On Nov. 23, 2005 I moved to The Hague from Washington, DC. This is my new Dutch life.


Happy New Year and BTW CSS is a Major Letdown

I know. I know. I'm very lame. I haven't posted for ages. I've been working for about ten days straight, including 12 hour days last weekend. We finally put away the mountain of clean laundry, but what's left of the Christmas tree still lurks in the corner.

Oh, Happy New Year, btw!

B- and I had a lovely, mellow Christmas and New Year and I promise to post photos of our trips to Vienna and France soon, hopefully this weekend.

Keep reading only if you have at least a marginal interest in Web design, otherwise the rest of this post will bore you. It still may bore you.

One of the things that's keeping me so busy is what was supposed to be a cheap and quickie Web site. The client's current site was built with Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), which are supposed to give designers *more* control over page design. Sounds good to me, and after a few years in "management" I was eager to get my hands dirty, especially with technology that was a mere promise a few years ago.

CSS is still more dream than reality. Some browser makers (eh-hem Microsoft) don't interpret the CSS standards the same way, leaving us with a limited set of the full technology at our disposal. After what I've been through, and lost money on, these past few weeks, I'm convinced, and disappointed, that the CSS is still a step backwards.

If you want to do anything besides style text, designing a CSS site is an exercise in frustration and often futility. I think the spec is fundamentally unintuitive and lends itself to the interpretation problems we see across browsers. The result is often fruitless trial and error coding. Even the most basic layouts in CSS are time consuming and headache causing. I submit into evidence the "float" property. A lot of good elaborate text styling is if you can't put your copy where you want it to go.

Don't get me wrong. There are some wonderful things about CSS. Indeed, I still swoon over the truly beautiful layouts in the CSS Zen Garden. Too bad support for some of the of the best tricks is spotty at best.

The mere notion that the W3C standards are "official" puts developers in a lose-lose situation. CSS is not ready for businesses (or anyone who's Web site reflects on their credibility). CSS layouts are unpredictable at best and when they break, it's quite ugly. On the other hand, some clients have heard about the standards and think they "should be adhered to." Who am I to explain that an international body of developers, including the guy who invented the Web, can't be trusted because other giants bigger than me, don't know what they're doing?

Now gather around kiddies while I tell you the tale about how my first Web site couldn't even display jpegs. While you were worrying about that cute girl in your algebra class, I was pondering the ergonomics of different shades of white backgrounds because that was the extent of "Web design." Then one day Netscape appeared with its proprietary tags, and we all moved to San Francisco and lived happily ever after.

I'm not saying we should throw standards out the window , but next time someone hops up on his high horse about HTML and CSS validators tell him this: we'd be no where today, and I mean no where, without the <table> tag. I thank Marc Andreessen nearly every day.

Now who do I punch for the float property?



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