When using WinJS page controls to implement pages and navigation in an app, it's important to understand that any and all CSS that is loaded on behalf of those pages is cumulative. Because page controls are just performing DOM replacement within the context of the app's root page, you get the benefit of preserving the global JavaScript context but at the same time get the sometimes-frustrating behavior of preserving all the CSS styles as well.

For example, let's say the app's root page is default.html and its global styles are in css/default.css. It then has several page controls defined in pages/page1 (page1.html. page1.js, page1.css), pages/page2 (page2.html. page2.js, page2.css), and pages/page1 (page3.html. page3.js, page3.css). Let's say that page1 is the 'home' page and is loaded into default.html at startup. This means that the styles in default.css and page1.css have been loaded.

Now the user navigates to page2. This causes page1.html to be dumped from the DOM, but its styles remain in the stylesheet. So when page2 is loaded, page2.css gets added to the overall stylesheet as well. This means that any styles in page2.css that have identical selectors to page1.css will overwrite the latter's. The same thing happens also when the user navigates to page3–the styles in page3.css get loaded and overwrite those that already exist.

The tricky part is what then happens if the user navigates back to page1. Because the apphost's rendering engine has already loaded page1.css into the stylesheet, page1.css won't be loaded again. This means that any styles that were overwritten by other pages' stylesheets will not be reset to those in page1.css–basically you get whichever ones were loaded most recently.

The same thing happens with .js files, by the way, as those are not reloaded if they've been loaded already. The lesson here is to not duplicate variable names between those files.

On that thought, there are two ways to get around the CSS issue. One is to just use a global stylesheet (i.e. default.css) and not do much in the individual page .css files unless you're certain it's local. The second way is to make sure that each page has a top-level div with a page-name class, e.g. <div class="page1">, which allows you to then scope all style rules in page1.css with the page name, e.g.

.page1 p {
    font-weight: bold;
}

This will prevent collision between all the page<n>.css files.

Another place where this can arise is if you try to use the ui-light.css and ui-dark.css WinJS stylesheets in different pages of the same app. Because there are only two files here, whichever one is used first will be overwritten by the second, with the effect that subsequent pages that refer to ui-light.css will still appear with the dark styles.

The solution to this particular problem comes from the fact that where the styles differ, those in ui-light.css are scoped with a CSS class win-ui-light and those in ui-dark.css are scoped with win-ui-dark. This means you can just refer to whichever stylesheet you use most often in your .html files, then add either win-ui-light or win-ui-dark to individual elements that you need to style differently. (Thanks to Scott Salam for this one.)

The other way of avoiding collisions is to specifically unload and reload CSS files by modifying <link> tags in the page header. You can either remove one <link> tag and add a different one, toggle the disabled attribute for a tag between true and false, or change the href attribute of an existing link. These methods are demonstrated for styling an iframe in the CSS styling and branding your app sample, which swaps out and enables/disables both WinJS and app-specific stylesheets. Another demonstration for switching between the WinJS stylesheets is in scenario 1 of the HTML NavBar control sample  (js/1-CreateNavBar.js):

function switchStyle() {
    var linkEl = document.querySelector('link');
    if (linkEl.getAttribute('href') === "//Microsoft.WinJS.2.0 /css/ui-light.css") {
        linkEl.setAttribute('href', "//Microsoft.WinJS.2.0 /css/ui-dark.css");
    } else {
        linkEl.setAttribute('href', "//Microsoft.WinJS.2.0 /css/ui-light.css"); 
    }
}

The downside of this approach is that every switch means reloading and reparsing the CSS files and a corresponding re-rendering of the page. This isn’t much of an issue during page navigation, but given the size of the WinJS files I recommend using it only for your own page-specific stylesheets and using the win-ui-light and win-ui-dark classes to toggle the WinJS styles.


Comments are closed