for these variables once I use the sample as I would like. This fashion I can customise or theme the element by altering the property values in a single rule set, as a substitute of getting to leap between a number of ones to take action.

I take advantage of variables to summary all kinds that I normally must override. So each property that adjustments throughout tasks is normally “promoted” right into a variable. Then, if, at any level through the undertaking, I must tweak a sample’s fashion(s), I do know precisely the place to do it. This makes the kinds for every sample extra readable and extra maintainable, which is much more vital for when another person wants to change the CSS.

This method works fairly effectively with my method to organizing my CSS information. I like to prepare my CSS into separate fashion sheets per patterns, that features all of the sample’s kinds and responsive habits. There will probably be exceptions to this rule… for instance, kinds for “atoms” (like buttons, enter fields, and so on.) which can be re-used throughout patterns are outlined in a single fashion sheet. And even then, when an atom’s styling will get a little bit advanced (e.g. styling a custom file add enter), I’ll create a separate fashion sheet for that. I’ll go into a little bit extra element about the way in which I manage my CSS in one other article.


Like most of you, I discover myself making a