What is CSS: A Beginner’s Guide for Developers

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Hello, coders! This article will be useful for beginners as I am going to observe the basics of CSS and discuss some CSS editors to work with. If you are just on the beginning of your programming path – read this attentively. Let’s start.

What is CSS?

CSS is the abbreviation that stands for Cascading Style Sheets, it is a language that is used as a means of designing web pages, namely for working with fonts, colors, fields, tables, pictures, and the arrangement of elements.

The main goal that served for the development of the CSS language was to separate the markup of the content (which is written in HTML or another programming language) and the presentation of the document (which is written in CSS). The result of this separation helps to increase the accessibility of the document, provide more flexibility, as well as reduce the complexity and repetition in the structural content, creating a convenient description of the design and style of the web page and its content. CSS also makes it possible to provide a single document in different styles or output methods (for example, such as display, voice reading, printing).

A typical CSS code might look like this:

# columns-3 {
text-align: justify;
-moz-column-count: 3;
-moz-column-gap: 12px;
-moz-column-rule: 1px solid # c4c8cc;
-webkit-column-count: 3;
-webkit-column-gap: 12px;
-webkit-column-rule: 1px solid # c4c8cc;}

History of the creation and development of CSS

In the 1990s, the need to standardize web tools, to create common rules by which programmers and web designers could create websites, arose. As a result of this need, HTML 4.01 and XHTML appeared, as well as the CSS standard.

The first mention of CSS was in 1994, when Hawk Wium Lee suggested using CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) to style web pages. It took him a while to push his technology forward – it wasn’t until a couple of years later that he managed to draw attention to CSS. So, on December 17, 1996, the first specification (CSS1) was published and it was recommended for use by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

After a little success, the state of affairs for CSS technology went much better and on May 12, 1998 (2 years later) the W3C recommendation for CSS2 was adopted. The next step was CSS 2.1 – the W3C version dated September 8, 2009, it was built on top of CSS2, and was working on fixing existing bugs.

Today, the actual version of CSS3, which is maximally expanded compared to previous versions. CSS3 includes drop shadow effects as well as rounded corners on boxes. CSS3 introduces the ability to set images as backgrounds and use them as borders. Working with animation has become much easier and more convenient – now there are enough capabilities of CSS3 itself to create it, it is no longer necessary to work with the JavaScript language.

Pros and cons of using CSS

Before CSS appeared, the design of web pages could be carried out directly within the content of the document, while the advent of CSS technology made it possible to separate the content and presentation of the document. Thanks to this feature, it is now possible to easily apply a single design style for most of these documents, and quickly change their design. Using CSS in website development has its pros and cons.

Benefits of CSS:

  • The simplicity of the CSS language itself, together with the principle of separating the design from the content, makes it possible to reduce the time for the development and maintenance of the site.
  • There are several options for page designs for viewing on different devices. For example, a design on a computer screen is designed for one width, and will be fully displayed on the screen, and on mobile devices it will adjust to the screen size and some elements will be excluded from display, also when printing, the desired text will be printed, without unnecessary (for example, no menu header).
  • Using CSS reduces the loading time of website pages by transferring data presentation rules to a separate CSS file. Thanks to this, the browser loads only the structure of the document, as well as the data stored on the page, and the presentation of this data is loaded by the browser only once and can be cached, which reduces traffic, loading time, and server load.
  • Ease of design changes. A single CSS controls the rendering of multiple HTML pages. When the need arises to change the design of a site, there is no need to edit every page. Subsequent design changes only require changing the CSS file, and as a result, design changes are made faster.
  • CSS provides additional formatting options that you would never have dreamed of using just the attributes themselves.
  • Improving compatibility with different platforms through the use of web standards.

Disadvantages of CSS:

  • Different display of layout in different browsers. If browsers are outdated, it is possible that the same CSS data is interpreted differently by them.
  • The need to fix not only one CSS file, but also HTML tags. In practice, it is often necessary to fix not only one CSS file, but also HTML tags that are associated with CSS selectors. This sometimes significantly increases the editing time as well as testing.
  • So, CSS is a powerful tool and one of the main building blocks of almost any website. Without CSS, it is simply impossible to imagine the modern activities of web developers. Today CSS is a generally accepted development standard that is accepted by all development companies without exception, which clearly shows its importance and necessity.

Review of CSS editors

CSS’s editors are editors that are only intended for creating Cascading Style Sheets. While you can use a full-featured IDE or another code editor for these purposes, CSS editors can offer specialized features and functionality to quickly create quality CSS. In this part of the article, you will learn about the most popular CSS editors available to use.

  • Stylizer

Stylizer is a visual CSS editor. It has the ability in real time to view changes on a web page as they appear. In addition, it has a point-and-click interface that allows you to select page elements with a simple click, making CSS editing much easier. Stylizer is only available for Windows and macOS users.

  • Style master

Style Master is a cross-platform CSS development application that comes with a wide range of features such as on-the-fly code completion and rendering of dynamically generated pages (such as PHP, .NET, and Ruby on Rails), and CSS hierarchical representation. In addition, there is also a feature called Support Watcher that informs you about potential CSS errors for specific browsers.

  • Rapid CSS

Rapid CSS is the perfect tool for writing CSS code. It is lightweight and offers a wide range of features such as code autocomplete, syntax highlighting, built-in CSS reference, and various keyboard shortcuts for tags.

  • Free CSS Toolbox

The Free CSS toolbox is a simple text editor for CSS. It is very lightweight and easy to use. It has syntax highlighting, code autocomplete, CSS validator, CSS validator and compressor.

  • CoffeeCup StyleSheet Maker

CoffeeCup StyleSheet Maker is another CSS editor that offers many features for editing CSS but is not flexible enough to maximize performance. It has keyboard shortcuts, support for tags, classes, and indentation; everything so that you have to print as little as possible. It also comes with a lot of ready-made code snippets for commonly used CSS styles.

  • EnginSite CSS Editor

EnginSite CSS Editor is a good CSS editor with instant preview. This editor is ideal for beginner developers who focus on simple tasks and projects.

  • CSSEdit

CSSEdit is the golden mean between complex editors for web development and very simple ones. Best of all, it is suitable for beginner CSS developers or single projects.

  • JellyFish-CSS

JellyFish-CSS is an efficient and simple CSS editor. It helps you quickly and easily edit your CSS. Plus, it also helps you avoid CSS syntax errors thanks to its built-in smart code feature.

  • SnapCSS

SnapCSS is a windows-only CSS editor that is very lightweight and provides a great text editor interface. Also, it has a code decorating feature that automatically formats and standardizes your CSS.

  • SimpleCSS

SimpleCSS is a macOS application that makes it easy to create stylesheets from scratch. It includes an import function that allows you to merge multiple CSS files together into one. Apart from that, SimpleCSS also has drag-and-drop functionality to redistribute your CSS rules so you can organize your CSS file however you like.

Conclusion

Let’s summarize everything written above. CSS was created to work with markup languages ​​such as HTML and are used to style the page. There are three styles of CSS implementation, and you can use the outer style to accommodate multiple pages at the same time. At this time, you won’t get much success unless you see some kind of CSS implementation, as it is as necessary as the markup language itself.

All in all, I hope you found this article helpful and if you have any questions please give us feedback. Thanks for reading!