CSS Web Development
12 comments | Posted: 27 November 06 in Books, by Nathan Smith
This past weekend I was finally able to make some time to read the good book Beginning CSS Web Development by Simon Collison. It had two superb technical reviewers in Dan Rubin and Richard Rutter, who are both CSS wizards in their own right. Like many other great titles from Apress in the Novice to Professional series, this one delivers a thorough explanation of the language. It starts with the basics of XHTML, then covers more advanced topics.
What I especially appreciated about this book was Colly’s ability to address different layout solutions from varying standpoints. Instead of taking a hard-line stance on any particular topic, he encourages the reader to explore and determine the best solution for a given problem, using multiple examples.
For instance, when laying out forms it is often difficult to plan for arbitrary lengths of text in the
label, so it is not always possible to use
float:left; display:block; text-align:right; to create a consistent columnar layout. When you are going to be handing code off to other developers, you don’t want them to have to worry about changing CSS every time they edit the form.
So, sometimes using a
table for a
form is a necessary evil, and Colly shows how to do it in the most semantic and accessible manner. He also shows how to do form layouts using typical paragraph and line breaks, as well as definition lists. There are also a variety of page layouts covered – two and three columns, using liquid or fixed width. Additionally, he explains floats and clearing, absolute and relative positioning. Also, he covers how to use lists to build navigation.
There is even an entire chapter devoted to accessibility, and one that covers many miscellaneous topics like image roll-overs, and hacks for various browsers. There is also an extensive CSS reference in the appendix, so you can easily look up various properties and their possible values. I did notice a few discrepancies, but these have since been addressed in the errata. I won’t bother mentioning those here, but be sure to read it over for clarification.
In summary, if you are a fledging web designer looking to shed bad habits and make the jump into the 21st century of web design, then this book is a must-have. In my opinion, all web developers need to have three key CSS books on the shelf. If you are just starting out, read them in this order:
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