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CSS: Core Concepts
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CSS syntax


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CSS: Core Concepts

with James Williamson

Video: CSS syntax

Usually one of the hardest parts of learning any new scripting or markup language is mastering the syntax. In the case of CSS, however, the syntax is remarkably simple, making it one of the easier languages to learn. The CSS is a style sheet language, which means that it is used to describe the presentation of structured documents such as HTML. This presentation is defined by using rules that target specific elements within a document. A collection of those rules is then considered a style sheet. Let's take a look at a sample formatting rule.
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  1. 4m 57s
    1. Welcome
      55s
    2. Using the exercise files
      4m 2s
  2. 1h 7m
    1. Exploring default styling
      4m 56s
    2. CSS authoring tools
      2m 29s
    3. CSS syntax
      4m 45s
    4. Writing a selector
      4m 10s
    5. Setting properties
      8m 40s
    6. Common units of measurement
      7m 47s
    7. Inline styles
      5m 1s
    8. Embedded styles
      5m 19s
    9. Using external style sheets
      10m 34s
    10. Checking for browser support
      8m 48s
    11. Dealing with browser inconsistencies
      5m 30s
  3. 2h 15m
    1. Structuring HTML correctly
      2m 51s
    2. Element selectors
      4m 52s
    3. Class selectors
      6m 4s
    4. ID selectors
      3m 27s
    5. Using classes and IDs
      10m 7s
    6. Element-specific selectors
      4m 35s
    7. The universal selector
      5m 42s
    8. Grouping selectors
      4m 49s
    9. Descendent selectors
      7m 32s
    10. Child selectors
      5m 7s
    11. Adjacent selectors
      5m 30s
    12. Attribute selectors
      12m 43s
    13. Pseudo-class selectors
      3m 54s
    14. Dynamic pseudo-class selectors
      8m 29s
    15. Structural pseudo-class selectors
      6m 45s
    16. Nth-child selectors
      13m 10s
    17. Pseudo-element selectors
      12m 40s
    18. Targeting page content: Lab
      8m 56s
    19. Targeting page content: Solution
      7m 59s
  4. 42m 39s
    1. What happens when styles conflict?
      4m 0s
    2. Understanding the cascade
      5m 47s
    3. Using inheritance
      6m 11s
    4. Selector specificity
      6m 55s
    5. The !important declaration
      4m 5s
    6. Reducing conflicts through planning
      3m 33s
    7. Resolving conflicts: Lab
      6m 45s
    8. Resolving conflicts: Solution
      5m 23s
  5. 1h 47m
    1. Setting a font family
      7m 10s
    2. Using @font-face
      9m 18s
    3. Setting font size
      7m 35s
    4. Font style and font weight
      6m 52s
    5. Transforming text
      3m 58s
    6. Using text variants
      2m 49s
    7. Text decoration options
      4m 26s
    8. Setting text color
      3m 2s
    9. Writing font shorthand notation
      8m 49s
    10. Controlling text alignment
      6m 33s
    11. Letter and word spacing
      9m 11s
    12. Indenting text
      4m 30s
    13. Adjusting paragraph line height
      10m 30s
    14. Controlling the space between elements
      6m 41s
    15. Basic text formatting: Lab
      8m 45s
    16. Basic text formatting: Solution
      7m 14s
  6. 2h 1m
    1. Understanding the box model
      16m 53s
    2. Controlling element spacing
      14m 29s
    3. Controlling interior spacing
      10m 49s
    4. Margin and padding shorthand notation
      6m 27s
    5. Adding borders
      8m 57s
    6. Defining element size
      10m 7s
    7. Creating rounded corners
      6m 58s
    8. Background properties
      2m 51s
    9. Using background images
      5m 10s
    10. Controlling image positioning
      10m 25s
    11. Using multiple backgrounds
      7m 5s
    12. Background shorthand notation
      5m 25s
    13. Styling container elements: Lab
      7m 55s
    14. Styling container elements: Solution
      8m 17s
  7. 47m 51s
    1. Color keyword definitions
      5m 4s
    2. Understanding hexadecimal notation
      6m 5s
    3. Using RGB values
      4m 58s
    4. Using HSL values
      5m 17s
    5. Working with opacity
      2m 23s
    6. Using RGBa and HSLa
      3m 8s
    7. Styling drop shadows
      5m 38s
    8. CSS gradients
      6m 32s
    9. Working with color: Lab
      4m 26s
    10. Working with color: Solution
      4m 20s
  8. 1m 58s
    1. Additional resources
      1m 58s

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CSS: Core Concepts
8h 49m Beginner Nov 22, 2011

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

In this hands-on course, James Williamson demonstrates the concepts that form the foundation of Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), including styling text, adding margins and padding, and controlling how images display. The course also explores the tools needed to work with CSS, the differences between embedded and external styles, how to use selectors to target elements, and what to do when styles conflict.

Topics include:
  • Exploring default styling
  • Writing a selector
  • Setting properties
  • Working with common units of measurement, including ems and pixels
  • Structuring HTML correctly
  • Understanding the cascade and inheritance
  • Setting a font family, font size, text color, and more
  • Understanding the box model
  • Styling container elements
  • Working with RGB vs. HSL values
  • Styling drop shadows
Subject:
Web
Software:
CSS
Author:
James Williamson

CSS syntax

Usually one of the hardest parts of learning any new scripting or markup language is mastering the syntax. In the case of CSS, however, the syntax is remarkably simple, making it one of the easier languages to learn. The CSS is a style sheet language, which means that it is used to describe the presentation of structured documents such as HTML. This presentation is defined by using rules that target specific elements within a document. A collection of those rules is then considered a style sheet. Let's take a look at a sample formatting rule.

Now CSS style are made up of two parts. The selector here P for paragraph tells the browser which elements or elements within the document to style, so based on this selector, all paragraphs within the styled document would be 16 pixels and blue. Now selectors can be really simple, like the ones that we're seeing here, or extremely complex, depending upon which group of elements on the page that you're trying to target. By using a comma, for example, you can group selectors together in order to write more efficient rules, so this would apply to all paragraphs, list items, and unordered lists on the page.

You can also use whitespace or other combinators to make rules which target more specific elements. So in this case, for example, you'd be targeting any paragraph inside of a div tag. By adding the, say, adjacent sibling combinator, we change the meaning of this selector significantly. In this case, the selector would now only target paragraphs that immediately follow a div element. So as you can imagine, learning the various combinations of selectors and how to properly target elements on the page is a huge part of understanding CSS syntax, and we're going to go into those in a lot more detail a little bit later on.

Now the declaration, which is enclosed in these curly braces, gives the formatting instructions for the style. Here there are two rules: one telling the browser which size to make the text and then another one that's defining the color. The rules themselves are made up of two parts: the property and the value. Now, these are separated by colons, and then a semicolon is used at the end of the rule to tell the browser to stop evaluating this one and move on to the next one. While this declaration syntax is also pretty simple, you'll need to learn which properties you can set for each element, which values are allowed for those properties, and then how to properly format those values.

But for the most part, the use of whitespace in your rules does not matter. For example, both of the CSS rules that you can see here would give you the exact same formatting. Now in some cases it does matter. Within a selector, it often results in determining which elements are targeted, so you need to be familiar with when whitespace is important and when it's not. Occasionally, you may need to use inline rules. These rules, such as @font-face, @media, @import, and @page, allow you to group common styles together or group specific formatting definitions together.

And here, for example, you can see an @media rule being used to group rules together that are specific to a single media type and screen size. There are also certain syntax rules such as shorthand notation, pseudo-elements, and pseudo-classes that you'll need to learn as well and as we go through this title, we're going to discuss those in a lot more detail. But you can also use comments to your CSS. Comments are useful for organizing styles, annotating your code for other team members or future authors or frankly, just helping you remember why a certain selector was used.

CSS allows only a single type of comment. You start it with a /* and then at the end of the comment, you just close it with a */. Now the comments can be used for single lines or multiple lines, and you can put them almost anywhere within your CSS. Now best practices limit them to what you see here: before or after rules or directly after individual properties. Now throughout this course we're going to be focusing on the proper syntax of CSS and how to write rules a little bit more efficiently. I also highly recommend reading through the CSS specifications, as well, as they also provide a much deeper look into why rules are formatted in a specific way.

There are a couple places online that I want you to go take a look at. One is the CSS Current Work page, which is found at this address, and there you get a nice big snapshot of what's happening with CSS currently, and also it links to the individual modules and specifications. Also, right now the standard recommended CSS is the CSS 2.1 specification. You can find that on its own page at the w3c.org site at w3.org/TR/CSS2. So go through those specifications, even as we're going through this course, and you're going to get a much deeper understanding of why the CSS syntax is formatted the way that it is.

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