The CSS3 standards and specifications are taking shape as modules and are still evolving in various states. Within each module are some really great web design and layout tools. The ability to rotate text and images; alter the origin, sized and number of backgrounds; add gradients to boxes; add text effects including shadows; change the radius, color, shadow or add an image to borders; RBG, HSL and opacity color effects; enhanced user interface [UI] options; increased number of font faces; media queries; multiple column layouts; and new options and specs for aural media aka speech are some of the new tools or toys that website designers will have the ability to play with when the modules reach the Recommendation stage. Currently only two modules have reached Recommendation.
However, nine modules are in the Proposed Recommendation stage.
However, historically one of the problems with CSS and the various web browsers is that one browser will support some of the standards and not others, and likewise another browser may support a subset of those standards, or a completely different set of standards. So, building sites that render the same way in each of the popular browsers becomes rather tricky. At the time of this post, it appears that Google Chrome 4.1.x is the most compatible with the current stages of the many CSS3 modules. Unfortunately, from the perspective of the designer or developer, as of February, 2010, Google Chrome only accounts for a little less than 12% of all browsers. However, we could see those numbers change in the future. In fact, statistics show it was only a few years ago that over 55% of all web surfers were using Internet Explorer (IE5, IE6 & IE7) and only 36% were using Firefox. The latest results show that Firefox has nearly 47% of the browser market; while IE8, IE7 & IE6 all combined for only about 35% of the browser market. For many web designers this is a good trend because traditionally, IE has been responsible for countless hours of additional work and headaches in the continuing efforts of web professionals working to get pages that render the same in all other browsers to render the same in IE browsers. According to Microsoft, they plan for IE9 to work much better with the CSS3 modules; getting away from the proprietary nightmares in their pre-IE9 browsers. However, the downside is that with IE9 they will not be supporting Windows XP. So, this may backfire on Microsoft. The other major browsers, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Sarari and even Opera support XP. Plus, in potentially 70% of the world, PC users are still using XP and have not upgraded (term used loosely) to Windows Vista or even to Windows 7. From a designer/developer perspective I will be happy when the proprietary prefixes are not needed and multiple hacks in order to get a page to render the same in one browser as in another.
Also, over the years the display size and color depth that a designer needs to take into consideration have varied considerably. 640 x 480 resolution used to be popular. Then it was 800 x 600 which was most popular. Then 1024 x 768 became a popular screen resolution. Along with this we saw the color depth go from 8 bits, to 16 bits and now 24 to 32 bits is most common. Of course, when there was a large enough demographic using each of those three display resolutions and color depths many companies and website owners would want pages to load the same for each resolution; and colors to be consistent with the lowest common denominator of color depth. With newer technology and wide screen displays, as of January of this year, the 1024 x 768 resolution only accounted for 20% of the current screen size; while a whopping 76% were at higher resolution rates … with 1280 x 1024 being the most common.