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CSS action pseudo classes

June 13, 2021


Without JavaScript, dynamic UI is possible with just CSS action class selectors.

Case study

Help text for input element which is only visible when the input is focused.

The HTML

<div class="input-cont">
<input type="text" placeholder="Focus me" autofocus />
<span class="help" data-help="Enter your email"></span>
</div>

To achieve the above, a span holding the help text in a data-help attribute as a sibling to the actual input. Both the input and the span are children to a parent div with class name input-cont.

The interaction(CSS)

The container would help to proper place the content, so a position relative is applied. Since multiple inputs can exist on a page, a margin-bottom is added to give a visual cue and separation.

.input-cont {
position: relative;
margin-bottom: 1rem;
}
input {
z-index: -1;
}

The Structure

Instead of additional element to hold the text, the ::before pseudo element is already available for container elements.

<input /> elements are not container which makes it difficult for this purpose, a span is placed next to the input element to provide the flexibility that ::before, ::after pseudo elements provide.

The +(direct sibling) selector can achieve selecting an element that lives under the same parent as the base selector. Since the input and the span.help lives under the same parent, so input+.help gets the span.help element, and the ::before gives access to its pseudo selector.

To ensure that the ::before pseudo element stay behind the input field, the z-index: -2 is applied to it, also, the content property is not set at the initial state of the element, making the element hidden by default.

input + .help::before {
bottom: 50%;
left: 0;
width: 100%;
font-size: 0px;
color: #707070;
opacity: 0;
position: absolute;
filter: blur(5px);
z-index: -2;
}

Toggling the help text

To show the help text when an element is hidden, the :focus psuedo selector is used to select an input that is focused, then the sibling selecor gives access to the span.help element, which makes the span.help::before pseudo element stylable.

Here, the content is set by picking it from the data-help attribute on the span.help element, a final z-index: 0 is applied to bring the span.help::before element on top of the input field, while the bottom: 60% pushes the element downward below the input field to avoid overlapping.

input:focus + .help::before {
content: attr(data-help);
opacity: 1;
filter: blur(0);
bottom: -60%;
z-index: 0;
font-size: 12px;
}

Find the above code on codepen.io

And this is just a basic toggling and hiding of elements using :focus.

Many interesting things can be built with CSS user action selectors.

There are other action selectors are:

  • :active
  • :focus
  • :focus-within
  • :focus-visible
  • :hover

Salut!

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With 💗 by Aleem Isiaka.
Software Engineer >>> Computer && Machines | Learner && Writer