I had the opportunity to hear John Allsopp speak today about the future of web design. John is a web evangelist, author, speaker, and teacher of CSS. And, his enthusiasm for the future of the web is contagious.

As I previously wrote, my interest in the web started about 18 years ago, when the web was in it’s infancy. Bad design abounded causing limited access to information and frustration for designers and developers alike.

John took us on a history tour of the web, which sounded a lot like the “we had to walk barefoot uphill – both ways- to school when I was your age” speech a lot of us have heard from our parents as kids. But, in terms of browser capabilities in the 90’s and early ’00’s, that’s certainly how it felt.

Creating functional, good looking sites required lots of graphics that had to be cut and precisely placed to reduce the page loading time. One large graphic might actually be 4 smaller ones. If a link to a graphic was broken, 1/4 of the picture was missing. Animation was limited to GIFs and, really, it was best not to use it at all.

CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) was introduced in 1995 allowing developers to control the look of a site for the whole page instead of element by element.This was a major breakthrough. It’s use expanded with CSS2 in 1998. I started learning CSS2 just before I changed course for parenthood. At the time, I was amazed by what CSS made possible.

After seeing what John demonstrated today, I’m chomping at the bit to learn CSS3. Editable type independent of the user’s computer?!? Wow. GPU generated background gradients?!? Neat. Clean, beautiful animation that adds to the user’s experience?!? Unheard of – until now that is.

Pair CSS3 with HTML5 and the future of the web looks amazing. I’m excited that I no longer have to trudge uphill -both ways- to make great looking websites.