Utopia

It’s collaborative

Collaboration is at the heart of Clearleft’s work. I know everyone says that, but we’ve definitely seen a direct correlation: projects with high levels of collaboration are invariably more successful than projects where people are siloed.

It’s intrinsic

If you’re a control freak, you may not like Utopia. The idea is that you specify the boundaries of what you’re trying to accomplish — minimum/maximum font sizes, minumum/maximum screen sizes, and some modular scales. Then you let the code — and the browser — do all the work.

It’s iterative

There isn’t actually much that’s new in Utopia. It’s a combination of existing techniques. I like that. As I said recently:

Are you using fluid type?

Do your font-sizes increase in proportion to the width of the viewport? I don’t mean in sudden jumps with @media breakpoints—I mean some kind of relationship between font size and the vw (viewport width) unit. If so, you’re probably using some kind of mechanism to cap the minimum and maximum font sizes—CSS locks.

Are you using modular scales?

Does your type system have some kind of ratio that describes the increase in type sizes? You probably have more than one ratio (unlike Resilient Web Design). The ratio for small screens should probably be smaller than the ratio for big screens. But rather than jump from one ratio to another at an arbitrary breakpoint, Utopia allows the ratio to be fluid.

Are you using custom properties?

A technical detail this, but the magic of Utopia relies on two powerful CSS features: calc() and custom properties. These two workhorses are used by Utopia to generate some CSS that you can stick at the start of your stylesheet. If you ever need to make changes, all the parameters are defined at the top of the code block. Tweak those numbers and watch everything cascade.

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Jeremy Keith

Jeremy Keith

A web developer and author living and working in Brighton, England. Everything I post on Medium is a copy — the originals are on my own website, adactio.com