Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) [w3.org] is a simple mechanism for adding style (e.g., fonts, colors, spacing) to Web documents. CSS allows for separation of the document structure (HTML) from its layout (CSS), thereby enabling layout to be defined only once, but applied to hundreds or thousands of documents. Through proper use of CSS, changes to a site's entire layout can be applied by making changes to the central style sheet.
The CSS saga traces its beginnings to 1994. Separation of a document's structure from its layout had been a goal of HTML from its inception in 1990. But instead of more advanced style sheets, the browsers continued to offer their users fewer and fewer options to influence the style.
In October, 1994, Håkon Wium Lie published the first draft of Cascading HTML Style Sheets [w3.org]. In 1995 the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) [w3.org] became operational. After many long and hard battles, CSS emerged as an official W3C Recommendation in December 1996 [w3.org]. In February of 1997 CSS also got its very own working group inside W3C. The newly formed group set out to work on the features which CSS1 didn't address.
(See chapter 20 of the book Cascading Style Sheets, designing for the Web [w3.org], by Håkon Wium Lie and Bert Bos [2nd edition, 1999, Addison Wesley, ISBN 0-201-59625-3])
The CSS standard has been revised and expanded many times since its first release. In May of 1998, CSS level 2 [w3.org] was released. As the popularity of CSS grew, so did the interest in making additions to the specification. Rather than attempting to shove dozens of updates into a single monolithic specification, it became clear that it would be much easier and more efficient to be able to update individual pieces of the specification. Unlike its predecessors, CSS 3 is therefore divided into separate modules, modules which can be updated in a more timely and precise fashion, thus allowing for a more flexible and timely evolution of the specification as a whole. (Introduction to CSS3 [w3.org])
Despite the relative age of CSS compared to HTML, it is only in more recent years that full-featured CSS based layouts have been embraced on a global scale. In the past, there was great hesitation from large or established websites to implement CSS. The reasons behind the restraint were many. In some cases, the sheer work load involved in converting a static HTML site to utilize CSS was simply too daunting. For others, lack of browser support was a concern. Yet others feared that switching to a CSS based layout would turn out to be damaging to the site's reputation or success.
Fortunately, CSS is truly "mainstream" today! Browser support is excellent. New and advanced features are quickly supported, even among the more stubborn browser vendors. HTML/CSS authoring software is capable of producing standards compliant code without too much bloat. Third party software suites are getting better and better at rendering "clean code". In all — websites large and small are today able to take full advantage of CSS, with all its benefits.
Despite all the advances, all the benefits, the momentum, and solid ground on which CSS rests, many authors find that certain nuances of CSS are more difficult to master than others. Translating a desired visual layout into sets of instructions for a browser to interpret can provide quite difficult, especially for those new to the craft.
This is where we come in! The CSS forum here at WebmasterWorld exists to assist you in working out any quirks and problems you may run into. We proudly boast a membership of seasoned CSS authors and designers willing to help and share their experiences. The CSS forum also gives everyone a chance to discuss various design and layout techniques that will help create stunning websites, powered by CSS.
So come on in! Kick off your shoes, or don your work gloves! The WebmasterWorld CSS Forum is sure to provide everyone involed with wonderful experiences as we discuss, share, and learn together. CSS may be getting a few years under its belt, but it is still in its youth ... and it is here to stay, for the benefit of us all!