CSS is a painPosted: January 4, 2004
Well after hours of work, all I have is a single, super simple index page done for GA. I spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to figure out how div’s work. You’d think it would be simple to center a div on a page. Oh, no. You have to creat a containing div with center text align set in a class somewhere, other wise nothing works. And then trying to get those stupid hover events to work for dynamic links was just as much a pain as the divs. I used some Zeldman code as a sample and copied it to the word and still couldn’t get it to work. So, I copy and pasted an voila, it worked. Yes I probably missed something stupid, but this really shouldn’t be this hard.
The state of CSS right now reminds me of the early days of the Internet–designed for programmers. Sure there’s lots of control over elements on a page. But the application tools to enable creative graphic design simply aren’t there. Yes,
Dreamweaver supports _reading_ CSS files correctly. But that doesn’t enable easy graphic design. I had to have code open at all times otherwise, nothing worked. Exactly like back in ’94 – – effectively editing text files.
Erik mentioned the other day that he’s been somewhat underwhelmed by the design of most CSS sites out there. Well, I figured out why this is. It’s not that CSS doesn’t offer some great new tools for presentation design. It’s developers are the only ones doing any work in it right now. Given most of the best designs come from graphic designers, it’s no wonder why CSS compliant sites today are boring.
Most graphic designers are visual and work in apps that let them work visually. There’s nothing there yet for easy visual design. Heck, Jana and Jeff still whip out good ‘ol Photoshop when they want to get mockups done fast. A great sign that the creative tools in WYSIWYG web development tools like Dreamweaver still aren’t there yet.
Now that all new browsers are CSS compliant, there’s really little need for the HTML WYSIWYG editor. These damn things don’t work very well today because they can never create code (for sophisticated designs) that work the same on any browser and platform. Adobe and Quark should just take their professional page layout apps (like InDesign) and make them export CSS. Given those apps already use a layout model centered around boxes, it seems easy to migrate them to handle the CSS box model with all it’s associated properties. That means, no need to get into code for relatively static sites. Want your web site accessible for pre 6.0 browsers? Great, just flip a palette switch. Want it accessible for the blind? Great, just flip another palette switch. Right now there’s some much crap you need to remember for just these two cases, learning CSS (if you’re a graphic designer) just doesn’t seem worth it.
When was the last time you saw a designer using a text editor! Alright, I’m done venting now.