For a bit there I wasn’t sure if the refresh was going to happen. Honestly things just weren’t flowing for me and every idea I tried fell flat. Feeling stuck is just the worst, but a nice thing about a deadline is it forces me to make decisions.

So I decided to pick a couple new CSS features I’ve been meaning to try and focus on those. It feels like we’ve been wanting container queries forever and :has() is the parent selector we’ve wanted even longer. Easy choices.

To play around with :has(), I wanted there to be some dynamic aspect so containers could sometimes have a child element. Drag and drop felt like a natural mechanism here. I ran through a lot of ideas where maybe you navigate the site by dropping items onto specific containers. Maybe more content or clues/treasures could be revealed that way. What if the website was an escape room?

I started playing around with a few drag and drop libraries and Dragula seemed like it could do all that I needed. I essentially wanted an inventory of items you could drag and drop onto specific sections of the site to make things happen. I got a small CodePen demo working with the help of my friend Jason (thanks!).

See the Pen Drag and drop test by Lynn Fisher (@lynnandtonic) on CodePen.

It was about here that I ran into a pretty big snag. Accessibility-wise drag and drop can be a bit of a nightmare. There’s options for making the interactions usable for screen readers and keyboard-only users but for what I was planning, it would have been rough.

I didn’t want major navigational and content pieces to be totally inaccessible, so I reduced scope a whole bunch. I decided to make the drag and drop more of an Easter egg, fun enhancement kind of a feature. Content and navigation would stay pretty straightforward. With more time I think I could explore doing something more ambitious and maybe I still will.

So what can we do with :has()?

Real quick, :has() is a CSS pseudo-class which allows you to select a parent element based on the children it has. So in this example…

<section id="one"><h2>Hello</h2></section>
<section id="two"><h3>Bonjour</h3></section>
section:has(h2) {
  background-color: red;

…only the first <section> will get a background color of red because it contains an <h2>.

I still marvel at how dang simple that is now with :has(). Just a gift!

So with a basic drag and drop, I could selectively give an element a child element. This interaction would allow me to change the parent container or the child’s siblings however I wanted.

I thought a lot about video games where you collect items and thought it would be fun to bring some ✨magic✨ in the way Super Mario powers up with a mushroom, flower, or leaf.

Super Mario in various stages of transformation
Super Mario power-ups

A mushroom felt like a fun option to make things get bigger and oh hey, kind of a great interaction to pair with container queries. Drop a mushroom, the container grows, things change.

I went through a lot of other ideas like maybe you could drop a key to unlock something or drop a coin like into an arcade cabinet or drop a slice of pizza for whatever reason. With 10-20 drop zones I had planned, the amount of changes I would need to account for started to make me sweat. So I simplified (the theme of this year I think) to a general “magic potion” idea that could affect sections in different ways.

group of icons: mushroom, potion, eraser, coin, leaf, gem, key, pizza
Some of the icons I started with.

Let’s set up Dragula

Dragula is really nice and was easy for me, a forever JS noob, to get running quickly. I won’t go into too much depth on how Dragula works since their demo and README are pretty detailed, but let’s look at the major things I needed to set up.

One section would be your inventory of drag and drop items and various other sections of the site would be “drop zones” that can accept those items. I called the inventory “loot” and gave it classes container and source. Each item in loot got a class of draggable.

<div class="loot container source" id="loot">
  <i class="draggable mushroom" data-id="mushroom">
  <i class="draggable potion" data-id="potion">

(By the way, the code in this case study is simplified a bit for clarity, but you can always look at the code in its complicated glory on GitHub. Also I probably shouldn’t use an <i> here but I that was an artifact of a previous attempt at something I ended up not using and I did not change it!)

So then every drop zone would get a class of container and dropzone:

<nav class="container dropzone" id="nav">
  <!-- nav content -->
<header class="container dropzone" id="header">
  <!-- header content -->

In the JavaScript, I’d set up Dragula like this:

// page elements that are interactive
var loot = '#loot';
var nav = '#nav';
var header = '#header';

// variable
var containers = [

// Dragula
var drake = dragula({
  containers: containers,
  removeOnSpill: true,
  direction: 'vertical',
  // loot is the source of draggable items
  moves: function (el, source) {
    return source === document.querySelector(loot)
  // when you drag an item, a copy is made
  copy: function (el, source) {
    return source === document.querySelector(loot)
  // any container will accept items except loot
  accepts: function (el, target) {
    return target !== document.querySelector(loot)

Two significant settings here are copy which makes it so you never run out of mushrooms or potions in your loot, and accepts which makes it so loot is not a drop zone.

Now we can drag and drop our items. Again here is a CodePen demo and I’ll go into some specific UX details in a bit.

Growing in size

To start, let’s make the homepage hero illustration grow. The markup for that header looks like this:

<header class="header container dropzone">
  <div class="svg">
    <svg />

(The <div class="svg"> helped to isolate the SVG code from having siblings, which was causing some layout issues for me.)

I set up the CSS so the height of the SVG is set by a variable.

.header {
  --header-height: 410px;
.header svg {
  width: auto;
  height: var(--header-height);

So once we’ve dropped the mushroom into the header:

<header class="header container dropzone">
  <div class="svg">
    <svg />
  <i class="draggable mushroom" data-id="mushroom" />

We can change the height of the SVG by using :has():

.header:has(.mushroom:not(.gu-transit)) {
  --header-height: 500px;

Dragula gives the mushroom a class of gu-transit while it’s being dragged and removes it once it’s been dropped. So this makes the header 500px tall when the header has a mushroom and it’s no longer in transit.

This has the effect of the header zooming in size.

Now, what if you drop another mushroom? Would it just grow bigger and bigger forever with every new mushroom? I liked that idea, but also didn’t want the site to ever look too wonky. I decided to account for each drop zone accepting two mushrooms and two potions max.

So knowing we’ll only have two mushrooms ever in the header, we can use :has() with the general sibling combinator to do that:

.header:has(.mushroom ~ .mushroom:not(.gu-transit)) {
  --header-height: 600px;

This makes the SVG 600px tall when the header has two mushrooms that are siblings (again, not in transit).

To add a bit more fun here, I also set up the illustration to have the Diet Dr. Pepper “grow” as the header grows too. I gave IDs to the artwork layers in the SVG and swap opacity in the same way I set the header height.

  .header #soda-can {
    opacity: 1;
  .header #soda-bottle,
  .header #soda-cup {
    opacity: 0;
  .header:has(.mushroom:not(.gu-transit)) #soda-can {
    opacity: 0;
  .header:has(.mushroom:not(.gu-transit)) #soda-bottle {
    opacity: 1;
  .header:has(.mushroom ~ .mushroom:not(.gu-transit)) #soda-bottle {
    opacity: 0;
  .header:has(.mushroom ~ .mushroom:not(.gu-transit)) #soda-cup {
    opacity: 1;
a Diet Dr. Pepper soda can, bottle, and Big Gulp

A few other sections of the site do some growing with mushrooms and I also had fun making my noggin grow on the about page:

Add some container queries

Container queries! The loves of my life. With container queries we can make style changes dependent on an element’s dimensions instead of the entire viewport’s. I was excited to try them finally.

On desktop, the projects on the homepage are laid out in 3-columns. When a project gets a mushroom, it changes to take up 2 columns. With another mushroom, it takes up the whole browser width.

.projects {
  display: flex;
  flex-wrap: wrap;
.project {
  flex-basis: calc(100% / 3);
.project:has(.mushroom:not(.gu-transit)) {
  flex-basis: calc((100% / 3) * 2);
.project:has(.mushroom ~ .mushroom:not(.gu-transit)) {
  flex-basis: 100%;

(I’m using flexbox here so projects grow/shrink as the ones around them grow/shrink.)

I set up the SVG artwork to have groups that I can show/hide dependent on which containers queries are active. So a group in the SVG would look like this:

<g id="david7" class="reveal">
  <!-- paths here -->

So for the David Rose project, we can do something like this:

.david-rose {
  container-type: inline-size;
.reveal {
  opacity: 0;
  transition: opacity 200ms ease-in-out;
@container (min-width: 470px) {
  .david-rose #david3,
  .david-rose #david5 {
    opacity: 1;
@container (min-width: 750px) {
  .david-rose #david2,
  .david-rose #david6 {
    opacity: 1;
@container (min-width: 1100px) {
  .david-rose #david1,
  .david-rose #david {
    opacity: 1;

And that ends up with this:

Pretty fun! Each project gets a different treatment, so check ’em out.

Fun and color with magic potion

The draggable potion works in the same way as the mushroom. Instead of scaling things, the potion brings the illustrations to life with colorful details. There’s a lot happening, but the main technique is setting variables for things like background-color and text color and resetting those values with :has(). Here’s a simplified example:

.header {
  --bg-color: #ebecf0;
  --text-color: #14303f;
  color: var(--text-color);
  background-color: var(--bg-color);
.header:has(.potion:not(.gu-transit)) {
  --bg-color: #ff5f5f;
  --text-color: white;

For sections with artwork, I’ve set up the SVG with various classes like fill-blue and fill-yellow depending on what color they should be when the potion is dropped.

:root {
  --yellow: #fabb19;
  --blue: #5d73a3;
  --turquoise: #00ced4;
.dropzone:has(.potion:not(.gu-transit)) .fill-yellow {
  fill: var(--yellow);
.dropzone:has(.potion:not(.gu-transit)) .fill-blue {
  fill: var(--blue);
.dropzone:has(.potion:not(.gu-transit)) .fill-turquoise {
  fill: var(--turquoise);

A few paths get class fill-swap which receives different colors as the background changes with a second potion. Others get special colors depending on whether light or dark mode are active. And there’s also a couple sections (like the homepage hero) that change a bit more. Here’s a quick look at how a few sections change:

The about page illustration is also a fun one:

A few UX details

Besides the major drag and drop interactions, there are a few UX considerations needed to polish things:

arrow pointinga at a row of dots in the upper right corner of a section

Anything else?

I ultimately had a lot of fun with the refresh this year, but gosh I was struggling early on. Probably a few lessons here, but I do appreciate setting deadlines that push me to ship work (even if it’s not quite what I was hoping for).

I ran into some issues with my Grunt setup this time around and I may do a mid-year update and move things around. I recently moved my ancient Wordpress blog I’m trying to revive into 11ty and it was a nice experience.

I just love the web and I’m really excited to see renewed energy around personal sites this year.

Thanks for reading! 👋 See you next year.