Since the dawn of the first browser CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) have been evolving with progressive enhancements that allow developers more and more "design" options when designing a web site and the most recent iteration of this standard is CSS3 and having been playing with it on a couple of "new build" projects over the last couple of months and it has to be said I am impressed. Very Impressed!
The new techniques inherent in CSS3 give the developer more advantages over the older alternate more hacky methods. They extend the developer toolkit and in doing so bring the web-pages we create closer to the idea of a "web app" that looks and performs exactly like a desktop app.
Used correctly CSS3 can totally replace images, for example drop-shadows can now be done with CSS so you no longer have to design, place and download PNG or GIF images to get this effect. If you client wants to see what it looks like a little darker, a little further or wants it as a neon purple glow no longer do you have to hit GIMP or Photoshop a simple change to the CSS style is all that is required.
CSS3 also can reduce your markup by requiring fewer and less complex DIVs and associated Classes. for example you can now load multiple background images into a single Element so you do not have to have nested internal DIVs each one styled differently. Also and IMHO most markedly you can now target elements in the DOM directly based on their position in the document tree.
[All the above comes with the presupposition that all versions of IE are shit shit shit shit shit]
I will endeavour over the next couple of posts to throw out some both my "oooooo!" and the less frequent "oh bollox!" moments that I have had with CSS3 over the past few months and perhaps spur you on to have a look at what I think is a definite gain to the art of web design.