CSS 2.1 emerges as official Web standard

Developers already turned much of their attention to the newer CSS3 version of the Web page formatting technology, but standards have a long lifespan.

Version 2.1 of CSS governs a myriad of details about formatting Web pages.
Version 2.1 of CSS governs a myriad of details about formatting Web pages. screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET

Much of the Web world has moved on to CSS 3, but today the World Wide Web Consortium has declared the CSS 2.1 standard for Web page formatting to be done.

In W3C standards lingo, CSS 2.1 has reached "recommendation" stage. Phillipe Le Hegaret, leader of the HTML working at the W3C group, announced the milestone on Twitter today.

Browser makers, even longtime laggard Microsoft, have turned much of their attention to CSS 3, which offers glamorous new features such as animating the transition from one page to another, endowing boxes with rounded corners, and if Adobe gets its way, magazine-style layouts.

Completing the CSS 2.1 standard still is important, though, given that such technology has a shelf life potentially decades long and that an ever-wider audience of organizations must deal with Web publishing.

"This publication crowns a long effort to achieve very broad interoperability," said Bert Bos, co-inventor of CSS and co-editor of CSS 2.1, in a statement.

The recommendation stage brings some intellectual-property reassurance, too, in that the standards makers agree that using it won't incur patent infringement suits.

And don't discount the fact that the CSS Working Group will have a bit more spare time for CSS3. "Now we can turn our attention to the cool features we've been itching to bring to the Web," Bos said.

That's important, given its central role alongside HTML and JavaScript--not just in Web pages and Web apps, but in the coming Windows 8 "tailored apps" as well.

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