Stylesheets — The latest and greatest way to make ugly pages.




The topic is: Cascading Stylesheets:

If you can't see anything in the above frame, well, you're using a browser that doesn't support the Cascading Stylesheet Specification (CSS). That means you need to be using Netscape Communicator, Microsoft IE 3.0 (which doesn't show the border around the text and the beautiful blood-red background) and IE 4.0 (which I haven't installed so I don't know what it shows), or some other specialized browser that supports CSS.

Stylesheets are among the latest in bleeding edge technology and one of my favorite comments about the problem with using bleeding edge technology is that the blood on the floor ends up being yours. Cascading Stylesheets are certainly a tool designers have been waiting for because it gives them more control of the way text and images appear on a page. It's also the artistic equivalent of making your own bullets — you really have to know what you're doing or it's going to be messy.

Like any tool, stylesheets can be misused and your Duke of Design Disasters spent about two minutes creating the above masterpiece — I was going for that Elvis on velvet look. That's what's nice about stylesheets: if you're a good Web page designer, you can use them to create great looking pages, but everyday hacks are going to create junk. With stylesheets, it's going to be harder to fake people out that you're a Web page designer. Good news for the pros.

There's nothing easy about stylesheets, including the way they are to be implemented with—you guessed it—Microsoft and Netscape fighting over who's right. To make matters worse, not every nuance of the spec is supported by both browsers and there are glitches in the way both browsers support the specification. Ironically, the new proposal for CSS2 has just been issued for public comment. Oh, well.

When I originally wrote this, there were no "killer" stylesheet generating programs. There are lots of good ones now. Use your favorite search engine to find them.

This gem was created using a free WYSIWYG stylesheet utility on C/net's builder.com site called "Style-o-Mattic." Unfortunately, it's no longer there; however, a search of Google turns up a lot of possibilities.