Staff Software Engineer
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Editor’s note: This blog post is an April Fool’s faux product launch. However, to see how we actually built the real demo for ‘launch’, see our full explanation.
At Algolia, we are always pushing the boundaries of search. Today is an important day for us as it marks the official release of our 11th API Client: the CSS API Client.
CSS is an awesome language. It only takes you a few years of practice to be able to style a minimalist website in a matter of days.
Unfortunately, the language is not mature enough for us. A new version of it is released every year, which shows how unstable it is. On the other hand, CSS3 was released in 1998, without any new version since then. We think it sends a clear signal that CSS is the mature and stable tech.
CSS also has none of the features that bloats other programming languages. It has no conditions, no loops, no functions and no regexps. It is pure. You can write concise selectors like
#class.id:not(:checked) + a blink:nth-child(2n+1) that clearly expresses your intent at first glance.
We’ve exposed our entire search engine using just CSS, and you can try it live.
Seriously, it actually exists. It’s typo-tolerant, handles synonyms, highlighting, faceting & more.
The best part of the client is that it works offline. There are no actual requests done to our servers, everything is directly handled by your browser. It means that once you’ve download the initial CSS file, you can unplug and search away. That’s what we call Offline Search!
No call to the API also means that you have unlimited operations. You can search all day long in the same 100 records, and it won’t cost you a cent. Every request being handled by your browser means that you are now using your 8 cores at their maximum potential. We’ve actually started shutting down 2/3 of our datacenters because we are anticipating a much lower load thanks to this CSS release.
You know the saying: “Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away”. So, we removed a lot of features.
You won’t need data instantly replicated all around the globe to reduce latency because the data now lives in your browser; you can’t get any closer than that.
At Algolia, we also take great pride in having extensive documentation and code examples for all our API clients. We’ll remove those other clients, obviously, because we know you won’t need any other API client than the CSS one.
We are so confident in the quality of this release, that it will work flawlessly, everywhere, every time, and that there will never be any bugs, that we decided it’s no longer necessary to offer support for it. This shows how committed we are.
Finally, because there are no calls to the API, we decided to remove Analytics and the 99.999% SLA from our services. It was a hard decision to make, but when we weighed the pros and cons, it was clear that we needed to remove all the features that didn’t bring any value. Instead, we added support for flexbox.
This whole experiment opened our eyes on a brand new world. We’ve already starting working on our new Machine Learning processing pipeline in CSS. Stay tuned!