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What is CSS Technical Documentation?

    a close-up of a computer keyboard and screen, representing the importance of CSS technical documentation

    If you’re unfamiliar with this type of document, there is a chance you may be unfamiliar with what CSS is. So, before going on any further about CSS documents, let’s quickly get familiarized with what CSS means. CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheets, which is a coding language developers use to design the look of any web content. From the color of the text, the style of fonts, to the background images, to boxes, to headers, footers, animation and so much more. CSS allows you to create style guides on how you would like your website to appear.  Basically, without CSS all websites would consist of scrolling through plain text and dull white space. With the use of CSS, developers can customize every aspect of a website to create a visual sensation for users to engage in. Now that you know what CSS is, let’s explore and get back to what CSS technical documentation is all about.

    What is CSS Technical Documentation?

    CSS documentation explains the guidelines and the coding for specific design elements to end users. It can be thought of as a reference manual developers can use to write their code according to the CSS standards, to acquire specific design elements for a web interface, to use CSS tools, or to simply learn how a code works. Developers can learn the structure of a code and how it’s written through different types of CSS documentation such as tutorials, how to guides, FAQs, indexes, and more.

    Why is CSS Documentation Important?

    The value of a CSS user guide, or any code documentation for that matter, is to help developers understand and implement their desired outcome with ease. This allows them to create and build projects quickly and efficiently. Say for instance, a developer wants to display an animation feature on a home page but is unsure of the coding to display that function-that’s where CSS documentation comes into play. A developer can search and find documentation that explains, shows, and tests how to write the code for the animation feature. Having documentation to clearly explain how something works makes the process easier to digest.  As technology continues to change, so have the rules on how to code. What a developer creates today may not be understood in the future. With good documentation, understanding an older version of coding, or simply wanting to change coding, will be easier to do. However, developers can only benefit from documentation if someone knows what to document and how to write the information in a clear and useful manner. Unfortunately, there are many cases of poorly written documentation that deters developers from documenting their own coding or using any form of documentation at all. As long as there are different style guides in CSS or different programming languages, there will be a need for documentation to address these differences. Remember, one developer’s code will almost always differ from another.

    Here are some value points as to why CSS documentation is so important:

    Knowledge Transfer – With documentation, developers can impart crucial information to other programmers. The knowledge one developer has may be the solution another developer needs to solve a coding problem. Consequently, productivity can increase for all those who have access to CSS documents and avoid making time-consuming mistakes.

    Target Audience – In this technological world, coding is not only for developers. CSS user guides can be made for both internal and external audiences. So, whether you are a beginner or an expert, one must create CSS documentation that is clear enough for everyone to understand, regardless of their level of expertise. Documentation can be the common thread that brings developers and customers to your business.

    Best Practices – As previously mentioned, developers often create coding with little to no documentation. The process of generating such information may require a lot of time and effort, but in the end is beneficial to those who can use it.  If developers want to reap the benefits of relevant, reliable, and readable documents that make coding easier, then they must stop putting it off because it is “too tedious.” The best practice of documenting CSS is organization. Using a CSS strategy that determines what rules to follow and how to enforce them should make it easier to explain the style sheets’ coding standards. Another best practice in documenting CSS involves maintaining and regularly updating the documents once they have created. If developers keep avoiding documentation, then everyone will continue to only have access to poorly written documentation.

    CSS Technical Specification – When it comes to CSS specifications, there is a lot of information to understand, which can be quite overwhelming. With proper documentation, users can access the specificity rules without the confusion. Specification can cover everything from CSS selectors, properties, values, data types, and more.

    Test & Feedback – Understanding what works and what doesn’t in your documentation increases success. To verify whether your documentation is easy to understand, it should be tested in order to determine whether the desired outcome will take place if one should follow the directions given.  Other developers should help test and provide feedback. Once your documentation has been verified, getting continual feedback for external audiences will help you improve future documentation. Once your documents are verified, then customers can test design features right within the document before applying it themselves. Allowing them to test ensures your coding works and it will work for them.

    Who Creates CSS Technical Documentation?

    Developers and technical writers normally create CSS documentation. However, developers are notoriously known for not writing software documentation. After going through the process of generating the code, they often view the idea of writing documentation to be too daunting. Consequently, subpar documentation is created, if any at all. That being said, there are some developers who can, and believe in, creating CSS documentation. On the other hand, technical writers are often hired to create and improve existing documentation. With their skills to take complex information and communicate it clearly and accurately to different audiences, along with their knowledge of information architecture, they can make a developer’s job less stressful.  When it comes to creating CSS documentation, organizations should take a more collaborative approach. Instead of solely relying on developers or tech writers, they should utilize a combination of both, along with other subject matter experts, to assist with the creation of any documentation. Documentation can be intimidating whether you are creating or reading it, so with the input of multiple professionals, you can produce a more thorough and useful document accessible to everyone, no matter the level of their proficiency in CSS.       

    Where to find CSS Documentation? 

    When it comes to CSS documentation, there are a lot of places to look for information. there are different types of resources in the form of articles, technical documentation forums, podcasts, open learning resources and more. Take for example, MDN, previously known as the Mozilla Developer Network. It’s a resource for web developers that provides information about CSS and other web technologies such as HTMLS, JavaScript, APIs, HTTP and more. Whether you are a beginner or expert in CSS, everyone requires help. The MDN resource has CSS documentation to help with your next project.

    Here are some CSS documentation resources to check out:

    1.       CSS Tricks

    2.       Frontend Mentor

    3.       MDN

    4.       SitePoint

    5.       W3C

    Conclusion

    While CSS is fundamental for designing and styling any web content. CSS technical documentation is essential to understanding, writing, and using CSS coding. With proper CSS technical documentation, developers can produce code more efficiently, allowing users of all kinds to achieve their goal of producing visually eye-catching products for the world to enjoy. Whether you need a team of consultants to produce a complete line of documentation or a single technical writer for a brief project, Essential Data’s Engagement Manager will lead the project from start to finish. At Essential Data Corporation, the quality of our work is guaranteed. Contact us today to get started. (800) 221-0093 or sales@edc.us

    Written by Kimberly Jones

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