Question 4 – What is CSS’ ceiling?

The next question from Dallas’ design panel is one from Neill Harmer:

“I keep hearing ‘we can fix that with CSS’. Do you ever see CSS getting to a point like HTML – where we are asking it to do too much? Meaning – what is CSS’ ceiling?”

Good question, and one I’ll probably have a slightly different view on 6 months from now, and again in a year, and so on… ;-)

Answer: In some ways we’re already hitting various ceilings within the current CSS specs, but it centers more to browser differences/limitations being the ‘ceiling’ (at least for me), and of course having the current working proposals in progress at the W3C nailed down so they CAN be implemented.

There are a lot of CSS3 features that I’m really interested in being able to use myself, specifically multicolumn layout and paged media (so you could even look at these being ‘ceilings’ for the time being), but it really depends on when these specs are finalized… and then implemented in the browser. That’s usually the gating factor in my opinion, cross-browser compatibility. If you follow the forward-looking draft specs at the W3C there’s plenty of cool features on the horizon we can’t get to, which is more a case of wanting shiny new toys instead of being happy with where we’re at right now. I guess you could call that a self-imposed ceiling of sorts?

There’s a pretty good list of CSS limitations on wikipedia I like to refer to as well, which sums up some of the current thinking on this subject much better than I’d be able to in a single blog post:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cascading_Style_Sheets#CSS_limitations

Honestly, this is a pretty open (and subjective) question that would have really benefitted from a panel discussion – so feel free to pop in your own opinions/thoughts in comments as well. I’d be really interested in seeing the limitations of CSS from others’ eyes myself.