CSS sprites group multiple images into one composite image and display them using CSS background positioning. You can save a significant amount of HTTP requests by consolidating your images into one or more composite sprites and using CSS to selectively display parts of the sprite within your web page.
Do you really understand them? The name might be a little misleading, because sprites aren’t little images like you might be picturing, a sprite is actually one big image. Have you ever seen the CSS technique where the “on” and “off” states of a button are contained within the same image and are activated by shifting the background-position?
Back when video games were still fun (we’re talking about the 8-bit glory days here), graphics were a much simpler matter by necessity. Bitmapped 2-dimensional character data and background scenery was individually drawn, much like today’s resurgent pixel art. Hundreds and later thousands of small graphics called sprites were the building blocks for all things visual in a game.
Today’s tutorial will bring you through the process of building a slick menu using a single CSS sprite image. It’s a simple, but elegant solution for most websites. This was one of the design strategies that first helped me to start using smarter markup. For those of you just getting introduced to this technique today, hopefully you’ll have some similar results.