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What is CSS, and how can it help today’s front-end developers?

css coding

To be a front-end developer, you will need to know CSS. In summary, CSS is an acronym for Cascading Style Sheets, but that term in itself might not help you. To understand just how significant CSS is to today’s website developers, you’ll have to look a little deeper.

CSS is a web-based markup language used to describe the aesthetic look and formatting of a website to the browser. It defines the look and feel of the website. It is most commonly used in HTML or XHTML web pages, but is also applicable to XML documents, including plain XML (Extensible Markup Language), SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics), and XUL (XML User Interface Language). As far as CSS3 is concerned, it is simply the latest version of the language, and as such, it’s the version challenging the contemporary market.

Now, for a deeper understanding as to how CSS plays an important part of many of the sites you visit from day to day, just consider the fact that all aspects of the data displayed, from the text you read, to the image placement, essentially how everything in strategically positioned on the site, is defined by the style sheet language. While HTML structures content, CSS is used for formatting structured content. CSS essentially influences the fonts, colours, margins, lines, height, width, background images, advanced positions and many other aspects of the page layout.

While the vast majority of programmers imagine HTML as the default, CSS, more often than not, can be used as an enhancement, as opposed to a substitute. Its main efficiency lies not only the improvement to creative control, but with the introduction of style sheets.

Through the introduction of Style Sheets, CSS has drastically altered how many designers allocate their time and effort. One of the underlying issues which detracted from the two previous versions of CSS was how the specification became too large and complex to update frequently. What CSS3 achieved with the introduction of the module system was a means in which individual components and areas could be updated, altered, and refined in pieces, as opposed to as one enormous block of code. It allowed for large volumes of data to be broken down into smaller, more manageable areas, and edited accordingly.

To give you an example of some of the appealing modules of CSS3-

Website design is a crucial skill-set for the modern-day developer, and why wouldn’t it be? The vast majority of us process our information through a digital medium. Whereas the data of old is stored in newspapers, in binders, in the dust-covered bookshelves of libraries, so much of the information we process in our day-to-day routine is provided through dynamically changing websites. What do you expect when so many newspapers can barely afford the ink and paper they use?

While this is merely a basic introduction to the influence CSS has on the modern programmer, if you are curious about improving your skills as a potential website designer,  the Code Institute offers an interactive learning experience for those who feel they can strike a balance between the creative aspect of design and the in-depth technical knowledge of a coder.