CSS Mastery – Advanced Web Standards Solutions – Book Review

Don’t let the title of Andy Budd’s recently released book, CSS Mastery: Advanced Web Standards Solutions, fool you. Yes, it is filled with advanced CSS information; but it isn’t just for the advanced programmers. I bought this book with the hope of learning some of Andy Budd’s positioning, descendent selectors, and cross-browser techniques. I didn’t expect to learn some of the basic elements of CSS.

Easy to read and use

Andy’s writing style is easy on the eyes. He knows when to skip remedial information and when to point out the important tidbits that save an hour or so. For example, Budd describes the behavior of collapsing margins with a clarity that other books have lacked.

…It may seem strange at first, but margins can even collapse on themselves. Say you have an empty element with a margin, but no border or padding. In this situation, the top margin is touching the bottom margin and they collapse together…

This is why a series of empty paragraph elements take up very little space, as all their margins collapse together to form a single small margin.

…Margin collapsing only happens with the vertical margins of block boxes in the normal flow of the document. Margins between inline boxes, floated, or absolutely positioned boxes never collapse.
CSS Mastery – Advanced Web Standards Solutions pgs 32,33

I’ve already placed a few flags in the book and they’ll multiply as I return for more techniques. Was this book worth purchasing? I found a number of techniques from Andy’s personal toolkit that made the book worth 10 double espresso mocha frappathingies. Here’s a tip that was particularly timely for me. Andy discusses the use of links with spans to create disjointed rollovers. I’m having an issue in IE6 right now with the span not being entirely clickable.

…Unfortunately this example doesn’t quite work in IE on Windows. It would seem that IE/Win has problems targeting nested elements inside an anchor link, using the :hover dynamic pseudo-class. However, there is a simple, if somewhat odd, workaround. Adding the following rule on this anchor’s hover state seems to fix the confusion in IE and allow it to honor nested hover state rules:

#pic a:hover {border:none;}

CSS Mastery – Advanced Web Standards Solutions, pg. 107

That is the kind of gem that only comes from experience.

Who should buy this book?

This book falls into the category of CSS/HTML theory from beginning to end. It starts with the basic platform of semantic coding and moves on towards the final use of advanced techniques. It is a nice replacement for Eric Meyers on CSS and More Eric Meyers on CSS, both of which give basic techniques and information but lack the style of Budd’s designer eye. This book reminds me more of The Zen of CSS Design : Visual Enlightenment for the Web by Dave Shea and Molly Holzchlag. CSS Mastery and Zen of CSS are written from the developer/designer’s viewpoint. Both contain tips and techniques. While Zen touches lightly on the coding, Budd takes you full circle, from theory to final production.

Color Schemer and other online color palette tools

I’ve been using Color Schemer for several years. It’s a simple tool that allows you to find complementary and harmonious colors for your web site. I didn’t have the bookmark on this computer and did a search for it. Openmodo has a great collection of online color palette tools. When you need to choose a color, let these tools help you out.

Before you let an anonymous color generator determine your web site’s look and feel, you should take some time to learn about color theory. The authoritative book on the subject is The Elements of Color by Johannes Itten, of the Bauhaus School. While this book is small and fairly expensive, the knowledge you’ll gain will make it a worthwhile investment. You could also find it at your local library.

Book Review: HTML and XHTML: The Definitive Guide

HTML & XHTML: The Definitive Guide, an essential resource book for web programmers. Continue Reading Book Review: HTML and XHTML: The Definitive Guide

There are books you read that change your way of thinking (Designing with Web Standards), books your read for ideas (Usability: The Site Speaks for Itself), and books you keep within arm’s reach at all times. This book, HTML and XHTML: The Definitive Guide, is one that you should always keep on your desk.

I’m saying this from experience. I’m a self-taught web programmer and have read over well over a dozen programming books during the past few years. This is the book that traveled with me from job to job. It’s where I go to check on the proper use of tags and attributes. It’s a well laid-out reference book that is actually interesting to read.

Who should get this book

This book is for those working directly with HTML code. It does not discuss programming languages, JavaScript, or CSS to any extent. However, it clearly defines how to use valid markup to build sites. I have found it invaluable for building forms and complex data tables. It’s also a great foundation for those learning semantic markup from the beginning.

DHTML Utopia – book review

This is a difficult book to read for non-javascript programmers. If you are more comfortable with HTML and CSS, I’d recommend reading Jeremy Keith’s DOM Scripting first. Keith explains the theories behind this book.

That said, I did learn enough from DHTML Utopia to not look like a complete idiot during my job interview with Yahoo. This book is filled with project examples for you to follow along with. I will say that I tried several of the examples and had mixed results. I visited the book’s web site to get updated code.

If you’ve already worked with Javascript, this is a great book to have on the shelf. If you are a rookie, start with Jeremy Keith and follow up with DHTML Utopia.