about CSS), but it's all in good fun. You have to use what you have to use. And Tailwind is as good or as bad as you
choose to do it. It just happens to be popular right now, and has a really vocal (and kind-of sensitive) fandom.
Here are some of the alternatives that I considered. Most are related to web accessibility, and some others are a bit
poignant. I hope you enjoy them.
<div> used as a button
Images with no alt
Color contrast issues
I hope you liked this comic strip. Until next week!
GoldiloCSS and the Three (Word-)Breaks
Once upon a time, there was a girl named GoldiloCSS. She had lived all her life with three bears
in a cabin in the forest and wanted to get out and see the world. She knew there was more to life
than sleeping and eating porridge and honey all day.
So, GoldiloCSS decided to apply to Med School and prepared her bio (in HTML format for some weird
reason that is not important to this story), but she soon found a problem: there were really long
words, and they made the lines look terrible and unbalanced. Luckily for her, GoldiloCSS knew CSS
(thus her name) and tried the word-break
She first used word-break: break-all, but all the words were breaking instead of wrapping if
they fit inside the following line. It was tough to read. She looked at the breaks and said,
"These breaks are too hard."
GoldiloCSS then usedword-break: keep-all. This time, the words wrapped correctly if they fit in
the following line... but if they didn't, they kept going and overlapping other parts of the bio.
That didn't look great either, and she complained, "These breaks are too soft!"
Finally, GoldiloCSS used word-break: break-word. In this case, if a word fit in the following
line, it would wrap, and if it didn't, it would break the word over several lines. She looked at
the text, and it was more balanced. She said, "Just right! ...or kind of?" because the long words
still looked weird when broken.
That day, GoldiloCSS learned several lessons:
word-break is a powerful property,
there are other useful properties for breaking words like hyphens or overflow-wrap,
the way a word breaks affects readability and accessibility.
After finishing writing her bio, she was tired. She ate some porridge and slept for a while. That life wasn't that bad after all; she wanted to enjoy it before her next adventure.
Riddle: Divtober is over... or is it?
This week's cartoon is an interactive joke! My children told me a (terrible) joke the other day:
Who comes in Christmas saying "Oh Oh Oh"?
Santa Claus walking backwards!
And as terrible as I am, I decided to create a CSS version of it. As a fun fact: the whole cartoon
(interactivity and all) is a single HTML element:
The "Ho Ho Ho!" is linear and radial gradients
Santa is in the background of the element
The question is in the ::before pseudo-element
The answer is in the ::after pseudo-element
It uses 3D CSS to make the card flip
It uses the backface-visibility property to avoid leaking the content we don't want from one side to the other.
It actually was incredibly easy to code, and I tried to make it as accessible as possible (maybe too much): adding semantic
HTML, each planet has a role of image with an accessible description (with aria-label and title), and same for the crosses
and check mark, the table has a caption, the table headings specify their scope and are used as descriptions for the cells...
It is not perfect, and it may be too much, but it was fun to code it that way.
I like this meme because it works at so many levels and for almost anything you choose:
Tailwind? It works.
TailwindCSS? It works.
CSS? It works.
ASP? It works.
Tailwind? It works.
PHP? It works.
Tailwind? It works.
Did I mention it also works with Tailwind? 😈
I took a short break from comiCSS to participate in Divtober. Divtober is a coding challenge in which
developers draw with CSS based on a daily word... but with a catch: they can only use a single element
(preferable a <div>, thus the name of the challenge).
These are the single-div drawings I did for this 2023 Divtober:
Let's enjoy this time and hope that the tendency slows down progressively so we can keep getting more and more features—just my two cents.
Mafalda was a comic by Argentinian cartoonist
Quino that ran in the 1960s and 1970s,
and that became incredibly popular in the 20th century, and well into the 21st century.
Quino and Mafalda are a great source of inspiration. I already did a cartoon inspired by Mafalda), and that
was the case for today's comic, too! In the original, the little girl Mafalda looked at the sun
amazed by how it's the same sun that inspired Pasteur, Bach, Shakespeare... and begs the sun to spread that same inspiration.
The idea is the same, but instead of a little girl being amazed by the sun, it's an undefined character/developer amazed by the
typical red border that is used at times to debug in CSS (and that was part of this cartoon or
this other cartoon). This could be the same red border that helped many other good developers learn and grow,
so the character asks for inspiration to keep growing.
While a red border can be helpful to highlight some issues with CSS (using outline instead of border, so
the border doesn't mess with the element's size), there are better ways to debug CSS. The Developer Tools on the browsers have
advanced considerably in the past few years, and provide more tools to analyze each element individually. You inspect the element,
and the browsers provide information about the rules that apply to each element, which one takes precendence (and why!), etc.
Ahmad Shadeed wrote a book about how to debug CSS,
and goes into details and code on the best ways to do it.
A fun fact: I used text-wrap: balance in a CSS art for the first time. It may sound like something silly, but it made
it super convenient to balance the text in the panels in a more natural way.
If it looks like a duck...
The Duck Test implies that the simplest conclusion is most likely correct. It is commonly phrased as "If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck... it probably is a duck."
This cartoon is half tongue-in-cheek, half serious. Whenever I post a CSS drawing or a comic from comiCSS online, someone says, "CSS should not be used for drawing!"
Which is technically correct, but how accurate is it? In reality, CSS is a styling language but, for not being a graphic design/graphic/drawing language, it sure does have many features that graphic/drawing languages have: filters, masks, gradients, blend modes, clippings, etc...
I once drafted an article titled "Could CSS be the future of web imaging?" (which I never published as I never found the power to finish it). In the article, I compared CSS to SVG and Canvas. Many things have happened since I wrote it, and it has become partially outdated (things that happen when you don't finish the article when you should 😓)... maybe I'll finish it one day.
Going back to the "CSS should not be used for drawing," my answer is this new CSS drawing (I'm getting old and a bit stubborn).
ABCs of CSS
This week's comic/cartoon is a "small" project
that I had been planning for a while, and it took a little bit longer than expected to
complete. It was inspired by a series of cartoons that I saw in Spanish satirical
magazine El Jueves.
Some of the letters are interactive (like the "R for resize") and some are animated (like
the "K for keyframes" or the "Q for quotes"). But that is not really shown on the static
image version, so they may look a bit weird. You should check the
live demo linked on the comic page.
As always, it is coded in HTML and CSS (although this time I did it with SCSS instead of
native nesting because I found some issues, then exported the compiled CSS). You can check
the source code from the demo, and change the font-size of the article on line 27 to make
the cartoon larger and easier to read. (If you make it too small, you may hit a bug with
mix-blend-mode on Chrome.)
I had in mind do the "ABCs of CSS Art" and the "ABCs of HTML", but seeing how much this
one took me, maybe I should chill on those a little (although I already started the CSS
Art one). We'll see how that goes.
Coffee Styling Sheet: Coffee as a CSS Color
They say developers could work only for coffee. I don't think that's true (but maybe
not too far either). So this week's cartoon will mix two of my favorite things: coffee
and CSS. And in particular, I will focus on CSS colors and how different types of
coffees can be represented similarly to CSS colors.
We all know about RGB, Hex (also RGB), and HSL (which, funny thing, is also RGB). And
new color formats have popped up in the CSS standard: L*a*b*, LCH, CMYK, HWB, OKLCH...
So many people have asked me, "Why do we need so many color formats in CSS?" And
that is a fair question that I will try to answer with today's cartoon.
And I will do it with the help of an existing CSS color function: HWB. Although HWB
stands for Hue-Whiteness-Blackness, I modified the letter meanings (just) a little to
fit my purpose:
H = Hot water = water (duh)
W = Whiteness = milk (foamed, frothed, steamed, etc.)
B = Blackness = coffee (the cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems.)
After this long introduction, finally, here's today's cartoon:
While I like the idea, it is limited: how about if we want a mocha? Mochas have chocolate
and hwb() does not have a way to represent chocolate. It's only water, milk, and coffee.
With those three basic ingredients, we only get to create the coffees on the infographic
and some more (cortado, café bombón, or galão, to name a few). Still, we are missing a ton
more: Irish coffee, espresso romano, marochino, etc., and we cannot create them with just
water, milk, and coffee.
Even for the ones in the cartoon, my newly created hwb() function is not enough. For example,
check the cappuccino: it is 66% milk and 33% coffee. It seems misleading that it has the same
composition as a latte, but they are not the same: in a cappuccino, the milk is half steamed
and half foamed.
It would be nicer if we had a different way to express those details. And that's what happens
with CSS colors too! We have been using RGB for a long time, but RGB is limited. The
CSS Color Module Level 4 introduced new ways
of writing colors that modernize the web and bring a world of possibilities: Lab, LCH, OKLCH,
CMYK, the color() function... and those color spaces offer more options than the standard RGB.
In the case of a mocha, we are missing the chocolate (which is not an option in HWB)... so why
not use LCH instead?
L = Lightness/Leche/Lait/Latte = Milk
C = Chocolate
H = Hot coffee
Now we could use that function to do lch(20% 40% 40%) and get a nice Mocha. And notice how
some of the coffees in the chart can be defined with LCH (basically all except the Americano
And same thing happens to the CSS colors: some color functions will allow you to create more
vibrant colors than others, and some will be easier for the computer or more straightforward
for humans. Some overlap is expected, and that's completely normal. Pick the best color format
for your project needs, and enjoy. It is an exciting time to play with CSS colors.
Some people have asked me: "How is comiCSS drawn?"
comiCSS cartoons are coded in HTML and CSS, but how? Is it an AI generating
the code? No... although it would be interesting to see the results.
An opportunity for further testing. Is it premade things? No, although
I must admit that sometimes I copy-paste from previous strips to save time,
most of the cartoons and comics are coded from scratch.
There are more videos on how the cartoon is drawn. You can see them linked at
the bottom of the cartoon/comic. I could put the link in a more visible location
so it is more apparent that there is a video with the recorded process.
I have to admit that this process is tedious and slow (each cartoon takes 30-60 minutes),
and I've been toying with the idea of streamlining the process by working on a mini
CSS utility-class library that would allow me to create characters with different
expressions, just adding classes. The main issue:
I still need to develop a fully defined style or set of characters. I could do it easily with
the undefined character from the first comic
(which is reappearing but not recurring enough to make it its own library?);
or even with the Batman/Robin characters
(but there are only so many gags that can be done with those two... without
getting a cease-and-desist letter from DC.)
Creating that library will save me time in the long run and allow me to produce comics
faster, but the characters may not be polished enough for it. So we'll see how it goes.
Rap battling (or battle rap) is a type of rap performance in which
two or more rappers sing against each other (generally including some insults/attacks). Today's comic
plays with the homophones Rap and Wrap to make a silly joke with Flexbox and the
A flex container will lay out the content in a single line by default. This may be Ok, but if the items' size exceeds the
container, they will be squeezed or they will overflow. So instead, we may want to get the content into multiple lines.
This is where flex-wrap comes into action.
This property defines if a flex container will be single-line or multi-line (depending on the amount and size of the flex items),
and in the case of multi-line, it defines how the items will be stacked after wrapping.
flex-wrap has three main values:
nowrap: the items will not wrap, instead they will overflow the parent. (This is the default value.)
wrap: the items will wrap instead of overflowing the flex container. They will stack from cross-start to cross-end.
wrap-reverse: the items will wrap instead of overflowing the flex container. They will stack from cross-end to cross-start.
The cross-start and cross-end part may sound complicated, but it is easier than what it sounds. It depends on the direction of
the flex: if the direction is horizontal ("row"), then the wrapped elements will stack vertically (in rows); and if the direction is
vertical ("column"), the wrapped elements will stack horizontally (in columns).
Let's check an example with a flex container with 5 items with a defined width. By default, the value of flex-wrap is "nowrap",
so the flex items will overflow the container (I put it as an image to avoid the annoying horizontal overflow it would create):
Now, if we change the code to set a value of "wrap" for flex-wrap, when the flex items would overflow the container,
they wrap into a new row instead (live demo):
But if we set flex-wrap to "wrap-reverse", then the direction of the wrapping is the opposite: instead of
getting into a new row, the wrapped elements push the others into a new row.
One last example with the flex-direction set to "column." In this case, the elements organize vertically
in columns, so when they wrap, they do it in columns instead of rows:
I hope these examples were useful and that you enjoyed today's comic. Learn more about
flex-wrap on the following sources:
They say an apple a day keeps the doctor away... But does that apply to web development and CSS, too? Today's cartoon
tried to answer that question. I also coded an alternative version, a little bit more educational, highlighting the
parts of the box model using the same drawing:
Hopefully, it is clear. Although I must admit, the dashed line marking the personal space is a bit weird and it can
be confusing (as it may seem like it's a force-field and the margin is actually between the person and the border).
CSS Christmas Carol
On the twelfth day of Christmas, my CSS sent to me...
A keyboard trap is a bad UI pattern in which a user can get into a component or element of our application using the keyboard,
but it is impossible getting out of it just by using the keyboard. Not to be confused with a focus trap, which is basically
the same, but with a keyboard exit (it may be a close button, or pressing Esc, or something like that.)
As you may imagine, a
keyboard trap is a HUGE accessibility issue. In contrast, a focus trap can be extremely helpful and positive for usability
and accessibility (e.g., a modal in which the focus is trapped until the user presses a button.)
I've had the idea of drawing a trap for keyboards for a while, but I didn't know if it would be clear what it was. I'm still
not 100% convinced about it. I like the idea, but I'm not 100% sold on this implementation. I settled for this text
(which may remind of a previous comic strip), but before I considered another option about testing and
trying to catch keyboards with a trap. I discarded that option because if felt too "technical" and not too good of an idea.
Image Format Decision Tree
I published a more serious article
about today's cartoon. It still includes some tongue-in-cheek questions, but the idea was to make it less of a joke
and more of an useful thing for people:
The article also includes additional information on why some formats should or should not be used, when we should consider
using a video instead of an animated image, and a love letter to BMP... well, not that last part. But I miss BMP.
The Pomodorito Technique
You may have heard about the Pomodoro Technique, a time management method that consists of repeating work and break intervals to help keep focus while getting some needed rest. It is pretty popular in the US among tech employees.
The origin of the name is funny: the method's creator used a tomato-shaped kitchen timer to control the work/break blocks (Pomodoro means tomato in Italian). So that is why each work block is called a "Pomodoro."
The method is simple. First, you pick a task and then:
Work for 25 minutes.
Take a 5—10 minute break.
Repeat steps 1—2 four times.
Take a more extended break of 20—30 minutes.
I find this a productive time management method. I follow it often and keep a couple of timers at my desk while I'm working (although they are not tomato-shaped.)
The Pomodorito Technique
Alternatively to the Pomodoro Technique, I introduce you to the tongue-in-cheek Pomodorito Technique (not Lay's affiliated):
Eat Doritos for 25 minutes.
Work for 5 minutes.
Repeat steps 1—2 four times.
Take a more extended break to go to the store and buy more Doritos (you probably ran out at this point).
Alternatively, if you have a big stash of Doritos at home, you may use step 4 to take a nap. All that eating is exhausting, and some nice sleep will make digestion easier.
While the Pomodorito Technique is more of a joke, it may be a good burnout index. If you find yourself trying the Pomodoro Technique but quickly spiral into the Pomodorito Technique, it may be about time to take some vacation... or start looking for a new job!
There is a classic Mafalda comic strip (by
Argentinian cartoonist Quino):
"Soup is to Childhood what Communism is to Democracy!" is a political message (cartoons can/should be
political at times) that could have different interpretations depending on the perspective.
Based on it, I drew something simple. And because it uses CSS variables (custom
properties), it is easy to change the colors to something different:
But I liked the black-and-white version betters, so I published that one. Also, I added more details
before publishing it on Monday (the table and t-shirt could use some extras).
Here is a video of how this cartoon was drawn from scratch to its (almost) final form:
Today's comicstrip is about accent-color,
so let's talk about it on today's blog post.
As the comic strip indicates, accent-color has nothing to do with the ability to write colors in
different languages. What it does, when supported —and it is widely supported now—, is allowing
setting up the "primary color" for some HTML elements and form controls.
This CSS property allows for a little standardization of the styles. In the past, each browser would style the HTML elements
differently (they still do); but now, developers have some control over how they will be displayed (at least,
on the color.)
Browsers allow to set up an accent-color in the following HTML elements:
Checkboxes (<input type="checkbox" />)
Radio buttons (<input type="radio" />)
Range inputs (<input type="range" />)
Progress bars (<progress />)
...So it begins
I've been doing CSS art for a while already. So it was a matter of time that I combined the CSS art hobby with something I
also enjoy, like graphic novels, comic books, or comic strips.
This website is my first attempt at building a place to put all the CSS cartoons I came up with and create an actual series.
Hopefully, the comic strips will come weekly, but that will depend on many factors.
I have to thank Temani Afif for
the encouragement to put this site together... and for coming up with the name comiCSS.
I probably would have delayed the creation of this website until I got a good name, and he came up with a great one in no time.