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14th Sep 2019

The Evolution of CSS

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The Evolution of CSS

Kudos to Cascading Style Sheets! And a big Happy Birthday to CSS for changing the staid looking web into an exciting and throbbing World Wide Web consortium (W3C). Looking back at the evolution of Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) the world wide web was released way back in 1996 and CSS was responsible not just for being the only cascading style sheet available but was originally conceived as being there to maintain HTML as a content delivery vehicle having semantic meaning.

CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheets which is a type of style sheet that maintains standards in the layout throughout a website. They are used for describing the look and format of a particular document including elements such as font, layout and colors.

CSS was not startling in discovery because prior to its discovery, there was Standardized General Markup Language (SGML) that was quite the same thing but applying SGML traits to the web was a novel idea that brought kudos to the web.

The major benefit of CSS was that Designers merely had to change the CSS and not touch the HTML code in order to swap colors or any other changes made to font or background color. For eg: You could swap colors for font from blue to green just by going to the CSS and Voila ! The font changes into green.

This was December 1996 and was called CSS1. It introduced changes to:

1. Foreground and Background color images
2. Font properties such as typeface
3. Text including word and letter spacing
4. Margins and Padding
5. Classifications and Alignment

Then with an idea to build upon the properties of style sheets, the first working draft of CSS2 was released in November 1997 and became a W3C recommendation in May 1998. This made changes to the content more dynamic with effects such as Hover and the now obsolete text shadow effect.

However W3C did not maintain CSS 2 as a standard but went on to create CSS 2.1 version that became a recommendation in June 2011. This revised the May version of CSS 2 to resolving the bugs in CSS 2 and replacing it by CSS 2.1. CSS 2.1 was more complex than CSS2 and gave designers the liberty to have parent-child relationships, to define multiple class names on a given element and a first take on responsive design: The font-size-adjust property. You could now tailor your font and other requirements to the device you were holding including braille, vicsal printers and aural devices. These were the first glimpses of CSS 3.

CSS 3 has been in development since 1999 and is the version most of us are familiar with now. The biggest difference now was the creation of modules each with its own capabilities and extended features with color, namespaces, selector level 3 and media queries dominating the modules in CSS 3 style sheets. These days the latest CSS is simply christened as CSS and recalled as CSS with levels only present to differentiate earlier versions

Fun Fact: On 17th December 1996, W3C published the first standard for CSS.

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