Book Review: Cascading Style Sheets - Designing for the Web | WebReference

Book Review: Cascading Style Sheets - Designing for the Web

Book Review: Cascading Style Sheets - Designing for the Web


Cascading Style Sheets - Designing for the Web Author: Hakon Wium Lie, Bert Bos
Total Pages: 416
Publisher: Addison Wesley Professional
Copyright: 2005
ISBN: 0321193121

There are many books written on the subject of Cascading Style Sheets and it seems that a new one is published nearly every month. In their defense, some of them are geared to specific problems or highlight little-known tips. While we can always use more books on the subject, many of these deal with the basics of CSS. Sometimes the good ones get lost among the adequate ones. One of these is: Cascading Style Sheets - Designing for the Web.

Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) separate presentation from the underlying structure of an (X)HTML document, changing the way Web pages are displayed. This has opened up a whole new arena of presentation that was never before available on the Web. The creators of CSS are Hakon Wium Lie and Bert Bos, who just happen to be the authors of this book. What better tutors to have than the guys who created the language?

Often, a book written by the creators tends to be a bit on the academic side, but that's not the case here. The book is easy to read and provides insight into all areas of the CSS language. To quote from the foreword by Jeffrey Zeldman, "... the co-creators of CSS clearly, logically, and painlessly explain the hows and whys and ins and outs of the visual formatting language ... The examples are simple enough for novices yet detailed enough for experts."

The book begins with a short history of the Web, markup languages, and HTML basics. It also includes an HTML 4.0 reference. (Although the book was published in 2005, I'm not sure why version 4.01 wasn't included, considering that the recommendation was first released in December 1997. While it's considered a minor revision, nevertheless, it's the current HTML "standard.") The book's other 370+ pages are dedicated to CSS and its use.

Chapters are broken down to cover each aspect of CSS. The CSS portion of the book begins with the basics, e.g., the anatomy of a rule, linking styles sheets to documents, tree structure and inheritance. While many people tend to have difficulties with these topics, I feel that the authors do an excellent job of presenting the material in an easy to understand format.

CSS selectors are covered in great detail. Following that are sections on fonts, the box model and related materials, the display and list properties, positioning, colors, printing, advance cascading and inheritance, tables, and XML documents. As I stated earlier, the book is comprehensive but not overwhelming. Included also is a CSS quick reference chart, although it would have been better to have that as a separate chart, rather than printed on the inside of the front and back covers.

I was a little surprised that some of the material in the book was not in color. In fact, the authors themselves even make reference to that fact ("Unfortunately, this chapter is printed in black and white; you will have to trust us that the color really is green", p. 34). The pages have a wide margin on the left side, which allow for ease of making notes, although I'm not sure why the wide margins aren't alternated to fit next to the edge of the page.

Overall, though, this is an excellent book for anybody that wants to learn or current uses CSS. To quote from Jeffrey Zeldman once again, "Your shelf will be richer for the addition of this book. Rely on it. Study it. Savor it."




Created: January 27, 2006