Simon Willison’s Weblog

Teaching CSS: there’s a long way to go

This email to the css-discuss mailing list does a great job of describing the confusion and frustration that still confronts traditional web developers who are only just starting out on the road to mastering CSS. When you’ve “got it”, it’s easy to forget how much of a paradigm shift it is away from old school table methods. Here’s an extract:

Step Eight.

Just when you think you’re settling down into a slow and steady learning curve, this is about when you start getting emails from everyone who uses your site describing all kinds of variations on your layout as it has been interpreted by their varying browsers and platforms. This stage is the most important of all, the one where you realize that CSS support is far, far more random than any HTML workarounds that you’ve been dealing with for the (insert personal experience here) years you’ve been making web pages.

(Excerpt from an email from a user of one of my sites: “the new color and stuff on the homepage looks good, except on my computor [sic] some of the pages are cut off at the bottom and have big gaps in them”)

Maybe a good analogy to make here is one with Linux: both are great in principle, but if you aren’t comfortable with what you are doing you can run in to a whole bunch of problems. I wouldn’t recommend anyone who is still on the CSS learning curve to move a big commercial project to pure CSS, just as I wouldn’t suggest a Linux newbie start hosting their own internet facing server.

At any rate, it’s obvious that we as a community still have a long way to go in creating useful resources for people who want to make the switch to CSS.

This is Teaching CSS: there’s a long way to go by Simon Willison, posted on 19th November 2003.

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Previously hosted at http://simon.incutio.com/archive/2003/11/19/teachingCSS