CSS Naming Standards

08/30/2005 19:13:09


Multiple people (see References for some) have proposed a standard nomenclature for the div’s in common use for web pages. If everyone agreed on what the blocks of content should be called, and how they should be nested, then it would be trivially easy for a CSS stylesheet for one site to be copied verbatim to another site, created from a totally different content management tool, and just work.

I proposed something similar for Blosxom quite a while ago with my BlosxcssPlugin.

Most web sites have the same basic structure, even if they are created from two totally different tools. Frequently, the biggest difference is what the div’s are called (e.g. “main”,“content”,“body”), not what purpose they serve.

The funny thing is, relatively few people care what names are picked, but everyone would benefit if somebody just decided something. There are plenty of free “themes”, “flavours”, or “styles” for various weblog tools and wiki engines. Most of them are not out-of-the-box compatible with other tools, and there’s absolutely no reason they couldn’t be.


I bet if the programmers, maintainers, and power-users for a few of the most popular weblog and wiki tools, as well as a few CSS experts, hashed out a beta version standard, there could be some momentum achieved.

One might think that this would cause all default web sites to look exactly alike. This is not true. I simply want the behind the scenes naming to be the same, not the default look and feel. Each tool would still have it’s own unique default look.

The main benefit, however, would be that there could be cross-compatibility in the design. Various artists and designers could create templates, such as those found at Open Source Web Design, that would be compatible with a huge range of content systems, without any modifications. It would seem to me that this would promote more diversity, rather than more uniformity.

To this end, I am going to throw together a rough outline of a CSSNamingStandardsProposal. I will invite anyone who is interested to contribute their suggestions and discussion. If we can get a few “big names” to join together, I bet we can get something accepted by the “weblog/wiki” community (if there can be said to be such a thing.) If you know someone who might be interested in this, please pass this information on to them.

Once there is some sort of a standard, we could then list all of the tools that support that standard and the tools (if required) to get a default install up to compatibility.


Discusssion between Andy Clark and Eric Meyer:

BlosxcssPlugin proposal for Blosxom

A discussion by Thorsten Scherler

An article by Michael Meadhra

And one by Ahmed Zulkamal

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