Style Sheets: An Overview

After years of "dirty hacks" intended to force Web pages to look one way or the other, we now have the CSS1 standard1 from the World Wide Web Consortium2 which enables Web authors to create sophisticated appearance rules for their Web pages. However, the usefulness of this new standard is being hampered by a lack of consistent implementation in popular Web browsers.

Why Johnny Can't Be Stylish

If one reads the CSS1 specification, there is a sense of just how far Web authors could go in creating attractive, useful, and functional pages. This is, unfortunately, roughly akin to reading through the theory of general relativity and realizing that one could use its principles to live a thousand years. It's all there on paper, but the tools to take advantage of the thoery just aren't available yet.

The problem with style sheets is that not only does no Web browser supports the whole standard, but those that try support different parts. One need only peruse the charts in Eric Meyer's Style Sheets Reference Guide 3 to get a sense of just how rocky this terrain can be. Very little of the specification may be used with confidence, since a property supported in one browser is likely not to be supported in others.....

1Lie, H. and Bos, B. Cascading Style Sheets, Level 1 Specification. World Wide Web Consortium, Boston, Massachusetts, USA;


3Meyer, E. Web Review Style Sheet Reference Guide. Songline Studios, San Francisco, California, USA;