Fast abstract ↬

Subsequent.js has sturdy opinions about how one can arrange JavaScript however not CSS. How can we develop patterns that encourage finest CSS practices whereas additionally following the framework’s logic? The reply is surprisingly easy — to jot down well-structured CSS that balances international and native styling issues.

I’ve had a terrific expertise utilizing Next.js to handle complicated front-end initiatives. Subsequent.js is opinionated about how one can arrange JavaScript code, but it surely doesn’t have built-in opinions about how one can arrange CSS.

After working throughout the framework, I’ve discovered a sequence of organizational patterns that I consider each conform to the guiding philosophies of Subsequent.js and train finest CSS practices. On this article, we’ll construct an internet site (a tea store!) collectively to display these patterns.

Notice: You in all probability is not going to want prior Subsequent.js expertise, though it will be good to have a primary understanding of React and to be open to studying some new CSS methods.

Writing “Previous-Long-established” CSS

When first wanting into Subsequent.js, we could also be tempted to think about using some type of CSS-in-JS library. Although there could also be advantages relying on the venture, CSS-in-JS introduces many technical issues. It requires utilizing a brand new exterior library, which provides to the bundle measurement. CSS-in-JS also can have a efficiency affect by inflicting further renders and dependencies on the worldwide state.

Really helpful studying: “The Unseen Performance Costs Of Modern CSS-in-JS Libraries In React Apps)” by Aggelos Arvanitakis

Moreover, the entire level of utilizing a library like Subsequent.js is to statically render property each time potential, so it doesn’t make a lot sense to jot down JS that must be run within the browser to generate CSS.

There are a few questions we’ve to think about when organizing model inside Subsequent.js:

How can we match throughout the conventions/finest practices of the framework?

How can we steadiness “international” styling issues (fonts, colours, important layouts, and so forth) with “native” ones (types relating to particular person elements)?

The reply I’ve give you for the primary query is to merely write good ol’ usual CSS. Not solely does Subsequent.js assist doing so with no further setup; it additionally yields outcomes which might be performant and static.

To unravel the second drawback, I take an method that may be summarized in 4 items:

  1. Design tokens
  2. World types
  3. Utility courses
  4. Part types

I’m indebted to Andy Bell’s concept of CUBE CSS (“Composition, Utility, Block, Exception”) right here. For those who haven’t heard of this organizational precept earlier than, I advisable testing its official site or feature on the Smashing Podcast. One of many rules we’ll take from CUBE CSS is the concept we should always embrace relatively than concern the CSS cascade. Let’s study these methods by making use of them to an internet site venture.

Getting Began

We’ll be constructing a tea retailer as a result of, properly, tea is tasty. We’ll begin by working yarn create next-app to make a brand new Subsequent.js venture. Then, we’ll take away every thing within the types/ listing (it’s all pattern code).

Notice: If you wish to observe together with the completed venture, you possibly can test it out here.

Design Tokens

In just about any CSS setup, there’s a transparent profit to storing all globally shared values in variables. If a consumer asks for a coloration to vary, implementing the change is a one-liner relatively than an enormous find-and-replace mess. Consequently, a key a part of our Subsequent.js CSS setup might be storing all site-wide values as design tokens.

We’ll use inbuilt CSS Customized Properties to retailer these tokens. (For those who’re not conversant in this syntax, you possibly can try “A Strategy Guide To CSS Custom Properties”.) I ought to point out that (in some initiatives) I’ve opted to make use of SASS/SCSS variables for this function. I haven’t discovered any actual benefit, so I often solely embody SASS in a venture if I discover I would like different SASS options (mix-ins, iteration, importing recordsdata, and so forth). CSS customized properties, in contrast, additionally work with the cascade and will be modified over time relatively than statically compiling. So, for as we speak, let’s keep on with plain CSS.

In our types/ listing, let’s make a brand new design_tokens.css file:

:root 
  --green: #3FE79E;
  --dark: #0F0235;
  --off-white: #F5F5F3;

  --space-sm: 0.5rem;
  --space-md: 1rem;
  --space-lg: 1.5rem;

  --font-size-sm: 0.5rem;
  --font-size-md: 1rem;
  --font-size-lg: 2rem;

In fact, this listing can and can develop over time. As soon as we add this file, we have to jump over to our pages/_app.jsx file, which is the primary format for all our pages, and add:

import '../types/design_tokens.css'

I like to consider design tokens because the glue that maintains consistency throughout the venture. We’ll reference these variables on a world scale, in addition to inside particular person elements, guaranteeing a unified design language.

Extra after leap! Proceed studying under ↓

World Kinds

Subsequent up, let’s add a web page to our web site! Let’s hop into the pages/index.jsx file (that is our homepage). We’ll delete all of the boilerplate and add one thing like:

export default perform Residence() 
  return <important>
    <h1>Soothing Teas</h1>

    <p>Welcome to our great tea store.</p>

    <p>We now have been open since 1987 and serve prospects with hand-picked oolong teas.</p>
  </important>

Sadly, it should look fairly plain, so let’s set some international types for primary components, e.g. <h1> tags. (I like to consider these types as “cheap international defaults”.) We could override them in particular circumstances, however they’re a superb guess as to what we’ll need if we don’t.

I’ll put this within the types/globals.css file (which comes by default from Subsequent.js):

*,
*::earlier than,
*::after 
  box-sizing: border-box;


physique 
  coloration: var(--off-white);
  background-color: var(--dark);


h1 
  coloration: var(--green);
  font-size: var(--font-size-lg);


p 
  font-size: var(--font-size-md);


p, article, part 
  line-height: 1.5;


:focus 
  define: 0.15rem dashed var(--off-white);
  outline-offset: 0.25rem;

important:focus 
  define: none;


img 
  max-width: 100%;

In fact, this model is pretty primary, however my globals.css file doesn’t often find yourself really needing to get too massive. Right here, I model primary HTML components (headings, physique, hyperlinks, and so forth). There isn’t any have to wrap these components in React elements or to consistently add courses simply to offer primary model.

I additionally embody any resets of default browser types. Often, I’ll have some site-wide format model to offer a “sticky footer”, for instance, however they solely belong right here if all pages share the identical format. In any other case, it should must be scoped inside particular person elements.

I at all times embody some type of :focus styling to clearly point out interactive components for keyboard customers when targeted. It’s finest to make it an integral a part of the location’s design DNA!

Now, our web site is beginning to form up:

Picture of the work-in-progress website. The page background is now a dark blue color, and the headline 'Soothing Teas' is green. The website has no layout/spacing and so extends to the width of the browser window completely.

Image of the work-in-progress web site. The web page background is now a darkish blue coloration, and the headline ‘Soothing Teas’ is inexperienced. The web site has no format/spacing and so extends to the width of the browser window fully. (Large preview)

Utility Courses

One space the place our homepage may actually enhance is that the textual content at present at all times extends to the edges of the display screen, so let’s restrict its width. We’d like this format on this web page, however I think about that we would want it on different pages, too. This can be a nice use case for a utility class!

I attempt to use utility courses sparingly relatively than as a substitute for simply writing CSS. My private standards for when it is sensible so as to add one to a venture are:

  1. I would like it repeatedly;
  2. It does one factor properly;
  3. It applies throughout a variety of various elements or pages.

I feel this case meets all three standards, so let’s make a brand new CSS file types/utilities.css and add:

.lockup 
  max-width: 90ch;
  margin: Zero auto;

Then let’s add import '../types/utilities.css' to our pages/_app.jsx. Lastly, let’s change the <important> tag in our pages/index.jsx to <important className="lockup">.

Now, our web page is coming collectively much more. As a result of we used the max-width property, we don’t want any media queries to make our format cellular responsive. And, as a result of we used the ch measurement unit — which equates to concerning the width of 1 character — our sizing is dynamic to the consumer’s browser font measurement.

The same website as before, but now the text gets clamped in the middle and does not get too wide

The identical web site as earlier than, however now the textual content will get clamped within the center and doesn’t get too large. (Large preview)

As our web site grows, we will proceed including extra utility courses. I take a reasonably utilitarian method right here: If I’m working and discover I would like one other class for a coloration or one thing, I add it. I don’t add each potential class beneath the solar — it will bloat the CSS file measurement and make my code complicated. Generally, in bigger initiatives, I like to interrupt issues up right into a types/utilities/ listing with a couple of totally different recordsdata; it’s as much as the wants of the venture.

We will consider utility courses as our toolkit of frequent, repeated styling instructions which might be shared globally. They assist forestall us from consistently rewriting the identical CSS between totally different elements.

Part Kinds

We’ve completed our homepage for the second, however we nonetheless have to construct a bit of our web site: the web retailer. Our objective right here might be to show a card grid of all of the teas we wish to promote, so we’ll want so as to add some elements to our website.

Let’s begin off by including a brand new web page at pages/store.jsx:

export default perform Store() 
  return <important>
    <div className="lockup">
      <h1>Store Our Teas</h1>
    </div>

  </important>

Then, we’ll want some teas to show. We’ll embody a reputation, description, and picture (within the public/ listing) for every tea:

const teas = [
   name: "Oolong", description: "A partially fermented tea.", image: "/oolong.jpg" ,
  // ...
]

Notice: This isn’t an article about data fetching, so we took the simple route and outlined an array at the start of the file.

Subsequent, we’ll have to outline a element to show our teas. Let’s begin by making a elements/ listing (Subsequent.js doesn’t make this by default). Then, let’s add a elements/TeaList listing. For any element that finally ends up needing multiple file, I often put all of the associated recordsdata inside a folder. Doing so prevents our elements/ folder from getting unnavigable.

Now, let’s add our elements/TeaList/TeaList.jsx file:

import TeaListItem from './TeaListItem'

const TeaList = (props) => 
  const  teas  = props

  return <ul position="listing">
    teas.map(tea =>
      <TeaListItem tea=tea key=tea.identify />)
  </ul>


export default TeaList

The aim of this element is to iterate over our teas and to indicate an inventory merchandise for each, so now let’s outline our elements/TeaList/TeaListItem.jsx element:

import Picture from 'subsequent/picture'

const TeaListItem = (props) => 
  const  tea  = props

  return <li>
    <div>
      <Picture src=tea.picture alt="" objectFit="cowl" objectPosition="middle" format="fill" />
    </div>

  <div>
      <h2>tea.identify</h2>
      <p>tea.description</p>
    </div>
  </li>


export default TeaListItem

Notice that we’re utilizing Subsequent.js’s built-in image component. I set the alt attribute to an empty string as a result of the pictures are purely ornamental on this case; we wish to keep away from bogging display screen reader customers down with lengthy picture descriptions right here.

Lastly, let’s make a elements/TeaList/index.js file, in order that our elements are straightforward to import externally:

import TeaList from './TeaList'
import TeaListItem from './TeaListItem'

export  TeaListItem 

export default TeaList

After which, let’s plug all of it collectively by including import TeaList from ../elements/TeaList and a <TeaList teas=teas /> component to our Store web page. Now, our teas will present up in an inventory, but it surely received’t be so fairly.

Colocating Type With Elements By means of CSS Modules

Let’s begin off by styling our playing cards (the TeaListLitem element). Now, for the primary time in our venture, we’re going to wish to add model that’s particular to only one element. Let’s create a brand new file elements/TeaList/TeaListItem.module.css.

You might be questioning concerning the module within the file extension. This can be a CSS Module. Subsequent.js helps CSS modules and consists of some good documentation on them. After we write a category identify from a CSS module akin to .TeaListItem, it should routinely get reworked into one thing extra like . TeaListItem_TeaListItem__TFOk_ with a bunch of additional characters tacked on. Consequently, we will use any class identify we wish with out caring that it’ll battle with different class names elsewhere in our website.

One other benefit to CSS modules is efficiency. Subsequent.js features a dynamic import feature. subsequent/dynamic lets us lazy load elements in order that their code solely will get loaded when wanted, relatively than including to the entire bundle measurement. If we import the required native types into particular person elements, then customers also can lazy load the CSS for dynamically imported elements. For giant initiatives, we could select to lazy load vital chunks of our code and solely to load essentially the most essential JS/CSS upfront. Because of this, I often find yourself making a brand new CSS Module file for each new element that wants native styling.

Let’s begin by including some preliminary types to our file:

.TeaListItem 
  show: flex;
  flex-direction: column;
  hole: var(--space-sm);
  background-color: var(--color, var(--off-white));
  coloration: var(--dark);
  border-radius: 3px;
  box-shadow: 1px 1px 1px rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.1);

Then, we will import model from ./TeaListItem.module.css in our TeaListitem element. The model variable is available in like a JavaScript object, so we will entry this class-like model.TeaListItem.

Notice: Our class identify doesn’t must be capitalized. I’ve discovered {that a} conference of capitalized class names inside modules (and lowercase ones outdoors) differentiates native vs. international class names visually.

So, let’s take our new native class and assign it to the <li> in our TeaListItem element:

<li className=model.TeaListComponent>

You might be questioning concerning the background coloration line (i.e. var(--color, var(--off-white));). What this snippet means is that by default the background might be our --off-white worth. However, if we set a --color customized property on a card, it should override and select that worth as an alternative.

At first, we’ll need all our playing cards to be --off-white, however we could wish to change the worth for particular person playing cards later. This works very equally to props in React. We will set a default worth however create a slot the place we will select different values in particular circumstances. So, I encourage us to consider CSS customized properties like CSS’s model of props.

The model nonetheless received’t look nice as a result of we wish to guarantee that the pictures keep inside their containers. Subsequent.js’s Picture element with the format="fill" prop will get place: absolute; from the framework, so we will restrict the dimensions by placing in a container with place: relative;.

Let’s add a brand new class to our TeaListItem.module.css:

.ImageContainer 
  place: relative;
  width: 100%;
  top: 10em;
  overflow: hidden;

After which let’s add className=types.ImageContainer on the <div> that comprises our <Picture>. I exploit comparatively “easy” names akin to ImageContainer as a result of we’re inside a CSS module, so we don’t have to fret about conflicting with the skin model.

Lastly, we wish to add a little bit of padding on the edges of the textual content, so let’s add one final class and depend on the spacing variables we arrange as design tokens:

.Title 
  padding-left: var(--space-sm);
  padding-right: var(--space-sm);

We will add this class to the <div> that comprises our identify and outline. Now, our playing cards don’t look so dangerous:

Cards are showing for 3 different teas that were added as seed data. They have images, names, and descriptions. They currently show up in a vertical list with no space between them.

Playing cards are displaying for three totally different teas that have been added as seed information. They’ve pictures, names, and descriptions. They at present present up in a vertical listing with no area between them. (Large preview)

Combining World And Native Type

Subsequent, we wish to have our playing cards present in a grid format. On this case, we’re simply on the border between native and international types. We may actually code our format instantly on the TeaList element. However, I may additionally think about that having a utility class that turns an inventory right into a grid format could possibly be helpful in a number of different locations.

Let’s take the worldwide method right here and add a brand new utility class in our types/utilities.css:

.grid 
  list-style: none;
  show: grid;
  grid-template-columns: repeat(auto-fill, minmax(var(--min-item-width, 30ch), 1fr));
  hole: var(--space-md);

Now, we will add the .grid class on any listing, and we’ll get an routinely responsive grid format. We will additionally change the --min-item-width customized property (by default 30ch) to vary the minimal width of every component.

Notice: Keep in mind to consider customized properties like props! If this syntax seems unfamiliar, you possibly can try “Intrinsically Responsive CSS Grid With minmax() And min()” by Chris Coyier.

As we’ve written this model globally, it doesn’t require any fanciness so as to add className="grid" onto our TeaList element. However, let’s say we wish to couple this international model with some further native retailer. For instance, we wish to convey a bit extra of the “tea aesthetic” in and to make each different card have a inexperienced background. All we’d have to do is make a brand new elements/TeaList/TeaList.module.css file:

.TeaList > :nth-child(even) 
  --color: var(--green);

Keep in mind how we made a --color customized property on our TeaListItem element? Properly, now we will set it beneath particular circumstances. Notice that we will nonetheless use baby selectors inside CSS modules, and it doesn’t matter that we’re deciding on a component that’s styled inside a special module. So, we will additionally use our native element types to have an effect on baby elements. This can be a function relatively than a bug, because it permits us to reap the benefits of the CSS cascade! If we tried to copy this impact another manner, we’d possible find yourself with some type of JavaScript soup relatively than three traces of CSS.

Then, how can we maintain the worldwide .grid class on our TeaList element whereas additionally including the native .TeaList class? That is the place the syntax can get a bit funky as a result of we’ve to entry our .TeaList class out of the CSS module by doing one thing like model.TeaList.

One possibility could be to make use of string interpolation to get one thing like:

<ul position="listing" className=`$model.TeaList grid`>

On this small case, this may be adequate. If we’re mixing-and-matching extra courses, I discover that this syntax makes my mind explode a bit, so I’ll generally choose to make use of the classnames library. On this case, we find yourself with a extra sensible-looking listing:

<ul position="listing" className=classnames(model.TeaList, "grid")>

Now, we’ve completed up our Store web page, and we’ve made our TeaList element reap the benefits of each international and native types.

Our tea cards now show in a grid. The even entires are colored green, while the odd entries are white.

Our tea playing cards now present in a grid. The even entires are coloured inexperienced, whereas the odd entries are white. (Large preview)

A Balancing Act

We’ve now constructed our tea store utilizing solely plain CSS to deal with the styling. You will have observed that we didn’t need to spend ages coping with customized Webpack setups, putting in exterior libraries, and so forth. That’s due to the patterns that we’ve used work with Subsequent.js out of the field. Moreover, they encourage finest CSS practices and match naturally into the Subsequent.js framework structure.

Our CSS group consisted of 4 key items:

  1. Design tokens,
  2. World types,
  3. Utility courses,
  4. Part types.

As we proceed constructing our website, our listing of design tokens and utility courses will develop. Any styling that doesn’t make sense so as to add as a utility class, we will add into element types utilizing CSS modules. Because of this, we will discover a steady steadiness between native and international styling issues. We will additionally generate performant, intuitive CSS code that grows naturally alongside our Subsequent.js website.

Smashing Editorial(vf, yk, il)

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