Oh Hello, I’ve always hated CSS.

Hello Open-Source Community.

I haven’t been doing much recently in terms of open-source. I ran into a bit of a pickle. I’ve always disliked HTML and CSS in particular, I never truly took the time to understand. Flexbox, CSS Grids, or Column/Row layouts.

So all my sites would end up having some sort of weird formatting as I progressed, that I had no idea if it was the parent element or the child element creating the issue. I’d ask myself questions like “Am I building this to scale properly?”. I’d get extremely frustrated, and eventually want to ditch a project solely because I didn’t understand CSS and its mechanics.

This is pretty accurate for me.

After about 3 failed attempts at building a portfolio..where the components would always work individually, but when they were put together being completely broken, looking more like a bad rendition of Picasso. I knew I had to grind through the idea of learning layouts, coding strategies, and cool techniques that would help me organize the “code” of the CSS.

I ended up taking a Udemy course on it, far cheaper, and they usually loosely go over the principles, that give you a basic understanding and then show different implementations on it. One of the first things they go over is actually how to organize your CSS files. In particular, this course was using SCSS, so they implemented the use of the 7-in-1 style.

In particular, I find this interesting and neat, because once you understand the idea behind it it’s very easy and accessible to figure out where your CSS issue lies if there is an issue.

Okay cool, so this is a good file structure, and this allows you to figure out which file the CSS that you’re looking for resides in relatively easily. But..what about making it so your HTML classes are easily rememberable, easily located, and easily re-used if need be.
That’s where BEM comes into play. Block Element Modifier can easily let a developer know what part of the code you working on, where it resides, and what kind of element you are working on. This is fantastic for re-usability, quick changes, and even organizing the thought in your head to which code you need to change. I’m someone who has always struggled with being okay with trash code submitted. I want my code to be perfect. I want it to scale accordingly, and I like the idea of someone else coming in and being able to read it cleanly. (Keep in mind this is the opposite of my writing, I almost never re-read my work before submitting it) .

Shame on me.

However, code is different for me, it’s great reading a proper tertiary return statement on a function. Makes my little heart melt. This is why CSS I think has always been so hard for me, it’s weird writing functionless programming. I want to write neat little blocks of code and return something.

Okay, so what was the reason for the blog post? Well, My friend @RayGervais, and I decided to do our own little hack-a-thon last weekend. We set out with a small task, wanted to utilize different technologies and see what we could come up with quickly easily, and at a point where it’s in a “decent” working condition.

We threw around some ideas, and ultimately we decided on a quick application that could be used quickly and easily and is a throwaway. Ray wanted to use a Go back end, and I just legitimately wanted to test my newfound CSS skills.

We decided on a small project that could expand further. Currently, everywhere expects you to sign up, they get access to your data, and privacy and anonymity get thrown out the window. So picture yourself in front of 100 people, And you have a question you want to ask everyone and get their honest feedback. That’s why we created “Down 4 whatever“.

Essentially you can ask a question, you get a 4 letter code, and you’d just need your people to use that 4 letter code to see and answer your question. It runs off similar principles to Jackbox games. After x amount of time, the room will close, and you’ll be able to see all the responses from everyone. No accounts, no waiting, and quick and easy for everyone to use. Simplicity was our target here. You can check out the repo here.


Ray took care of the backend by utilizing “Go” and GitHub co-pilot. Pretty impressive, and I’m sure he’ll write a blog post about that experience.

I took care of the CSS and the HTML. We didn’t feel we needed to utilize a newer framework as it would be overkill for this sort of project. What I did install for development purposes was live-server which mimics similar reloading during development when you update the CSS file or HTML file. A couple other dev dependencies to convert my SCSS to a CSS file, and I was good to go.

I tried my best to follow what I have learned, and one of the challenges I set for myself was to try and create a website that did not need separate CSS for a mobile version. This was a difficult task because it’s all about making sure any element I use can scale relatively well. There are a couple minor mistakes, particularly with input boxes ( i need to wrap them in a div still so that the input CSS will adjust accordingly where ever you use it on our site.)

For the most part, I was happy with what we achieved in under 12 hours. That includes brainstorming, coding, discussing possible options, and even how to merge our two sections clearly. There are some minor fixes that we need to work on is the result page, and there are some minor CSS bugs. But for such a short time, and my first time actually coding CSS with my newfound abilities. I think this is a win.

Also, please don’t just the colour gradient, there was a lot of debate, and nobody was happy no matter what we chose. I almost think I should make it random. Maybe gradient just is not the “in” thing at the moment.

Overall, check out the site, check out the repo. and if you are like me and hate CSS, learning those principles and structured coding made it that much more enjoyable. You’ll have something to build off of and not feel flustered when your CSS breaks everything.

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