Developing Large Web Applications- P9

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Developing Large Web Applications- P9

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Developing Large Web Applications- P9:This book presents a number of techniques for applying established practices of good software engineering to web development—that is, development primarily using the disparate technologies of HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and server-side scripting languages. Whereas there are many books on how to use languages, how to use libraries, and how to approach software engineering, this is the first book to codify many of the techniques it presents. These techniques will make the components of your own web applications more reusable, maintainable, and reliable....

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  1. Example 4-8. The Popular New Cars module View popular cars from Honda 2009 Honda Accord 2009 Honda Civic 2009 Honda Civic Hybrid 2009 Honda Civic Sedan 2009 Honda CR-V 2009 Honda Element Example 4-9. Presentation switching for the Popular New Cars module /* Apply this CSS to all presentations of the module. */ #nwcpop .hd { position: relative; } #nwcpop .hd .tagline { position: absolute; padding: 5px 0 0 15px; } #nwcpop .hd .tagline cite { font: bold 77% verdana; color: #000; } Modular CSS | 61
  2. #nwcpop ul { list-style-type: disc; margin: 0; padding: 0; } #nwcpop li { margin-left: 15px; line-height: 1.3em; } /* Apply this CSS to just the default version of the module. */ #nwcpop.default .hd { width: 630px; background: url(http://.../top_630.gif) #fff no-repeat; padding-top: 8px; } #nwcpop.default .tagline { width: 475px; } #nwcpop.default .logo { padding: 0 15px 0 0; background: url(http://.../mid_630.gif) repeat-y; text-align: right; } #nwcpop.default .bd { position: relative; background: url(http://.../btm_630.gif) no-repeat; background-position: bottom left; padding: 10px 15px 15px; } #nwcpop.default .pri { width: 295px; } #nwcpop.default .sec { position: absolute; top: 10px; right: 15px; width: 295px; } /* Apply this CSS to just the compact version of the module. */ #nwcpop.compact .hd { width: 300px; background: url(http://.../top_300.gif) #fff no-repeat; 62 | Chapter 4: Large-Scale CSS
  3. padding-top: 8px; } #nwcpop.compact .tagline { width: 145px; } #nwcpop.compact .logo { padding: 0 15px 0 0; background: url(http://.../mid_300.gif) repeat-y; text-align: right; } #nwcpop.compact .bd { background: url(http://.../btm_300.gif) no-repeat; background-position: bottom left; padding: 10px 15px 15px; } In Chapter 7, we’ll examine how to manage presentation switching in a nicely encap- sulated, programmatic way using PHP. In practice, highly stylized modules often re- quire a combination of presentation switching and programmatic changes to the information architecture. Standard Module Formats As a general rule, it may be worthwhile to group parts of modules into some common divisions. Besides adding further elements of structure to your information architec- ture, they can provide additional hooks for styling. For instance, Examples 4-8 and 4-9 apply background images for the rounded borders in the presentation. These are conveniently placed on the hd division (the header) and bd division (the body). Divisions of this type often contain other divisions. For example, an outer division with presen- tation for the header or body encapsulates an inner division that contains the content for either section. Some examples of divisions applicable to most modules (just as they are to entire pages) are a header, a body, and a footer, to which you might give the classes hd, bd, and ft, respectively. This is the case in Example 4-8. Even when one of these sections is empty, it may be useful to add the section for future use, so we could have also added an empty division with the class ft after the bd division in Example 4-8. Undoubtedly, there are other standard divisions that you may choose to apply to certain modules in certain types of applications. Microformats are other examples of standard formats that you might incorporate within some modules. You can read more about microformats at Examples 4-10 and 4-11 illustrate the use of standard header, body, and footer divisions for a module. In these examples, a module with the ID nwclst (New Car Listings) is nested within a module with the ID nwcsrs (New Car Search Results). Examples 4-10 and 4-11 also demonstrate that, although standard formats are useful, you do have to Modular CSS | 63
  4. be mindful of side effects when applying them within nested modules (in actuality, the same problem exists when you use any commonly used class within nested modules). In these situations, when you apply CSS to the outer instance of the class, the cascading nature of CSS applies the same styles to any inner instances as well because the inner instances are descendants, too, just deeper ones. Example 4-10. Nested modules using a standard module format (with side effects) ... ... ... ... ... ... Example 4-11. Applying CSS for a standard module format (with side effects) #nwcsrs .hd { /* Add styling for the header section of the nwcsrs module. */ ... } #nwclst .hd { /* The nwclst module hd gets styles from the nwcsrs hd too. */ ... } Fortunately, the solution for guarding against side effects within nested modules is rather simple: use the unique module ID as a prefix for the common classes that may occur within nested modules. Examples 4-12 and 4-13 illustrate how this resolves the 64 | Chapter 4: Large-Scale CSS
  5. issue. Small, self-contained modules generally do not exhibit this issue; therefore, we will leave the shorter classes for the nwclst module (the inner one) intact. Example 4-12. Nested modules using a standard module format (no side effects) ... ... ... ... ... ... Example 4-13. Applying CSS for a standard module format (no side effects) #nwcsrs .nwcsrshd { /* Add styling for the header section of the nwcsrs module. */ ... } #nwclst .hd { /* The hd for the nwclst module gets only its own styles now. */ ... } Positioning Techniques When you eliminate presentation from your information architecture, a significant part of how you position your modules now must be accomplished within the presentation layer. The document flow that is inherent in your information architecture will dictate Positioning Techniques | 65
  6. to some extent certain aspects of positioning intrinsically—for instance, by default, modules appear on the page in the order specified—but the rest must be accomplished using CSS. As a result, a good understanding of some basic positioning techniques in CSS is essential. These provide the foundation for creating the layouts and containers in which to arrange your modules. The same positioning techniques are useful for positioning elements within modules as well. CSS Box Model Because positioning techniques are often sensitive to the size of our elements, it is important at the outset to have a fundamental understanding of the CSS box model and how it affects an element’s size. The parts of an element that figure into an element’s size, working from the outermost edge of an element inward, are its margin, border, padding, and content area (see Figure 4-2). Figure 4-2. The CSS box model Margin The margin is the buffer zone between the element and others around it. You specify how much space to leave around each edge. Even if your element has a background, this margin is empty and transparent. Border The border is the line (or other stylized decoration) that forms a perimeter. You can specify a thickness, style, and color for the border. Padding The padding is the buffer zone that appears inside the border of an element. You specify how much space to leave within each edge before the content begins. Content area The content area is the innermost region of an element, holding your content. You can set its width and height, among other properties. The size of an element in either direction (width or height) is the space in that direction (horizontally or vertically) occupied by all four of these properties. If you don’t specify 66 | Chapter 4: Large-Scale CSS
  7. the size of the content area explicitly (using the width or height properties), the content area expands in that direction to fit the space required by the content. Although browsers used to be inconsistent in how they calculated the size of an element, all popular browsers now handle the calculation consistently as just described. Exam- ple 4-14 shows the CSS for a module that yields a width of 320 pixels: • 10 pixels for the left margin • 2 pixels total for left and right borders of 1 pixel each • 18 pixels total for left and right padding of 9 pixels each • 290 pixels for the content area The overall height of the module expands to whatever height is needed for the content since the height is not specified; however, this height will include an additional 20 pixels (2 pixels total for both the top and bottom borders of 1 pixel each, plus 18 pixels total for both the top and bottom padding of 9 pixels each). In the layouts and containers presented later in the chapter, we will fix the widths and let the heights expand to fit the content as needed, which is a common approach. In Example 4-14, we’re setting the margin separately using CSS scoped at the page level to demonstrate margins changing based on where the module is used. Example 4-14. Setting CSS properties that affect sizing /* Styles for the module set for wherever the module will be used. */ #nwcqry { width: 290px; border: 1px solid #fafafa; padding: 9px; } ... /* Scoping at the page level to target the margin for just one use. */ #nwcsrspage #nwcqry { margin-left: 10px; } Document Flow Although the goal is to keep information architecture and presentation separate in a large web application, they are, of course, related. The information architecture is largely responsible for the normal flow of elements on a page, and many CSS rules are applied based on the structure of the HTML markup. In the normal document flow, by default, inline elements (e.g., span, strong, img, etc.) flow side by side; block-level elements (e.g., div, p, form, etc.) appear on their own line. However, you can always alter this using CSS. To make an inline element appear as a block-level element, you Positioning Techniques | 67
  8. can set display: block for the element. Similarly, to make a block-level element appear as an inline element, you can set display: inline. If you set display: none, you remove the element from the document flow altogether, and elements around it are closed up as if the element were never there. To conceal an element without removing it from the document flow, use visibility: hidden. Even though you can change the CSS display property for an element, you must always honor the original HTML-level display of an element within your information architecture. For example, regardless of what you do in CSS, you cannot put block-level HTML elements within inline HTML elements, because it may cause serious bugs in some scenarios. You can also use CSS to move elements around the page and make them appear out of their normal order. The default, where elements flow down and across the page, is called static positioning. The most useful alternatives are relative positioning, absolute positioning, and floating. Relative Positioning You specify relative positioning by setting the CSS property position to relative. Rel- ative positioning lets you position an element relative to where it would have appeared in the normal document flow without disrupting the normal flow of other elements on the page. It’s often used to nudge an element slightly into a desired position without affecting neighboring elements. The following CSS uses relative positioning to position a citation within the nwclst module five pixels higher than it would appear otherwise. #nwclst cite { position: relative; top: -5px; } Absolute Positioning You specify absolute positioning by setting the CSS property position to absolute. Absolute positioning removes an element from the normal document flow and posi- tions it relative to the containing block. Because absolutely positioned elements are removed from the document flow, other elements are superimposed on the same lo- cation as if the absolutely positioned elements were not there. The containing block is the first block-level ancestor of the absolutely positioned ele- ment that has something other than static positioning itself; if no ancestor qualifies, the absolutely positioned element is positioned relative to either the html or body ele- ment, depending on the browser. This lesser-known nuance of absolute positioning is 68 | Chapter 4: Large-Scale CSS
  9. very important because it has dramatic implications for the actual location where an absolutely positioned element ends up. The logical choice, then, for establishing the containing block explicitly is to apply relative positioning to a chosen ancestor element. If you avoid specifying coordinates for the ancestor (i.e., using top, left, etc.), the element remains in its original position within the document flow, visually unaffected. One important use of absolute positioning is to position block-level elements side by side, especially div elements with a set width (you cannot simply set display: inline, because for layout purposes, you usually require other benefits that block-level ele- ments provide related to margins, borders, and padding). As long as you know which of the elements will be the tallest, you can use that element to occupy the necessary vertical space in the document flow while you absolutely position the other element or elements beside it. This approach to positioning elements side by side provides you with the benefit of not having to worry about special measures to get the parent element to size itself appropriately, unlike with floating elements (see “Float- ing” on page 70). Absolute positioning often works well for positioning small sections of HTML markup side by side. Examples 4-15 and 4-16 show the HTML markup and CSS relevant to absolutely po- sitioning the tagline and logo blocks for the default presentation of the Popular New Cars module presented in Figure 4-1. Notice that the tagline block, the first division in the module’s normal flow, is the one that we absolutely position. This is required so that the logo block is superimposed at the same vertical position; otherwise, because the logo division follows the tagline division, the tagline would hog its own vertical block and the logo would get the next block down. Now that we have positioned the tagline and logo at the same position vertically, the text-align attribute, applied to the logo block at the end of Example 4-16, pushes it to the right. Also notice that the hd division for the module has position set to relative so that it becomes the containing block for the tagline block. Example 4-15. The Popular New Cars divisions for absolute positioning View popular cars from Honda ... Positioning Techniques | 69
  10. Example 4-16. Absolute positioning in the Popular New Cars module #nwcpop .hd { position: relative; } #nwcpop .hd .tagline { position: absolute; padding: 5px 0 0 15px; } #nwcpop .hd .tagline cite { font: bold 77% verdana; color: #000; } ... #nwcpop.default .hd { width: 630px; background: url(http://.../top_630.gif) #fff no-repeat; padding-top: 8px; } #nwcpop.default .tagline { width: 475px; } #nwcpop.default .logo { padding: 0 15px 0 0; background: url(http://.../mid_630.gif) repeat-y; text-align: right; } ... Floating To float an element, set the CSS property float to left or right. In some ways, floated elements are removed from the normal flow of the document, but they still affect the document’s layout. In general, when you float an element, other content flows around it. However, if you float a series of elements in sequence, floating provides a powerful means of arranging block-level elements side by side as well. The rule with floating is that if multiple elements occupy the same vertical location and all of them have float set to left, they appear in order from left to right. Therefore, you can use this technique to place two elements side by side. You could float one to the left and one to the right, but floating everything to the left makes for simpler code if you want to expand the layout to include more than two sections. 70 | Chapter 4: Large-Scale CSS
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