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CSS & Me

Friday, January 14, 2005

Every so often I take a look at an application and think, hmmm, with a couple tweaks I could have this UI looking really nice, but when I go to check-in the style sheet changes I realize I only have read-only access. Then I remember - after my last set of tweaks they revoked my commit privileges on all css files. Sigh. The measures people take when they don’t agree with your sense of color and style.

Over the years I’ve recognized the flexibility style sheets offer, and I’ve designed (in the architecture sense) with css in mind. Still, I’ve never felt completely comfortable with css, partly because I have nightmares of looking at bug tracking entries circa year 2000. You know, the entries that look like “Fonts are offset 1 pixel to the left on browser version 4.35.7654.2 when system time between 1300 and 1315 hours.”. Since one big customer has an affinity for browser version 4.35.7654.2 it’s time to tell a dev to work around another CSS quirk and re-test on 18 browser versions. Today, Google turns up over 300,000 hits for “yet another css bug” – yikes.

Another problem is digging into the CSS files someone else wrote. It can prove difficult to piece together what I’m seeing on the screen with the styles in a css file. A great tool to help put this type of puzzle together is the web developer extension for FireFox. Is there anything comparable for IE?

Finally, CSS files never seem to shrink – they only grow bigger. New styles are added, old styles never disappear. Someone needs to write some sort of refactoring / optimization tool for CSS. Or have they already?

Not that I’d be able to use the tool, seeing as how I’m banished from styleland.

Course I do have the admin password to use in a pinch….