Pure CSS Tic Tac Toe

It’s supposed to be used by 2 people taking turns (click twice for the other sign).

Basic idea:

  • It uses hidden checkboxes for the states (indeterminate means empty, checked means X, not checked means O) and labels for the visible part
  • When it starts, a little script (the only js in the demo) sets the states of all checkboxes to indeterminate.
  • It uses the :checked and :indeterminate pseudo-classes and sibling combinators to change the states and show who won.
  • Once somebody clicks on a checkbox (or in this case, its label) they change it’s state from indeterminate to either checked or not checked, depending on how many times they click on it.

My experience from Web Directions @media &

Last week, I was in London to give 2 talks. The first one was last Thursday, in one of the conferences I wanted to go ever since I learned my first CSS properties: Web directions @media. The second one was 2 days later in a smaller event called


Rule filtering based on specific selector(s) support

I’ve been using this trick for quite a while, but I never thought to blog about it. However, I recently realized that it might not be as common as I thought, so it might be a good idea to document it in a blog post.

If you follow the discussions on www-style, you might have noticed the proposal for a @supports rule to query property and value support. Some people suggested that it should also test for selectors, for example whether a certain pseudo-class is supported. However, you can do that today, albeit in a limited manner (no OR and NOT support).

The main principle that you need to keep in mind is that browsers are expected to drop rules with selectors they don’t understand, even partially. So, if only one selector in a group cannot be parsed, the whole rule will be dropped. This means we can construct selector “tests”, which are use cases of the selector whose support we want to test, that will not match anything, even if the selector is supported. Then, we include that selector in the beginning of our selector group. If all this is unclear, don’t worry, as there’s an example coming next 🙂


On CSS preprocessors

Lately there has been a rise in the usage of CSS preprocessors such as LESS and SASS, which makes sense given the simultaneous increase of CSS3 usage. I’ve frequently argued with fellow front-end web developers about whether they should be used or not and I decided to finally put my thoughts in writing.

To start, I can fully understand the advantage of using such preprocessors over vanilla CSS3. I hate listing all the vendor prefixes, and not being able to use variables, mixins or nesting just like the next web developer. All this syntactic sugar can simplify your workflow by a great deal and make writing CSS3 incredibly fun. However, I still refrain from using them, and I’ll explain why below.

Original Tips

Checkerboard pattern with CSS3

A while ago, I wrote a post on creating simple patterns with CSS3 gradients. A common pattern I was unable to create was that of a regular, non-rotated checkerboard. However, I noticed today that by giving a different background-position to every triangle in the pattern tile, a checkerboard can be easily created:

View in Gecko or Webkit.
Webkit seems to have an odd rendering bug, so it needed a background-size override and it still doesn’t look perfect. Oh well, reported the bug and moved on.

Replies Tips

Styling elements based on sibling count

The original idea belongs to André Luís, but I think it could be improved to be much less verbose.

André’s solution is like this:

/* one item */
li:nth-child(1):nth-last-child(1) {
	width: 100%;

/* two items */
li:nth-child(2):nth-last-child(1) {
	width: 50%;

/* three items */
li:nth-child(3):nth-last-child(1) {
	width: 33.3333%;

/* four items */
li:nth-child(4):nth-last-child(1) {
	width: 25%;

It’s based on the relationship between :nth-child and :nth-last-child. As you can see, the number of total rules is O(N) and the number of selectors in every rule is also O(N).

However, what you really want, is to just target the first element. The others can be targeted with just a sibling selector. With my improvement, the number of total rules is still O(N), but the number of selectors in every rule becomes just 2, making this trick practical for far larger numbers of children:

/* one item */
li:first-child:nth-last-child(1) {
	width: 100%;

/* two items */
li:first-child:nth-last-child(2) ~ li {
	width: 50%;

/* three items */
li:first-child:nth-last-child(3) ~ li {
	width: 33.3333%;

/* four items */
li:first-child:nth-last-child(4) ~ li {
	width: 25%;

And here’s a fiddle to prove it:

Yes, I know that with Flexbox and the other layout modules, techniques such as these are soon becoming obsolete, but I think they are still useful right now.
I’m also aware that you can emulate this particular example with table display modes, but a) Table display modes have other implications that are sometimes undesirable and b) Widths are just an example, you could come up with other ways to style the elements based on their total count, which can’t be emulated by CSS tables.

News Personal

I’m speaking at @media Web Directions ’11!

Just a quick note to let you know I’m speaking at this year’s @media Web Directions conference, which will take place during May 26–27 in London, UK. I’m very excited about this, since I always considered @media one of the top front-end conferences in the industry 🙂

The title and abstract of my talk is as follows:

CSS3 at the Outer Rim

By now most of you know how to use the core CSS3 features in your designs to embed custom fonts and easily create rounded corners, drop shadows, and scalable designs with media queries. But there is still a large area of CSS3 that remains unexplored by most web designers and developers. In this talk Lea will present many CSS3 features that are useful but underrated, as well as uncommon ways of utilising the CSS3 features you already know about, in order to do much more with even fewer images and less code.

Although it’s on the design track, I expect it to appeal to both developers and designers.

You can use the coupon code WDVEROU to take £50 off the current price. 😉

Hope to see you there! 😀

Original Tips

Checkerboard, striped & other background patterns with CSS3 gradients

Screenshot of the CSS3 patterns I came up withYou’re probably familiar with CSS3 gradients by now, including the closer to the standard Mozilla syntax and the ugly verbose Webkit one. I assume you know how to add multiple color stops, make your gradients angled or create radial gradients. What you might not be aware of, is that CSS3 gradients can be used to create many kinds of commonly needed patterns, including checkered patterns, stripes and more.

View demo (Works in Webkit, Firefox 3.6+, Opera 11.50+ and IE10+)

The main idea behind the technique is the following, taken from the CSS3 Images spec:

If multiple color-stops have the same position, they produce an infinitesimal transition from the one specified first in the rule to the one specified last. In effect, the color suddenly changes at that position rather than smoothly transitioning.

I guess this makes it obvious how to create the tile for the stripes (unless you’ve never created a striped background before, but teaching you this is beyond the scope of this post). For example the gradient for the horizontal stripes is:

background-color: #0ae;
background-image: -webkit-gradient(linear, 0 0, 0 100%, color-stop(.5, rgba(255, 255, 255, .2)), color-stop(.5, transparent), to(transparent));
background-image: -moz-linear-gradient(rgba(255, 255, 255, .2) 50%, transparent 50%, transparent);
background-image: -o-linear-gradient(rgba(255, 255, 255, .2) 50%, transparent 50%, transparent);
background-image: linear-gradient(rgba(255, 255, 255, .2) 50%, transparent 50%, transparent);

Why transparent instead of the actual colors we want? For flexibility. background-color serves two purposes here: Setting the color of half the stripes and serving as a fallback for browsers that don’t support gradients.

However, without anything else, the tile will occupy the whole container. To control the size of each tile, you can use background-size:

-webkit-background-size: 50px 50px;
-moz-background-size: 50px 50px;
background-size: 50px 50px;

To create the picnic-style pattern, you just overlay horizontal stripes on vertical stripes.

The hardest one to figure out was the checkered pattern. It consists of two 45° linear gradients and two -45° linear gradients, each containing ¼ of the dark squares. I still haven’t managed to think of a way to create a regular checkerboard (not at 45°) without needing an unacceptably large number of gradients. It will be very easily possible if conical gradients start being supported (currently they’re not even in the spec yet).

Can you think of any other popular patterns that can be created with CSS3 and no images? If so, let me know with a comment. Cheers! 🙂

Added afterwards: Other patterns

There are far more pattern designs possible with CSS3 gradients than I originally thought. For more details, see this later post.

News Original

rgba.php v1.2: Improved URL syntax, now at Github

I wrote the first version of rgba.php as a complement to an article on RGBA that I posted on Februrary 2009.
Many people seemed to like the idea and started using it. With their valuable input, I made many changes and released v.1.1 (1.1.1 shortly after I posted the article due to another little fix) on October 2009.
More than a year after, quite a lot of people still ask me about it and use it, so I decided to make a github repo for it and release a new version, with a much easier to use syntax for the URL, which lets you just copy and paste the color instead of rewriting it:

background: url('rgba.php/rgba(255, 255, 255, 0.3)');
background: rgba(255, 255, 255, 0.3);

instead of:

background: url('rgba.php?r=255&g=255&b=255&a=30');
background: rgba(255, 255, 255, 0.3);

I also made a quick about/demo page for it.
Enjoy 🙂


The curious case of border-radius:50%

Admittedly, percentages in border-radius are not one of the most common use cases. Some even consider them an edge case, since most people seem to set border-radius in pixels or –rarely– ems. And since it’s not used very frequently, it’s still quite buggy. A bit of a chicken and egg case actually: Is it buggy because it’s used rarely or is it used rarely because it’s buggy? My vote would go to the first, so the purpose of this post is to let people know about why percentages in border-radius are incredibly useful and to highlight the various browser whims when it comes to rendering them.