To BEM or not to BEM

A series of interviews on BEM methodology

To BEM or not to BEM” is a series of (possibly) ten interviews to ten different people that have used the BEM methodology on large CSS projects (on “real world” websites and applications, not simply “hello world” examples) to gather their feedback and opinions, to try to understand their learnings and experiences.

It’s not about the methodology itself – you can find plenty of tutorials, talks, and posts about it – but it wants to be a way of getting insights on what works well with BEM and what can go wrong, straight from the voices of the people that actually use it.

It’s a side project I have decided to take on one evening, while I was reading a post on Medium and I was struck by this statement:

“While our CSS guidelines improved a lot with BEM and OOCSS we feared that not having the appropriate structure in place could be a challenge especially when it comes to rolling out the CSS to different applications. […] In the meantime, to fight the CSS structure problem we found that ITCSS is the way to go.”

I have mixed opinions on BEM – on one side I totally understand the reasons to adopt it, on the other side I think that (if not used correctly) the remedy may be worse than the disease. So reading about someone else’s experience made me extremely curious, and I started to wonder how many other people could have interesting experiences with BEM to share, how much I could learn from them, and maybe – finally – decide if embrace BEM or simply bear with it.

So this project is essentially an attempt to give an answer to a question that has haunted me for a long time: to BEM or not to BEM?

Here are the ten interviews (plus one) of the series:

  • Christoph Reinartz, UX Engineer & Frontend Architect, full-stack CSS developer, team lead UI/UX engineering at Trivago
  • Razvan Spatariu, Frontend Engineer at Funding Circle UK, co-organiser of London CSS meetup
  • Sam Thurman, front end developer working at the intersection of development and design at BuzzFeed
  • Micah Godbolt, frontend architect, blogger, podcaster, trainer, speaker, author of Front End Architecture for Design Systems
  • Varya Stepanova, Frontend developer for Zalando. Previously: SC5, TMG and Yandex. React lover, BEM adept and a cat fan
  • Adam Onishi, Front-end developer working in the Origami team at the Financial Times in London. Co-creator of 12 Devs of Xmas and author of the book Pro WordPress Theme Development.
  • Stephanie Rewis, Principal UI Developer at Salesforce Lightning Design System. Front-end developer, passionate about web standards and accessibility, speaker and author.
  • Jof Arnold, Frontend developer, Y Combinator alumnus and one of the humans at BOTS.sh. When not at his desk he can be found on his bike or staring at art.
  • Katia Utochkina, A budding software engineer, recently converted to a programming career from a journalism background. Codebar student. In love with HTML/CSS, JavaScript, and Python.
  • Mark Dalgleish, CSS Modules co-creator, MelbJS organizer. Full-stack ECMAScript addict, interaction craftsman + coffee drinker. DesignOps Lead at SEEK.
  • Michele Bertoli, Front End Engineer with a passion for beautiful UIs, he will be joining the Front End Team at Facebook in 2017. Author, speaker and conference organizer.

The interviews are now available also on Medium.com: https://medium.com/to-bem-ot-not-to-bem/

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