Monday, 4 September 2000
Stylesheets are
a blessing for the
platform independent nature
of Internet.
This thesis is triggered by a number of reactions to the recent restyling of the SUMit website, using Cascaded Style Sheets. A quote from an e-mail of a regular reader:

It won't be long until the SUMit site goes Flash...
Anyway, you've already kissed good-bye to browser independence.
Hear, hear!

Hm, what a witty remark of this cheeky young whippersnapper. Of course this type of erroneous ideas demands a witty reply, including an example that allows no denial: So, here it is:

Stylesheets CSS example Plug-ins like Flash
  • Style sheets are not just browser independent, but go one step further: platform-independent. Use an old browser to view a website ( and it will look just a little bit less fancy. But the functionality remains intact.
  • The standard browser software interprets style sheets, fast as lightning every time.
  • A style sheet is small, a few K at most. For a whole website the style sheet is accessed only once, and resides in cache from that moment onwards.

    For the lamp to the right, I've extended the SUMit style sheet with 38 bytes. The GIF file of the lamp is only 846 bytes in size. Include a bit of generated HTML and the whole gag remains well below 1K.

Click the string to switch the lamp on.
  • Have a browser without the plug-in and you'll bluntly loose functionality, very use unfriendly indeed (.../Flashready.html).
  • Plug-in software demands a cumbersome, slow, albeit one-time-only download. That is a threshold that some visitors won't cross.
  • Plug-ins need time to start up, and are sometimes quite slow (.../Flash4/faq...). The download of files takes quite long too.

    A simple lamp as Flash file will easily take more than 3K, according to a reliable source (xs4all/...).

Yes, yes, I know: Flash facilitates cute moving images, quite hot and fancy. But no, moving images are not for me. They are only distracting. I've got a device here which is quite old already. Every week I watch it for vague, flashing images from the future.

I maintain my thesis. Style Sheets are very effective ( No, I will not start Flash frivolities. I'd rather target the largest possible audience, and stick to platform independence.

Till next week!