WebReference.com - Part 2 of chapter 1 of Cascading Style Sheets: Separating Content from Presentation, from glasshaus (2/7)
Cascading Style Sheets
The Birth of CSS
It may seem to you at this point that stylesheets are an afterthought, a change in plans for the Web. But the world's first web browser called "The WorldWideWeb browser" and built by Tim Berners-Lee, included an internal style language used by the browser when rendering HTML pages. In fact, many of the first generation of web browsers had their own style languages, some of which were even considered when the CSS recommendation was first under development. A style language is a natural, even necessary, partner for a markup language, for as we know, a markup language is not intended to define presentation.
However, these early HTML style languages were internal, used by the browser and not available to the document author. It quickly became apparent to the Web's early architects that control of presentation must in some way be wrested from a browser's internal presentation rules and handed to the web author. In 1994, HÃ¥kon Lie published the first draft of Cascading HTML Style Sheets.
As HÃ¥kon envisioned it, the style language for the Web must somehow combine author and user preferences. His proposal accomplished this with a "cascade" which allowed for multiple sets of style rules and a well-defined system for determining the weight of competing rules. It was the cascade that set his style language apart from other style languages of the day, and made it the natural choice for a presentation language to accompany HTML.
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) was formed in 1994 in order to establish technical standards for the growth and development of the Web, and it published the first CSS recommendation in December of 1996, known as CSS1. In May of 1998, the W3C released CSS2, which improved and expanded upon the first recommendation. CSS3 is currently under development.
These recommendations, while not actually "standards", provide browser makers with the necessary information to implement CSS in a uniform manner. Internet Explorer version 3 was the first browser to implement CSS, in August of 1996, before CSS was even an official recommendation. Netscape followed suit, and since then nearly all web browsers have implemented it.
As you'll learn, browser implementations of CSS vary widely, a problem that causes many web professionals to run screaming away from stylesheets with their hair afire. We hope in this book to keep you from that fate by presenting CSS as it currently works in modern browsers, advising you where older browsers may fail, and suggesting where future browsers may improve on CSS support. In the next section we'll take a look at CSS as it exists in its natural environment, the web page.
Created: June 20, 2002
Revised: June 20, 2002