CSS3 for Web Designers
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CSS3 for Web Designers

looking back upon the storied history of css, we see some important milestones that have shaped our direction as web designers. These watershed techniques, articles, and events helped us create aexible, accessible websites that we could be proud of both visually as well as under the hood. You could argue that things began to get interesting back
in 2001, when Je>rey Zeldman wrote “To Hell With Bad Browsers” (http://bkaprt.com/css3/1/),1  signaling the dawn of the CSS Age. This manifesto encouraged designers to push forward and use CSS for more than just link colors and fonts, leaving behind older, incapable browsers that choked on CSS1.

Yes, CSS1. We spent the next several years discovering and sharing techniques for using CSS to achieve what we wanted for our clients and bosses. It was an exciting time to be experimenting, pushing boundaries, and _guring out complex ways of handling cross-browser rendering issues—all in the name of increased aexibility, improved accessibility, and reduced code. Somewhere around 2006 or so, the talk about CSS went quiet. Most of the problems we needed to solve had documented solutions. Common browser bugs had multiple workarounds.We created support groups for designers emotionally scarred by inexplicable Internet Explorer bugs. Our hair started to gray.

(OK, I’m speaking for myself here.) Most importantly though, the contemporary crop of browsers was relatively stagnant. This period of status quo gave us time to craft reusable approaches and establish best practices, but things got a little, dare I say, boring for the CSS a_cionado yearning for better tools. Thankfully things changed. Browsers began iterating and updating more rapidly (well, some of them anyway). Firefox and Safari not only started to gain market share, they also thrived on a quicker development cycle, adding solid standards support alongside more experimental properties.

In many cases, the technologies that these forward-thinking browsers choseto implement were then folded back into draft speci_cations.In other words, periodically it was the browser vendors that pushed the spec along. Ask a roomful of web designers, “Who likes reading specs?” and you might get one person to raise their hand. (If you are that person, I commend you and the free time you apparently have). Although they serve as important references, I certainly don’t enjoy reading speci_cations in their entirety, nor do I recommend doing so in order to grasp CSS3 as a whole. The good news is that CSS3 is actually a series of modules that are designed to be implemented separately and independently from each other.

This is a very good thing. This segmented approach has enabled portions of the spec to move faster (or slower) than others, and has encouraged browser vendors to implement the pieces that are further along before the entirety of CSS3 is considered _nished. The bene_t here for us web designers is that along with experimentation and faster release cycle comes the ability to use many CSS3 properties before waiting until they become Candidate Recommendations, perhaps years from now. Now, by all means, if you enjoy reading speci_cations, go for it! Naturally there’s a lot to be learned in there—but it’s far more practical to focus on what’s currently implemented and usable today, and those are the bits that we’ll be talking aboutn the rest of this chapter. Later, we’ll apply those bits in examples throughout the rest of the book. I’ve always learned more about web design by dissecting examples in the wild rather than reading white papers, and that’s what we’ll stress in the pages that follow.

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