Customize the Appearance of the Site
= Index DOT Html/Css by Brian Wilson =

Index DOT Html: Main Index | Element Tree | Element Index | HTML Support History
Index DOT Css: Main Index | Property Index | CSS Support History | Browser History

Why Did I Change To CSS?
To be honest, it was partly an experiment, but there was a very good secondary reason. This site began its life as a much smaller resource in an intranet environment. At that time, I could guarantee what browser the readers would have, so some of the design decisions I made were limiting. I chose the color scheme that I did after some playing around, never thinking it would be permanent. If I had it all to do over again, I would have made the site much more adaptable. The amount of work required to make it adaptable now is prohibitive due to the size.

So, of course, I did it. =)
What I Did And Why
I have converted all files on the site to use Cascading Style Sheets. To do this, I have created situation specific, CLASS-based markup on a foundation of simple formatting. This should help ensure that the site looks good on most any delivery platform. This extensive use of the CLASS structure to classify information is not highly recommended for use in HTML, but for complex informational webs like this, it is THE best solution to conquering the complexity beast in this language.

Using CSS allows several major capabilities that are unignorable:
How To Change the CSS Files
Currently, the CSS rules used will make the site appear as it always has. There is only one CSS file (general.css) that is used to control the appearance of all the files in the Index DOT Css site. This file exists in the '[SITEROOT]/ss/' directory. Changing the CSS properties and values in this short document will affect the appearance of the entire site.

The CSS file itself used to be well documented, but I realized that this needlessly increased the size of the download. So, I recently chopped up the CSS file and moved the explanations here. I would love to receive any comments or feedback on this use of CSS.

Details: Bugs I Had To Work Around
IE3 Bug
CSS properties specified for the BODY element in an external style sheet (via the LINK element) are NOT applied.
This is a BAD and far-reaching omission of behavior. It makes it almost impossible to specify global properties for all pages using just a few style sheets like I do here. I could not just let this pass either, because background field color is intrinsically tied to contrast comfort with colors chosen for foregrounds.
My solution was to apply IN EVERY SINGLE PAGE a document level style sheet specifying the document background color. Netscape 4 and Internet Explorer 4 do not have the aforementioned bug, but if you are using IE3, this is a vital issue.

The tag sequence that is found in EVERY file is as follows:
   <style type="text/css">
   body          { background: #000000 } /* Workaround for _Stupid_ IE3 Bug! */
If you wish to change the background color of the site, it would REALLY help if you have a tool that allows global search and replace capability. If you are using Netscape 4 or Internet Explorer 4, you can just delete this section if you wish - This property rule is also controlled in the external CSS files - where they OUGHT to be controlled. If you are using IE3 or just don't wish to delete this in all the pages, an automated tool that can change the BODY element rule above to whatever you wish is vital... OR you can change the several hundred files manually. 8-} Good luck.

Netscape Bug
Netscape 4 has a minor bug which is still a nuisance to deal with. After tables occur in a document, regular text that is not given special CSS formatting will, um... disappear. (at least on a black background because of browser font defaults.)
I have not investigated this deeply, but I found a workaround. I added a 'text' class name and it is used on all content after tables that cause this bug. It seems to have done the trick. You actually should never have to worry about this problem, but someone may wonder why the 'text' class was necessary. =)

Update: Some people are still reporting this bug on some versions on some platforms and I am at a loss as to why. It does not happen on my system and if I can't reproduce it I can't try to solve the problem.

Boring Copyright Stuff...