Fighting for CSS

March 28th, 2009

It seems that now, the year 2009, in the world of Web 2.0, over 10 years after the beginning of CSS level 2, every website would be coded using this incredibly simple, elegant, and powerful solution to formatting web pages. Yet, my entire work history in web design and development has been a losing battle in advocacy of CSS use.

At my first positions at UWM I could understand why I was seeing so many awful table layouts and so little CSS – many of the sites were nearly 10 years old. The real shocker was that as I became involved redesign projects CSS still was nowhere to be found. I got used to this fact, and after a few years of working there, no ridiculous web practice could surprise me.

Or so I thought. Then I saw pages that clients attempted to make using Microsoft Front Page or some other equally wacky web page editor. Talk about overcomplicated, completely ineffective formatting code!

Then I started at Hal Leonard and saw the strangest combination of tables and CSS I’ve ever encountered. Tables galore, but with a different CSS style applied to every single table cell. Hundreds and hundreds of styles applied practically to every single sentence. No divs, no style information that spanned multiple elements, or you know, cascaded. Yup a complete lack of cascading styles when using Cascading Style Sheets.

I think a lot of people just don’t care or are afraid of using CSS. A lot of programmers don’t want to take the time to learn how to use CSS to align text when they know a font tag will do the same thing, even after I explain how you can use one line of CSS to achieve alignment on every page of your site, every paragraph even, rather than using thousands of <font> tags across a site. Others give it a try, run into some browser support troubles, and then revert back to tables, which aren’t even universally supported themselves!