Ten years of Sliding Doors of CSS

Exactly ten years ago today, on October 20th 2003, A List Apart published Doug Bowman’s Sliding Doors of CSS.

A List Apart now warns readers that “While brilliant for its time, this article no longer reflects modern best practices.’ That might be true, but it would be a shame to let this anniversary pass unnoticed.

I imagine people who weren’t working on the web then might wonder why an article about styling an unordered list to look like tabs is so significant, because we can now achieve the same results using well supported CSS properties.

We can use multiple background images on a single element instead of applying images to both list items and anchors. We can use border radius to round the corners, multiple inset box shadows to create the then fashionable 3d look of the tabs. We can even use CSS gradients if we’re prepared to sacrifice a little browser compatibility.

But before Doug, literally no one had figured out how to make rounded tabs using CSS. This was the first in a series of groundbreaking articles on A List Apart that not only pushed the limits of CSS but changed the web as we now know it. If you haven’t read the article or its follow up, or you have, but not in a while, you should do that.

Nostalgia? Sure, but a great reminder of just how lucky we are today with our developed CSS and browser compatibility we could only dream about in 2003.


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