Tom MacWright

How are we supposed to do tooltips now?

I’ve been working on, which is sort of a testbed to learn about htmx and the other paths: vanilla CSS instead of Tailwind, server-rendering for as much as possible.

How are tooltips and modals supposed to work outside of the framework world? What the Web Platform provides is insufficient:

  • The title attribute is unstyled and only shows up after hovering for a long time over an element.
  • The dialog element is bizarrely unusable without JavaScript and basically doesn’t give you much: great libraries like Radix don’t use it and use role="dialog" instead.

So, what to do? There’s:

  • The pure CSS option. Seems like balloon.css is the main example. Unmaintained for three years, but maybe that works? Wouldn’t have the right placement for tooltips if they’re on an edge of the screen. Tooltips also can’t contain HTML or styling.
  • Or maybe I should use floating-ui and write a little extension. The DOM-only version of floating-ui is tiny, and the library is very high quality and used everywhere - it’s what Radix uses.

I think it’s kind of a bummer that there just aren’t clear options for this kind of thing.