Smol Responsive CSS Grid

Create an intrinsically responsive grid layout, optionally using a CSS custom property to extend to varable contexts. Each column will resize at the same rate, and break to a new row if the width reaches the --min value.

CSS for “Smol Responsive CSS Grid”
--min: 15ch;
--gap: 1rem;

display: grid;
grid-gap: var(--gap);
grid-template-columns: repeat(auto-fit, minmax(var(--min), 1fr));

Smol Responsive Flexbox Grid

Create an intrinsically responsive grid layout, optionally using a CSS custom property to extend to varable contexts. Each column will resize at the same rate until reaching the --min width. At that point, the last item will break to a new row and fill any available space.

CSS for “Smol Responsive Flexbox Grid”
--min: 10ch;
--gap: 1rem;

display: flex;
flex-wrap: wrap;
gap: var(--gap);

.smol-flexbox-grid > *
flex: 1 1 var(--min);

Smol Modern Centering

Put down the CSS centering jokes! This modern update is often the solution you’re looking for to solve your centering woes.

CSS for “Smol Modern Centering”
display: grid;
place-content: center;

Smol Responsive Padding

This smol demo is using clamp() for responsive padding. The order of clamp() values can be interpreted as: the minimum allowed value is 1rem, the ideal value is 5% (which will be relative to the element), and the max allowed value is 3rem.

In other words, as the element is placed in different contexts and resized across viewports, that value will grow and shrink. But it will always compute to a value within the range of 1rem to 3rem.

Another suggested option for the middle ideal value is to use a viewport unit, like 4vw, which works great for components such as models or setting padding on the body.

CSS for “Smol Responsive Padding”
padding: 1.5rem clamp(1rem, 5%, 3rem);

Gummi bears gummies cheesecake donut liquorice sweet roll lollipop chocolate cake macaroon. Dragée powder biscuit. Dessert topping jelly beans liquorice cake sesame snaps oat cake chocolate bar marshmallow. Cookie danish jelly-o pudding tart chocolate. Jelly sweet tiramisu fruitcake dessert muffin chocolate cake dragée. Donut dragée carrot cake icing. Macaroon lemon drops muffin.

Smol Composable Card Component

This component features aspect-ratio and leans heavily on the pseudo selectors of :not(), :is(), :first-child, and :last-child. The result is a composable card component that just works with your desired semantic internal content.

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Note: Both aspect-ratio and :is() are in progress rolling out to the latest versions of modern browsers, so you may need to create fallbacks for your unique audience and consider this solution as a progressive enhancement. Fallback considerations are included as noted with comments.

This solution also uses the Smol Responsive CSS Grid to contain the cards.

CSS for “Smol Composable Card Component”
--img-ratio: 3/2;

display: flex;
flex-direction: column;
box-shadow: 0 0 0.5rem rgba(, 0, 0, 0.35);
border-radius: 0.5rem;

.smol-card-component > * + *
margin-top: 1rem;

.smol-card-component > img
aspect-ratio: var(--img-ratio);
object-fit: cover;
width: 100%;

@supports not (aspect-ratio: 1/1)
.smol-card-component > img
height: max(18vh, 12rem);

.smol-card-component > img:first-child
border-radius: 0.5rem 0.5rem 0 0;

.smol-card-component > img:last-child
border-radius: 0 0 0.5rem 0.5rem;
margin-top: auto;

.smol-card-component > *:not(img)
margin-left: 1rem;
margin-right: 1rem;

.smol-card-component > :not(img):first-child
margin-top: 1rem;

.smol-card-component > :last-of-type:not(img):not(:is(h2, h3, h4))
margin-bottom: 1rem;

.smol-card-component > :not(:-webkit-any(h2,h3,h4))
font-size: 0.9rem;

.smol-card-component > :not(:is(h2,h3,h4))
font-size: 0.9rem;

.smol-card-component > a
align-self: start;

  • Headline

    Chocolate cake macaroon tootsie roll pastry gummies.

    Apple pie jujubes cheesecake ice cream gummies sweet roll lollipop.


  • Headline

    Chocolate cake macaroon tootsie roll pastry gummies.

  • Headline

    Apple pie jujubes cheesecake ice cream gummies sweet roll lollipop.

    Chocolate cake macaroon tootsie roll pastry gummies.

Smol Stack Layout

This smol stacked layout is a grid feature that can often replace older techniques that relied on absolute positioning. It works by defining a single grid-template-area and then assigning all direct children to that grid-area. The children are then “stacked” and can take advantage of grid positioning, such as the centering technique in the demo.

At first glance you might not notice, but that’s a video background in the demo. And all we had to do was set width: 100% to ensure it filled the grid area. Then, we make use of place-self on the h3 to center it. The rest is completely optional design styling!

Bonus features in this demo include defining the h3 size using clamp() for viewport relative sizing, and also using aspect-ratio to size the container to help reduce cumulative layout shift.

CSS for “Smol Stack Layout”
display: grid;
grid-template-areas: "stack";
aspect-ratio: 16/9;
background-color: #200070;

.smol-stack-layout > *
grid-area: stack;

.smol-stack-layout video
width: 100%;

.smol-stack-layout h3
place-self: center;
font-size: clamp(2.5rem, 5vw, 5rem);
text-align: center;
line-height: 1;
font-style: italic;
padding: 5vh 2vw;

.smol-stack-layout small
align-self: end;
justify-self: start;
padding: 0 0 0.25em 0.5em;
opacity: 0.8;
font-size: 0.8rem;

.smol-stack-layout h3,
.smol-stack-layout small

position: relative;
color: #fff;

Into The Unknown

Video from Pexels

Smol Avatar List Component

This smol component, which you may also know as a facepile, is possible due to the ability of CSS grid to easily create overlapping content. Paired with CSS custom properties and calc() we can make this a contextually resizeable component.

Based on devices capabilities, the grid columns are adjusted to slightly narrower than the --avatar-size. Since nothing inherent to CSS grid stops the content overflowing, it forces an overlap based on DOM order of the list items. To ensure perfect circle images, we first use the --avatar-size value to explicitly set the list item dimensions. Then by setting both width and height to 100% on the img in addition to object-fit: cover and border-radius: 50%, we can be assured that regardless of actual image dimensions the contents will be forced into a circle appearance.

Bonus trick #1 is the use of layered box-shadow values that only set a spread to create the appearance of borders without adding to the computed dimensions of the image. The spread values are set with em so that they are relative to the avatar size. And that works because we set the list’s font-size to --avatar-size.

Bonus trick #2 is using the general sibling combinator (~) so that on hover or :focus-within of an li, all linked images that follow animate over to reveal more of the hovered avatar. If the number of avatars will cause wrapping, you may want to choose a different effect such as changing the layering via z-index.

🔎 Pop open your browser devtools and experiment with changing the --avatar-size value!

CSS for “Smol Avatar List Component”
--avatar-size: 3rem;
--avatar-count: 3;

display: grid;
grid-template-columns: repeat(
max(44px, calc(var(--avatar-size) / 1.15))
padding: 0.08em;
font-size: var(--avatar-size);

@media (any-hover: hover) and (any-pointer: fine)
grid-template-columns: repeat(
calc(var(--avatar-count) + 1),
calc(var(--avatar-size) / 1.75)

.smol-avatar-list li
width: var(--avatar-size);
height: var(--avatar-size);

.smol-avatar-list li:hover ~ li a,
.smol-avatar-list li:focus-within ~ li a

transform: translateX(33%);

.smol-avatar-list img,
.smol-avatar-list a

display: block;
border-radius: 50%;

.smol-avatar-list a
transition: transform 180ms ease-in-out;

.smol-avatar-list img
width: 100%;
height: 100%;
object-fit: cover;
background-color: #fff;
box-shadow: 0 0 0 0.05em #fff, 0 0 0 0.08em rgba(, 0, 0, 0.15);

.smol-avatar-list a:focus
outline: 2px solid transparent;
box-shadow: 0 0 0 0.08em #29344B, 0 0 0 0.12em white;

Smol Transitions

This set of performant CSS transition utility classes include CSS custom properties for scaling the transition property and duration. We’re doing a few things in this demo that you may want to keep in mind if you use them.

First, we’re triggering the transition of the child elements on :hover of the parent. The reason for this is that for transitions that move the element, it could end up moving out from under the mouse and causing a flicker between states. The rise transition is particularly in danger of that behavior.

Second, we wrap our effect class in a media query check for prefers-reduced-motion: reduce that instantly jumps the transition to the final state. This is to comply with the request for reduced motion by effectively disabling the animated part of the transition.

CSS for “Smol Transitions”
.smol-transitions > * 
--transition-property: transform;
--transition-duration: 180ms;

transition: var(--transition-property) var(--transition-duration) ease-in-out;

.rise:hover > *
transform: translateY(-25%);

.rotate:hover > *
transform: rotate(15deg);

.zoom:hover > *
transform: scale(1.1);

.fade > *
--transition-property: opacity;
--transition-duration: 500ms;

.fade:hover > *
opacity: 0;

@media (prefers-reduced-motion: reduce)
.smol-transitions > *
--transition-duration: 0.01ms;

Smol Scroll Snap

Modern CSS has gifted us a series of properties that enable setting up more controlled scrolling experiences. In this demo, you’ll find that as you begin to scroll, the middle items “snap” to the center of the scrollable area. Additionally, you are unable to scroll past more than one item at a time.

To align the scroll items, we’re using grid and updating the orientation of child items using grid-auto-flow: column. Then the width of the grid children is set using min() which selects the minimum computed value between the options provided. The selected width options in this demo results in a large section of neighboring items being visible in the scrollable area for large viewports, while on smaller viewports the scrollable area is mostly consumed by the current scroll item.

While this is a very cool feature set, use with care! Be sure to test your implementation to ensure its not inaccessible. Test across a variety of devices, and with desktop zoom particularly at levels of 200% and 400% to check for overlap and how a changed aspect ratio affects scroll items. Try it out with a screen reader and make sure you can navigate to all content.

Note: Have caution when attempting to mix fullscreen scroll snap slideshows followed by normal flow content. This can damage the overall scrolling experience and even prevent access to content. Fullscreen scroll areas are also prone to issues for users of high desktop zoom due to high risk of overlapping content as the aspect ratio changes. In addition, fullscreen versions that use y mandatory result in “scroll hijacking” which can be frustrating to users.

Also – you may have a pleasant smooth scroll experience on a touchpad or magic mouse. But mouse users who rely on interacting with the scroll bar arrows or use a click wheel can have a jarring experience. This is due to browser and OS inconsistencies in handling the snapping based on input method (an issue was specifically reported for this demo using Chrome and Edge on PC).

CSS for “Smol Scroll Snap”
display: grid;
grid-auto-flow: column;
grid-gap: 1.5rem;
overflow-x: auto;
scroll-snap-type: x mandatory;
padding: 0 0 1.5rem;
-webkit-overflow-scrolling: touch;

.smol-scroll-snap > *
width: min(45ch, 60vw);
scroll-snap-align: center;
scroll-snap-stop: always;

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