Web Design Weekend Readings — Issue 3

Hi readers,

It’s makzan and this is issue 3 of web design weekend readings. You received this email because you subscribed on makzan.net.

This week we focus on the some styling topics and my thought on the latest status of HTML specifications – HTML5 vs. HTML Living Standard.

Centering elements

There have been lots of discussions on how we should center align elements with CSS. CSS-tricks puts these options into a guide to select appropriated CSS centering method. This is helpful no matter you are centering single elements or multiple elements, fixed dimension or dynamic width and height.

CSS Pre: Preprocessor syntax reference

Nowadays we tend to program the styling rules with CSS preprocessors. Popular preprocessors includes Sass, Less and stylus. They perform similar tasks but their syntax may be different. In my experience, I need to switch between different syntaxes because each project has its own set of preprocessors. CSS Pre has been my go-to reference site which lists all the common preprocessing functions in all major syntaxes.

Several CSS selectors tricks

The relationship between HTML and CSS is through the selectors. HTML define the content structure and CSS selects the target elements to apply styles. So mastering CSS selectors helps writing the CSS and HTML in more elegant way.

The post, The CSS that’s you don’t know about from Michael Weaver, lists some less-known CSS selector tricks that will be useful in your next web project.


Sometimes we style the web essays to look like a traditional book. One feature is to have drop cap on the first character of the chapter. The Adobe Web Platform projects releases a JavaScript library called DropCar.js that makes the drop caps looks beautiful by aligning the caps baseline to the lines in the paragraph.

My thought on HTML5 recommendation versus the living standard?

W3C just promoted their HTML5 spec from candidate recommendation to recommendation. This means the HTML5 specification from W3C is fixed and final. On the other hands, the WHATWG, Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group, is still promoting their living standard of HTML, which is being updated from time to time.

If you are wondering the meaning of living standard and why. Ian Hickson posted the essay HTML is the new HTML5 in 2011 January, almost 4 years ago, explaining why the group favored living standard over version snapshot model.

CNET’s post, HTML5 is done, but two groups still wrestle over Web’s future, summarized the current status of the HTML specifications and the relationship between them.

“If you want to see what’s already implemented in browsers now, look at W3C spec,” said Opera’s Lawson. “If you want to see what might be coming (or how things may change) look at WHATWG spec.”

An important note is that the browser vendors have the final decision on what features to implement and how they implement it. So we may have different specifications, but at last, we look at the browsers because they render the website to our readers.

It’s smart to look to the browser makers’ developer sites for advice, though, since they hold the ultimate power of what happens on the Web. If they don’t like a particular standard, regardless of who crafted it, they can modify or omit it. And many new standards start as browser makers’ ideas of what needs doing.

Sean Kerner commented on issue of browser vendors and the HTML5 spec with his essay, The failed promise of HTML5, on InternetNews.

As I see it, web standards are now evolving every six to eight weeks and the W3C is merely a bystander in the process.

This is why I prefer using the living standard of HTML. We care about how readers read and use our web pages, which browser vendors call the shots and living standard defines how things work.

Finally, I recommend reading the What does “Living Standard” mean section in the WHATWG wiki.

Thanks for reading and supporting my writings. Hope you enjoy the essays this week. If you missed the back issues. You can read them in the archive.