CSS: When to Use Logical Properties

Published on November 22, 2019 (↻ May 28, 2021), filed under (RSS feed for all categories).

Brief thoughts on a more complex matter. Logical properties are great and long overdue. They are great because they solve an ugly problem of international, multi-directional web development in that directionality does not need to affect your writing and managing of CSS anymore.

Example: Write

p {
  margin-inline-start: 1rem;
}

instead of something (intentionally verbose) like

p {
  margin-left: 1rem;
  margin-right: 0;
}

[dir='rtl'] p {
  margin-left: 0;
  margin-right: 1rem;
}

But when should you use logical properties?

First, when support is sufficient for your project’s needs.

Then, when that’s the case, there are really two answers:

The reasonable answer: If you actually work with sites or apps with two directionalities. Logical properties may turn into a best practice, but not using logical properties may actually never turn into a bad practice for projects of only one directionality.

The easy answer: If you want to. It’s completely up to you.

All other answers are nonsense, especially when they contain being judged or guilt-tripped by other developers. Logical properties have their particular use in bidirectional environments.

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About Me

Jens Oliver Meiert, on September 30, 2021.

I’m Jens (long: Jens Oliver Meiert), and I’m a frontend engineering leader and tech author/publisher. 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.

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

If you want to do me a favor, interpret charitably (I speak three languages, and they can collide), yet be critical and give feedback for me to learn and improve. Thank you!