10 Mar Crookers & CSS Woes
Artist of the moment: I figured I should probably honour the continuity of my previous artist micro-blurbs to hold consistency to my rantings (or lack thereof). This time I would like to mention my most favorite DJ duo of recent time, Crookers! (Or, in proper Italian accent, crew-cairs!). Crookers (the Crookers?), are 2 dudes, Bot and Phra, and they’re signed, of course, to my favorite DJ‘s record label, Mad Decent Records. I love these guys cuz their sets are a non stop flurry of bass pounding, energy charged, Fidget House. Fidget House is of course an unofficial term coined to describe this frantic, cut-up, House music style. I still like the term Electro Crunk, because the music sounds pretty Electro and Crunky to me. I guess Crookers sort of traverse a range of styles in their mixes and sets. If you want a good primer on Crookers, I’d start with their Radio 1 Essential Mix if you can get a hold of that. It’s basically anything and everything they’d done up to that date with some other stuff thrown in. Incredible!
So, I’ve been pulling my hair out, yet again, due to the uncalled for complexity presented by CSS coding techniques. I mean CSS is actually a very simple language, and very easy to pick up and learn. The difficult part is learning how to use it PROPERLY. I love the many facets of design and putting my creative juices to the test, but when it comes to stylizing webpages and lining up it’s rigid skeletal grid to hold all of the content precisely where I want it, I’m completely stumped. Don’t get me wrong, I know this isn’t an easy task, learning such a muddled and conflicted language such as Cascading Style Sheets. It’s had such a torrential history, I suppose, being used in different ways by different browsers for sometimes different purposes.
Internet Explorer, as usual, is the worst culprit at present time, refusing to conform to the same standards as everyone else. They seem to love to take existing great things and attempt to make them better in their own special way *cough* Silverlight *cough*. (To be fair, I do know that the latest versions of Internet Explorer are a little easier to work with and more conforming than previous versions like IE6). It makes learning CSS that much more difficult for a hobbyist web designer like me. I’ve tried several different books, but the problem with these books is that they teach the basics of the language itself. There are few books that teach the hacks and the work-arounds necessary to side-step the accessibility, the incompatibilities, and the inconsistencies between browsers. The ones that DO teach these hacks are difficult to use as reference since there are many ways to work around different issues. I suppose it’s almost as if to effectively and creatively use CSS tableless design to it’s fullest you need to learn the ins and outs of CSS and how each browser handles each property and rule, as well as how to avoid problems in each case. It’s a heck of a lot of junk to cram into your brain, especially if you’re not a CSS designer by profession. It just seems like CSS could be much simpler to use. I hope some day we’ll see that happen.
At the present moment, I’m feeling the pinch of these frustrations mostly because I’ve gotten knee deep into WordPress Theme modification and design. I started toying with the idea of using WordPress as a CMS for my own sites, as well as client websites. It’s a great and robust CMS, if somewhat simplistic, that allows a certain level of ease in posting new content and editing existing content. The trick is learning how to use it best, and which plugins offer the extra features you would need to mimic a fully functional (usually small-business) website. I think my problem is that I will start with a simple CSS framework and then I’ll find something that breaks in a different browser, so I’ll scour the net until I find a plausible fix, and then I’ll plug that fix into my file, but then I’ll find a problem where the answer isn’t clearly stated anywhere on the net, so I will start trial and error edits until I find a fix. Then my file will become monstrously large with so many edits and hacks and additions that I will forget what does what, where things need to be. I will forget which parts of the file should be strictly for structure, and which for design, etc.
So far it seems that the best way to learn work-arounds is to find someone who already has proven themselves to be at an expert level of CSS design technique. This way, unlike a book, you have the ability to pose a specific question and get a specific tailored answer to your issues. I find this a bit of an issue for me since I only know of one person who may or may not know the answers to my questions. Online forums are alright but expressing your complex and various CSS frustrations is a bit of a chore and a tricky one at that. If anyone knows of anything/anyone that may be of help let me know in comments.
In closing, I have to say, that upon viewing the CSS and PHP files created by other designers, I’m more often than not, bewildered by all the little scripts, functions, and CSS hacks they’ve put in motion to generate their attractive bullet-proof designs. Figuring out WHY someone does something in a certain way in any given CSS file of any given theme is a hefty task. I suppose I’ll just need to find someone who can help me navigate these murky waters…