Adobe proposed new CSS standards to the World Wide Web Consortium, the international standards body for the Web, that would allow for more magazine-like layouts.
Called CSS Regions (PDF), the proposal is an attempt to break out of the typical grid layout that designers work within by creating a property called regions that aren’t constrained by geometry or position.
From the proposal:
CSS Multi-column Layout specification has pushed the limit of what is possible to achieve with CSS. However it still falls far short of the goal of representing typical magazine, newspaper, or textbook layouts in the digital space. This specification aims to close the remaining gap by giving content creators basic building blocks to express complex layouts. It does not aim to cover higher-level layout issues (e.g. allocating areas to fit all the content completely or placing areas on the page). These issues can be addressed by using either scripting or another CSS module.
The most obvious shortcoming of the CSS Multi-column layout is that columns are all of the same dimensions and placed next to each other. In more complex layouts, content can flow from one area of the page to next one without limitation of the area sizes and positions. For complex layouts, these areas need to be explicitly defined; in this specification they are called regions.
This proposal moves in the same direction by allowing designers to create complex layouts using Web standards instead of proprietary plugins and tools such as, say, Adobe’s Flash player.
Is the company cannibalizing itself then? Not really.
It’s still pushing forward with Flash Player 10.3 beta and last week previewed its 11.0 player. However, back in the print world it has InDesign and is pushing its adoption to create tablet ready apps. This was used, for example, to create digital magazines such as Wired and the New Yorker for the iPad.
If Adobe can get the proposed standards accepted, browsers will follow. And with that, they’ll have another tool at their disposal in their digital magazine publishing workflow.
It stands strong and true, resilient and universal as the markup you write. It shines as bright and as bold as the forward-thinking, dedicated web developers you are. It’s the standard’s standard, a pennant for progress. And it certainly doesn’t use tables for layout.