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It's hard to find two technologies as intertwined as HTML and CSS; indeed, it's almost impossible to teach one without at least mentioning the other. In this chapter we're going to take a brief look at styling so that you can see how these technologies work together and gain an understanding of where HTML's capabilities end and where CSS takes over. I want to start by giving you an overview of how HTML and CSS work together. I have, from the 06_01 folder, I've got the styles.htm opened up in the browser.
The page structure is very, very simple. You can see we have a heading 1 at the very top of the page, 3 paragraphs, and then a heading 2. It looks like we're looking at unstyled content, but we're really not. Every single browser has its own default styles. This is Firefox, and Firefox basically says, "okay, if you don't see the styles, go ahead and take heading 1 and make it bold and make it this big and use whatever font the user has told me to use," which is in this case is Times New Roman and Georgia. Internet Explorer has it's own default styles, Chrome has it's own, Opera has it's own, so forth and so on.
It just so happen that most of those default style look very similar to each other, if not exactly the same. That's why this pages, when no CSS has been attach to him at all, look very much the same in every browser. I'm kind of tricking you right now, because if you open this file up in Firefox I bet you're looking at it and saying "it doesn't look anything like it looks on your screen." Well, that's because right now in Firefox, I'm telling Firefox not to render my styles so that you can sort of see the "unstyled content." So if I go up and I say let's change the page style, let's go ahead and use the style that I wrote for the page, you can see it looks very, very different.
CSS is affecting a lot here. It's affecting how the text is formatted in terms of the typography. It's affecting where it's positioned on the page. It's affecting its width. As you can see as I scroll the page, it's affecting the functionality. This header that was down one the bottom of the page is now over here on the right-hand side, and it doesn't respond to scrolling whereas the HTML and CSS paragraphs over there do. If I go back into our code, all it takes to do, what I was just showing you, is right here.
These are CSS styles. Now the same way that HTML syntax is pretty darn easy to learn, CSS syntax is maybe even easier to learn, and that's because the syntax for CSS is made up of three major things. You have the selector, and in the case of body that's the selector for body. The selector is what tells the browser which element or elements on the page should I target and style. I'm using very simple selectors here, but selectors can get a lot more complex.
So you can use selectors to sort of filter out where your styles are being applied. And then you have properties that you're changing--in this case margin--and then values. So you have selectors, properties, and then the values or the new values that you're setting for them. When you learn CSS the syntax is incredibly easy to learn, but the complex part of it obviously is learning how to write selectors to target things appropriately and properly and filter out things, which properties you can set, and then which values you can set on those properties.
And there's a lot to learn there obviously, but that's really all there is to it. Just to show you how much of a change you can make in something just by changing the styles, I'm going to take the first set of styles here and I'm going to go ahead and comment those out. And then I'm going to take this little block of styles I have here below this. It's already commented, so it's like one of the good cooking shows, you know where you've already got stuff in oven. I already had that stuff in the oven ready to go. So, if you're looking for the structure of the HTML it's this. There is a very simple page and then here's the CSS itself.
So now I save this and go back to my browser and refresh it, an entirely new set of styles, an entirely different look and feel. But here's the most important part of this demonstration. Yes, it's really cool that CSS has this capability; it's really cool that we can make such a dramatic change, but here's the really important part: the underlying structure of the page never changed, not once. All those paragraphs are still there, the headings are still there, so the only thing I've affected here is the visual aspect of it, and that's the really cool thing about HTML and CSS working together.
There is the separation, if you will, of structure and presentation. HTML handles the structure of your page; CSS handles the presentation. So, unless you work in an environment where your styles are totally locked down and you don't have access to them at all, learning CSS is an equally critical part of learning web design. So for the remained to the chapter we're going to take a closer look at styles.
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