So I’ve recently had the opportunity to create a plethora of (pinatas?) e-mail siggy files And not just a nice little siggy file to place with your Outlook or Mac Mail program, but in ALL KINDS of things. Even for Gmail.
I had to piece together the “how-to”s from a bunch of different sources throughout the web, but I’m here to share how I did it, and how I managed to make it work for all kinds of different mail-reading-and-sending programs.
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This has been something that has plagued me for a while now: dynamic stylesheets. What is the purpose? Well. sometimes it would just be nice if you could create IDs and classes on the fly, and not have to update the stylesheet every single time you do something.
As an example, say you want all the Pages on your blog to look different, so you have the body tag dynamically generate an ID for every page, using the pagename. But the stylesheet – well… every time you want some kind of different layout, you have to manually edit the stylesheet. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just have it happen when you created the Page?
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Have I ever mentioned how much I love a challenge? I love to play with CSS.
Could this be done using straight up CSS? I thought so, but I could forsee some problems with it.
Wouldn’t you know it – I was right.
So, I’ve been trying for a while to figure out the whole “Holy Grail” (as it’s been called) of layouts: the 3 column layout with header and “sticky footer” that works cross-browser. A List Apart has one, but it relies on having a huge bottom padding, and then reversing that with a huge negative margin. Me, I’m chick who likes to use negative margins as sparingly as possible – meaning only when I have to, and preferably nothing in the quadruple (or larger) digits.
Then I came across this site the other day, and the guy had a 3-column layout. It was nice, and exactly what I was looking for – however it had a lot of hacks and (what seemed to me) unnecessary extra code and CSS in there. So I played with it…
…and now we come to what A List Apart calls “the Holy Grail” of layouts – the fluid 3-column layout. This is my version, brought upon by a request made on a message board for a 3-column layout where the designer could vertically center-align the sidebar content. Amazingly, I got it to work for her – but it didn’t work in anything but Firefox and IE6 (that’s all she was worried about, so I stopped there). However, I became obsessed with trying to figure out a way to accomplish the 3 column layout in a way that was better than anything I’d found. After reading the A List Apart article, and a few others, I put my mind to it and came up with the below tutorial.
Now, personally, my favorite way to do a multi-column layout is to add in background gif images for the column backgrounds. Why do I like this style? I don’t know. I guess I like the option of putting in a cool tiled background, if I really want it, rather than a solid color. Of course, there are drawbacks – the only one I can think of off the top of my head is if someone comes to the site with images turned off – but in a case like that, I believe if you can see the content, then all is well (since most people who have images turned off just want to see the content anyway!)
However, to do it in a 2 column layout is easy. But a 3-column? With the center fluid? How could it be possible?
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The Two Column Layout is the most popular of layouts I’ve done in the past. This site used to be done in the two-column layout – it seems to be the most popular for simple websites. One column – narrow in width, is usually reserved for the sidebar navigation, the secondary column is wider and handles the content of the pages.
Now, you can do without the header and /or footer quite easily – but the technique I’m going to describe is for the example layout above – and done entirely in CSS.
That’s right – no tables.
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