The joyful part of web design is when the final Cascading-Style-Sheets-driven layout looks exactly like the Photoshop mockup; however, the joy ends as soon as the site goes into Browser Cam, and that’s when the hair-pulling part comes in. The beautiful site is no longer beautiful in Netscape 4.0. The main content is dropped below, instead of beside, the navigation in Internet Explorer 5.5. Why are there a few pixels off in IE 6.0?
After freaking out over the screenshots provided by Browser Cam, the next thing to do is revisit the CSS file and search the web for ways to fix the bugs. Getting frustrated because there isn’t a central place to find all the hacks. Fortunately, Joseph W. Lowery recognizes it, and puts together an accessible reference for designing cross-browser compatible websites called CSS Hacks & Filters: Making Cascading Style Sheets Work.
Because of the concise explanations, clear visual demonstrations, and well-organized contents, CSS Hacks & Filters is the book to have on hand when testing and debugging web pages and CSS files. From filtering CSS for older or hiding it from newer browsers to integrating layouts to building menus to troubleshooting, this is a one shop for all CSS-workarounds resource. Every hack or filter we need is well documented and usually accompanied by a web address if it was pulled from a particular site.
The strength of the book is Lowery’s easy-to-follow writing style. The language is simple and the instructions are comprehensible. For instance, the step-by-step breakdowns of the commented backslash hack for Mac IE is easy to understand, and the simple method to wrap texts around a cursive image is easy to pull off. Lowery is also a Dreamweaver expert; therefore, Dreamweaver users get a special treat at the last two chapters.
I am a designer, not a hacker, and hacking CSS is not my style. I prefer clean and lean style sheets, but in order to design a beautiful table-less layout website to work consistently on various browsers, hacking CSS is inevitable. Until CSS works the way it is supposed to, CSS Hacks & Filters not only saves the designers as well as developers tremendous time, headache, and effort, but also helps crafting their websites to reach wider audiences.