Backwards-Compatible CSS Gradients

Posted By on Jan 24, 2012 | 0 comments

I’m a big fan of content over images in a website. That’s not to say that all images or graphic-based content is bad; I just believe much of what a designer wants for a website, and what is actually required to make that happen, are two completely different things. Many years ago, I was a child of the “table-based” design principals championed by slicing-capable programs like Fireworks and (unfortunately) GoLive.

Graphic-based “table websites” load slowly, have the sliced-up feel to them, and frankly just look ugly. It’s taken a long time to break myself of the bad habits perpetuated by programs like these, and to see that I could build sites from a rendering using only a fraction of the images I would have used to. Over time, I will add more and more of the techniques I’ve learned to this, and today I want to focus on one of the most important: gradients.

Gradients are everywhere, in every design you’ve probably ever seen. Because of these, it is sometimes harder to not use images, but not impossible. Recent advances in browsers capabilities have allowed for CSS gradients to become prominent features in a site’s design. Of course, not everybody has upgraded to state-of-the-art browsers, so we will have to use a variation of “Fallback Declarations” again in order to tastefully degrade your site to the capabilities of older browsers. Here’s the code:



#gradient_box {
	/* Simple visual properties */
	height: 100px;
	width: 100px;
	border: solid 2px black;
	/* Gradient code */
	background: #FF0000;
	filter: progid:DXImageTransform.Microsoft.gradient(startColorstr='#FF0000', endColorstr='#00FF00');
	background: -webkit-linear-gradient(top, #FF0000, #00FF00);
	background: -moz-linear-gradient(top, #FF0000, #00FF00);
	background: -o-linear-gradient(top, #FF0000, #00FF00);

Here’s an example of how it will look.

The code here is simple. First, you set the background color, establishing a base-level color for the element. After that, you add the IE-specific declaration filter. For this tutorial, I chose the “gradient” filter, but a full list of the different available filters for IE can be found here. Then, you add the vendor-specific prefixes (webkit, mozilla, and opera) and you’re done. Very simple!

One quick note, while these features are not fully supported (waiting on you IE), you can add more colors to your gradient by adding more color codes to the end of the list. linear-gradient(top, #FF0000, #00FF00) becomes linear-gradient(top, #FF0000, #00FF00, #0000FF) and so on. You can also use transparency by using rgba values, assuming your browser is in the 21st century, of course.

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