HTML and CSS Reference
The Aural Media Type
With the aural CSS properties, you should be able to control the pitch, speed, tone, and other
attributes for speech-synthesized versions of the web page to great effect, but support for this is
very much lacking. To date, we've only seen (or rather heard) one good application of this: a plug-
in for Firefox called Firevox, which is definitely worth downloading ( http://firevox.mozdev.org/
installation.html ) and checking out to see what should be possible with this technology. You
can find out more about the various CSS aural properties and values at the W3C ( www.w3.org/
TR/REC-CSS2/aural.html ), or for a simpler example try the W3Schools introduction to this topic
( www.w3schools.com/css/css_ref_aural.asp ).
The Handheld Media Type
Another example of “great in theory, but almost useless in practice,” the handheld media type
is perfect for specifying styles that can be used for a cell phone-based browser, Blackberry, or
similar device. However, the mobile market (phones in particular) are almost a law unto them-
selves and have devised various strategies for rendering web pages in the struggle to gain
a competitive edge. At http://css-discuss.incutio.com/?page=HandheldStylesheets you'll
find a quote that pretty much sums up the sorry state of handheld support:
Some current phones apply “screen” styles as well as “handheld” styles, others ignore both,
and in some cases the phone carrier runs pages through a proxy that strips styles out even
if the phone could recognize them, so it's a crapshoot figuring out what will get applied.
So, all bets are off! It's good to be aware that the media type exists and what its intended
use is, but, seriously, don't waste effort in trying to design a slick interface for a given handheld
device and expect it to honor only your handheld styles and ignore the screen styles—and cer-
tainly don't expect the next handheld to do the same!
The All Media Type
The all media type is pretty much superfluous. If you want a style sheet to be rendered on all
devices, you may just as well not set a media type at all and let the device, browser, or user
agent work it out for itself.
The ability to create specific style sheets for different media seems, on the face of it, to be
a very powerful tool. However, in practice you are limited in what you can do. It seems a shame
to end on a sour note, but we hope the things that you can do with the print medium more
than make up for the rest. Now, if only the mobile market could decide on a standard and stick
with it, we could do great things with those devices just as we can with the printed medium.
Well, we can hope—and a good place to start is with Blue Flavor's presentation on mobile web
design, which can be found at www.blueflavor.com/presentations/DesigningforMobile.pdf .
We've covered a lot of ground in the preceding chapters. You may well have mastered nearly
everything there is to know about CSS except, perhaps, for one thing: what happens when things
don't go as planned? In the next chapter we'll look at techniques for identifying where and why
things go wrong and, more importantly, what you can do to put things right again.