Monday, June 23, 2014

Getting up to speed on CSS tools

I did this backwards. It should have been mixins, Sass, Smacss, Compass, Singularity. Then again, sometimes starting and the end and working your way back lets you see the bigger picture and understand how it all fits together. Says the girl who started Drupal with core contributions.

Singularity (compass extension)- ratio-based grids (quick walkthrough video here), very easy to make different widths $grids: 1 2 3 2; Also can use px, pt. Integrates with breakpoint- add an @include breakpoint(30em){@include grid-span(2, 3);}. Very cool, super easy way to get responsive design out fast.

Mixins-  A mixin is an at-rule used to define a ruleset than can then be *reused* in other rulesets. Yay reusable code. I think mostly as a n00b I'm always surprised when things like this aren't a given- it makes perfect sense to be able to define a thing and then plug it in wherever you need that thing. But is this the same thing as the mixins Compass is using?

/* define a mixin */
@mixin .muffinstyle {
display: inline-block;
background-color: blue;
/* use a mixin */

p .bakery {
include: .muffinstyle;
border: 1px solid red;

ok, Stackoverflow question on the CSS at-rule here. So basically anything preceded by an @ is an instruction for the user agent, rather than styling rulesets. I've been using @media, @font-face and so on, but hadn't really thought about the construct itself. Here's MDN on at-rules and W3C on CSS syntax (this one's really helpful). There's a very handy graphic and description here on CSS statements and their subsets, at-rules and rulesets.

Compass- Ok, so there are CSS mixins, then there are Compass mixins... which are just a predefined set of CSS mixins? oh. And then Singularity pairs with Compass. I get it. /several hours of digging and reading later.

Sass- This also makes all kinds of sense. Things like variables to hold info in a more logical spot while you're writing, then output a fully fleshed out CSS file at the end. Saves on typing, mistakes, and again with the reusable code. Compass is for writing Sass. Got it. Wow, nesting. So logical, so tidy. Ah, and we're on the new version that uses curly braces, which seems a lot better than just indenting anyway. I do not generally approve of dropping semi-colons and such even if it *is* more minimalist.

Smacss- I really appreciate this- organizing, categorizing, approaching css in a logical fashion rather than throwing properties left and right and hoping it all works out. See my next post on approaching a problem, too. I might disagree with a couple things Snook says (and this book is a little old already), but his general point is spot on. I think this will fit into my brain even better after my next two or three tabs, too... Things start getting interesting once we drill down to the "module" level. Goals: increase semantics and decrease reliance on specific HTML

Next: More depth from Legacy CSS with Sass and SMACSS and modular SASS development using SMACSS and BEM.

In other predictable news, something here needed homebrew to install... I think it was a Ruby update. I have Ruby 1.8.7, but would like to have the current. Probably doesn't matter. But I think to update I need homebrew and homebrew last I checked needed xcode and 10.6.8 does not the xcode have. BUT. I think I can install the sass/singularity/compass package with just ruby. I hope. Later. Not now. Because this is always ridiculous, and generally why I'd rather stick with simple, low-level stuff.

Next: Creating a Drupal 8 Theme with Sass, Singularity & Breakpoint

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