Happy birthday to the Cascading Style Sheet
By Mike Hanlon
December 19, 2006
December 20, 2006 By any measure, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) are the good guys - an international consortium where Member organizations, a full-time staff, and the public work together to develop Web standards. W3C primarily pursues its mission through the creation of Web standards and guidelines designed to ensure long-term growth for the Web. This year the World Wide Web Consortium celebrates ten years of Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), the technology designers use to create attractive, economical, and flexible Web sites. To celebrate this anniversary (dubbed CSS10), W3C invites developers to propose their favorite CSS designs for the CSS10 Gallery. Bert Bos and Håkon Lie, the original co-authors of CSS, will select designs for the gallery based on originality, utility, and aesthetics. So if you fancy a chance at global ecognition, send your proposals here.
“The design community has confirmed that using CSS promotes beauty while making it easier and less expensive to build sites, ” said Bert Bos, W3C Style Activity Lead and one of the original co-authors of the specification that became CSS level 1, published on 17 December 1996.
In addition, thanks to the efforts of users, developers, and translators, W3C has released a new version of the CSS validator in time for CSS10.
CSS success derives from its numerous benefits to designers. The first benefit is the rich feature set. Using a simple declarative style, designers can set positioning, margins and alignment, layering, colors, text styling, list numbering, and much more. Furthermore, writing direction, font styles, and other conventions differ from one written language to another. CSS supports an increasing number of different typographic traditions and has made significant progress toward being able to display multilingual documents.
The second benefit is reuse. Style sheets can be shared by multiple pages, making it easy to update an entire site by changing a single line of CSS. Because style sheets can be cached, this can mean improved performance as well.
CSS promotes accessibility in a number of ways, without compromising design. Separating markup from style enables accessibility agents to convey information according to the needs of users with disabilities. The CSS design strikes a good balance between author and user needs, enabling users to make use of more pages. Style sheets also reduce dependency on using HTML tables for layout, which can be a barrier to some users with disabilities using assistive technologies such as screen readers.
A related CSS benefit is easier cross-media publishing; the same document may be viewed with different devices (from large color monitors to mobile phones to printers) simply by applying the appropriate style sheet. Software can choose the most appropriate style sheet automatically (as suggested by the style sheet author), and allow the user to choose from among available style sheets to meet that individual's needs.