The W3C, the group charged with overseeing the creation of web standards like HTML and CSS, has given its official blessing to one of the cornerstones of responsive web design — CSS Media Queries.
Media queries allow web developers to change the layout of a page based on the media that’s displaying it — whether that means adapting it to fit a smaller screen or just stripping it down to the essentials before it heads to a printer.
Chances are you’ve been using at least the print media query on websites for ages, but now media queries have gone legit, becoming an official W3C recommendation (and yes, that is as strongly-worded as the W3C ever gets).
That may not mean much for developers who long ago embraced media queries to serve print stylesheets, but making media queries a recommendation means web browsers need to support it. The backing of the W3C is also often a requirement before large corporate or government organizations will even consider “new” ideas like responsive web design.
Media queries are the cornerstone of responsive design, which, at its simplest, just means building websites that work on any device. That way, when a dozen new tablets suddenly appear on the scene — Microsoft Surface anyone? — you can relax knowing your site will look and perform as intended, no matter which devices your audience is using.
Indeed while Microsoft’s new tablet isn’t yet storming the web, if you’ve been using media queries and following the best practices of future-friendly design then you don’t need to worry when the Surface finally does start showing up in your server logs.