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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.
To control text alignment with CSS, we use the text align property, with which we are limited to using one of four alignment options. So I have the alignment.htm file open here. And I am just going to preview this in a browser. I can see that there's a lot different going on than in one of our normal pages. I have got this bright yellow background. I have got the words Text alignment, and then we just have some paragraphs of text, although, the paragraphs of text do kind of describe what we are going to be doing here. We have got left alignment that we are going to be experiment with, right alignment, center alignment, justify, and then towards the end of the exercise, we are also going to take a look at one of the more experimental properties that is currently being implemented by browsers, and that is giving us the ability to control hyphenation.
So let's go back in to our code and see what we can do in regards to that. So if I scroll down into my text, I can see that these paragraphs have classes applied to them; left, right, center, justify, and as you can imagine, we're going to go ahead and write text alignment properties based on those classes. So right up there where it says, add styles here, we are just going to go ahead and do .left, so that's our class selector for this, and for that I am going to choose text-align left, so this is not a font-property.
This is a text-align property so test-align. Now left alignment is the default of most user agents out there, so most of the time unless you are trying to overwrite text alignment has already been applied, you probably won't need to do that. We are going to go ahead and do right, and we will do text-align right, after that we will do the class selector of center. And here we will do text-align center, and then at the bottom we will do, justify. Now as I write these selectors, I am taking a lot of syntax for granted, since we have been working so much within this title already.
Just remember, you always have to do your opening and closing curly braces, remember class selectors have their period in front of it, so don't forget those syntax lessons that we focused on, little bit earlier in the title. So here we are just going to do text-align: justify. So those are our keywords that we can use with text alignment. If I save this, go back to my browser and test it, you can see that we have Left alignment here, Right alignment here, Center alignment, and Justified text. And that's really about it. We don't have a lot of extra control over our text alignment, although changes are being made to this CSS specification that should give us greater control over our text alignment, specifically, justified text.
Really quickly, let's go take a look at hyphenation. So I am go back to my code and I am just going to go ahead, and move up to the paragraphs selector. I'll do this to all paragraphs, because we are just going to turn hyphenation on for the whole thing, and here I am going to type in hyphens and then use the auto keyword. So we do hyphens, we have several keywords that we can use, and I am just going to take you into the specification, to take a closer look at those. So I am going to go to the CSS Text Level 3 specification. You can find this at w3.org/TR/css3/text and I am just going to scroll down and find hyphenation, and notice that the only properties or the only keywords that we have are none, manual and auto.
None is basically the default, manual uses words that are only broken at line breaks, where there are characters inside the word that suggests line break opportunities. For example, a hyphen character. And then auto is up to basically the user agent to determine where appropriate hyphenation points are. Okay, so we use auto, so we want the user agent to determine what those breakpoints are. Now I want to point out something to you as well here. Our body selector has a width of 40%, so that means that if I go back to text alignment and refresh that, I don't see any hyphens right now, but if I resize this window, again, I'm getting absolutely no hyphens.
Oh it's broken, it doesn't work. Well, this is the life of using experimental CSS properties, properties that haven't been fully implemented across browsers yet. Most browsers when they start to implement properties like this will actually implement it using a vendor prefix first. So I am going to go back to my code here. Now the reason that they do this with the vendor prefixes, is so that if something significantly changes within the specification, it doesn't break any of your code that's written with default. Once the implementation is sort of solidified and agreed upon, we will go ahead and remove the vendor prefix, no harm, no foul for using this vendor prefixes, so as a designer, it's sort of gives you the ability to sort of experiment with this properties before they become fully implemented.
Okay, above this hyphens' property I am going to type in -moz, so that's the vendor prefix for Mozilla, so -moz-hyphens: and then I am also going to give that an auto and then for Webkit I am going to type in -webkit-hyphens:auto; and for Opera, I am going to do - o-hyphens and then auto. Now, not every one of these is supported, as a matter of fact, I don't think Opera supports hyphens yet. But Mozilla, I know that it does, so that if I save this and go back in the Firefox and refresh my page, now I am getting some hyphens look at that. Check it out.
And as I resize my page, my hyphens change, because the user agent is determining where the text should be hyphenated. So that's really cool. Let's see if it works in some of the other browsers. If I go to Opera, for example, no, no hyphenation in Opera yet, oh well, it's coming I am sure. And if I go to say Chrome, and try that, no, no hyphenation there either. So such is the life of dealing with experimental properties. But it's kind of fun to play with and you can go check those out.
So make sure you visit all of the sites, the Mozilla developer network site, the Opera site, the Safari developer site, to see kind of where those implementations are in the scheme of things. Also, I really recommend going back to the CSS Text Level 3 specification, because there's more than just hyphenation coming down in the pipe. We will notice that we have got text wrapping coming, of course, we have some additional alignment justification options coming, so you can sort of get a roadmap for the type of typographic control that we are going to have over our text alignment by going to this specification and sort of reading through it.
So again, alignment, pretty simple pretty cut and dried, we do have some capabilities coming down the pipe. Remember to use those vendor prefixes if you're working with any of those experimental properties, and if you do decide to use those, just understand that for the moment, browser support is kind of spotty, so don't expect it to work everywhere.
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