Style's Got Pros and Cons

The CSS standard includes some amazing features and capabilities, most of which will mean little to you until you see them in action. Not every aspect of CSS is perfect, but to give you a positive outlook on style sheets, here are a few more benefits of CSS for you to consider (then we'll bring you back to earth as we cover its drawbacks):

* Style sheets can be turned on and off by the viewer.

* Nonstandard tags are replaced by style element definitions.

* Most of the complicated presentation markup is removed or hidden within the style sheet, rather than embedded in the document, resulting in cleaner HTML markup.

* One style sheet can be used for multiple HTML documents, making consistency in style over a collection of pages easier to achieve.

* Both authors and readers have the freedom to create new, previously impossible Web layouts.

Before you get too excited, though, we feel compelled to point out that CSS does lack a few items that you may consider important:

* No pixel-level controls. The complexity of programming pixel level layout would violate CSS's design goals to be simple and easy to use.

* No absolute style enforcement. The reader of a page has the option to turn off styles or use a style sheet with higher weights. The author does not have absolute control over the display of his or her creation on another person's system.

* No multiple columns or overlapping frames. You cannot use styles to define overlapping <FRAME>s or to assign the number of columns in a <TABLE> layout. In other words, such definitions must still be hard-coded in the HTML document itself and cannot be tweaked in a style sheet.

* No query language. You cannot figure out what a style looks or acts like just by asking for a definition from some all-knowing style sheet facility — the experimental method is the only way to get that information.


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