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Archived entry | Matt Wilcox .net

Webkit internal optimisations could be pushed to a new feature?

There’s a very interesting and pleasing post over at perfplanet called CSS Selector Performance Has Changed!. It shows how Webkit has been upgraded to have far better selector performance because an engineer shared the sentiment that “authors should not need to worry about optimizing …. , that should be the job of the engine”. It’s nice to see an engineer sharing my view on the matter (bottom of each post).

What I like even more though is one of the nitty gritty details: the Style Sharing optimisation. Which allows the browser to figure out that one element in the style tree has the same styles as something it has already figured out. That’s smart indeed.

And it leads me to a question: Can we not expose the logic behind the Style Sharing for authors to leverage?

I have been asking for years to get CSS able to reference a given elements properties to apply back to the current element. That seems to be more-or-less what this is doing, but silently and behind the authors control. Can we not use this as a basis to form something like this:

div.thisdiv { height: (div.otherdiv); }

This would be incredibly useful because it means that styling can at last become independent of the structure of the mark-up. It’s a way to escape the limitation of the cascade. Imagine this:

div.thisdiv { height: (div.otherdiv); }
div.otherdiv { height: (div.thisdiv); }

Boom, equal height divs without the need to rely on mark-up structure. We could at last link visually related elements even though they are not structurally related.

I’d also like to see:

div { position: (h1); top: 10px; left: 10px; }

To be able to position elements absolutely from a different elements location. Though, that may be much more of a stretch and outside of the scope of what the Webkit internals are doing.

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