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Painting the Web by Shelley Powers

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Chapter 8. CSS Über Zone

You’ve worked with CSS for a while, and feel pretty confident of what you’re doing. Then you reach a site that has some slick design work and open up its stylesheet to see how the elements are styled. You read through the sheet, becoming increasingly mystified at all the weird and strange notation. Congratulations: you’ve just entered the CSS Über zone.

Probably the most revolutionary specification to come out of the W3C—after HTML, of course—is Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). With CSS, we finally had a way to define a stylesheet in one file and use it in hundreds of pages without having to litter font tags all throughout our web page content. Even though “style” is often about text, CSS can enhance your graphics or spare you from creating them.

The introduction of CSS hasn’t been without problems, though. Even now, a decade after the first release of the specification, we still have to deal with browser differences. In addition, there are some aspects of CSS that aren’t necessarily trivial. Using CSS to control multiple columns is always a bit of a challenge, especially when you get a site looking just right in one browser and it looks like garbage in another. Still, CSS has opened up a world of design possibilities and simplified web site maintenance at the same time. You’re just not going to find many modern sites without at least some CSS.

CSS isn’t complicated, but it is extensive. Entire books have been written about CSS that don’t include all the many ...

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