Interview on Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) with MicroAssist Instructor Scott Allen

 

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Scott Allen

 

Sanjay Nasta: 
Today we are interviewing Scott Allen.  Scott teaches many of our Web and database classes at MicroAssist, including Dreamweaver, Access, SQL and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS).  He is the coauthor of The Virtual Handshake: Opening Doors and Closing Deals Online and a contributing author to several other books on technology and entrepreneurship. Today we are going to talk to Scott about Cascading Style Sheets (CSS).  Welcome Scott. 

Scott, what is Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)?

Scott Allen:
Cascading Style Sheets.  In its simplest application, it's a way of making the look-and-feel of your site consistent. More generally, it's a way of separating your presentation from your content.  At first, people were just thinking of that in terms of things like fonts, margins and spacing.  But now it's expanded to be used for the entire layout. For example, with CSS, you can make two radically different versions of a page - one with all of your ads and a multi-column layout, and another that's printer-friendly, i.e., one ad at the top and a single column of text with no navigation. Those can both be generated from the same HTML page, just switching the CSS stylesheet. For a great demonstration of the potential of CSS-based design, visit csszengarden.com

 

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Sanjay Nasta:
So, Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) are a methodology that will be used by web site designers to separate content from presentation.  This makes content easy to change and presentation consistent and easy to change?

Scott Allen:
Exactly.  It also helps make it so that content creators are insulated from design issues. Content producers can now stick to very basic HTML - bold, italics, ordered/unordered lists, headings, etc. - and not have to worry about making sure it's formatted properly for that page, or that portion of the page, or that device, or whatever. This is especially important as more and more output devices are used to access the web. Five years ago, the only way you accessed the web was through a browser. Now it can be your cell phone, your PDA, a touch-screen kiosk, even your refrigerator!

Sanjay Nasta:
Great.  That's something we've been advocating for a long time with content management systems (such as the one we put together for TCEQ and TSSWCB).

Scott Allen:
And content management systems depend on CSS.

Sanjay Nasta:
It was interesting that you mentioned that CSS was your favorite class to teach.  Why?

Scott Allen:
Two reasons.

One is that it's very "pure".There aren't a lot of gray, fuzzy areas -- good CSS design is good CSS design. CSS isn't buggy and quirky, like many applications are. It does