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CSS3 First Look

Understanding vendor prefixes


From:

CSS3 First Look

with James Williamson
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  1. 3m 5s
    1. Welcome
      1m 20s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 45s
  2. 31m 30s
    1. What is CSS3?
      5m 26s
    2. The current status of CSS3
      3m 35s
    3. An overview of CSS3 capabilities
      2m 24s
    4. Can you use CSS3 now?
      5m 31s
    5. Detecting support for CSS3
      9m 0s
    6. Understanding vendor prefixes
      5m 34s
  3. 1h 9m
    1. An overview of child and sibling selectors
      3m 11s
    2. Using child and sibling selectors
      7m 17s
    3. An overview of attribute selectors
      3m 19s
    4. Using attribute selectors
      8m 32s
    5. Pseudo-class UI selectors
      5m 56s
    6. Negation pseudo-class selectors
      6m 48s
    7. Target pseudo-class selectors
      5m 39s
    8. Structural selectors
      3m 58s
    9. Nth-child selector syntax
      10m 0s
    10. First, last, and only structural selectors
      5m 39s
    11. Using structural selectors to write more efficient code
      8m 52s
  4. 45m 28s
    1. Color formats in CSS3
      7m 9s
    2. Transparency in CSS3
      9m 10s
    3. CSS3 gradients
      4m 11s
    4. Creating linear gradients
      13m 57s
    5. Creating radial gradients
      11m 1s
  5. 49m 8s
    1. Working with web fonts
      6m 38s
    2. @font-face syntax
      4m 52s
    3. Downloading sample fonts
      6m 5s
    4. Writing @font-face declarations
      7m 57s
    5. Using web fonts
      6m 42s
    6. Using text shadows
      7m 14s
    7. Creating multi-column text
      9m 40s
  6. 50m 55s
    1. An overview of the flexible box model
      4m 42s
    2. Controlling box orientation
      5m 2s
    3. Setting element flexibility
      12m 59s
    4. Distributing boxes
      7m 54s
    5. Controlling box alignment
      12m 38s
    6. Working with box-sizing
      7m 40s
  7. 1h 5m
    1. Using border-radius
      6m 20s
    2. Creating custom rounded corners
      10m 21s
    3. Understanding border images
      5m 15s
    4. Using border images
      8m 52s
    5. Creating box shadows
      8m 58s
    6. CSS3 backgrounds
      4m 55s
    7. Controlling background size
      8m 46s
    8. Creating multiple background images
      6m 4s
    9. Using background-origin
      3m 18s
    10. Clipping background content
      3m 2s
  8. 40m 8s
    1. An overview of CSS3 2D transforms
      4m 26s
    2. Using 2D transforms
      8m 16s
    3. Setting transform origins
      5m 24s
    4. An overview of CSS3 transitions
      5m 0s
    5. Animating CSS properties
      6m 12s
    6. Using easing in animations
      5m 41s
    7. An overview of 3D transforms
      5m 9s
  9. 37m 56s
    1. Understanding media queries
      6m 18s
    2. Strategies for targeting multiple devices
      6m 4s
    3. Writing styles for target screen sizes
      12m 11s
    4. Deploying styles through media queries
      3m 55s
    5. Basing media queries on page orientation
      2m 24s
    6. Targeting media queries for iOS devices
      7m 4s
  10. 1m 6s
    1. Goodbye
      1m 6s

Video: Understanding vendor prefixes

Before we move on to a closure examination of CSS3 and some of its modules, I want to take a moment to discuss vendor prefixes and how they will affect the code we will need to write for CSS3. Vendor prefixes allow browser manufacturers to add support for proprietary or developmental features without causing conflicts with later standardized properties. If you've looked at any CSS3 code, you've probably have seen some of these prefixes. And typically they start with the dash, include the browser manufacturer followed by another dash, and then the property they are supporting.

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CSS3 First Look
6h 34m Appropriate for all Nov 29, 2010

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

In CSS3 First Look, staff author James Williamson provides an in-depth introduction to the newest CSS standard, detailing its modular format, history, and current level of browser support, while also demonstrating its capabilities and applications. The course includes tutorials on using new selectors, modifying typography and color, working with the box model, and understanding media queries. Exercise files accompany the course.

Topics include:
  • Understanding the history of CSS3
  • Working with the new selectors
  • Adding transparency and gradients
  • Specifying web fonts with @font-face
  • Understanding the advances to page layout
  • Looking at CSS3 box model capabilities
  • Using 2D and 3D transforms
  • Understanding media queries
Subject:
Web
Software:
CSS
Author:
James Williamson

Understanding vendor prefixes

Before we move on to a closure examination of CSS3 and some of its modules, I want to take a moment to discuss vendor prefixes and how they will affect the code we will need to write for CSS3. Vendor prefixes allow browser manufacturers to add support for proprietary or developmental features without causing conflicts with later standardized properties. If you've looked at any CSS3 code, you've probably have seen some of these prefixes. And typically they start with the dash, include the browser manufacturer followed by another dash, and then the property they are supporting.

Here is a list of some of the more common vendor prefixes. Microsoft, Mozilla, Opera, Konqueror, and WebKit. So why do we need these prefixes anyway? Well, sometimes people lose sight of the fact that CSS3 is still a work in progress. In fact, many of its features are still being standardized and refined, even as they're being initially implemented in devices and browsers. Now essentially, this means that current browsers offer support for features that may see significant changes to both the standard and the implementation method itself.

Now this early adoption method is good for us as designers as we get to start using new features before they're even standardized. However, it also creates a very dangerous situation where the same code could behave differently between browsers or even between later versions of the same browser, based on changes made over the course of the standardization. Now to illustrate this, I give you Internet Explorer 5 and the box model. Now when IE5 was released, the CSS 2.1 specification regarding the box model wasn't formalized.

Now rather than adopt the proposed definition of the box model, IE5 went ahead and shipped using the older and non- standard method of defining element widths and heights. The resulting mess tortured designers for years and the box model hack became a poster child for web standards proponents. Now this is were vendor prefixes can really help. If browser manufacturers want to support a feature that isn't finalized yet, let's say border radius, they can experiment with implementations by supporting the features with a vendor prefix added to it.

Once implementations have been solidified or the property specification is finished, this prefix can be dropped. This will keep older code from failing if the implementation of the property changes between now and then. In this manner, browser manufacturers get to experiment with how-to-support features without having future code break in older versions of their browsers. For designers, we get to play around with these new and perhaps unfinished features with the full knowledge that using them is experimental and subject to change.

Now as cool as that is, the process is not without its headaches for designers. Let me give you an example. If I wanted to add a border radius to a div tag, this is how I would do it following the standard. That's pretty simple. But since the standard isn't finished, most browser manufacturers support border radius through the use of a prefix, and here's what that looks like. And here I'm adding vendor prefixes to make sure it works in Gecko and WebKit-based browsers.

Note that I'm including the standard syntax last to make sure its value is used by supporting devices. That's not too I guess but what if I wanted to use asymmetrical corners? Vendor specific markup results in this, and that's with out adding specific markup for Opera or Konqueror browsers. As you can tell, that is a mess. So while these prefixes allow us to use properties before they're finalized, it also results in a fair amount of additional code.

And a steep learning curve based on the need to understand exactly how each browser interprets the syntax. Unfortunately, vendor prefixes are a necessary evil when using many of the new features in CSS3. So in order to add these capabilities to your site now, you'll need to understand these prefixes and when to use them. To make the process of writing the syntax a bit easier, you might want to look at eCSStender, a JavaScript library created by Aaron Gustafson that simplifies the process by allowing you to write clean CSS3 code and then passing the proper value to the current browser based on its level of support.

Be careful, however. Browser implementation changes rapidly and you need to be aware if the library updates, or if it doesn't update, based on those changes. Another handy site is the CSS3 Generator. This page allows you to choose a property, set a value, and then presents you with the code required to achieve cross-browser usage. Again, it's your job to make sure the code is current and works properly across multiple browsers. One more thing. We'll be using vendor prefixes throughout this title.

I want to remind you that the prefixes and the need for them is constantly changing. What works at the time of this recording isn't necessarily what will work months from now. Before writing your code, take a moment to check out the latest build of browsers and see if the need for vendor prefixes or the syntax involved has changed.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about CSS3 First Look.


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Q: I'm following along with the video "Transparency in CSS3".  James shows us how to achieve transparency in Internet Explorer by going to Kimili.com and entering a HSLA value to generate code for transparency.

Here that code:

background: transparent;-ms-filter: "progid:DXImageTransform.Microsoft.gradient(startColorstr=#BF0E0C0B,endColorstr=#BF0E0C0B)"; /* IE8 */
filter: progid:DXImageTransform.Microsoft.gradient(startColorstr=#BF0E0C0B,endColorstr=#BF0E0C0B); /* IE6 & 7 */ zoom: 1;

When this code is added to my HTML file it removes transparency on browsers that do in fact support it. So I'm left with NO transparency. Why?
A: The problem is in the filter code. If the IE background is called last, the first "transparent" declaration will remove all previous colors, regardless of browser. To resolve this, place the rule inside a conditional comment for IE or remove the "transparent" declaration at the front of the rule.
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