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The Cascade is a blog about the past, present, and future of CSS.

Howdy—Robin Rendle here. I started this side project back in May because I wanted a dedicated place to learn-out-loud about all the exciting things that’s happening in the world of CSS.

And so many exciting things are happening!

Right now we’re living through a golden age: what was once a language that was easy to make fun of has transformed into a serious and expressive toolkit for building visual interfaces. Although making fun of CSS was always lame, today, in 2024, it shows a deep lack of curiosity. The train has left the station. CSS rules. Get with the program.

But this didn’t happen randomly. Thousands of dedicated, smart folks have worked tirelessly over decades to get us to this point where CSS is—in this humble blogger’s opinion—the best design tool ever made. Every day some new super power is unlocked for us in browsers and with each new power the web becomes a better place, thanks to them.

So this blog exists to keep me in the loop and somewhat up to date with everything that’s possible with CSS but also it’s a reminder to celebrate the people doing the hard work building these tools for us.

You can subscribe to The Cascade via RSS, shoot me an email if you absolutely must, or follow the feed. This project is directly supported by readers and the membership program.

Right now the newsletter is taking a bit of a break whilst I figure out a healthy publishing cadence, but you can subscribe below:

What would HTML do?

Smart take here from Jeremy about composable design systems:

Colours, spacing, type; these are all building blocks that a designer can compose with. But it gets murkier after that. Pre-made form fields? Sure. Pre-made forms? No thank you!

It’s like there’s a line where a design system crosses over from being a useful toolkit into being a bureaucratic hurdle to overcome. When you hear a designer complaining that a design system is stifling their creativity, I bet it’s because that line has been crossed.

Jeremy argues that design systems should have many small pieces that can be easily reconfigured—and this happens to tie in nicely from another post of his about HTML web components:

...what if my web component needs to do two things?

I make two web components.

The beauty of custom elements is that they can be used just like regular HTML elements. And the beauty of HTML is that it’s composable.

Yes! This is precisely why I started ranting a while back about how, whenever I confront a design system problem, I ask myself this one question that guides the way: “What would HTML do?”

HTML is the ultimate composable language. With just a few elements shuffled together you can create wildly different interfaces. And that’s really where all the power from HTML comes from: everything has one job, does it really well (ideally), which makes the possible options almost infinite.

Design systems should hope for the same.