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EW leaves empty CSS attributes RRS feed

  • Question

  • Hi,

    In another recent question, it was pointed out to me that I had CSS attributes with no properties which were giving errors.   It seems that EW will create an attribute which is empty if you delete an attribute after it is has been created.

    Is this typical of EW?  And does that mean that you always need to go back over your stylesheet with EW and delete all the empty attributes?

    For example:

    }
    #container {
     min-width: 600px;
     width: 980px;
     background-color: #FF0066;
     border-left-color: ;
     right: auto;
     left: auto;
    }

    The border-left-color is empty.   EW created this.  Is this a known problem?  Or is just one of those things that you have to double check?

    Thanks in advance

    Peter
    Sunday, March 7, 2010 12:06 AM

Answers

  • "It seems that EW will create an attribute which is empty if you delete an attribute after it is has been created.

    Is this typical of EW?"

    No.  I can't make it happen.  If you clear all attribute values, the attribute is deleted.

    Note, however, that in the example you posted, the border-left-color is not empty.  It's a space:

    : ;  not :;

    If you tried to clear a color and replaced it with a space instead of really clearing it, that would explain it.
    Sunday, March 7, 2010 1:54 AM

All replies

  • I've never noticed it in my CSS. I don't know how you deleted the attribute.

    Edit: I have always thought that it didn't matter, but Christoph says it does, and Kathy makes an interesting point that the attribute wasn't really empty (which I suppose could also cause a problem).

    So, although I've never seen it happen, I guess I'll be sure to deal with it if I see it.
    Sunday, March 7, 2010 12:39 AM
  • An empty property value in an CSS style sheet is a serious problem as the style sheet would be syntactically incorrect and CSS parsers of current browsers are far less forgiving than HTML parsers. Of course, xWeb should never create such a style sheet.

    However, I cannot reproduce your findings. What are your exact steps to make xWeb create such a style sheet? Also state your version of xWeb, please.

    Sunday, March 7, 2010 12:59 AM
  • "It seems that EW will create an attribute which is empty if you delete an attribute after it is has been created.

    Is this typical of EW?"

    No.  I can't make it happen.  If you clear all attribute values, the attribute is deleted.

    Note, however, that in the example you posted, the border-left-color is not empty.  It's a space:

    : ;  not :;

    If you tried to clear a color and replaced it with a space instead of really clearing it, that would explain it.
    Sunday, March 7, 2010 1:54 AM
  • The easy way to deal with this is to simply write your CSS yourself. No, seriously; since you're making the transition to standards compliant markup and CSS, it will help you to learn both. You already are learning, from watching what EW produces when you use the CSS dialogs, what CSS is and how it works. Take it a step further. Instead of using the dialogs for everything, start to write your own selectors and rules, beginning with the simple, straightforward things such as margins, padding, background, etc.

    It is by writing your own selectors and rules that you will begin to internalize what CSS is and how it actually works to modify the page structure defined by source order in the markup. It is that internalization that will move you from neophyte blindly groping about the interface to a comfortable writer of compliant markup and CSS.

    cherers,
    scott
    C'mon, folks. This isn't rocket science, nor neurosurgery. It's "Expression" (singular) "Web" (singular), in that order, followed by a version numeral if you wish to be specific. It is often abbreviated "EW." It is not "Web Expression," "Expressions Web," "Web Expressions," or plain "Expression" or "Expressions." Not using the correct name indicates either ignorance or laziness. Most folks would rather avoid the appearance of either.
    Sunday, March 7, 2010 3:05 AM
  • An empty property value in an CSS style sheet is a serious problem as the style sheet would be syntactically incorrect and CSS parsers of current browsers are far less forgiving than HTML parsers. Of course, xWeb should never create such a style sheet.

    However, I cannot reproduce your findings. What are your exact steps to make xWeb create such a style sheet? Also state your version of xWeb, please.


    Hi,

    I have EW2.  I have NEVER coded the stylesheet manually, so EW must have created what ever is there.   I didn't know there was a problem until it was pointed out to me.   Maybe there is a problem with my installation??
    Sunday, March 7, 2010 5:44 AM
  • "It seems that EW will create an attribute which is empty if you delete an attribute after it is has been created.

    Is this typical of EW?"

    No.  I can't make it happen.  If you clear all attribute values, the attribute is deleted.

    Note, however, that in the example you posted, the border-left-color is not empty.  It's a space:

    : ;  not :;

    If you tried to clear a color and replaced it with a space instead of really clearing it, that would explain it.

    Hmmm...  Is it possible that when I am deleting I am leaving a space in field and the empty space is being recorded?
    Sunday, March 7, 2010 5:45 AM
  • Paladyn,

    You make some good points, and in fact I am trying to learn CSS as I go along.  I have to say though, I didn't buy expersion web to learn CSS coding.  At the end of the day, it might be what I have to do, but it is not what I expected.   I had assumed that program would give me the tools so that I didn't have to understand CSS from the bottom up, but maybe that is impossible.

    Peter
    Sunday, March 7, 2010 5:59 AM
  • EW give you a lot of tools to help you learn to use CSS. If your roll your own it has auto complete that helps as a reminder of what attributes and properties are available and if you miss type something it usually will flag it as an error. So even if you are writing your style sheets manually EW is far better than just using notepad.
    Sunday, March 7, 2010 8:15 AM
  • "Hmmm...  Is it possible that when I am deleting I am leaving a space in field and the empty space is being recorded?"

    Yes. Make sure you back up completely / clear completely.  It won't put a space in: you are leaving a space in.

    Sunday, March 7, 2010 2:00 PM
  • "I have to say though, I didn't buy expersion web to learn CSS coding.  At the end of the day, it might be what I have to do, but it is not what I expected."

    That's kinda like saying "When I learned to drive, I didn't think I'd have to learn about laws and rules of the road. I just wanted to learn how to use the car."

    I don't mean to be smart, but EW's job is to edit the code that drives the web--CSS and HTML. And for that, you'll need to learn the basic building blocks of the web.
    Sunday, March 7, 2010 8:01 PM
  • Bill,

    You are probably correct, but this is not the way MS markets EW.  Below is the description of EW from MS.

    "Whether you're an expert or just getting started, building standards-based Web sites is faster and easier with Microsoft Expression Web 3.

    Create compelling Web sites visually

    If you think and create visually, use the state-of-the-art design surface to layout your Web page. You can make design decisions on the fly, knowing that you're seeing a faithful representation of the final browser-rendered page. "

    To me, this implies that EW lets you create web pages without a having a great deal of coding knowlage...  I understand from you stand point why this seems silly...  And the more I get in to EW the more I realize that I need to have a fuller understanding of CSS.  But for those of us who came from FP, this is really not how EW was sold.   The pitch was that EW was the new program replacing FP.   Using your car metaphor, this is like saying that a Porsche is the replacement for your tricycle.   I understand that you look at EW as a tool to help you do what you already understand, but for many of us, EW was a program which we assumed would allow us to create web pages without a deep knowlage of coding.   No where does MS ever state that to use EW you need a knowlage of CSS....they problably should!

    Sooo....  I am not really disagreeing with you, but I think I hope you understand that EW has sort of thrown us into the deep end with out a lot of warning.  

    I do very much appreciate the time and energy that many, including yourself, spend answering questions.   I'm sure at times it must be frustrating, and some of us must seem dense...  But really it is not our fault...  :)

    Peter

    Monday, March 8, 2010 12:09 AM
  • So you believe all the marketing hype? Instead read the FAQ at  http://www.microsoft.com/expression/products/Web_FAQ.aspx

    Q: Who is the target audience for Expression Web 3?

    A: Expression Web 3 is targeted at professional Web developers and designers who are building standards-based XHTML Web sites and applications. Expression Web supports PHP, HTML/XHTML, XML/XSLT, CSS, JavaScript, ASP.NET or ASP.NET AJAX, Silverlight, Flash, Windows Media, and Photoshop as well as workflow integration with Microsoft Visual Studio and Expression Studio.

    I see nothing there about says it is for those who know little or nothing (and want to keep it that way) about HTML & CSS. In fact it seems to state the opposite.

    Expression Web is NOT an upgrade to or a replacemnt for FrontPage. That would be SharePoint Designer (free) which has full support for all of the FP bots. It was created for "information workers" for content and sites w/o requiring much knowledge.

    Having said that the regulars here have created a list of resources and other material to help those who don't have the knowledge to create standards compliant websites. That includes a tutorial I put together to counter what I consider the bad advice to use absolute positioning that MS has in their tutorials. Do yourself a favor and work your way through the resources in the BEFORE POSTING sticky. Get any zip/tutorial files and work along with them. Then go to the w3schools.com site and work through the HTML & CSS material. Spending half a dozen hours doing so will save you many times the time you invest in fustration later.


    MS MVP Expression Tutorials & Help http://by-expression.com
    Monday, March 8, 2010 12:43 AM
  • Cheryl,

    I was not really trying to make an argument about hype vs reality.  And, at the end of the day, any argument I migh make is rather pointless in the face of the reality that to make EW work corectly you DO need to know a good deal about CSS.  My point was rather that the transition from FP to EW has not been easy for many of who started on FP.  ...I certainly understand that a web page built in 2010 is completely different then a web page built in 2003.  My only real point is that for those of us playing catch up, the going is a little rough. 

    I HAVE been reading and going through tutorials, but there is a big differance between watching and doing.   For me, there are just some conceptual things that I am having a hard time with...mostly the div flow...

    But, again, I really do appreciate all the time and effort that those on the forums put in!

    Peter
    Monday, March 8, 2010 2:51 AM
  • ""Whether you're an expert or just getting started, building standards-based Web sites is faster and easier with Microsoft Expression Web 3.

    [marketing hype snipped]

    To me, this implies that EW lets you create web pages without a having a great deal of coding knowlage...
    C'mon, Peter. You're a grown adult. Most reasonably educated adults early on learn to develop a healthy skepticism about marketing claims, even a level of cynicism. You don't really believe the mileage numbers claimed by auto companies, or that owning an iPod will instantly turn you into a silhouetted 20-something street dancer, or that Bosley is actually going to regrow your hair. Why, then, would you accept without question a claim that a software product will do all that its marketing blurbs say it will?

    The only time we tend to accept those claims is when they say something we really want or need to believe anyway, regardless of our quite reasonable intellectual skepticism. It's not as if there weren't more than a sufficiency of information available to you about EW, not least of which is this forum, if you had chosen to look for it rather than accept the marketing hype whole cloth.

    As Cheryl has pointed out, and as Microsoft intended, EW was, is, meant to be a professional-level Web development environment, with the quality tools and the power to challenge and rival the 800-lb. gorilla, Dreamweaver, which it has done fairly well, considering that they're on version three to DW's nine or ten.

    Modern Web development is not easy, and it's not going to get any easier. There are more devices now that have to be considered, more technologies that have to be woven into the complete experience, more to learn in order to build modern, compliant, compatible, and accessible pages.

    Fortunately, we have fairly stable and relatively complete set of standards to write to, unlike the early days when there were two major and wildly variant DOMs, CSS implementations, javascript interpreters, etc. in the Netscape/IE days. Take the time to learn the basic, fundamental technologies of the Web, HTML and CSS, and you will find that your development time will be much less frustrating and many times more productive. Quit worrying about what EW isn't and take advantage of what it is.

    cheers,
    scott


    C'mon, folks. This isn't rocket science, nor neurosurgery. It's "Expression" (singular) "Web" (singular), in that order, followed by a version numeral if you wish to be specific. It is often abbreviated "EW." It is not "Web Expression," "Expressions Web," "Web Expressions," or plain "Expression" or "Expressions." Not using the correct name indicates either ignorance or laziness. Most folks would rather avoid the appearance of either.
    Monday, March 8, 2010 2:59 AM
  • You are probably correct, but this is not the way MS markets EW. 
    I think this is a valid point.

    I note that Adobe does not make this same claim about Dreamweaver and that Adobe has made available a long tutorial from Lynda.com that describes the migration from the visual but now defunct GoLive product to DW. I might be wrong - it's been some time since I watched Microsoft's EW videos - but I don't think there is anything comparable about the FP to EW migration.
    Will
    Baltimore, MD USA - www.fastie.com
    Monday, March 8, 2010 1:37 PM
  • From day one there has been a white paper from MS on migrating from FP to EW.  There is also a site area just for that purpose, which you can get to through the Learn tab at the top.

    Monday, March 8, 2010 1:42 PM
  • I certainly understand that a web page built in 2010 is completely different then a web page built in 2003.  My only real point is that for those of us playing catch up, the going is a little rough. 

    I HAVE been reading and going through tutorials, but there is a big differance between watching and doing.   For me, there are just some conceptual things that I am having a hard time with...mostly the div flow...
    That is why my tutorial has a zip file with all the assets so you can work along with it.

    Everyone has to play catch-up including the pros because the web doesn't stop evolving. Look at the debate over emerging standards like HTML 5 & CSS 3. When do you start learning them? When do browser support them? What do browsers do that don't handle the CSS 2.1 specification (that has been the standard since I think 2001)? How to you do progressive enhancement so that those who do have browsers with good support take advantage of it for better experience while still be attractive & functional in browsers currently in use that don't have such good support? (AKA the IE 6 support issues and if you want to use HTML 5/CSS 3 all version of IE, differences in support for non-final standards between Firefox, Opera, Webkit based browsers (Safari & Chrome) for example.

    There is a reason that pros are paid well. Like other professions they have to constantly continue to update their skills. As a non-pro you have the luxury of not having to be up on the latest and greatest as long as you learn enough of the basics to be able to make something attractive.

    Experiment, take some of the free templates from my site, from Pat's, Tina's or any of the dozens of others like CSS Play (those will be pretty advanced so you might want to stick with the simpler ones for now) and see what happens when you change the CSS.

    Use the asset files that come with almost every good tutorial to work along with it. Experiment - that's how most of learned what we know. Not just by reading but by doing what the tutorials say and seeing what works and what doesn't.
    MS MVP Expression Tutorials & Help http://by-expression.com
    Monday, March 8, 2010 3:22 PM
  • Thanks, Kathy. I've not seen that paper before. I'll take a look.
    Will
    Baltimore, MD USA - www.fastie.com
    Monday, March 8, 2010 5:16 PM
  • Will,

    If you hung out on the Adobe groups you'd hear the same claims about Dreamweaver.

    Dreamweaver is one of the best WYSIWYG editors on the market. It is easy to use and creates great Web pages. http://webdesign.about.com/od/dreamweaver/Dreamweaver.htm

    Google search results:  Results 1 - 30 of about 9,550,000 for dreamweaver wysiwyg

    Contrast that with Results 1 - 30 of about 125,000 for expression web wysiwyg

    Lynda.com isn't Adobe but in addition to the material MS has for migrating from FrontPage Total Training has a DVD, Tina & Pat have an ebook, and there have been online classes at Start to Web taught by Pat & Tina on the subject a well.
    MS MVP Expression Tutorials & Help http://by-expression.com
    Monday, March 8, 2010 8:27 PM
  • I take your point, Cheryl, but Peter's point was that MS touted EW as a visual tool, not that the community considered it such.


    Will
    Baltimore, MD USA - www.fastie.com
    Tuesday, March 9, 2010 1:16 AM
  • Kathy, Cheryl, Scott,

    All you are a great help.   Again, I really want to be clear that more then anything I really appreicate all the time you put inot helping people, I know it is not easy.

    Scott, I don't believe everything a read, but I also don't know what I don't know.  My only point was that for those of us who are coming from FP, and are not strictly coders, EW is a bigger bite then at first glance.  And...maybe at the end of the day, I will have to out-source website design.  For the moment, I am going to push ahead and see if I can get a full grasp of EW.   I think there is a very good debate to be had about the changing nature of the internet and if it is possible to be a part time coder...maybe it is not...  But I can assure you that there many, many, small biz people out there who are working on the assumption that they will be able be to do thier own coding into the future...maybe they are wrong...

    Again, I really do apprciate everyone help!

    Peter
    Friday, March 12, 2010 12:21 AM
  • "My only point was that for those of us who are coming from FP, and are not strictly coders, EW is a bigger bite then at first glance."

    This is true, for many FP users.  It's not a huge leap, but it is a leap.  And at least it's a leap in the right direction, with EW being standards focused.  ;)
    Friday, March 12, 2010 12:27 AM
  • Kathy, Cheryl, Scott,

    All you are a great help.   Again, I really want to be clear that more then anything I really appreicate all the time you put inot helping people, I know it is not easy.

    Scott, I don't believe everything a read, but I also don't know what I don't know.  My only point was that for those of us who are coming from FP, and are not strictly coders, EW is a bigger bite then at first glance. 
    I do understand, Peter. Really, I do. I think that one of the things that is the hardest for FP users to come to grips with is that this is not the Web of 2003, when FrontPage was last released. I well remember that time, when not only did IE own the Web with a 95%-plus share, there was really no viable alternative browser on the horizon to even consider or worry about. Producing pages that only worked reliably in IE was a perfectly acceptable practice.

    However, this is not 2003 any more, and IE in all of its incarnations combined currently musters less than two-thirds of its former share, and that shrinking monthly. Standards and standards-compliance rule the Web now, and that is A Good Thing (sorry, Martha).

    Furthermore, much of what FP produced in a proprietary fashion can now be very easily accomplished using modern, standards-compliant markup and javascript, especially with the javascript frameworks that are now available, such as jQuery, mootools, prototype, etc.

    Many of these features come pre-packaged as plugins that require very little, if any, understanding of javascript (in other words, with ease similar to that of using some of the FP features). Reference the framework library, reference the plugin, and set a few parameters, and you're done. As easy as FP? No, but then again, they work on all platforms with consistent display and performance, and even if not as easily implemented in a "point and click" sense as FP, not really that difficult to use.

    And here's something else to consider: How easy was all of that FP stuff to use, really? Although I quit using it with version 2000, converting my last site in 2002 to compliant markup, I used it from the first version Microsoft released after they purchased it from Vermeer back in..., hmm, 1997, IIRC. I recall there being a learning curve to using shared borders, and fighting with the program to keep it from modifying my handwritten markup in strange and not-so-wonderful ways, and...

    The point is, a lot of FP users seem to have forgotten that FP had its own learning curve, that there were forums and newsgroups dedicated to helping newbies figure out the program, and books and tutorials for the uninitiated, and people who made a decent living writing add-ins and publishing articles and books about using it, and that there were FP gurus who, similar to this forum, spent their time helping those new to FP become proficient.

    It is only in that distorted carnival mirror of memory, when we forget the hours that we spent learning to become proficient with FrontPage, and only see the ease that we developed over the years of using the program, that it seems so "easy" compared with EW.

    I would wager a few cold adult beverages that you could present a complete newcomer to Web development with an installed copy of FrontPage and an installed copy of EW, and he/she would have no more ease producing a moderately complex page that displayed correctly in all modern browsers with one than with the other. Try to think back to the days when you were new to FrontPage and learning all of its features, and I think that you will see what I mean.
    And...maybe at the end of the day, I will have to out-source website design. 
    Perhaps so, and if so, that will be a business decision, and should be made in the same light as all business decisions. Weigh the value of your own time, what you bill at, or how much you have evaluated you make per hour of your own time invested. If you own a business with a physical plant and the plumbing fails, do you take the time to study up on plumbing, learn the standards that must be adhered to in order to satisfy the inspectors and your insurance and property financing companies, purchase the tools to do the job, and finally affect the repairs, or do you pick up the phone and call a professional who already has the knowledge and means to do the job right, in a time certain, at a set price, and then recoup part of the cost with the deduction directly from revenue as a legitimate business expense? Think about it.
    For the moment, I am going to push ahead and see if I can get a full grasp of EW.   I think there is a very good debate to be had about the changing nature of the internet and if it is possible to be a part time coder...maybe it is not...  But I can assure you that there many, many, small biz people out there who are working on the assumption that they will be able be to do thier own coding into the future...maybe they are wrong...

    Just a moment here to note that it is far from uncommon for people to operate under assumptions which bear no relationship to reality. In fact, it may be reasonably argued that the high failure rate of business start-ups may be laid to the establishment of faulty assumptions by the entrepreneurs, either as to the amount of start-up capital required, or the amount of operating capital needed to sustain the business until sufficiently established to obtain business credit, or the size and nature of the market to which the business is meant to appeal, or any of a dozen other factors about which one single false assumption may lead to downfall.

    That is the nature of business, and if an entrepreneur fails because of the incorrect assumption that he could both design and develop a Web site that will be as attractive to potential customers as one designed by a professional, while simultaneously attending to all of the other minutiae of operating his business (including such key factors as marketing, merchandising, and sales) then he has nonetheless failed, as certainly and as conclusively as if the failure were laid to one of the other multitude of causes that might have brought him down.
    Again, I really do apprciate everyone help!

    Peter
    You are quite welcome. All of the regular contributors here genuinely enjoy helping others, and I don't want you to think for a second that what I have said here is meant to discourage you from learning what you need to know to attain your ends. On the contrary, it is meant to offer you a realistic perspective on the task you have undertaken, and to emphasize the aspect of learning that will be required to achieve those ends if you choose to go forward with developing your site yourself. Realistic assumptions usually produce the best results, don'tcha know... ;-)

    cheers,
    scott

    C'mon, folks. This isn't rocket science, nor neurosurgery. It's "Expression" (singular) "Web" (singular), in that order, followed by a version numeral if you wish to be specific. It is often abbreviated "EW." It is not "Web Expression," "Expressions Web," "Web Expressions," or plain "Expression" or "Expressions." Not using the correct name indicates either ignorance or laziness. Most folks would rather avoid the appearance of either.
    Friday, March 12, 2010 8:40 AM
  • And here's something else to consider: How easy was all of that FP stuff to use, really? Although I quit using it with version 2000, converting my last site in 2002 to compliant markup, I used it from the first version Microsoft released after they purchased it from Vermeer back in..., hmm, 1997, IIRC. I recall there being a learning curve to using shared borders, and fighting with the program to keep it from modifying my handwritten markup in strange and not-so-wonderful ways, and...

    The point is, a lot of FP users seem to have forgotten that FP had its own learning curve, that there were forums and newsgroups dedicated to helping newbies figure out the program, and books and tutorials for the uninitiated, and people who made a decent living writing add-ins and publishing articles and books about using it, and that there were FP gurus who, similar to this forum, spent their time helping those new to FP become proficient.

    It is only in that distorted carnival mirror of memory, when we forget the hours that we spent learning to become proficient with FrontPage, and only see the ease that we developed over the years of using the program, that it seems so "easy" compared with EW.

    I would wager a few cold adult beverages that you could present a complete newcomer to Web development with an installed copy of FrontPage and an installed copy of EW, and he/she would have no more ease producing a moderately complex page that displayed correctly in all modern browsers with one than with the other. Try to think back to the days when you were new to FrontPage and learning all of its features, and I think that you will see what I mean.

    That as much as anything explains so many FrontPager's problems with Expression Web. They learned FP years ago, have forgotten the learning curve they experienced then and assume that everything they learned about using FP is transferable to a new web design application. Make no mistake, Expression Web is not FrontPage and you can't use it the same way.


    It isn't that EW is "harder" as much as that it is different. If it were radically different it might be easier because the expectation will be lower that what worked in FP would work in EW. I think folks who waited until version 3 to start migrating from FP may end up with a little easier time because it looks so different.

    FWIW, I remember folks complaining when FP 2003 came out because DWTs were "new" to them and "shared borders" were discouraged.
    MS MVP Expression Tutorials & Help http://by-expression.com
    • Edited by Cheryl D Wise Friday, March 12, 2010 1:25 PM hit submit too soon
    Friday, March 12, 2010 1:21 PM
  • It isn't that EW is "harder" as much as that it is different.
    I think EW is harder for anyone who used FP as a WYSIWYG tool unless they happen to be a programmer.

    The movement of the tool from an Office component to a development tool speaks volumes. With Office apps one writes and formats without regard to underlying details but with a Web development tool like EW one must author with from two to five languages - three markup and two programming.

    Will
    Baltimore, MD USA - www.fastie.com
    Saturday, March 13, 2010 2:16 PM
  • Office is not and never has been designed for the web. No Office application should ever be used to directly create web pages, FrontPage not withstanding since it was never more than a redheaded step child in the Office family.
    MS MVP Expression Tutorials & Help http://by-expression.com
    Sunday, March 14, 2010 2:54 AM