What the hell is CSS3?

What is my Developer talking about?

It’s one of the most common brags of the world of web developers, “I know HTML5, and CSS3…” – great. I’m guessing that you may have no idea what they are talking about, but you probably don’t want to question it. Or, simpler than that, it just sounds like a bunch of letters thrown together to make you respect them through confusion. This isn’t necessarily the aim of the developer, but I thought it’d be pretty neat to give you an idea on what exactly they’re saying.

What is CSS?

CSS is an abbreviation for Cascading Style Sheets – simply put, the part of the site that brings colours, styles, and formatting to your browser. If the developer puts a title into the page (for example, the title of this section), it would appear no different from the paragraphs right next to it. How do we make it look different? We style it. And that can be done with inline styling or through a stylesheet. A stylesheet is just a document that the developer puts together that lists types of elements, and then how those elements are to be shown by the browser.

So, when someone says that they know CSS, they are saying that they know how to style a website. In itself, it means nothing. Anybody that claims to be a web developer would have a basic understanding of CSS, and it really isn’t that impressive. What is impressive, is if they are up to date with the latest version of CSS. That latest version right now? CSS3

Why is the three important?

You’ve just heard what CSS is, and why that isn’t really something to write home about to your parents. It’s a good skill, but it really doesn’t set you apart in the business. CSS3 done well is an experience-changing part of web development. Beautifully-written CSS3 is something that works well on all relevant browsers, to all the highest web-standards… It’s poetry.

Okay, I went to far calling it poetry, but it really does make a huge difference. It’s quicker to write, it’s more concise, and something that isn’t thought of from your point of view often… It’s easily understood and maintained by other developers. A close example of this is dialect in language. Technically, there are French-speakers in Canada, and there are French-speakers in France. Yes, they both speak French – but they would also tell you that it’s very different in so many ways. It sometimes takes translation between the two. So, if one developer wrote your site in an older version of CSS, someone with CSS3 may have to take a (very small) amount of time to understand, translate, and even sometimes update the stylesheet.

Should I be concerned?

If you’re looking at candidates for a job, and some of them forget to say that they know CSS… I would hazard a guess that they do know CSS, as it is really impossible to do what a developer does without. I’d slip them a little question about if they know CSS3 in particular, and if they do, then you should be dandy. If they don’t, just ask them to take a weekend to scrub up. It’s pretty straight forward, and if they’re the right person for the job, then they’ll enjoy learning it.

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