Laying out pages in CSS has always seemed a more complicated process than it needs to be. So here’s some great news: there are fresh specs that will make creating layouts a much simpler task for web designers. The major browsers, with the help of bodies such as the W3C, are starting to provide standards and implementations for a variety of new layout options that you can begin using today. For example, the W3C currently considers CSS3 Multicolumn Layout Module a Candidate Recommendation. Basically this means it’s at the point where the W3C is comfortable with browsers implementing it as a feature.
Other specs haven’t yet attained Candidate Recommendation status – but that doesn’t mean you can’t use them. Today, the major browsers use vendor prefixes to indicate that a particular spec is an implementation that may possibly change and the expectation is that the vendor prefix will be removed once the spec and implementation are stable. Jonathan Snook describes vendor prefixes as doing two things:
- They enable browser developers to test new functionality without fear of a changing spec.
- They warn web developers that things are in flux.
While there is some controversy over the existence of vendor prefixes they represent a good opportunity to use features early in the standards process – although they need to be used wisely.