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Preface

The subject of this book is, as you might have guessed by the cover, Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). There are two "levels" to CSS; these are referred to as CSS1 and CSS2. The difference between the two is that CSS2 is all of CSS1, plus a lot more. This book attempts to cover all of CSS1, and CSS positioning, which is a part of CSS2. The rest of CSS2 is excluded because, at the time of this writing, nobody had implemented most of it. Rather than cover a lot of theoretical territory, we chose to stick to what was currently usable.

If you are a web designer or document author interested in sophisticated page styling, improved accessibility, and saving time and effort, then this book is for you. All you really need before starting the book is a decent knowledge of HTML 4.0. The better you know HTML, of course, the better prepared you'll be. You will need to know very little else in order to follow this book.

It is important to remember something about web standards and books: the former are continually evolving, while the latter are frozen in time (until the next edition comes out, anyway). In the case of HTML and CSS, there are a great many changes afoot even as these words are being written. The recent formalization of XHTML 1.0 as a full W3C Recommendation, for example, is a major milestone in the evolution of the World Wide Web. There are likely to be even more levels to CSS, further extending the ability to style documents; major web browsers are approaching full CSS1 support, and robust CSS2 implementations can be seen lurking on the horizon. This is an exciting time to be a designer, and learning CSS now will give you a leg up on the future.

0.1. Typographical Conventions

The following typographical conventions are used in this book:

Constant width

is used to indicate code examples, HTML tags and CSS elements.

Constant width italic

is used for replaceables that appear in text.

Web-based applications are similar to app servers, except for one thing: Web-based applications don't have client apps, instead they use web browsers on the client side. They generate their front ends using HTML, which is dynamically generated by the web-based app. In the Java world, Servlets are best suited for this job.

Web-based apps might themselves rely on another app server to gather information that is presented on the client web browser. Also, you can write Servlets that get information from remote or local databases, XML document repositories and even other Servlets. One good use for web-based apps is to be a wrapper around an app server, so that you can allow your customers to access at least part of the services offered by your app server via a simple web browser. So web-based apps allow you to integrate many components including app servers, and provide access to this information over the web via a simple web browser.

Web-based apps are very deployable, since they don't require special Java VMs to be installed on the client side, or any other special plug ins, if the creator of the web-based app relies solely on HTML. Unfortunately, this can restrict the level of service that can be offered by a web-based app when compared to the functionality offered by custom clients of an app server, but they are a good compromise when it comes to providing web-based access to your information. In fact, in a real world scenario, both a web-based app and app server may be used together, in order to provide your customers access to their information. In an Intranet setting, you might deploy the clients that come with the app server, and in an Internet setting it would be better to deploy a web-based app that sits on top of this app server, and gives your customers (relatively) limited access to their data over the web (via a simple web browser).

Italic

is used to introduce new terms and to indicate URLs, filenames, and pathnames.

TIP

indicates a note or tip relating to the nearby text.

WARNING

indicates a warning.



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When an element is positioned absolutely, it is completely removedfrom the document flow. It is then positioned with respect to itscontaining block, and its edges are placed using the side-offsetproperties. The positioned element does not flow around the contentof other elements, nor does their content flow around the positionedelement. This implies that an absolutely positioned element mayoverlap other elements, or be overlapped by them. (We'll seehow you can affect the overlapping order at the end of the chapter.)

Remember that the containing block of an absolutely positionedof H2 elements, as shown in Figure 7-75.

Figure 7-75

Figure 7-75. Clear to the left, but not the right

To avoid this sort of thing, and to make sure that H2 elements do not coexist on a line with any floated elements, we use the value both. This value prevents coexistence with floated elements on both sides of the element, as shown in Figure 7-76:

H2 {clear: both;}