Browser Compatibility Made Easy: The @supports Rule in CSS

Ever stumbled upon a cool CSS feature you're dying to use but worried about browser compatibility?

Enter the @supports rule, our conditional friend in CSS.

Let's look at how you can leverage it. 👇

What is @supports?

In simple terms, the @supports rule, also known as "Feature Queries", is your conditional check in CSS.

It checks if the browser knows a particular property-value combo.

If it does, great! The styles within our @supports block come to life. If not, they are ignored.

As always I think this is better with an example:

/* structure of @supports
 @supports (property: value) {
  ✨ styles that show if the browser knows the property-value combo. */

/* Now testing with a not-so-widely supported property*/ 
@supports (text-wrap: balance) {
    h1 {
        text-wrap: balance;

So as you can see, we can test to see if something is available before safely applying it.

Logical Operators

Our @supports has some logic up its sleeve:

  1. and: Both property-value conditions have to be available.
  2. or: One available property value combination is enough.
  3. not: Checking if something does "not" support this.

Again, let's look at it in action with some newer/less supported properties you can try in different browsers:

/* Both grid and subgrid? */
@supports (display: grid) and (grid-template-columns: subgrid) {
    /* Styles 💅 */

/* Dynamic View Height or text-wrap balance? Either way, we're good. */
@supports (text-wrap: balance) or (height: 100dvh) {
    /* Styles 💅 */

/* No grid? No problem! */
@supports not (text-wrap: balance) {
     /* Styles 💅 */

Real-World Uses

  • Progressive Enhancement: Ensure your trying out the latest features without breaking things for everyone.
  • Ditch JS Detectors: Remember using JavaScript libs like Modernizr for feature checks? With @supports, we can keep it all in CSS.
  • Clean code: Organize your stylesheet by feature support.

Potential issues

  • The Paradox: If a browser hasn't heard of @supports, it won't care about the styles inside, even if it knows the actual CSS trick.
  • Good Old IE: Internet Explorer (yes, it still exists) doesn't vibe with @supports. So, keep that in mind if your audience includes this vintage crowd.

Wrapping up

The @supports rule is like that multi-tool you never knew you needed.

Go out there and start experimenting. 🧪

Happy coding! ⚡️

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Avatar for Niall Maher

Written by Niall Maher

Founder of Codú - The web developer community! I've worked in nearly every corner of technology businesses; Lead Developer, Software Architect, Product Manager, CTO and now happily a Founder.


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