My referrers lit up recently due to Jonathan Snook’s article about CSS resets and how he doesn’t use them. To Jonathan and all the doubters and nay-sayers out there, I have only one thing to say:
Good for you.
Seriously; no sarcasm or passive-aggressiveness intended. If I thought my reset styles, or really anything I’ve ever published or advocated, was a be-all end-all ultimate solution for every designer and design that’s ever been and could ever be, I’d be long past due for six rounds on the receiving end of a clue-by-four.
Reset styles clearly work for a lot of people, whether as-is or in a modified form. As I say on the reset page, those styles aren’t supposed to be left alone by anyone. They’re a starting point. If a thousand people took them and created a thousand different personalized style sheets, that would be right on the money. But there’s also nothing wrong with taking them and writing your own overrides. If that works for you, then awesome.
For others, reset styles are more of an impediment. That’s only to be expected; we all work in different ways. The key here, and the reason I made the approving comment above, is that you evaluate various tools by thinking about how they relate to the ways you do what you do—and then choose what tools to use, and how, and when. That’s the mark of someone who thinks seriously about their craft and strives to do it better.
I’m not saying that craftsmen/craftswomen are those people who reject the use of common tools, of course. I’m saying that they use the tools that fit them best and modify (or create) tools to best fit them, applying their skills and knowledge of their craft to make those decisions. It’s much the same in the world of programming. You can’t identify a code craftsman by whether or not they use this framework or that language. You can identify them by how they decide which framework or language to use, or not use, in a given situation.
Craftsmanship is something I’ve been thinking about quite a bit recently, as has Joshua Porter. I delivered a keynote address on that very topic just a few days ago in Minneapolis, and my thinking infuses both of the talks I’m giving next week at An Event Apart New Orleans. I’ve started looking harder for evidence of it, both in myself and in what I see online, and I believe striving toward being a craftsman/craftswoman is an important process for anyone who chooses to work in this field.
Because this isn’t a field of straightforward answers and universal solutions. We are often faced with problems that have multiple solutions, none of them perfect. To understand what makes each solution imperfect and to know which of them is the best choice in the situation—that’s knowing your craft. That’s being a craftsman/craftswoman. It’s a never-ending process that is all the more critical precisely because it is never-ending.
So it’s no surprise that we, as a community, keep building and sharing solutions to problems we encounter. Discussions about the merits of those solutions in various situations are also no surprise. Indeed, they’re exactly the opposite: the surest and, to me, most hopeful sign that web design/development continues to mature as a profession, a discipline, and a craft. It’s evidence that we continue to challenge ourselves and each other to advance our skills, to keep learning better and better how better to do what we love so much.
I wouldn’t have it any other way.