October 8, 2013

CSS4 Isn’t Here – Everyone Relax

CSS4 Isn’t Here – Everyone Relax

Remember when everyone was so excited about PlayStation 3? Doesn’t that seem like only yesterday? Now, PlayStation 4 is being rolled out, and everyone who bought the Super Slim PS3 in 2012 is already feeling like they got taken.

Well, we’ve brought this on ourselves, frankly. Our fascination for the latest “thing” has encouraged technological development that was neither needed nor really wanted, and like the sheep we are, we’ll buy the newest console regardless of whatever glitches it may contain, simply because we can’t bear to be the last kids on the block without the flyest gadgetry.

So, like the new PlayStation console, geeks are frothing at the mouth about the evolution of “CSS4,” even though CSS3 isn’t entirely supported.

Why on earth do developers get so excited about the vaguest hint of the introduction of new protocols, languages, modules and platforms? Why can’t everyone just relax, and actually learn the finer points of CSS3, the language that we’re only now just barely beginning to integrate?

CSS4, Already?

About this CSS4 classification business: because Cascading Style Sheet language is a series of independent modules, some developed after the CSS2.1 incarnation, the latest evolution can’t strictly be called “CSS4,” since the modules haven’t been along for the ride long enough to technically qualify as being in the fourth level of development, nor will all of the modules be leveled up. CSS language doesn’t have a uniform spec.

So, why the development brouhaha? We don’t really know, frankly.

The third incarnation of CSS, as we’ve said, is not yet fully supported. The latest incarnation of the selector 4 editor’s draft specifies that it’s a mere editor’s draft; that the contents may be updated and altered at any time and that the information is meant to be used as a reference point in discussions, and not to be cited as a worked out plan.

So, naturally everyone ignored that edict and decided that CSS4 was more or less already upon us. It isn’t.

CSS Level 3 Is Fine, for Now

We don’t want to suggest that these developments aren’t important; if you’re devoting your career to Web design, it’s mandatory that you maintain industry awareness. Attend those conferences! Read those publications! Comment on those blogs! Keep your tools sharp, but remember: you’re in this game to make money. Since you’re going to be designing websites for clients, most of whom don’t know CSS from the CIA, you’re going to want those sites to be compatible with as many browsers as possible. What’s the point of designing a dazzling website that can only be truly appreciated on Opera 12?

Most Web designers’ clients are not tremendously savvy when it comes to the finer points of site elements. When it comes to site navigation, most people want what they’re used to, despite how much as we may want to design something truly dazzling and cutting edge. If your client’s customers just want to get on and get off the site as fast as possible, your stunning and sophisticated work might cost your client revenue. This means, as exciting as the new CSS levels are, we will still have to wait quite a while before incorporating them into your projects so that you can be sure that they will be properly supported.

So, what have we learned today? We learned that, much to our shame, we’ll still be dragging out our sleeping bags and tents on November 14th when PS4 is officially retailed. We learned that CSS4 isn’t really CSS4, but the latest level of some (not all) of the independent modules. We learned that if we seriously heeded the whispers of every single innovation, we’d never fully appreciate the functionality of the technology that is actually available. Lastly, we learned that if the dental office’s website you designed doesn’t operate properly on Chrome or Safari or Mozilla etc., you’ve created a lot more work for yourself.


by Kevin Smith
SmashBrand helps brands create, optimize, and launch successful products, services, and customer experiences. Our data-driven process is the key to accelerating sales and minimizing risks.

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