• Create BookmarkCreate Bookmark
  • Create Note or TagCreate Note or Tag
  • PrintPrint
Share this Page URL
Help

Foreword 2005

Foreword 2005

Watson and Crick. Fred and Ginger. Bert and Håkon. The first of these immortal duos cracked the secret of life. The second pair dazzled Depression-era audiences with gravity defying dance routines that remain the very icon of charm and grace. As for the third pair – the authors of the book you now hold in your hands – the achievement that ensures their immortality benefits everyone who uses the Web or creates content for it.

For it was Bert and Håkon’s gift, not only to recognize the Web’s importance long before many of us had so much as heard the word “modem,” but also to recognize the danger posed by the medium’s lack of a standard visual formatting language which could be abstracted from the semantics of a page’s structure and content. In the early (and not-so-early) days, an unholy hodge-podge of proprietary, nonstandard tags was used to cobble page layouts together. All such Web pages were fat and slow, and the way they were built made their content unavailable to far too many would-be readers, users, or customers.

The authors of this book solved all those problems at a single stroke: namely, the invention of Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), a standard layout language for the Web. The key to their invention – the biggest thing Bert and Håkon did for us – is that CSS separates presentation from underlying structure and semantics. CSS takes the visual instructions out of HTML, where they never belonged anyway, and sticks them into one or more lean, cache-able, documents that are powerful enough to present your site one way in a traditional graphic browser, another way in a phone browser, a third way in kiosk mode, and a fourth for your printer.

If you designed or built Web pages during the 1990s, you might not have learned much about CSS. After all, in those days, the CSS standard was still in its infancy. Besides, certain browser makers (no names please) were almost pathologically reluctant to support CSS completely or even accurately. In fact, some didn’t even bother to accurately or completely support HTML.

But times have changed. So has CSS: in its latest incarnation as CSS 2.1, it packs surprising power and flexibility, allowing us as designers to create almost any layout we can imagine. As to today’s Web browsers, while they are not perfect (and some are more imperfect than others), their CSS support has traveled light years since the 1990s. This improved support allows anyone who understands CSS to create lean, fast-loading, content-rich Web pages that score as big with search engines as they do with readers. Best of all, the content of your pages is available to more people because it is accessible to more types of browsers and devices.

It’s pretty clear: if you design or program Web pages, or create Web content, or own or manage a website, you need to know how CSS works. And who better to show you than the dynamic duo that invented CSS in the first place?

In this updated edition to their original best-selling classic, the co-creators of CSS clearly, logically, and painlessly explain the hows and whys and ins and outs of the visual formatting language that is their gift to us. The examples are simple enough for novices yet detailed enough for experts. If you missed the previous edition, you are in for a treat. If, like the rest of us, you own a dog-eared copy of the previous edition, you will appreciate how this new edition makes sense of CSS 2.1, clearing up points that have sometimes confused even the experts.

The Web would be a poorer place without Messieurs Bos and Lie. Your shelf will be richer for the addition of this book. Rely on it. Study it. Savor it.

Jeffrey Zeldman
New York
November 2004

  • Creative Edge
  • Create BookmarkCreate Bookmark
  • Create Note or TagCreate Note or Tag
  • PrintPrint