The official book of California Stylesheets


(and that's okay)

It's a book about writing CSS.
And not writing CSS.


You suck at working

You can sit in a chair for as many hours a day as you want.

You can stay as late as you want. You can come in as early as you want.

Exclaim aloud to your co-workers your suffering. Build your works-too-much office culture, brick by miserable brick.

Surf the crunch time wave. Offer premium late-in-the-day amenities to keep people around after office hours. Guilt anyone who doesn’t come in early.

Relieve the tension in your personal life with “workaholic” jokes. Keep your family and friends on a euphemism treadmill of escalating intensity: First the thing you need to go do will be “important,” then “looking really bad,” then “urgent,” then “all-hands.”

Your family will understand. This is priority zero!

Lean in.

Do all of this, dear reader, and you will never once work more than four hours in a day.

Our capacity to sit and push buttons is absolutely amazing. Our capacity to do productive creative work is four hours per day.

More specifically, we get two periods of about two hours each. If you’ve ever interrupted a programmer while he or she was “in the zone,” then you’ve trodden on this sacred time. If you’ve been interrupted in the zone, then you know what I’m talking about.

If you’ve read all this, agreed, but you think you have more than two periods a day, then you’re on the road to burnout. It’s what burnout is.

Or you’re doing drugs. Drugs will give you one more period per day, tops. But that’s 50% more! It’s not nothing.

The most popular drugs in web development (and therefore CSS) are caffeine, alcohol and THC. All three give you an extra two-hour session.

No, they don’t “stack.”

This would be Silicon Valley’s dark secret, except every tech firm’s culture comes to revolve around some combination of the three. It would be the worst-kept dark secret in the world. Well, besides all that stuff with [celebrity name removed at lawyer’s request].

Here’s another secret: The periods of creativity you can put out in a given day are governed by your sleep. If you only get two periods of REM sleep, then you’ll only have two of these creative work phases, no matter how many drugs you do.

Some people claim to get their daily third creative phase through healthy diet and rigorous exercise. Never entertain this ridiculous nonsense. Instead of explaining to these people that you can’t do any of that stuff while writing Javascript, politely inform them that they’re “not a good culture fit” and bar them from the building.

If you’ve ever wondered about the rise of meeting culture: It’s this. Meetings aren’t work (unless you are running, and have prepped for, the meeting), so they can satisfy the four hours a day we’re at work, but awkwardly unproductive. Meetings allow all of us to be awkwardly unproductive together. Pretty much every tech archetype of wasting time in the office, from ping pong tables to napping pods, is aimed at filling this time.

Fix it with CASS

In simple terms: Don’t waste one of your two periods of creativity in a day on CSS. CASS makes this (more) possible.

Create cool assets. Write boring CSS. Actually, don’t write CSS at all. But if you’re working on CSS, make it boring. Boring is easy to work on. It only needs to impress the end user.

Next Chapter: Architecture »

Like the book? Buy it over on Gumroad.

Pay what you want!

The Gumroad version contains a secret chapter that spills the dirt on CSS preprocessors, a tech CASS no longer uses.

California Stylesheets is the awesome CSS file/framework referenced in the book. Get your own California Stylesheet here.

Go to CASS