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Now possible: CSS Constants

Sent by Eric A. Meyer on 31 August 2005 23:11


Hey all,

    Shaun Inman recently published a new tool that I though deserved 
to get some attention, especially since it's directly about CSS and 
fills what I consider to be a hole in CSS.
    It's called "CSS-SSC", where the "SSC" parts stands for 
"Server-Side Constants".  It lets you define constants in your style 
sheet like so:

@server constants {
    baseColor: #ABCDEF;
    hiliteColor: #0DECAF;
    baseFont: Helvetica, Arial, Verdana, sans-serif;
}

body {font: small baseFont;}
a:link {color: baseColor;}
a:hover {color: hiliteColor;}

    Okay, those are very limited examples, but if you picture using 
constants in a large style sheet, you begin to see why they could be 
very handy.
    It does require that you have PHP running, and that you edit a 
..htaccess file in order for this to work.  It also requires that your 
CSS files get poured through PHP in order to be preprocessed.  The 
end result is that they'll be sent out as regular CSS, with all the 
constants substituted.  It has to happen this way, because otherwise 
browsers would get confused (rightly so).
    And while it's possible to cover many cases with grouped 
selectors, I speak from personal experience when I say you can end up 
jumping through some pretty crazy hoops with just grouping.  There 
are definitely cases where I'll be using CSS-SSC to make my CSS less 
obfuscated.
    The forerunner to CSS-SSC, which was called CSS-SSV, came up in a 
thread about PHP echoes in CSS, and I was concerned it had gotten 
buried.  Hopefully this will come to the attention of anyone who 
needs it.

-- 
Eric A. Meyer  [EMAIL-REMOVED])
Principal, Complex Spiral Consulting   http://complexspiral.com/
"CSS: The Definitive Guide," "CSS2.0 Programmer's Reference,"
"Eric Meyer on CSS," and more    http://meyerweb.com/eric/books/
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