|Core CSS (2nd ed.)|
|pages||818 (10 page index)|
|reviewer||Simon P. Chappell|
|summary||A flawed diamond|
What is CSS?Cascading Style Sheets (the CSS part of the book's title) are a way to separate the content and presentation of a web page. The CSS file holds the presentation instructions, leaving the HTML to hold only the content. While CSS is a formal World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) standard, the adoption has been somewhat slow, with browsers only reaching full compliance with the base level of the standard within the past year or so.
So why is CSS useful?CSS shines when it is used to define the style of a whole site. Want all of your headings to be the right shade of your corporate blue? No problem. Want every page to have the corporate logo on it's background? No problem. Whoops, got bought by GlobalMegaUberCorporation Inc. and need to change the colours and background logos in a hurry? No problem, just change the CSS definitions and your new corporate identity will shine out for all your customers to see.
What do I know about CSS?I am a relative newcomer to CSS, having been laying out websites using tables since 1995. I had decided that it was time to learn how to bring my personal website up to speed with the latest standards, when I was offered the chance to review this book, so I took Prentice Hall PTR up on the opportunity. This review then, is from the perspective of one who knows HTML well enough to develop a couple of sites using only vi and who has decided to learn CSS.
OverviewThe back cover blurb claims that Core CSS 2nd Edition is a comprehensive guide that shows both beginning and expert web developers all they need to know to achieve great results with the latest style sheet properties. It also claims to be ... the most complete and up-to-date CSS reference available. This review will explore those two claims.
What's To LikeThe first thing to like about this book is that it does cover almost everything that it's possible to write about Cascading Style Sheets. I have included the table of contents below so that you can get a feel for the breadth that this book aims at covering. The writing style is clear and explanatory with an underlying conversational tone, quite suited to this manner of book. It is also obvious from the text that Mr. Schengli-Roberts does understand his subject matter very well indeed.
The biggest thing to like about this book, for me, is appendix B, an alphabetical listing of the defined CSS properties and values. This list covers 92 pages and is a key part of the whole book. Importantly, it doesn't feel like filler and gives an impression that care has been taken in devising this very useful resource. Each entry in the appendix gives an example of correct usage of each property, which as a CSS neophyte I appreciated greatly.
What's To ConsiderThis book carries a 2004 copyright, yet it feels old when you view the list of browser compatibilities for each property. While it does give compatibility information for Microsoft Internet Explorer 6, it only covers Mozilla 1.0, it mentions Konqueror without any version details and completely omits Apple's Safari browser. This spotty coverage seems at odds with the rest of the book and really felt like a glaring omission to me.
SummaryThis is a good book -- and if you're in the process of learning to use Cascading Style Sheets, you should certainly consider it for your collection. It is flawed by a poor selection of browsers for it's compatibility lists; while this may not be an issue for you, I found it quite irksome. This explains my review score and my description of this book as a flawed diamond.
Far more information than most people could ever want to know about Simon P. Chappell is available at his personal website. You can purchase Core CSS (2nd ed.) from bn.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, carefully read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.