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CSS vs CSS3: Difference Between CSS and CSS3

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21st Nov, 2022
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CSS vs CSS3: Difference Between CSS and CSS3

Webpage designing is one of the most popular verticals of web designing. It defines how a website will display itself on the internet. Various types of user experience also depend on this design. Users must get attracted to the webpages to access it frequently. The CSS is responsible for the styling part of the web design. It works in conjunction with HTML to provide a nice look, style, and structure to the program. There are plenty of CSS3 tutorial videos available online that you can check out for a better understanding. The latest version of CSS is CSS3. In this article, you will learn about the differences between CSS and CSS3. Knowing these differences will also allow you to prepare for HTML CSS interview questions.

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What is CSS?

The full form of CSS is Cascading Style Sheet. It is a styling language used for designing web pages where we can structure the styles. It is a stylesheet programming language used for describing the format and interface the elements of a markup language (usually HTML) will take. Hence CSS has become a significant part of web designing. Without the appearance, the web page’s entire look will become dull, and viewers will not find it notable to visit the page. It not only provides desktop webpage styling features but also used for mobile web development.

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Using CSS, developers can tweak with the font style, background color, image, layout designing, and adjust different HTML elements with various styling. Developers can easily control the element and page layout from a single set of files. CSS is cross-browser compatible, which saves developers’ and testers’ time. Let us now understand the difference between CSS and CSS3.

which can help in preparing for HTML CSS interview questions.

What is CSS3?

Before we delve into CSS and CSS3 differences, let’s first take a look at what exactly CSS3 refers to. To put it simply, CSS3 is a more advanced version of CSS. Also known as Cascading Style Sheet Level 3, CSS is mainly responsible for the structure and formatting of web pages. One of the biggest benefits of implementing CSS3 is that it is supported by almost all modern browsers. It functions by applying the CCS2 standard with certain changes and improvements. Mentioned below are the major modules of CSS3

  • Box Model
  • Text Effects
  • Selector
  • Animations
  • User Interface and 
  • 2D/3D transformations among others. 

Newly Added Features Of CSS3

  • CSS selectors- CSS3 selectors are quite simple and easy to use. They are an advanced version of the CSS selectors.
  • Pseudo-elements- Numerous pseudo-elements have been added in CSS3 in order to improve the performance of easy styling. Furthermore, double colons :: have also been added in CSS3. 
  • Border Style- CSS3 is equipped with some of the latest border styling features, some of which might include, image-slice, border-radius, and image-source, among others.
  • Background Style- Apart from the addition of the border style features, CSS3 also comes with some of the most advanced features for background style. These include background clip, style, size, and origin, among others. 

With that said, mentioned below are some of the key points between CSS and CSS3 differences.

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HTML is just a static and boring document container, and CSS works with this markup language to make it look appealing. CSS mostly works with HTML or XHTML. To make HTML-based web page development more aesthetic, in 1996, W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) developed the Cascading Style Sheet. They thought the presentation of the content should be powerful using layouts, colors, and fonts.

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CSS can accommodate background colors & images, line spacing, layout design, font style, display variation for different devices and screen sizes, and effects. Web designers have to make changes in the single CSS file, and all the web pages within the website will change its form according to the intended CSS file. It is also essential to know the power and differentiation of CSS vs. CSS3. Let us talk about the difference between CSS and CSS3.

W3C developed the first version of CSS in 1996.CSS3 is the latest version of CSS released in the year 2005.
It doesn’t support media queries.For responsive web designing, it supports media queries.
New web browsers do not support CSS.New Web browsers support CSS3.
CSS isn’t compatible with CSS3.CSS3 is backwards compatible even with CSS.
CSS uses an old standard colour format.CSS3 provides a different gradient colour and schemes like RGBA, HSLA, HSL, and other colour gradients.
CSS does not have the concept of modules.CSS3 incorporates a new feature where it can group CSS codes into convenient modules. Modules ensure that all styles for a specific component will reside in one place.

Various other technical aspects make differences between CSS and CSS3. These are:

Compatibility: There is a compatibility issue of CSS with CSS3. All the preliminary CSS features got updated in CSS3. But CSS3 is backward compatible, and any code written in CSS is considered valid in CSS3. CSS3 is efficient, and hence it makes loading time much faster.

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Rounded Corners and Gradients: At the time of CSS release, developers use design images to make rounded corners with different structures and gradients. With the release of CSS3, developers have to add a simple code like round border {border-radius: 25px}. Also, it became easy to set the gradients using simple code like gradBG { Background:linear-gradient(red,blue); }

Lists in CSS vs. CSS3: In CSS, developers can create a different List (ordered and unordered). Developers can also introduce images for a list-item marker or add background colors. CSS can tweak list types like square, circle, and disc. But in the case of CSS3, the display property will have the list-item specified in it. Developers can introduce images against the list-item marker, but it doesn’t support numbering.

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Text Effects and Animations: The animations in CSS use JavaScript and jQuery. There was no feature of layer design, and there wasn’t any special effect like text shadows, text selections, etc. CSS3 enables the developers to incorporate text-shadow to provide a 3D effect. CSS3 also provides a continuous and flexible variation of size or color of the words. The animations in CSS3 can run without Flash code or JavaScript. Also, using CSS3, developers can produce text designs in fewer lines of codes, that boost the loading speed of the web pages.


More non-web-safe Fonts: With the release of CSS, the CSS makes sure that all browsers and machines should use and display the same fonts so that the design does not encounter an anomaly. But in CSS3, instead of using web-safe labelled fonts, developers can implement more unique fonts with the HTML script.

Pseudo-classes in CSS vs. CSS3: CSS uses the pseudo-classes for defining a distinctive state of an HTML element. Developers use it for styling an HTML element when the mouse will hover over it or if you want to highlight visited and unvisited links uniquely. The syntax for using pseudo-class is selector: pseudo-classes { property: value; }. In the case of CSS3, developers use pseudo-classes the same way. But these pseudo-classes have additional features. They use the root target for the root element, and in the child(n), it uses a number within the (n) to target the child element.

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Attribute Selector: CSS3 comes with the Selector concept, which was not there in CSS. Rather than applying classes or IDs for creating styles, using CSS3, developers can pick HTML elements in place of IDs and classes as attributes to apply CSS styles.

Top Advantages of CSS3

CSS3 became hugely popular, especially during the year 2010. However, during that time, not all browsers were equipped with the proper features required for CSS3. Therefore, it took some time for web developers to implement this properly in their operations. Mentioned below are some of the top advantages of CSS3, that have led to its huge demand in today’s world.

  • Colors- Various new color formats, such as RGBA, HSLA, and HSL, were added to CSS3. This led web developers to furthermore enhance the outlook of their pages, with the help of these different colors and effects. Furthermore, features such as opacity and gradient properties were also included in CSS3.
  • Animations- Yet, another big benefit that you can derive from using CSS3 is that it lets its users create animations, with the help of certain advanced features such as text shadow. Unlike in CSS, where you have to create animation with a scripting language, the addition of this new feature in CSS3, significantly reduced the workload of the developers, and made the process much simpler than before. 
  • Border Radius- Last but not least, another magnificent feature of CSS3 is its ability to alter the borders of images, and divide elements, into a more rounded shape. In general, applying this effect can actually take up a lot of formatting and experience in Photoshop. However, with the help of the Border-radius feature of CCS3, you can achieve the same results with ease. Furthermore, CSS3 is also equipped with rounded images, and shadowing, among other features. 

With this, we come to an end to some of the classic differences between CSS and CSS3. If you want a more real-time understanding of the same, there are plenty of CSS3 tutorial videos available on Youtube that you can refer to for your guidance. 

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CSS is a very robust tool as long as you know the differences between CSS and CSS3, along with some best practices and tips to use it. Without pouring the styles and appearances for every single element, blocks of text, or tables in the HTML, the web page will not look appealing. The CSS, in conjunction with HTML, allows developers to build a responsive and highly accessible website.

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Rohan Vats

Blog Author
Software Engineering Manager @ upGrad. Passionate about building large scale web apps with delightful experiences. In pursuit of transforming engineers into leaders.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

11. What are the various types of CSS?

CSS is a style sheet language that is used to design and create extremely attractive web pages. A cascading style sheet makes web pages presentable. There are three types of CSS style, inline, internal, and external. In inline CSS, the CSS property is present in the section of the body. Furthermore, the body section of the CSS is attached with an element called inline CSS. Internal also called embedded CSS style should be present in an HTML file and should live in the head section of the embedded HTML file. External CSS File has a separate CSS file that takes help from tag attributes, contains style properties and accommodates tag attributes. The CSS style intends to apply style on various style sheets.

22. What are the CSS Background properties?

Many CSS background properties are majorly used to add background effects to elements. The various properties are CSS background-color which highlights the background color of an element. The background-image property of CSS uses an image as the background of an element. The CSS background-repeat property is next where images can be repeated horizontally and vertically. Moreover, it also specifies if an image should be visible once or more. CSS background-position property confirms the position of the background image. The background-attachment property helps in deciding the behavior of the image, and whether it should be scrolled or fixed.

33. How are CSS and HTML different from one another?

HyperText Markup Language (HTML) is behind the structure of a web page, and what it will look like. CSS, on the other hand, is responsible for styling the pages. HTML can’t be used inside a CSS style sheet whereas a CSS style sheet can accommodate an HTML document. CSS is more flexible with backup and support than HTML. The last major difference between the two is HTML uses tags inside texts whereas CSS is made of selectors and declarations.