Why CSS in JS deserves your attention

Published on July 29, 20182 min read

I gave a presentation at work recently about the whole CSS vs CSS in JS debacle and about why we should be looking at CSS in JS more seriously. I’m pretty sure I messed it up but I think the slides came out to be kinda nice even though I made them in 2 hours.

These slides go in two directions - top-down and left-right. If you’re looking through them remember to go down before going to the next slide. Also the TL;DR version of the talk is right below, in case you think the slides are shit (which I'd totally understand).

CSS by itself is a very good way to style documents. I emphasize on documents because CSS just doesn't work well enough when styling apps. A few annoying things about having to use CSS in web apps, at scale are

  • There is currently no way to enforce scoping for your styles. The cascade is a good idea for documents, not applications.
  • No dependency management built in. The previous point about the cascade applies here too.
  • No way to get data into and out of CSS. Particularly frustrating when you have to maintain constants in both JS and CSS.
  • Dead Code Elimination is hard to do in CSS because we don’t know what will be used, until it is used.

There are newer specifications coming out in CSS like Grid for example, but these are designed to solve problems of style. But styling isn’t the only problem we have.

When styling apps you want style to be a function of your state. Which is a rather nice way of describing CSS in JS if you think about it. Well parts of it, at least. Css in JS solves the problems I’ve listed above elegantly and for me that alone is enough to justify using it, even in existing projects.

Harris Jose
Software Engineer at Chronicle HQ.



Whipping up a text editor and thinking about presentations on the web. Getting my hands dirty with Typescript and Rust.
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