Looking Ahead—Insights from Eric Meyer

September 2022

An Event Apart co-founder Eric Meyer shares his thoughts on the current state of the industry and what’s to come.

It’s true that in these “Look Ahead” pieces I keep banging on about how fast things are moving in the web development space, but they just. Won’t. Stop. Literally the day I’m writing this, Chrome 105 shipped with full public support for both :has() and container queries, both of which are already supported in Safari Technology Previews (and :has() has been there since Safari 15.4), and might be in the public releases of Safari by the time you read this. Or maybe not; Apple doesn’t exactly share their release schedule with me. Either way, it should be soon!

Just think about that for a second. As Miriam Suzanne (who’ll be giving a talk at An Event Apart Denver next month) put it, for years we were told that parent selectors and container queries were impossible for browsers to implement, that they’d never happen. Now they’re both happening; more than that, they’re shipping.

There are other revolutions happening around us, right now, and I suspect most of us don’t even realize it. Cascade Layers are already widely supported, letting you take control of the cascade in ways that make collaboration across teams much simpler. Subgrid is in two of three engines, and coming soon to the third. We’re in a situation where the impossible becomes pedestrian with every new browser milestone. It’s a giddy moment.

So what I see ahead of us right now are some real paradigm shifts in how we manage and maintain our development. Just in CSS terms, there have been so many advances in browsers in the past couple of years that I honestly think there’s an entire ocean of techniques we haven’t figured out yet. In both work and personal projects, in the past three months, I’ve devised more than half a dozen CSS techniques that were utterly new to me. I’ve only had time to document a couple of them on my personal site; I hope to write up more. But let’s be real: inventing new tricks is way more fun than writing down how they work.

And lest you think this is me puffing myself up, there are all kinds of new techniques coming from all corners all the time. The border-image full-bleed technique is one example I saw recently, and I expect there’s a lot more to mine from just that general idea. It’s nearly impossible to keep up with all the new ideas. There are times I yearn for a Webdev News Network I could check in with once a day.

The point being, I don’t think coming up with a few new techniques is the mark of any kind of genius. It’s just that there are so many possibilities now that all it takes is a few minutes to reflect and a willingness to consider that almost nothing is really impossible any more. Add parent selection and container queries to that? I can’t even imagine what kinds of awesomeness will result. None of us can. But collectively, we can find out.