Christian Heilmann

CSS factory (@media call for participation)

Sunday, June 12th, 2005 at 11:55 am

I bounced the following idea off some people at @media (Douglas Bowman, Molly and a lot of others) and I am ready to go along with it. It’d be good to hear some thoughts though:

We all know and love CSSZengarden. It showed the design community what can be achieved with CSS and how easy it is to redesign a web page completely, simply by applying another style sheet.

However, for our day to day web development life, the garden has become a bit of a problem, mainly because:

  • The designs have become an image replacement competition instead of testing what CSS can do
  • It is too easy to style only one document that has been marked up with loads of IDs and classes – in the real business world we’ll have CMS defining the content markup and we don’t have that option
  • The focus seems to have shifted from style and functionality to style/brand on its own.

My idea now is to start a CSSFactory. The idea is the same as CSSZengarden, the difference though is:

  • The Markup will be a 5 page web site with different layouts and content for each page
  • The Markup might have variable content order on reload to simulate a CMS that allows editors to rearrange them
  • The content will be available in English, German and maybe French (I’d need help with the French – Stephane?)

That way we can prove that it is possible to create bullet-proof CSS that can be applied to real life web sites, and maybe get a bit more buy-in from project management and managements when we try to advocate standards.


14.07 Changes

Ok, I realise that some of the bits mentioned here confused people, so here are some extra explanations:

  • The JavaScript is only an idea to simulate how a real backend would allow editors to change the content. I intend to use it to avoid the need to reload the pages from the server each time. Saves me server traffic and you time during development. I develop and write most of my hobby works (like this idea or the unobtrusive JavaScript course) on the tube whilst commuting every day, I thought it’d be handy to show how flexible CSS is without the need to run a localhost with PHP.
  • The random order of course will only apply to the content slot of the template. Much like we do for most clients. One of the basic princibles of accessible and usable sites is that we keep the navigation on the same spot throughout the site, moving it would be counterproductive.
  • I started on some of the markup, but want to get an offline version of the course and the linkrot prevention idea out of the way first. I also wonder if I should get a dedicated server and domain or use this one instead.

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