Using CSS methodology to accelerate software development
Foundation with a strong CSS architecture can support a project as it grows and provides an integral basis for scalable products. HTML and CSS are the foundation bricks that should be built with careful thought and planning.
In this article, we’ll look closer at how CSS methodology can accelerate software development built on solid architecture solutions, taken from the tips from Edsson team of developer experts.
Efficiency: We want to reduce the time spent thinking about how things should be done and increase the time to get them done.
Consistency: We want to ensure that all developers start from the same point of view.
Some of the most used CSS architectures are,
- OOCSS (Object-Oriented CSS)
- SMACSS (Scalable and Modular Architecture for CSS)
- ACSS (Atomic CSS)
- BEM (Block Element Modifier)
Let’s look closer at BEM and discover what benefit for CSS it has.
What is BEM and how is it used?
BEM is a methodology that proposes the division of all parts of the site into independent blocks. It allows simplifying the understanding of the code, its general structuring, and further support of the site. BEM stands for Block, Element, and Modifier, and is a suite of tools.
To put it simply, this is a set of rules for naming objects in HTML code in such a way that it is easier for web developers, to continue working with the site.
Logically and functionally independent page component. The block is completely self-sufficient: it can have its own behavior, templates, styles, documentation, and more. Blocks can be used anywhere on the page, reused, even in another project. (header, container, menu)
A part of a block that cannot be used as standalone, and it makes sense only within its parent. Elements can be required or optional. (menu item, list item, checkbox caption )
A property of a block or element that changes its appearance, state, or behavior. The modifier has a name and may have a value. The use of modifiers is optional. A block/element can have several different modifiers at the same time. (disabled, highlighted, enabled, checked )
Blocks can be reused
The implementation of blocks can be changed at a new redefinition level without affecting the underlying functionality and styles.
A block is an independent page component and its directory contains everything that is necessary for correct functioning. Therefore, blocks are easy to transfer from project to project, just by copying the block directory.
Speed up refactoring
The developer works with small blocks of code. The implementation technologies of one block are not related to the technologies of another. The same structure of the repository allows to quickly navigate the project and find needed files.
BEM is actively used across industries for various benefits,
- Conflicts with other CSS names are excluded due to its strict naming rules. Everyone on the development team uses a single codebase.
- It gives CSS code a solid structure that is simple and easy to understand.
- CSS specificity is very flat and low, meaning developers won’t face issues with specificity. Everything is a class, nothing is nested.
How to get started with BEM
Our team started with BEM gradually. The flexibility of the BEM methodology allows to customize it for current processes.
There is no universal method to start applying the methodology in a company's project. Each specific team builds it into the development process and uses it in a way that suits them.
For example, there’s a project where you want to use BEM only for layout. When using CSS and HTML in the project, so you can start with CSS selector naming rules. This is the most common way to use the BEM methodology. Many teams start with this. When new rules are implemented, there is a need for proprietary tools and technologies. BEM is a valuable addition to the list of front-end developer tools, regardless of the project.
Development acceleration, scalability.
Therefore, the project code is stored block by block: each block has its own CSS file required for its implementation.
This approach speeds up the development and debugging of the code and provides an optimal runtime:
- allows to include only the necessary files in the assembly
- allows to make point changes and reuse the code
As a result:
- the code base of the project is growing;
- it is difficult to debug the code when an error is detected;
It becomes easier to maintain projects over time, to refine both individual visual details and global elements of the application layout.
Custom properties allow to describe and manage the configuration of blocks or the entire site. This simplifies the maintenance of the project because instead of searching for the right values inside many CSS blocks, developers create a single source of data for the entire design system of the site.
It is especially convenient to use custom properties to set different themes for the entire application or its individual blocks. By changing the values of a custom property, all the zones in the code that store them are updated reactively. In this article, we will consider the use of custom properties on tasks related to theming.
- project support over time
- refinement of individual visual details
- development app layout global elements
- When the page is typeset by one developer in a short time, name collisions can be avoided. But if several people are working on the project, or changes need to be made after some time, then it becomes difficult to track down the dependent names of the components.
- This approach speeds up the development and debugging of the code, and also provides an optimal runtime, allowing to include only the necessary files in the assembly, making point changes, and code reuse.
Maintaining a consistent style of the CSS code is vitally important for the project’s architecture. This simplifies work for the new engineers allowing them to make necessary changes with confidence. Another important element is rule documentation and enforcement. It pays off spending time to create a solid foundation with a strong set of rules, this way eliminating any problems in the future. The goal is to make sure that new code leads to new features, there’s no space for small bugs.
With a professional team of developers, CSS methodology can yield results in acceleration development and product’s growth.