Want to Write a Hover Effect With Inline CSS? Use CSS Variables.

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The other day I was working on a blog where each post has a custom color attached to it for a little dose of personality. The author gets to pick that color in the CMS when they’re writing the post. Just a super-light layer of art direction.

To make that color show up on the front end, I wrote the value right into an inline style attribute on the <article> element. My templates happened to be in Liquid, but this would look similar in other templating languages:

{% for post in posts %}
<article style="background: {{post.custom_color}}">
  <h1>{{post.title}}</h1>
  {{content}}
</article>
{% endfor %}

No problem there. But then I thought, “Wouldn’t it be nice if the custom color only showed up when when hovering over the article card?” But you can’t write hover styles in a style attribute, right?

My first idea was to leave the style attribute in place and write CSS like this:

article {
  background: lightgray !important;
}
article:hover {
  /* Doesn't work! */
  background: inherit;
}

I can override the inline style by using !important, but there’s no way to undo that on hover.

Eventually, I decided I could use a style attribute to get the color value from the CMS, but instead of applying it right away, store it as a CSS variable:

<article style="--custom_color: {{post.custom_color}}">
  <h1>{{post.title}}</h1>
  {{content}}
</article>

Then, that variable can be used to define the hover style in regular CSS:

article {
  background: lightgray;
}
article:hover {
  /* Works! */
  background: var(--custom_color);
}

Now that the color value is saved as a CSS variable, there are all kinds of other things we can do with it. For instance, we could make all links in the post appear in the custom color:

article a {
  color: var(--custom_color);
}

And because the variable is scoped to the <article> element, it won’t affect anything else on the page. We can even display multiple posts on the same page where each one renders in its own custom color.

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Browser support for CSS variables is pretty deep, with the exception of Internet Explorer. Anyway, just a neat little trick that might come in handy if you find yourself working with light art direction in a CMS, as well as a reminder of just how awesome CSS variables can be.


The post Want to Write a Hover Effect With Inline CSS? Use CSS Variables. appeared first on CSS-Tricks.

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