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Pseudo-class selectors

From: CSS: Core Concepts

Video: Pseudo-class selectors

So far, we have discussed how you can use selectors to target elements on the page. All the selectors we've used up to this point rely on something called the DOM, or the Document Object Model. The DOM is simply a structural representation of all the elements on the page. Most of the time it's referred to as a tree, as you can traverse up and down the tree to retrieve elements or the contents. That's basically what a browser does with your selectors. You're instructing it to traverse the DOM and targets the elements that it finds that match your criteria.

Pseudo-class selectors

So far, we have discussed how you can use selectors to target elements on the page. All the selectors we've used up to this point rely on something called the DOM, or the Document Object Model. The DOM is simply a structural representation of all the elements on the page. Most of the time it's referred to as a tree, as you can traverse up and down the tree to retrieve elements or the contents. That's basically what a browser does with your selectors. You're instructing it to traverse the DOM and targets the elements that it finds that match your criteria.

Most of the time that's all you really need, but there are times when you're going to need the target elements that either exist outside of the DOM or target, say, the current state of an element. In many cases, elements can change based on user input, or other factors: links can be hovered over, buttons can be clicked and checkboxes checked. So what do we do then? Well, then, we can turn to pseudo-class selectors. Pseudo-class selectors allow us to target elements that lie outside of the DOM, perhaps based on current state or elements that are too specific to be targeted with the simple selectors that we've been using.

Now before we get into using pseudo-class selectors, I want to take a moment to give you a brief overview of the different types, since we won't be covering all pseudo-class selectors in this course. Pseudo-class selectors consist of a colon followed by the selector itself. They are usually preceded by the element that you wish to target, based on its state, and can be combined with other simple selectors as well. Here you see a pseudo-class selector that targets a link when the link is being hovered over by the user, and also an example of a pseudo-class selector being used in a descendent selector--so in this case, a link that's being hovered over inside of an unordered list.

The hover pseudo-class selector that you see here belongs to a group of pseudo-class selectors known as dynamic. Dynamic pseudo-class selectors target elements based on something other than attributes, content, or element type. Usually this refers to something that can change over time or something that's based on user interaction. We will take a closer look at these types in just a moment as we style links based on the current link state. There's also another group of pseudo- class selectors known as UI element state pseudo-class selectors.

That's kind of a mouthful. Well, these can be used to target user interface elements based on whether or not the element is enabled. This group of selectors is relatively new and support really isn't widespread at the current time. However, with the continuing rise of online applications, these styles will continue to grow in importance as implementations in browsers and other user agents are refined. I recommend reading through the specification to learn a little more about them. Now the structural pseudo-class selectors allow you to target elements based on very specialized information within the DOM that simple selectors like classes, IDs, and elements don't allow you to access.

For example, the nth-child selector. Now this one allows you to target elements based on the pattern that they fit into, regarding their sibling elements. Using selectors like these, you can target elements based on whether or not they are the odd- or even-numbered children, whether they are the first or last child of a parent element, and in more patterns. And we are going to explore those in more detail in just a moment. Now, a couple pseudo-class selectors really don't fit into any one category. Those selectors like target and language give you even more specialized targeting capabilities.

As always, I recommend reading the specification carefully regarding pseudo-class selectors and studying what is and what is not currently supported within browsers. Now in most sites, you'll be using pseudo-class selectors a good bit, so making sure you have a firm grasp on how they work is critical to your ability to author efficient styles.

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This video is part of

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CSS: Core Concepts

81 video lessons · 43636 viewers

James Williamson
Author

 
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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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