Foreword 2006

Transcend the web of today

To introduce this book, take a minute first to look at it. The art direction is fantastic. Illustration and screenshots abound. Points are made using photos instead of line after line of HTML and CSS. Real-world examples are pulled in to demonstrate web-specific topics. Books about code have no right to look this good.

Transcending CSS is not just another code book; it’s about more than that. It’s about design and code playing together nicely. It’s the way code is meant to support design considerations. It’s about breaking the chains that sometimes keep us far too grounded in reality.

Very large online spaces like Yahoo have started using techniques which provide backwards-compatibility but also deliver features to those browsers which take advantage of them. Andy Clarke shows us how.

In a sense, this book reminds me of The Zen of CSS Design, a book I had the pleasure of co-authoring. We set out to discuss CSS, design theory, and provide well-designed examples to explain, illustrate and inspire. Transcending CSS is a good next step. You’ve finished Zen, now what? Andy has given us the answer.

The entire concept of Transcending CSS is a manifesto, transcend the web of today. Don’t keep your mind focused on the past, turn your head and start looking to the future. Andy is here to show you how.

Dave Shea, 
October 2006

Foreword 2019

A new call to look to the future

The original edition of Transcending CSS was a call to encourage web designers to fully embrace the possibilities of the web, rather than being frustrated by its limitations. It showed that great design was possible, and looked to the future of layout. Reading this new edition I am struck with how much is different, in terms of what is possible with CSS, yet how much has stood the test of time.

In revisiting the book, Andy explains in his sidenotes how the landscape has changed, and how techniques such as Grid Layout make creating these designs more straightforward and robust. For readers who remember that first edition, or who have been working on the web as long as Andy and I have, this look back at our history should be an enjoyable reminder of just how far we have come. For those fortunate souls who never created rounded corners by chopping up and positioning images, be thankful for entering the industry at a time when border-radius is already a thing.

I am struck however, by the things that have not changed in over ten years. The underlying principles Andy outlines in Transcending CSS still hold true. Principles which aimed to, “enable designers to look to the future without being compromised by the limitations of the past.” This is a message which is still needed today; it is still impossible to write an article about new CSS without gaining comments about lack of support for the feature in certain browsers making it unusable.

In this edition, Andy has turned a book from the past into a call to look to the future. In doing so I think he has beautifully underlined some of core principles of what it is to design for the web, making this an important read as we look forward to what comes next in CSS.

Rachel Andrew, 
October 2019

Rachel Andrew lives in Bristol, UK. She’s one half of web development company, the company behind Perch CMS. She’s also editor-in-chief of Smashing Magazine, an Invited Expert to the W3C on the CSS Working Group, and a Google Developer Expert. Her day-to-day work can include anything from product development to DevOps to CSS, and she regularly writes about all of them.

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