Much is being said that websites should comply with current standards and I agree with a great many of them, however, part of those recommended standards is CSS style web pages. My own sites are often called a " blast from the past "; and not just because they do not contain all the newest web toys, which they don't , for the sake of user compatibility and engine optimizing, but because most of them still use basic html, rather than Cascading style sheets.
CSS VS font based
I am fighting my own personal war with this concept, even though CSS style is supposed to be faster, cleaner etc. from a modern browsers point of view. However its limitations in text style, editing etc. makes it a problem to me as a designer, but it is the wave of the future. So its something we all need to start learning how to do ,as soon as we can, as we must assume that all modern browsers will soon demand it. There are many programs that will convert a standard html page into CSS style for you, to simplify matters.
Mark up language and speed
Any web page is based on a language form that translates the code into a web page. The simpler the form, the easier it is to do , one would assume. However, Cascading style sheets are being forced on the web community by the" standards " people, because its supposed to be faster, easier to serve up and so they say, easier to edit.
The browser reads the directions first and then apply's those forms to all that it sees with cues in the from class numbers. But is it really any faster or better than those same cues from page format, font tags and the like we are used to using ? It does cut down on redundancy I will admit, but does this really translate into speed ?
Not really in my opinion, I have pages in both formats, and I can tell no real increase in speed from a page of plain text in html with all the so called " depreciated" repeated font tags VS the ones I make in CSS and I will use dial up to check it, so speed matters show up quickly.
And considering that CSS format is not a human format, with all its odd indents and spacing, it is harder to read and make changes to. Granted changing the directions at the top of the page which effects all the classes is easier, but not to make word and image changes. The layout can be complex and hard to follow for a human, even it's supposed to be easier for a machine.
I used to belong to a web group that was nothing but web designers and I heard over and over, " what am I doing wrong? " And it was always some tiny thing of formatting they have made a mistake with, that follows its own rules. And we are all being forced to learn a whole new set of rules to make the pages work.
Like anything else once you learn the rules of how it works, it becomes easy to do one assumes. I just have issues with being forced to learn it by some outside agency who has no vested interest in my work.
Who decided that middle was better than center ? Why is <li> better than< menu>? There are many other such examples of depreciated tags, and their replacements, but no good reason is given as to why they are being depreciated.
Is this conversion to CSS really needed ?
Any real browser will always build in backwards compatibility to the older forms of page coding. Why, because any browser that doesn't, will shortly be an EX browser and they all know it.
If you just down-loaded the latest and greatest and suddenly can't access your favorite sites because they are not coded with the current "standard" they will become an Ex browser in short order. As people will go back to the old one they had that served up the " non complaint" web pages they want to see.
So why update to current standards ? Supposedly for speed for one thing. The current day user wants it now, not later and CSS is supposed to do that. The trade off is somewhat limited format for textual forms etc. I save CSS for pages where all the text is exactly the same, so style sheet is fine. But the form does not work as well for formats of mixed textual styles, sizes, despite claims made for it.
So any real reason to use it ?
Yes, as noted before, all modern browsers will soon demand it. It's called forward compatibility in as much as it's possible. Web pages are being served up on palm tops and cell phones, not just your standard browser anymore and who knows what's on the horizon. And CSS is being used as the " norm" these new versions of display will follow.
Web pages must change with the formats that are compatible and CSS is one way to do that. We cannot know all the changes that will take place on the information highway, as it's forever changing but CSS style pages are the wave of that future and therefore as web designers we have to stay on top of those changes if we want our pages to remain viewable.
Is this going to happen tomorrow?
No, browsers, which we depend on for most of our viewers, will continue to read "tag soup" as it's called for as long as there are pages out there that still use them " depreciated" tags and all. But there will come a time when the " standard " bar will raise up to require certain formats, so even though it's a new game, it will pay any web page creator to learn it, even if we are being forced into it.
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