Anne van Kesteren

CSS revolution?

It did not occur to me that I would write something for my weblog today, but I read something interesting on the weblog of Daniel Glazman which might be worth to write something about.

He writes about a new CSS revolution and lists some arguments about why he thinks the CSS Working Group did not do its job properly. Or actually, is not doing its job properly. Personally I wasn't really opposed to the way the CSS Working Group was doing its thing. I do not really like the way the HTML and SVG Working Group are doing things (answering comments on XHTML 2.0, writing terrible specifications (SVG 1.2 comes to mind), et cetera), but I never felt this way about the CSS WG, like I said before.

Yeah, I'm not sure where this post will end up either.

To continue about the CSS thing. Personally I'm quite happy with CSS 2.1. It is exactly the kind of thing I expect a standards organization to write. They look at existing implementations, check what works, what doesn't and write a definitive form of it into the specification. (And they do that very clearly and much more descriptive than the previous one, unless they can't be definitive on the subject.) And of course, they discuss this with implementers as well to ensure maximum compatibility and interoperability is reached.

The benefits for you and me, as web developers, are not really there. Although we might benefit in the end when every browser complies to CSS 2.1. Which would mean that we could drop * html, _height, _wid/th and other strange things we use to make sure it works cross browser.

Daniel also mentions something about levels and versions. Personally I think that remaining backwards compatibility is one of the biggest advantages of CSS. (Together with the forward compatible parsing model.) The things that he mentions look nice, but with the current state of things it is not going to work. Besides, implementing new CSS properties, selectors or values takes time and requires a lot of test cases and other things that make the idea of releasing something new every six months quite optimistic.

After that he makes a list of twelve points of what he thinks web authors need more than ever. Personally I think we need interoperability and an improved Internet Explorer or some move from Microsoft to work together with Firefox or adopt Gecko as browser engine. Of course, the list is really nice, but it is not the urgent list of what web authors need.


  1. Yes, we need more interoperability from Internet Explorer, but we're not going to get it, because a good web standards application platform is a threat to Microsofts own platform. I don't think the CSS Working group can do much about that.

    The only possibility for progress is to advance without Microsoft participating. Opera and Firefox are doing well, but their progress is currently slowed by uncertainties about CSS 3. CSS 3 should have been at a level now where applications start implementing it and thereby generating the needed feedback to make CSS 3 a Recommendation.

    Posted by Sjoerd Visscher at

  2. I agree with Daniel wholeheartedly. I also agree that with a version number, it would be much easier to drop CSS which turned out to be not such a good idea, to avoid bloat and keeping the standard simple and tight. Backwards compatibility is a non-issue, really, the version number will do just fine and in the end newer versions will probably always resemble the old versions for 95%, so minimal changes would be necessary.

    Also, I like his top 12, in particular the top 3.


    Posted by Laurens Holst at