Friday 5 September 2008

Core CSS Part I Reference

Along with the good folks at DZone, I’ve been working on a series of reference cards. Refcardz are “cheat sheets” that offer quick but key aspects of various languages, techniques and methodologies. The first of my three part Core CSS reference is available for free download to registered members (registration is free too, of course) and there are very stylin’ print versions of the cards available as well.

“In this foundational reference card, you’ll find not only a bit of history and rationale for use, rule structure and syntax, but also a thorough resource as to the Cascade, inheritance and specificity – core principles of CSS that will expand and strengthen your professional ability to work with CSS.

Features include CSS Rationale and Use, Understanding Style Rule Syntax, Inheritance, Style Sheet Types, Application Hierarchy and Sort Order, Hot Tips and more.”

Special thanks to Ross Bruniges, Norm Francis, Bryan Veloso and Dan Rubin for their review assistance. Any errors or flaws in logic remain mine alone 🙂

I hope you find this reference useful!

Filed under:   general
Posted by:   Molly | 22:32 | Comments (43)

Comments (43)

  1. Nice work, I tend to resent registering on sites but maybe its a day for an exception. They might be very handy for quick printing and handing out at work to developers who really don’t have such a strong handle.

    Looks like a great resource. 🙂

  2. Sounds interesting, but I refuse to register to yet another site.

  3. It is a shame that DZone wants that much detailed information — without a justifiable need for it.

  4. I can only echo my former commentators: I will not register to another site – requiring detailed information – just for the benefit of viewing something I will most probably be aquainted with.

  5. Same opinion: To obtain your “Core CSS: Part I” it’s not only necessary to sign up (which would have been ok for me) but:
    * Company/Organization field is required.
    * Job Title field is required.
    * Telephone field is required.
    * Address is required.
    * City / Zip/Postal Code is required.
    * Primary Job Function field is required.
    * Your Role in Decisions field is required.
    * Employees at Company/Org field is required.
    * Developers at Company/Org field is required.


  6. Well, this is how I could give something for free. I empathize, but it’s a subscription service. They pay me so I can provide resources to you, and that is fair.

    Let me ask this: if I were just to do this sort of thing on my own and make them available for anonymous download, would you be willing to make micropayments? I mean, someone, someone has to understand that as an independent I have to make a living too.

  7. I don’t mind having to sign up for things, but that is way to much “Required” information to get a download or two.

    I understand that you being an independent consultant means you have to pay the bills, but as stated before it’s to many “Required” fields.

    I have a regular day job that pays my bills, so I guess it makes it easier for me to just publish ways I find to make websites more accessible. I figure the more information that people have about a subject, free or not, the more informed they are and can make their websites and the ones they build better.

    Here is an example of some of the stuff I have published on accessibility.

    Thanks, again for all that you have done and will keep on doing for the web community at large.

  8. My preference is a direct payment to the author. And I’m generally willingly give more than the minimum asked for. I feel I am making a contribution for information/expertise I find helpful. The “long” detailed registration forms always feel like you are being sucked into a marketing vortex of hidden “sold” lists and recurrent spam.
    That said, it also depends on familiarity with the sites’ community. I see some familiar voices here at DZone. I would be willing to sign up, if I make the decision that this is a community I will intend to visit often.

  9. Molly–

    From what you have said, I get the impression that information divulged to DZone is marketed by them for income.

    If you have an independent publication, I, personally would have no problem with a direct purchase. Even under those various conditions, billing information via credit card is less stringent than the current method via DZone subscription.

    If you set up something simple such as a PayPal gateway on this site, do it and I will click the damn thing.

  10. Molly,

    I hate to join the chorus, but as a human who has bought about 6 of your books for real money, I just couldn’t make myself fill out DZone forms requesting more personal info than I needed to give the government to join the US Navy (G). I got about half way through the form and it hit me that this was WAY more info than I wanted to give away to an unknown website.

    Put your work in a book, and I will buy it. Or sell the info cards via Amazon. Charge a small Visa billable fee to join a special sub-site where you publish technical info. I just don’t want to get a million spam emails and a ton of junk snail-mail.


  11. I’m all for the subscribers club 😀

    Only problem I see myself with DZone is their privacy policy and full intent to sell and rent all your private information you supply including phone number and email address as stated in the privacy policy on the website.

  12. Well I’m always happy to receive donations via PayPal 😀

    Just Send Money to

    Seriously, I really do understand the issue and concern. However, registration to that degree is less a technical conversation than it is a philosophical one. I mean, any sensible techie knows how to fill in a registration form to prevent spam, etc.

    Just sayin’…

  13. You make a point. But then again, it is an issue of best practice. Business should learn the ‘need to know’ principal and apply it. Besides, trying to remember Charlie Manson’s address and whatnot is a pain.

  14. First, I’d like to thank Molly for doing a fantastic job on this DZone Refcard, as I knew she would when I first began speaking with her about the project. CSS is surprisingly difficult to master, and Molly crosses the line between designers and developers with great style and poise.

    Many of the complaints here seem to boil down to a couple of basic themes. First, there’s a group who feels that DZone’s request for information in exchange for Molly’s Refcard and our entire series of more than twenty other Refcardz, is somehow unfair and/or unreasonable. Second, there are those who would like a way to have Molly benefit personally, but for some reason object to the idea that DZone might also benefit.

    I can understand where these complaints are coming from, and I hope you’ll try to understand DZone’s perspective, too. As a business, we have invested substantially to create this Refcardz series to benefit our current members and to attract new members. We value new members greatly, and we treat each one with the same respect and care we have shown more than 300,000 members during our 12-year history. Yes, the privacy policy (kudos to the person who actually read it) might seem to give us permission to sell you down the river, but we never have and never will. Over the long haul, doing that would be really bad for business, regardless of what some legal mumbo-jumbo might technically permit.

    The way we see it, registering for Refcardz is a value-for-value exchange. We offer something of substantial value, and we seek something of comparable value in return. These Refcardz aren’t absolutely “free” since your valuable information is required in exchange for them. They are “free” only in the sense that you don’t have to part with any of your money to get them. Nobody is ever forced to register, however, and nobody’s arm is twisted until they agree to our terms. If you don’t like the terms of the exchange, then you simply don’t have to participate in it. We completely acknowledge and respect your right not to. Just say no, but please don’t fault us for seeking fair value.

    The group who wants Molly alone to benefit is indeed generous towards her, and she’s lucky to have such fervent supporters. We share your desire for this project to be rewarding for Molly. As the publishers who organized and financed the whole thing, isn’t it fair that we should somehow benefit from our work, too? Molly didn’t create this Refcard alone in a vacuum – a whole team of folks at DZone worked with her.

    Anyway, if you choose to register and download, then you’ll get to enjoy this Refcard and all the others we’ve already published or will in the future. Each DZone Refcard is at least as good as the ones for $5 or $6 in the spin-rack at Borders or Barnes and Noble. Wth Refcardz you get the whole set (22 Refcardz to date) for a one-time registration.

    Honestly, we appreciate that you’re giving up a lot when you give us your personal information, and we’re committed to giving you a lot in return for it.

    Rick Ross
    President, DZone, Inc.

  15. I’m looking forward to collecting the complete set. Thanks Molly.

    Steven S.

  16. Ok, here’s my issue: what if I fill out the form and never receive a word from DZone? Not even the validation e-mail, not even after re-sending it several times? I triple checked, the e-mail address is valid and working, and there’s nothing in the spam folder. So, now they have my info, and I have nothing. Grrreat. 🙁

  17. payskin, send an email to and cc: me, We’ll be happy to find and solve whatever problem is preventing you from getting the Refcard you requested. You didn’t know you’d get service from Molly’s blog, did you? 🙂


  18. I am really a dolt! That would be – sorry!

  19. This points out a fundamental usability issue.

    Users who are willing to surrender personal information for something free and those who would be willing to pay for a product while maintaining privacy. Perhaps accommodation of both is in order.

    But then I am without first-hand knowledge of the business model, its logic and value to the business. Except to say, that as a consumer, I have no need to know and have no need to be concerned about such things.

    As far as the surrender of personal information, the published terms of a privacy policy will always trump any statements made to the contrary.

  20. Thanks for the great resource… it was worth the sign up process

  21. At this point I’m wondering if I’m banned from commenting on this site?


  22. Maybe I am, maybe I’m not. This is a test.

  23. I’m very confused: I’ve submitted 5 responses, mostly because the first one, and then the second one, didn’t appear. I’m slow at times, and if I am actually banned on this site: can someone tell me?

    I wasn’t nice to Mr Ross, but I’m not sure he deserved it. Assuming that all would come lusting after his product, because it was “is at least as good as the ones for $5 or $6 in the spin-rack at Borders or Barnes and Noble” is as disingenuous as it is arrogant.

    Here’s my second response, which I have cross posted to my blog. Molly, if I cast false aspersion, please let me know: I will be more than happy to apologize. But you’ve got to admit: 5 comments not being shown is a bit untoward.

    Here’s the misplaced second comment.
    I’m not quite sure what happened – I posted a response, but I don’t see it, nor any indication of my (albeit small) effort. Humph – go figure! I’ll summarize, in the hopes that my “Submit” button actually works; which is not a sure thing, I guess.

    Basically, I said that the information I would have to supply to this website, unknown to me website, is beyond what is reasonable.

    I did take offense at Mr Ross’s response, as well. The “numismatic value” (I quote from my aetherial post) has little to do with the value that we, the intended audience, perceive as the value. I’d offer that Mr Ross should put the cards up for sale in the various outlets, asking, say, $7.99, and pay Ms Holzschlag a royalty. If monetary value were the only consideration. But it isn’t, is it? The intended audience wants to benefit from Ms Holzschlag’s knowledge – they are not necessarily willing to give up information that they cannot see the need for others to hold; this is not to say that some of this information is proprietary for some companies.

    I also, in that mysteriously misplaced post, that Mr Ross was arrogant in assuming that the intended audience would trade such information, in exchange for lusting after some freebie – no matter the pedigree of the item! Mr Ross, please don’t assume that we’re fools – free information is free. You impose a cost that many of us, it appears, have no interest in paying.

    Carolyn Ann

  24. Thanks for the great resource… it was worth the sign up process

  25. @Carolyn Ann: I don’t ban people unless they are spammers or are threatening to me or other guests. Opinions are always welcome.

    If some strong language was in those submissions, they might have been picked up by Akismet. They weren’t picked up in the moderation queue or I’d have gotten to them (sometimes that WILL take me a day or two, depending if I’m traveling, etc.)

    I apologize and as you see, you’ve been able to comment through, so hopefully this was just a temporary glitch. Sure, you’re opinionated and strongly so, but I am too 😀

  26. Wow, I can’t believe that all of you are mad because DZone asks for some info, it’s not like we all couldn’t learn more about our craft. Molly I would like to thank you, even though I am a little more advanced than the core I, I personally can’t wait for the core II, I look at it like this “Learn all you can, then learn some more, take what you learn and put it to practice”,
    I also teach guitar and frequently teach classes on CSS , I am making the core I required reading in my class.

  27. Thanks Jasper! I think it’ll make a nice addition to class materials myself.

    Molly 🙂

  28. It’s not the material, Jasper. I have absolutely no doubt it is worth the monetary cost Rick Ross specified. It’s the intrusive, and frankly impertinent questions that are being asked by DZone.

    If we give up that much information – some of it *is* privileged information – in exchange for learning something, when do we stop? Do we provide all, in exchange for information? Or do we, as a society, say: I have a right to not disclose such information. Yes, I lose the privilege of the information – but I make that choice. Rick Ross of DZone was arrogant in his assessment of what *I* might pay, and others might disclose. It has no bearing on the quality of information Molly provides.

    I thought the principle of education was that the teachers provide the information, with little regard for the personal details of the student!

    Carolyn Ann

  29. The material is probably worth whatever those who need something like that are willing to pay. No problem there. Such material isn’t worth handing over all that much information for though.

    One thing is that basically all anyone needs to know about CSS – any level – is available at sites like Sitepoint, with no questions asked. The originals at the W3C site are of course even more complete, and the more important standards support is reasonably well documented in the open too. There’s even a “Web Standards Curriculum” on offer, and no questions are asked to get access to that one either.

    Another thing is that “DZone Terms of Service” don’t look like much. To me what’s written there is good enough reason never to hand over anything.

    Personally I wouldn’t know what to use the offered reference for, but I have no problem seeing that many may need one. Thus, I guess it comes down to what each individual need and is willing to hand over in order to get it, which is the same for everything that’s offered on the web and elsewhere.

    My personal preference is that I am willing to hand over a reasonable amount of money if I want something, but I am not willing to hand over much else – regardless of how “free” what’s on offer is.

  30. I tell you what, Molly and Andy Clark, I believe it was, have a video out on about css called, CSS for Designers. I believe it is still available if you are a monthly paying member. You do have to pay for it, but they don’t ask to many questions. keep learning!

  31. 只需10元,就能让你的广告遍布各个网站!


  32. Pingback: » Blog Archive » Core CSS Part I Reference

  33. Don’t you think you are asking way too much information in return for a cheat sheet?

  34. I m translating this entry on my blog.

  35. I really do get suspicious when someone tells me they are doing something for a common good. All too often, it’s for their own common good. And a nice car.

  36. This is the latest and hottest ghd styler ever. If you need a ghd hair straighteners, this is a must buyghd hair straighteners,cheap ghd hair straighteners,pink ghd hair straightenersghd straightenersComme vous pouvez le voir, il s’agit d’une paire de chaussures shox classiquepink ghd hair straighteners . Si vous souhaitez poursuivre la mode, nike shox NZ sont votre meilleu…nike tnCette paire de Nike Shox Torch est chaud en maintenant la chaussurestn chaussures

Upcoming Travels