WebReference.com - Part 2 of chapter 1 of Cascading Style Sheets: Separating Content from Presentation, from glasshaus (1/7)
Cascading Style Sheets
Introduction to Cascading Style Sheets
[The following is the conclusion of our pair of excerpts from chapter 1 of the glasshaus title Cascading Style Sheets: Separating Content from Presentation.]
The full adoption of Cascading Style Sheets for web page layout and typographical design is the next step in the evolution of the Web. Tired of abusing HTML by using it to control the presentation of web pages, web professionals are turning en masse to a technology nearly seven years old in the hopes of rescuing the Web from fracture, and the Web's content from unnecessary obsolescence.
CSS has finally garnered enough support from browser makers, and generated enough excitement from web professionals to start making a difference on the Web. With the helpful nudging of advocacy groups like the Web Standards Project (the WaSP), browser makers like Microsoft and Netscape have recently released versions of their Internet Explorer and Navigator browsers with CSS support improvements in the order of magnitudes over previous releases. And Opera, the other main browser maker, has of its own initiative put forth arguably the most complete CSS implementation in its flagship browser, owing in no small part to the fact that HÃ¥kon Lie, the company's founder chief engineer, was a member of the group which issued the first CSS recommendation.
Even with great strides in CSS browser support, the adoption
of CSS by the developer is no simple task, especially for those that have
earned their bread and butter relying on the ubiquitous
hack and "single pixel gif" tricks (which use invisible
images inserted in a page's markup to stretch page elements to the desired
dimensions) to force browsers to present their page designs consistently in
a varied and inconsistent field of browsers. For such a group of wizened developers,
deciding to use CSS is more than a decision to change methods of defining
page presentation. To be successful and rewarding, the use of CSS must be
motivated by a thorough understanding of the deficiencies of the Web as we
know it, as well as the promise that CSS and new design methodologies hold
as we try to push the world's largest and most important media revolution
forward into the 21st century.
For young developers, the generation of people who are the first to have grown up with the Web as a household word, we must find ways to teach proper development practices, lest they continue the unfortunate trend of the early Web towards the use of proprietary HTML extensions and invalid markup. The view-source school of web design, once a great boon as web professionals learned from, shared, and expanded upon the work of their peers, has become a dangerous teacher. Its classes are filled with bad examples and sites destined for obsolesce and irrelevance as the Web pushes forward; creaky old markup and questionable development techniques hinder progress.
That is why this book has been written: to train and educate the builders of the Web to use the appropriate technologies for the task at hand, in order that the Web in ten years will be the Web that Tim Berners-Lee intended when he invented it, and not an ever increasing morass of unstructured information.
Created: June 20, 2002
Revised: June 20, 2002