✯ Mike's Site

Utopian thinking

Now this is something interesting.

Obviously we've gotten pretty far away from the fundamentals of the web. "Text with hyperlinks" is the mission of the Gemini project, something that's described as heavier than Gopher and lighter than the web. So there's an appetite for those simpler days. All the myriad ways we've strayed from Hypertext's light would take quite a few more blog posts and sound like an old man yelling at clouds, but in terms of web design it feels pretty specific. Build tools. Compiled code. Scoping and renaming classes at runtime. Arguments about whether to put CSS in JS. Not gonna belabor that, you get it.

I taught myself to ditch tables around 2002-2003 by reading Eric Meyer's O'Reilly title CSS: The Definitive Guide, which is purely a reference title. It was not what I would call complicated. It probably took me just as long to figure out how to implement Grunt, which was already supplanted by Gulp by that time. Life is complicated, and I guess life in CSS has gotten that way as well. It feels such a long way from the CSS Zen Garden.

I don't necessarily think that breakpoints and media queries are an extreme example of the complication — remember conditional comments? Remember writing separate sites from Netscape and Internet Explorer? But I do think Utopia's authors asserting that their framework is "declarative" instead of "prescriptive" or "instructive" brings it back to the fundamentals of CSS. I find it a bit ironic though that they're using some really complicated calculations to achieve simplicity for the user. I recognize that bootstrap does something similar when calculating the grid, but the deeper the math I don't understand burrows, the more scared I am of relying on it.

I haven't read enough of the material here to understand how they handle anything other than the spacing and typography — and whether they like it or not, there is more to it than that, even if those are the only two things you can't take away. Looks like it may be relying on CSS grids to keep things in one media space. And lord knows I haven't adequately learned CSS grids yet. But I'm going to give this a shot. Maybe the next version of this site will be Utopian.