One of the quiet events over the past year has been the relative propserity that is occurring around W3Cs CSS-Cascading Style Sheets. CSS provides, among other things, the basic commands for font styling and formating of layers and regions on a web page. In addition, creating those layers with precise colors, borders, margins, and most importantly dynamic positioning are enabled by CSS standards. Fortunately, CSS coding has seen a rebirth in web browsers as Mozilla and Opera have released ever more standards compliant and complete CSS implementations. This had been anticipated by vendors like Adobe and Macromedia who have updated their GoLive and Dreamweaver web development tools to take advantage of CSS standards. So it easier than ever before to use .CSS template files to establish a look and feel for a website – and instantly change that look and feel by changes in one place, one file.
For example, this weblog started life as an all-white except for the pale green header named My weblog”. Twenty meinutes of work and testing on the .CSS file and voila – you see the changed results. Go to Bookraft.com to see a quick 5 minute makeover. CSS is getting used because finally it is reliable, cross-platform and saves big swaths of time and code. That has not gone unnoticed.
This past year major vendors have made commitments to CSS over proprietary solutions or XHTML, XSL:FO and other open standards solutions. Example: Macromedia is using CSS extensively in its Flash and Flex product lines. Ditto for Sun and Java Studio Creator where I was pleasantly surprised to CSS as a big part of JSC and its visual development. Ditto for IBM/Rational with their new Developer line of tools for WebSphere and general Java application development.
So kudos to the CSS design crew – they took a distinctive approach that raised some eyebrows when the standard originally came out; but has proved robust and effective. Now as CSS gets moved along into voice, audio, and 3D the challenge will be how to integrate well with the existing frameworks and standards – a notable challenge.