Dev Depot: Media Query Builder, Queries Made Easy

Stephen Yagielowicz

One of the most powerful features of cascading style sheets (CSS) for modern website development is the use of media queries — an interrogatory used to determine the characteristics of a display device.

For one easy example, media queries will provide a “printer friendly” version of a web page, and are the foundation of the responsive design trend now bringing mobile accessibility to traditional websites.

If you’re planning to use media queries, that decision must be made at the very start of the project, because it affects not only the way you write your CSS, but also your markup.

In this application, a basic, mobile-first website framework is developed and then media queries are used to add additional features, such as support for high-definition displays, or to specify different styles for handheld devices when used in either portrait or landscape modes.

There are many options, and a dose of automation and planning will definitely ease the process.

According to developer Peter Gasston, the use of media queries should not be an afterthought.

“If you’re planning to use media queries, that decision must be made at the very start of the project, because it affects not only the way you write your CSS, but also your markup,” Gasston notes. “In order to make pages that adapt easily to different device viewports, you must make decisions about how to mark up your content in a way that allows for that adaptation.”

Once you know what you want, figuring out how to make it work is the next step. Fortunately, there are a number of online media query generators available to do the heavy lifting for you.

Arcsec Web Solutions offers a free CSS3 Media Query Builder (www.arcsec.ca/media-query-builder) that uses a web form to select various formatting options with a variety of presets plus the ability to add optional keywords, media types and media features. The tool then automatically generates the queries, displaying them in bold text where users can simply highlight the custom query text and then copy and paste the code into their style sheet.

Media query presets are available to cover the most common resolutions and devices, including the support of all Android, Galaxy Note, iPhone and Nexus devices, as well as iPad and other tablet displays (in both landscape and portrait modes), plus full HD displays and everything in between.

A wide variety of media types are supported, including the ubiquitous “all” and “screen,” along with device-specific applications; such as 3D glasses, Braille readers, handheld displays and video projectors, speech synthesizers, TTY terminals and TV sets, delivering properly formatted content to all devices.

Arcsec Web Solutions’ CSS3 Media Query Builder boosts the company’s $12 WordPress plugin that brings responsive backgrounds and other elements to users of the most popular publishing platform.

While not every display device is suitable for visual adult entertainment applications, the ability to deliver the best user experience regardless of viewing platform is at the heart of modern web design — and a paradigm fueled by the use of CCS3 media queries.

Although there are numerous competitive products, the ease of use of Arcsecs’ Media Query Builder makes it an easy entry point for busy coders seeking a shortcut to properly crafted style sheets.

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