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Controlling CSS through the Properties Inspector

From: Dreamweaver CS5 Essential Training

Video: Controlling CSS through the Properties Inspector

While the CSS Styles panel is where you are going to be doing the majority of the work on your CSS, the Properties Inspector allows you to do a fair amount of CSS-based work directly through it, without having to go to the Styles panel. It is important to note, however, that without understanding what the Properties Inspector is doing, in regards to CSS, you can cause some major issues within your site. So let's take a moment to examine how the Properties Inspector works with your site's CSS. So I have the index.htm opened here in the 06_05 folder.

Controlling CSS through the Properties Inspector

While the CSS Styles panel is where you are going to be doing the majority of the work on your CSS, the Properties Inspector allows you to do a fair amount of CSS-based work directly through it, without having to go to the Styles panel. It is important to note, however, that without understanding what the Properties Inspector is doing, in regards to CSS, you can cause some major issues within your site. So let's take a moment to examine how the Properties Inspector works with your site's CSS. So I have the index.htm opened here in the 06_05 folder.

Let's scroll down just a little bit so that I can focus on this first paragraph, Explore our world your way, and we are going to explore how the Properties Inspector allows us to interact and change the CSS of this paragraph. So I am just going to click to focus inside that paragraph, anywhere inside of it. Now, in the Properties Inspector, I need to focus on my CSS Properties. So I am going to click the CSS tab and make sure that's highlighted and not the HTML tab. It's a pretty easy to tell because we get some formatting attributes here in place of the other items that we were seeing in HTML.

Now, we are presented with some formatting options, but they are fairly limited. Notice that we get Font, Size, and Color. We also have Bold and Italic, but remember, those two are going to trigger the creation of a brand-new style. We also have text alignment, so Align Left, Center, Right, Justified. Those are some of the things that we can change here in the Properties Inspector. Now, I want to show you something that's really, really important, and when most people first start using the Properties Inspector to change their formatting, they don't really pay attention to this, and it's a big deal.

Notice that as soon as I clicked inside this paragraph, right over here in this pulldown menu, Targeted Rule changed. If I click inside the heading, for example, notice that it's targeting #mainContent h1. If I click inside the paragraph, it's targeting the #mainContent p. Now, what is that? Well, that's a CSS rule that has already been created. That means that that rule is in existence right now in our external style sheet. If you were to browse through your CSS Styles, you would eventually find that. There is the rule, #mainContent p.

So how did it know which rule to target? Well, it picks the closest rule to that element. So the most specific rule that's affecting the element is going to show up within your Targeted Rule. Sometimes that's a really specific rule, like the one we see here. Sometimes it's a really generic rule, such as a paragraph. Now, what that means is that any change that you make to these formatting properties over here will affect that rule. Now, that's not always going to be what you want. So you do have the ability to grab this pulldown menu and choose any rule.

You will find classes down here. Those would allow you to actually apply the class to the paragraph, by the way, not change it. But if you go up from that, you can see all of the rules that are affecting this paragraph. There's #mainContent p. Well, I could shift that, so that it was affecting just that generic Targeted p Rule as well. So it's up to you to either use the default when it comes up or to choose your own. Now, there's another thing that's really important here as well. A lot of people assume that based on the Targeted Rule they are seeing here that these properties come from that specific rule. That's not true.

Notice if I hover over the Font, I get a little tooltip that comes up that says "Hey, the property "font-family" is inherited from the rule "body"." Size, if I hover over that, it says, "That's coming from #mainContent p," and that's our Targeted Rule. Finally, if I hover over Color, notice that that says, "Hey, that's coming from the Rule p." So those three values are coming from three different selectors. So if you were to change one of those properties, it's not going to be guaranteed to be changed in the Targeted Rule. It's going to be changed in whichever rule it's found in.

So in this case, if I change Color, it's going to go back and change that within the paragraph rule. It's not going to add that to the #mainContent p. Let's see that in action. So if I go here and click on this Color Chip, I can choose any color I want. I can even type in a color. But there's something really cool you can do here in Dreamweaver. Check this out. Let's say I wanted to use one of the colors in my interface. I could click on the Color Chip, move my mouse, and I could move it over any area of the interface, even photographs. So let's say I want to pick up the purple color from her shirt. I could go ahead and choose that, and now my paragraphs are that purple color.

Well, notice again, that if I hover over that Color Chip, it tells me that the property color is being inherited from the Rule p. So instead of just changing all my main content paragraphs - let me scroll, and I will show you what I am talking about - I changed the color of all my paragraphs, so all my paragraphs have that purple color to it. So using the Properties Inspector to speed up your CSS workflow does make a lot of sense, but as you can see, you really need to be aware of how the changes you are making might be affecting styles elsewhere in your site.

As your command over CSS grows and you get more comfortable structuring the styles within your site, you will find the Properties Inspector an indispensable part of your day-to-day workflow. Initially, however, I really want to caution you to be careful when using it, so that you don't make unintended changes, either throughout your site or perhaps in targeting the wrong selector.

Show transcript

This video is part of

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Dreamweaver CS5 Essential Training

135 video lessons · 88918 viewers

James Williamson
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 2m 57s
    1. Welcome
      1m 8s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 49s
  2. 7m 50s
    1. What is Dreamweaver?
      3m 16s
    2. Learning web design
      2m 22s
    3. Current web standards
      2m 12s
  3. 43m 9s
    1. The Welcome screen
      4m 5s
    2. Windows and Mac interface differences
      2m 23s
    3. The Application toolbar
      4m 7s
    4. The Document toolbar
      4m 40s
    5. Arranging panels
      8m 19s
    6. Managing workspaces
      7m 32s
    7. The Properties Inspector
      5m 54s
    8. The Insert panel
      6m 9s
  4. 25m 45s
    1. Basic site structure
      3m 11s
    2. File naming conventions
      1m 49s
    3. Defining a new site
      4m 35s
    4. Managing sites
      4m 51s
    5. Managing files and folders
      6m 36s
    6. Working with browsers
      4m 43s
  5. 27m 21s
    1. Creating new documents
      5m 16s
    2. New document preferences
      3m 6s
    3. Setting accessibility preferences
      4m 56s
    4. Working with starter pages
      3m 46s
    5. Managing starter pages
      10m 17s
  6. 30m 2s
    1. Basic tag structure
      2m 15s
    2. Adding structure to text
      8m 20s
    3. Creating lists
      9m 59s
    4. Getting text into Dreamweaver
      5m 59s
    5. Importing Word documents
      3m 29s
  7. 1h 17m
    1. Understanding style sheets
      2m 16s
    2. The anatomy of a CSS rule
      1m 48s
    3. Setting CSS preferences
      6m 36s
    4. The CSS Styles panel
      10m 2s
    5. Controlling CSS through the Properties Inspector
      5m 14s
    6. Using the Code Navigator
      7m 21s
    7. Using CSS Enable
      6m 45s
    8. Understanding element selectors
      8m 11s
    9. Understanding class selectors
      8m 49s
    10. Understanding ID selectors
      5m 59s
    11. Understanding descendant selectors
      6m 51s
    12. Attaching external style sheets
      7m 44s
  8. 1h 47m
    1. Working with units of measurement
      7m 11s
    2. Declaring font families
      9m 39s
    3. Controlling font sizing
      9m 9s
    4. Controlling weight and style
      8m 0s
    5. Controlling line height
      8m 29s
    6. Controlling vertical spacing with margins
      12m 3s
    7. Controlling spacing with padding
      5m 39s
    8. Aligning text
      8m 26s
    9. Transforming text
      5m 36s
    10. Writing global styles
      15m 42s
    11. Writing targeted styles
      17m 37s
  9. 1h 32m
    1. Understanding image types
      5m 3s
    2. Managing assets in Dreamweaver
      12m 51s
    3. Setting image accessibility preferences
      4m 20s
    4. Setting external image editing preferences
      3m 52s
    5. Placing images on the page
      7m 37s
    6. Photoshop integration
      5m 54s
    7. Modifying Smart Objects
      5m 51s
    8. Alternate Photoshop workflows
      8m 8s
    9. Modifying image properties
      11m 14s
    10. Styling images with CSS
      7m 11s
    11. Using background graphics
      9m 3s
    12. Positioning background graphics
      11m 6s
  10. 55m 16s
    1. Link basics
      3m 37s
    2. Setting site linking preferences
      2m 14s
    3. Creating links in Dreamweaver
      11m 1s
    4. Absolute links
      5m 8s
    5. Using named anchors
      11m 19s
    6. Linking to named anchors in external files
      2m 44s
    7. Creating an email link
      5m 24s
    8. Creating CSS-based rollovers
      13m 49s
  11. 1h 34m
    1. CSS structuring basics
      2m 56s
    2. The Box Model
      13m 21s
    3. Understanding floats
      6m 53s
    4. Clearing and containing floats
      8m 56s
    5. Using relative positioning
      4m 8s
    6. Using absolute positioning
      7m 18s
    7. Creating structure with div tags
      12m 7s
    8. Styling basic structure
      10m 34s
    9. Creating a two-column layout
      10m 37s
    10. Using Live View and CSS Inspect
      7m 51s
    11. Using Browser Lab
      9m 39s
  12. 56m 22s
    1. Reviewing table structure
      7m 41s
    2. Importing tabular data
      5m 13s
    3. Creating accessible tables
      9m 56s
    4. Using thead and tbody tags
      4m 0s
    5. Basic table styling
      8m 45s
    6. Styling table headers
      7m 52s
    7. Styling column groups
      4m 22s
    8. Creating custom table borders
      5m 1s
    9. Styling table captions
      3m 32s
  13. 1h 43m
    1. How forms work
      3m 0s
    2. Reviewing form design
      3m 2s
    3. Creating accessible forms
      7m 33s
    4. Setting form properties
      4m 6s
    5. The fieldset and legend tags
      4m 32s
    6. Inserting text fields
      5m 58s
    7. Inserting list menu items
      5m 26s
    8. Inserting checkboxes
      7m 50s
    9. Inserting radio button groups
      6m 22s
    10. Inserting text areas
      4m 12s
    11. Inserting submit buttons
      3m 37s
    12. Basic form styling
      12m 0s
    13. Form element styling
      8m 52s
    14. Styling form layout
      11m 49s
    15. Adding form interactivity
      2m 47s
    16. Using Spry validation widgets
      12m 49s
  14. 1h 23m
    1. Planning for templates
      10m 51s
    2. Creating a new template
      10m 37s
    3. Using editable attributes
      13m 43s
    4. Creating optional regions
      6m 23s
    5. Creating new pages from a template
      9m 17s
    6. Applying templates to existing pages
      6m 9s
    7. Working with nested templates
      7m 56s
    8. Working with repeating regions
      12m 58s
    9. Modifying templates
      5m 41s
  15. 40m 14s
    1. Behaviors overview
      3m 47s
    2. Hiding and showing elements
      9m 18s
    3. Spry overview
      4m 4s
    4. Using Spry widgets
      11m 36s
    5. Adding Spry effects
      3m 6s
    6. Using the Widget Browser
      8m 23s
  16. 28m 18s
    1. Inserting Flash files
      5m 4s
    2. Setting properties for Flash
      6m 27s
    3. Dreamweaver and Flash integration
      6m 6s
    4. Encoding Flash video
      6m 10s
    5. Adding Flash video
      4m 31s
  17. 45m 28s
    1. Running site-wide reports
      6m 33s
    2. Checking for broken links
      5m 41s
    3. Checking for browser compatibility
      8m 3s
    4. Adding remote servers
      8m 0s
    5. Uploading files
      7m 20s
    6. Managing remote sites
      9m 51s
  18. 34s
    1. Goodbye
      34s

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