Coding standards

There are coding standards for css, javascript and the new Twig template engine:


The CSS coding standards are based upon two very popular methodologies called SMACSS and BEM.


SMACSS (pronounced “smacks”) stands for Scalable and Modular Architecture for CSS. Drupal 8 uses SMACSS to conceptually categorize CSS rules inside libraries.


Base usually contains a css reset or a normalize, and HTML element styling. Drupal 8 ships with normalize.css inside the system module.


Layout rules define the composition of common primary modules that typically appear on every page. CSS from Grid systems is also categorized here.

In Drupal core themes all of the layout styling classes (the global layout of the page) are prefixed using .layout- classes. Below are some examples:


Note: Those .layout- classes should never contain colors, borders, … only widths, floats, margins, paddings to accomplish the global grid of the page.


The official SMACSS terminology for this is modules. Since modules have a different meaning in Drupal, this category was renamed to component to avoid confusion.

Components are discrete and reusable elements of the UI. Component rules should be reusable and flexible. Examples of components are carousels, dialogs, widgets, …


A state is something that augments and overrides all other styles. Typically they describe a certain action or trigger. The best example is the is-active state, used to mark an item as active. These classes typically start with the is- prefix.

In Drupal core the states are typically defined together with the component.


Sometimes also referred to as skin to avoid the confusion with the Drupal term themes.

A theme defines colors and/or images to give a certain look and feel to any of the previous element.

An example below:

// component.css

.component {
    border: 1px solid;

// theme.css

.component {
    border-color: blue;

More information about SMACSS can be found on the SMACSS website.

MortenDK approved

SMACSS for Seven

The Seven theme uses these categories to split up the css rules. The Seven theme contains a directory called css. Inside this folder, four more directories live:

  • core/themes/seven/css/base
  • core/themes/seven/css/components
  • core/themes/seven/css/layout
  • core/themes/seven/css/theme


BEM (Block Element Modifier) is a naming convention. The Drupal 8 CSS class names are based on the BEM methodology, resulting in more transparency and meaning.


  • A block is an independent entity with its own meaning that represents a piece of interface on a page.
  • An element is a part of a block, tied to it semantically and functionally. It has no meaning outside of the block it belongs to. Not all blocks have elements.
  • Modifiers are flags set on blocks or elements; they define properties or states. They may be boolean (for example, visible: true or false) or key-value pairs (size: large, medium, small) — somewhat similar to HTML attributes, but not exactly the same. Multiple modifiers are allowed on a single item if they represent different properties.

Source: Smashing Magazine

buttons.theme.css (Seven):

  • .button {}, a block.
  • .button--primary {}, a modifier.

node.css (Seven):

  • .node__submitted {}, an element.

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