When should a StyleSheetList collection update?

29 Jan 2014

Depends on who you ask, I guess.

If you add a dynamic stylesheet to a document, Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Presto Opera (RIP) will immediately add a CSSStyleSheet object to its StyleSheetList collection (that's what you get back from document.styleSheets).

Chrome and Safari and new Opera (and presumably other WebKittish browsers) will wait at least until the stylesheet is loaded (approximately when the load event of the link element fires).

Here's a test page that demonstrates the behavior.

(Uh, apologies to Steve Souders for hotlinking his slow CSS file—but I said hi to him once in a bar at the 2nd JSConf so I think we're cool).

The CSSOM spec isn't crystal clear on which behavior is correct, so they might both be considered valid.

As always, though, relying on the behavior of a single engine is a recipe for broken web pages. If you try to access the cssRules object of a stylesheet in the StyleSheetList collection before it's loaded in Firefox, for example, it will explode (and you'll be left wondering what "InvalidAccessError: A parameter or an operation is not supported by the underlying object" actually means).

See this library for an example where such a thing happens, causing the $.load callbacks to fire too early in non-WebKit browsers.

Perhaps the real lesson here is that "Scampi Bug Yeti" is an actual meaningfulless anagram for "spec ambiguity".

Update: Simon Pieters encouraged me to file a bug on the spec. I think he's trying to ruin my anagram.