Category Archives: Content

Object Oriented CSS video on YDN

Yahoo! Developer Network has released a video of my Object Oriented CSS talk at Web Directions North just in time for Ada Lovelace day. I’ve also been included in a feature on Women in Technology. I’m absolutely flattered to be included among these fantastic technical women. Wow.

Object Oriented CSS: for high performance websites and web applications.

Find out more about object oriented css

  1. Open source project on github (GIT is having some DNS issues, be patient)
  2. Follow along with the slides on slideshare
  3. Join the OOCSS google group

Thanks to Havi, Julie, Ricky, Yahoo! Developer Network, and the whole Web Directions North team for their hard work putting this together!

Object Oriented CSS, Grids on Github

How do you scale CSS for millions of visitors or thousands of pages? Object Oriented CSS allows you to write fast, maintainable, standards-based front end code. It adds much needed predictability to CSS so that even beginners can participate in writing beautiful websites.

I recently presented Object Oriented CSS for high performance web applications and sites at Web Directions North 2009. If you didn’t attend my talk, you are probably asking yourself “what in the world is OO-CSS?”

Object Oriented CSS: Two main principles

1. Separate structure and skin
2. Separate container and content

I’m writing a framework to demonstrate the technique, but more than anything, Object Oriented CSS is a different way of approaching CSS and the cascade. It draws on traditional software engineering concepts like extending objects, modularity, and predictability. Solutions are judged based on their complexity, in other words, “what happens to the size of the CSS file as more pages and modules are added?”

The answer, for most sites, is that it grows out of control and becomes an unmaintainable tangle of spaghetti code. People often complain about CSS, and rightly so — even though it inspired a rant, I understand their frustration.

Current methods for writing CSS require expert level ability just to get started. To become a CSS expert, you need to spend couple years coding away in your basement by yourself before you are remotely useful. Front-end engineering needs to accomodate entry level, mid level, and architect level developers, but our sites are too brittle. You may have a perfectly accessible or high performance website, and then the first newbie to touch it, ruins it. Our code should be robust enough that newbies can contribute while maintaining the standards we’ve set.

We don’t trust each others code

Imagine a JavaScript developer wrote a function to return area, and every now and then it randomly returned the diameter instead. The function would never make it through a code review, and yet we tolerate the same thing from CSS, as if it were immune from normal programming best-practices. This is why CSS code reuse is almost nonexistent. An object should behave predictably no matter where you place it on the page, which is why Object Oriented CSS avoids location dependent styles.

What not to do

#myModule h2{...}
#myModule span{...}
#myModule #saleModule{...}
#myOtherModule h3{...}
#myOtherModule span{...}

Developers have tried to sandbox their CSS into individual modules, to protect against the cascade. But in doing so we’ve ended up with a mess.

Object Oriented CSS Grids on github

My Object Oriented CSS grids and templates are open sourced on github. They have all the functionality of YUI grids plus some important features.

  • Only 4kb, half the size of YUI grids. (I was totally happy when I checked the final size!)
  • They allow infinite nesting and stacking.
  • The only change required to use any of the objects is to place it in the HTML, there are no changes to other places in the DOM and no location dependent styling. Eases back-end development and makes it a lot easier to manage for newbies.
  • Solution for sub-pixel rounding errors.

http://wiki.github.com/stubbornella/oocss

Check out template.css and grids.css and the docs on the github wiki.

My prediction is that you’ll be writing complex layouts in less than 24 hours without adding a line to the CSS file.

What’s up next?

Template and grids are ready for rock and roll. Please be my alpha testers, put them through their paces. Let me know if you find bugs or want additional functionality. I’m also hoping to contribute some of this back to YUI since they now have a github repository. How cool is that?

Rounded Corner Boxes and Tabs

Next up, modules. There are a million cool ways to create rounded corner boxes. I’m going to take several of my favorites (like CSS Mojo and Arnaud Gueras blocks) and convert them to OO-CSS. This will make it super easy for newbies to create their own modules, without needing to understand the minutiae of browser differences.

Video / Podcasts

YDN will publish a video of my talk and Web Directions North is putting out podcasts. I’ll tweet and post when that happens. The audio contains a lot more detail than the slides, so check it out as they become available.

Design Fast Websites – Don’t blame the rounded corners! on YUI Theater

Nicole at the Design Fast Websites Presentation by Eric Miraglia

I visited Yahoo! last week to record a talk I had given at the Front End Summit in October. If you are a designer or an F2E it is essential that you understand the ways in which design choices impact overall site performance. This talk establishes guidelines for High Performance Design including 9 Best Practices.

9 Best Practices

  1. Create a component library of smart objects.
  2. Use consistent semantic styles.
  3. Design modules to be transparent on the inside.
  4. Optimize images and sprites.
  5. Avoid non-standard browser fonts.
  6. Use columns rather than rows.
  7. Choose your bling carefully.
  8. Be flexible.
  9. Learn to love grids.

Baby Steps to a Faster Site

In honor of the video being made available on YUI theater, I’ve removed the non-standard browser fonts from my site. While the design was changed slightly it is infinitely more maintainable and I also eliminated an unnecessary HTTP request at the same time. One more step to a faster page.

Web Directions North, Denver, February 2-7

I’ll be speaking more about Design and also CSS best practices at Web Directions North in February where I’ve been invited to give both a Performance Bootcamp Workshop and a CSS Performance for Websites and Web Apps Presentation. I look forward to seeing you there!

Check out the Web Directions North Program.

They have some really amazing speakers lined up. I’m especially excited to talk to Dan Cederholm, who wrote one of my favorite books.

New tool: Easy image optimization with Smush it

Download the Smush it Firefox extension to follow along with my post.

I’m at Ajax Experience this week with my teammate, Stoyan Stefanov. This morning we did a lightning-demo of our new tool SmushIt.com. Smush it allows you to automate image optimization by using the best of open source algorithms to achieve the smallest, high performance images possible.

Image Optimization Lightning
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: performance image)

Smush it comes in different flavors:

  • You can upload a bunch of pictures in your browser
  • You can provide us with a list of image urls or
  • You can get a Firefox Extension to optimize the images found on any web page

Our fundamental principal was that the images we produced needed to be 100% pixel for pixel faithful to the original quality. That means that our techniques are completely lossless. We decided to let designers decide what quality level was necessary, then, given that quality, we use the best open source compression algorithms to make the image as small as possible.

Smush it also generates a zip so that you can easily download and replace all of the images in your page.The tool smushes your images in several ways and outputs the best result, or gives you a bravo if your images are already optimized. Some of the options we test are:

  • Crush PNG
  • Convert GIF to PNG
  • Convert JPG to progressive JPG
  • Remove Metadata
  • Compress animated GIF

We would love feature requests, bugs, or suggestions so that we can improve the tool. I am nicole at my domain. At Ajax Experience I showed the tool on Korea Yahoo, BBC News, and Barack Obama’s site. Can you guess who had over 300K of useless image bloat?

Modern sites are doing more than they ever have before, this tool will help keep them lean, mean, and (of course) fast.

Christian Heilmann recorded a video of our demo for YDN. The audio is a bit wonky, I’ll link to the official AE recordings as they become available.

Video, Yahoo!s latest performance breakthroughs, or — I’m famous!

Well, not quite. ;) But I am pleased with the results. Who would have thought that the shy girl who almost failed a public speaking course at university would turn out to really enjoy presenting. Turns out I only like speaking about geeky things, preferably to geeks. A limitation perhaps, but far less limiting than nearly peeing myself with fear in college. No, not literally.

Anyway, check it out. It is jam packed with brand new performance ideas to make your site fly.