css templates

  Analyst02 20:12 01 Feb 2005


I'm thinking of moving into css webpages instead of html.

Basically I would like to know what are the pros and cons of using a css template as a starting point?

  Taran 20:35 01 Feb 2005

This is the short version:

CSS offers a great deal, IF and only if you understand how to use it and how (and why) it works.

Most people assume that CSS is for general formatting of page elements like font style, size, colour, background and so on.

This is certainly true, but good CSS pages and layouts also have their positioning controlled by the external CSS file, like floating an image to one or another side and wrapping text around it, or producing text columns of just such a wdith and so on.

At their best, CSS files allow a potentially huge amount of flexibility in sitewide alterations (nice on a large site where one file may be edited to produce a global change) and in page load speeds and accessibility.

However, and this is the biggest consideration anyone should be aware of, web browsers are pants at interpreting CSS and not one of them gets it right all of the time even on CSS1, never mind the current CSS2 standard or the up and coming CSS3.

In plain English this means you have a great deal of potential benefits (emphasis on potential) but an equal if not larger number of likely pitfalls and everything you produce should be very carefully tested in all major web browsers.

I dislike templates in general from a fundamental point of view - they offer no real advantages to anyone willing to spend a bit of time learning how to produce their own output, and you may find yourself using the same layout as anyone else who bought and/or downloaded it.

In the case of CSS, unless the template is very simple or comes with full code commenting to tell you what goes where, why and what it does while it's there, you'll be no further forward since you won't understand how it works and so you won't understand how to use and change things in the long term. You will effectively be filling in the blank page areas with your own text and images, hopefully without breaking the layout in the process.

I really like CSS but it takes a degree of effort and time to gain enough of a handle on it to implement it effectively.

Rather than fool around with a template you'd be better off learning about it and having the freedom to design and roll out your own layouts. It will certainly be of more benefit to you.

If you'd like some links to CSS resources, feel free to ask. There are some truly spectacular sites out there that dedicate their content to CSS layouts.

  Analyst02 21:05 01 Feb 2005


Many thanks for that insight into the wonderful world of css.

For the last week or so i have been 'messing' with dreamweavers css templates and often felt that i wasnt really getting anywhere fast and indeed did find that i broke the layout on more than a few occasions. I also wasnt aware that browsers still had issues with handling the css format.

Yes please Taran i would like the link to the css resources and a pointer in the direction of some css based sites that i could take a look at.


  LeadingMNMs 21:27 01 Feb 2005

As Taran says CSS is very good if you spend the time getting it right. Some browsers don't understand certain attributes, but if you have the time to experiement then you can create pages that DO look right in most browsers.

  Taran 22:15 01 Feb 2005

hits the nail on the head.

Getting a consistent result over ALL browsers is the challenge, and while it is not imossible it can be difficult enough to be inconvenient.

Even relatively simple layouts, when tested in alternative browsers, can jump on page load, potisional elements may be displaced and even font sizes can deviate from your intended results.

That is the reality.

On the other hand, if you learn enough about rhe subject you can iron out many of thr wrinkles, if not all of them.

Geting started with CSS and general tutorials:

click here

click here

click here

click here

General information:

click here

Some of my favourite CSS sites:

click here

click here

click here

click here

click here

Oh, and if you want a nice (and free) dedicated CSS editor, try TopStyle Lite click here or HTML Kit click here

TopStyle Pro click here is one of the best CSS editors and I've used it for ages. Recently I've been playing with Rapid CSS Editor click here which is proving very nice to use.

You need to grasp layout and positional elements to get a good handle on CSS. Anyone can set up fonts, sizes, colours and so on. Telling page elements where they should be and getting them to actually do it are the commands you need to get your head around.

Try testing any complex CSS layout in IE, Opera, Firefox, NetScape and Mozilla - you'll see what I mean about discrepancies in diaply straight away. Scary...

Good luck with it. Ask if you get stuck.


  PurplePenny 00:50 02 Feb 2005

My favourite CSS site:

click here

I just love the complex spiral distorted. Whilst you are there take a look at the pure CSS pop-ups and pure CSS menus.

They are all wonderful examples of what *can* be done with CSS; they are also wonderful examples of how browsers can mess up CSS.

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