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Book Review - Cascading Style Sheets, 2nd Edition

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 01, 2005 12:58 am    Post subject: Book Review - Cascading Style Sheets, 2nd Edition Reply with quote

Cascading Style Sheets: The Definitive Guide, 2nd Edition

Author(s): Eric A. Meyer
Publisher: O'Reilly http://www.oreilly.com
Date Published: March 2004
Book Specifications: Softcover, 487 pages
Category: Web Authoring & Design / HTML / CSS
Publisher's Suggested User Level: Not Rated
Reviewer's Recommended User Level: Intermediate / Advanced Web Designer, CSS Beginner
Suggested Publisher Price: $39.95 US / $57.95 CDN
ISBN: 0-596-00525-3
Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0596005253/securitforums-20/
Amazon.co.uk: http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0596005253/securityforum-21/




Blurb from back cover:

When we released Cascading Style Sheets: The Definitive Guide in 2000, we believed CSS was poised to become a major force in web authoring and we were right. Since then, CSS has continued to mature as a standard, dozens of books have been published on the topic, and most recent browsers have at least partial support for CSS2 and excellent support for CSS1.

CSS is the W3C-approved method for adding to and enriching the visual presentation of web documents. It allows web authors to mimic the sophisticated layout and pagination of desktop publishing with clean, easy-to-maintain scripts. This second edition of Cascading Style Sheets: The Definitive Guide completes the discussion of CSS2, explores CSS2.1, and introduces emerging elements of CSS3.

Eric A. Meyer, now an even more respected expert on the subject of CSS, uses his trademark wit and humour to explore properties, tags, attributes and implementation, as well as real-life issues, such as browser support and design guidelines. This book addresses experienced web authors and scripters, as well as novice authors who may be implementing CSS from scratch.


Introduction
Eric A. Meyer is one of the world's leading authorities on CSS. Of his many books on CSS, Cascading Style Sheets: The Definitive Guide, is one of the clearest and most popular.

In its second edition, this book has been updated to provide full coverage of CSS2 and CSS2.1, with some discussion of CSS3. A lot has changed with CSS, in the four years since the first edition was published, and this second edition embraces those changes and explains how CSS now provides an incredibly powerful solution to web design and layout issues.

Chapter Synopsis & Review Comments
Chapter 1 introduces CSS, and talks about its place in the grand scheme of web design. This chapter explains why CSS is useful, and, indeed, necessary, for web pages to be compatible across multiple browsers, easy to read by humans and also to parse automatically, and how CSS provides the flexibility to change the style of an entire website through a single change to a single source file.

Chapter 2 looks at selectors, the basic building block of CSS. Grouping rules are covered, as are class and ID selectors, attribute selectors and pseudo-elements.

Chapter 3 brings in the 'cascading' part of CSS, explaining the structure and how inheritance from parent object to child object works within CSS.

The values and units used within CSS are covered in chapter 4, which includes the discussion of numeric attributes, percentages, colours, lengths, URLs and CSS2 units.

Fonts are the topic of chapter 5. The various font families, weights and sizes are explained, and brought into the context of CSS.

Chapter 6 looks at text properties such as indentation, alignment, spacing, decoration and shadows.

Chapters 7, 8 and 9 cover the beginnings of larger scale visual formatting. Chapter 7 looks at boxes and block level elements, inline elements and the way CSS allows for altering the display style of an element. Chapter 8 covers padding, borders and margins, while chapter 9 details CSS support for colours and backgrounds.

Chapter 10 launches into some of the more complicated aspects of CSS2, looking at positioning and floating; the ability to specify the location of an element on the page, and to float the element outside of the normal flow of the document.

Table formatting is covered in chapter 11. This section is new to the second edition, since CSS2 introduced table formatting, something CSS1 lacked.

Chapter 12 looks at formatting lists, and some of the striking visual effects which can be realised by (ab)using lists with CSS!

Chapter 13 covers user-interface styles; system fonts and colours, customised cursors and outlines, which act similarly to borders but do do not alter the flow of the document, and can be non-rectangular.

Chapter 14 wraps up the discussion of CSS with a look at non-screen media. Paged and aural styles are discussed, showing that the power of CSS is not limited just to the visual arena.

The book has three appendices. Appendix A is a property reference, appendix B is a selector,pseudo-class and pseudo-element reference, and appendix C is a sample stylesheet.

Style and Detail
This edition retains the simplicity and clean look of the first edition. The discussion of CSS flows from the basic building blocks, up to the complex structure allowing you to create intricate layouts without using a single line of HTML for sugar-coating. The book emphasises the use of CSS to separate design from content, and examples of many common visual effects are covered throughout.

There is coverage of the proposals for CSS3, spread throughout the later chapters of the book, though there is obviously less emphasis on this than on the current CSS2.1 standard. As far as I can tell from my own tests, all CSS presented works in both Microsoft Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox, unless the book states otherwise.

Conclusion
Updating and building on the first edition, Cascading Style Sheets: The Definitive Guide, Second Edition, is a clear winner in the battle of the CSS books. Meyer has reworked his original masterpiece to provide full coverage of CSS2.1 and the emerging CSS3, whilst retaining the style and ambience of the original.

A well deserved 10!

This book receives an honoured SFDC Rating of 10/10.



Keywords: CSS, cascading style sheet, html, xhtml, css2.1, css2, css1, css3, eric a. meyer, web design, layout, content

This review is copyright 2005 by the author, Andrew J. Bennieston, and Security-Forums Dot Com, and may not be reproduced in any form in any media without the express permission of the author, or Security-Forums Dot Com.
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