Web Development Solutions

3 comments | Posted: 18 May 07 in Books, by Nathan Smith

Web Development Solutions I just finished reading Web Development Solutions by Christian Heilmann and Mark Norman Francis. It would be a great book for anyone who is just starting out in web development, and wants to make the jump from the world of WYSIWYG web tools, to the world of hand-coding and really understanding the underlying principles of best practices. It covers a broad range of topics, from WordPress blogs to Microformats, Ajax and APIs.

It would also be an ideal book for anyone using WordPress, who wants to really push it to the limits. The first several chapters cover some of the basics, as far as installing blog software both locally and remotely. There are examples of those who are “living the dream” blogging full-time, with financial support.

The latter chunk of chapters covers more granular details of web-dev, such as XHTML, CSS and JavaScript. Various JS libraries are described, including: jQuery, Mootools and YUI. Fundamentals of Ajax and REST are discussed, as well as how to incorporate off-site web services to spruce up your metadata. Doctypes are explained, and how this affects various browsers such as IE6 rendering standards compliance mode, rather than quirks.

Some of the basics around SEO are also covered, so that your website or blog is as visible as possible to automated search engine crawlers. Implicitly, anything good for bots is also good for accessibility, and gracefully degradable enhancements are illustrated. Such examples including using Google Maps.

Overall, this is a great introductory book for anyone looking to enhance their knowledge beyond that of hobbyist blogger to more of a true web developer. It covers the full spectrum of considerations, from self-promotional Digg links on blog posts, to some of the more in-depth DOM Scripting techniques out there. Fundamentals are far too often overlooked, but they are tackled well here.

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  1. 1 Nate Klaiber

    Almost done with this book myself. I was initially somewhat turned off, as it seemed to present web development as ‘So easy, your grandma could to it’ – which is one reason I think this profession isn’t really respected. Installing packages, tools, and plugins doesn’t exactly make you a web developer. Just as using templates doesn’t really make you a designer (After all, you aren’t actually designing anything – just using work done by someone else).

    However, the later chapters seem to shine more light into what it takes to really understand what you are doing. I’m not sure I am completely sold on some things – but overall I think it is a good book. Definitely geared towards WP and using the array of plugins available. It doesn’t really talk a whole lot about API’s, except installing plugins that do the heavy lifting for you – it just shows you where to place it in the templates.

    Anyway, I guess I shouldn’t judge too much until I am finished – but I am not sure what I think of this book as a whole.

  2. 2 Nathan Smith

    Nate: I kind of felt the same way. The material is pretty basic. However, at the same time, this could be an ideal book for someone who doesn’t already have the fundamentals of web-dev committed to memory. In that regard, I think it’s a pretty good book, taking the target audience into account.

  3. 3 Nate Klaiber

    I guess that was my main concern. There were a few people I was thinking of while reading this book. I think this book would give them just enough to be dangerous, but not give them the knowledge to completely understand the work that goes into making a successful website. Yes, there were disclaimers throughout the book – but I just felt like it watered many things down.


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