History of CSS

CSSCascading Style Sheets – is a mark-up language that is used to define the appearance of a website. 

The origins of CSS lie in the world’s first internet browser, WorldWideWeb – which was later renamed as Nexus – in the early 90s.  At the time, styles were not determined by the creator of a document but by the browser itself.  CSS appeared between 1994 and 1995, when the need for an additional layout language to supplement the structured mark-up of HTML became apparent.  Thanks to the joint efforts of Bert Bos and Håkon Wium Lie, the idea of cascading styles became the dominant approach.  Only in 1998, at the end of the browser wars, was CSS implemented in the majority of browsers; however, it wasn’t until even later, in the early 2000s,  that CSS had carved out a role for itself as a true web standard in the same way as HTML. CSS has had four major phases in its evolution: CSS1, CSS2 – which was launched in 1998 –, CSS2.1 and CSS3 – launched in 1999, in parallel with CSS2.1.

Today, version 3 of CSS is supported by all browsers and used by a large proportion of websites.

Description of the software

CSS is a relatively simple programming language that complements HTML, allowing a website creator to define the site’s appearance, as well as giving the user the option of configuring a specific appearance in the browser (for example, visually-impaired users could select larger font sizes).  Using CSS to complement HTML simplifies the process of changing styles: where HTML code requires line-by-line modification, CSS provides the option of changing all items (such as all headings) at once.  The separation of files containing the document structure (HTML) and the document appearance (CSS) also increases efficiency: the document design avoids mixing unrelated elements and allows the author to concentrate on one element at a time. Additionally, a single document can be presented using a variety of different stylesheets: one for printing, one for on-screen reading, and so on.  Finally, it makes the HTML code easier to read, with the all style specifications being cleansed from the “structure” file.

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