The CSS Zen Garden is 20 today.
It was about 9pm or so in Vancouver twenty years ago today, where I spun up an FTP connection and uploaded a handful of files to a server. I didn’t expect what happened next.
My intent was creating a site that proved CSS was a better way to design and build for the web than the mess of fonts and table tags the industry was dependent on up till that point. I figured a handful of the folks already into CSS at the time would find it neat, maybe a few other people would make an attempt at submitting, and it might prove to be a fun talking point for a few months.
What I didn’t see was how effectively it proved the point, and how revelatory that would be to the wider industry who weren’t using CSS yet. I mean I always dreamed it might reach a wider audience, but I never expected it to blow up early and remain relevant for as long as it did.
The designs it contains span a formative period of web design and development and most are of that era, while the industry has continued advancing beyond the ideals of 2003. But I keep it alive not just as an early web milestone, but also because it continues on as a reference for web curriculums and those joining the industry every day who get to experience that same aha moment the rest of us did many many years ago.
It’s no exaggeration to say that this one site launched not just my own career, but the careers of many of the contributors who are still prominent in the industry today. It remains my most significant mark on an industry I still work within today, and I still feel the pride of managing to create something that helped change the trajectory of the web for the better.