The CSS Eleven: Style or substance?

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CSS Eleven is an international group of visual web designers and developers who are committed to helping the W3C’s CSS Working Group to better deliver the tools that are needed to design tomorrow’s web.

I was unimpressed when I first heard about the CSS Eleven.

Not because of what they are aiming to do — quite the opposite, in fact; I think it’s an excellent and much‐needed ambition, and I’m glad someone has stepped up to do it — but because of the way it was presented. I felt — and, in fact, still feel — that the cinematic reference in the name and the first slide that was presented made too much of a deal of the participant’s names, and discouraged other people from getting involved.

To be frank, I felt it was a bit Bertie Big Bollocks; CSS not working? Super‐developers to the rescue!

But what about other developers who take the time to read through the opaque specifications and report what they find? Aren’t they in danger of being overshadowed by the movie star CSS Eleven? Aren’t their opinions as valid? Is the CSS Eleven going to be in any way participatory, or will we end up lumped with what they decide is the best way?

Andy Clarke took the trouble to phone me today to explain the reasoning behind the creation of the group, for which I thank him profusely; although, as I’ve already explained, it wasn’t the group’s motives that were in question, it was their methods. There’s a fuller account of the project on his blog.

What made me more at ease was the confirmation that this would indeed be participatory; after an initial period in which the group will put together their initial findings, the results will be made public on a Wiki, with collaboration invited from interested members of the community. I think this is good news, and puts to rest most of my worries about the way it would be handled.

I still don’t like the presentation, though.

5 comments on
“The CSS Eleven: Style or substance?”

  1. CSS Eleven: good idea, but there are a lot more than eleven of us using CSS…

    CSS Eleven – an international group of eleven web developers and designers – intends to explain and illustrate the various CSS modules as they are developed.
    I’m not sure I like the sound of this. Their existing web page (which seems to keep …

  2. I agree with your assessment.

    It has been bothering me since I attended An Event Apart and SxSW that these “superstars” in web development are only interested in how big their star actually gets — not furthering the state of the web. Hence, why so very little has been done.

    Even more, I dislike people’s pompous attitudes, their elitist status, and the groupie fanaticism that follow them around from event to event. It just bothers me, you know? If any good was coming from this, I would be completely changed of heart — because they would deserve all the googley eyed adoring fans. But… I haven’t seen it. Most of these stars don’t even produce substance on their websites . If they have all this knowledge and motivation to change the web — why don’t they share it with the people instead of regurgitating the same preachy, semantic, beginner nonsense in glossy, beautiful but over‐hyped books?

    Perhaps this group will actually get something done, I hope so, I really do. The web is in a stagnant state of disrepair. But to me, seeing these names, it’s just another way to raise fame and essentially lead to more $$ in their pockets.

    …not to rant like a bitter developer or anything :P

  3. Hi Beth,

    Don’t get me wrong about any of the individuals involved; those that I’ve met or spoken to don’t seem to be self‐aggrandising at all, and I use many of their books regularly. My complaint was about the nature of the presentation of the group only.

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