CSS and Specificity

Published on November 27, 2014 (↻ February 5, 2024), filed under (RSS feed for all categories).

This and many other posts are also available as a pretty, well-behaved ebook: On Web Development.

Specificity is one of CSS’ greatest features, though a topic that is as challenging as it is important to manage in projects of any decent size. Specificity is something a web developer needs to master, and that includes knowing when to use IDs, when (and why) to group selectors, and also when to use !important.

With that I encourage to review Harry Roberts’ premises in his post on the specificity graph to, if possible, build a stronger case. (Yet I do think Harry’s on to something promising with the graph itself. We should follow his work there.)

Specificity visualized.

Figure: A specificity graph. (Courtesy Harry Roberts.)

More importantly, however, I wonder what we’ve missed in the community when it comes to CSS fundamentals. Here are a few loose talking points, for I am was slowly retreating once my next two web development books—more soon!—are out:

Yet at the end of the day, there’s no set formula. There are “several roads that lead to Rome,” even for us who prefer minimal, tailored code. And there are always ways to mitigate issues, as with proper documentation.

My cordial greetings to Harry, whom I’ve on more than one occasion tried to hire at Google. I’d still love to see him there, and see him thrive (though he’ll do that anywhere). Harry is one of a few young rockstars whose rise you can follow now; the first I’ve felt similarly about, and whose work I admire as well, was Anne.

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About Me

Jens Oliver Meiert, on September 30, 2021.

I’m Jens, and I’m an engineering lead and author. I’ve worked as a technical lead for companies like Google and as an engineering manager for companies like Miro, I’m close to W3C and WHATWG, and I write and review books for O’Reilly and Frontend Dogma.

With my current move to Spain, I’m open to a new remote frontend leadership position. Feel free to review and refer my CV or LinkedIn profile.

I love trying things, not only in web development, but also in other areas like philosophy. Here on meiert.com I share some of my views and experiences.