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The Web Standards Project: Cascading Style Sheets


The uneven deployment of CSS1 in major Web browsers over the last two years has caused Web authors great frustration and expense, and has won CSS an undeservedly obscure and difficult reputation. As unfortunate as this failure has been for HTML in the recent past, the implications for XML in the near future are even more disturbing: lacking adequately mature CSS implementations, XML will generally be converted first to non-reusable HTML for display. This will retard the deployment of distributed XML applications, as the richest data will tend to remain on servers or decay quickly on clients.

Implementation of CSS2 in the major browsers may show similar problems. Early implementations of some parts of CSS2 have been buggy. If the browsers do not interpret CSS2 exactly as described by the spec, many of the most powerful features of CSS2 may become unusable because of new browsers that interpret those features incorrectly, as has already happened with parts of CSS1. Old browsers that do not follow the error-handling guidelines set forth by CSS1 have already caused enough damage to CSS2. Many features of CSS2 are now unusable without browser-sniffing (that is, sending different stylesheets to different browsers).

The WSP is determined to prevent these problems from repeating themselves. With that goal in mind, these documents are produced by the members of the Web Standards Project CSS Action Committee, otherwise known as the CSS Samurai. The Samurai hope to improve browser implementations of CSS by finding and reporting on bugs in existing implementations and by encouraging browser makers to fix bugs and to fully support the CSS recommendations.

CSS standards compliance reviews

As a matter of policy, the WSP provides thorough coverage of and feedback on interim releases of major browsers' CSS implementations. To date, we have published the following reviews:

Note: We do not plan on reviewing any Netscape browsers until Communicator 5.0 begins to approach its final form. Netscape does not claim that Communicator 4.0 or 4.5 is CSS compliant. Trying to list the important bugs would be an exercise in writing long documents, one we do not have the patience to do. Running Netscape 4.x through the tests we use to document bugs in Opera and Microsoft Internet Explorer will provide a clear demonstration of Netscape's current shortcomings to anyone who doubts them. Of about 40 test pages in our first two reviews, there are only two that don't demonstrate problems in Netscape Communicator (and we weren't even looking for bugs in Netscape Communicator when we wrote those tests). However, we expect to be able to hold Netscape Communicator 5.0 to the same standards (no pun intended) as the other two browsers.