Joined: 10 Aug 2002
Location: Portland, Oregon USA
|Posted: Mon Oct 20, 2003 7:48 pm Post subject: Book Review - HTML & XHTML : The Complete Reference - 4e
HTML & XHTML : The Complete Reference - Fourth Edition
Covers HTML, XHTML, XML, CSS1 and CSS2
Author:Thomas A. Powell
Publisher: McGraw-Hill/Osborne www.osborne.com
SFDC Book Discounts: http://mcgraw-hill.co.uk/securityforums
Book Specifications:Soft-cover, 932 pages
Suggested Publisher Price:$39.99 USA/ $59.95 CAN/ £24.99 UK
Amazon.co.uk: HTML & XHTML : The Complete Reference
Amazon.com: HTML & XHTML : The Complete Reference
Web programming is not my occupation, but my hobby. With this in mind, I cracked open this rather massive book to discover it's tickling secrets. The book slammed my mental processes up against a wall of amazement. This not only is a reference, but a dictionary, glossary, and encyclopedia of Web programming as well. If you prefer to code your pages by hand as I do, then you will want this book next to your keyboard.
It is interesting to note that as I look back on the several hours of combing this Reference, I not only discovered my notes contained little hints at improving my website; but also directives to modify my code to 'embrace the standards'. If I were only allowed to submit to you just one line from my notes, it would be this one: "Both valuable to the standards-conscious designer looking for a complete reference as well as the newcomer wanting to learn what they need to know to get started".
Contents at a Glance
To give you a feel for what the book covers, I have listed the sections below:
Part 1 - Introduction
Part 2 - Core HTML and XHTML
Part 3 - Presentation and Layout
Part 4 - Interactivity
Part 5 - Site Delivery and Management
Part 6 - Advanced Topics
Part 7 - Appendixes
Review comments on Part 1
The opening shot of the book is a lean and simple tutorial on what HTML is, and how it works. This is excellent material for the absolute beginner in that not only are examples of code are given, but they are broken down and explained. You are shown examples for both HTML and XHTML, and given an explanation of how they differ. Finish reading this section and you will not only understand how to lay out the basics of a web page, but also how to map out and design your website.
Review comments on Part 2
Part 2 begins by introducing you to the basic HTML tags which are common to nearly every browser. I noticed that the three distinct groups of tags were discussed in fine detail; document structure elements, block elements, and inline elements. Next you will learn how to link documents on your site by using the uniform resource locator (URL). The newcomers may find themselves having to read this part rather carefully due to its in-depth technical detail.
Review comments on Part 3
The book gives you a good idea of the basics of Web image formats such as GIF and JPEG, and shows you when they are being used appropriately. The author makes no bones about the fact that creation of an aesthetically pleasing page is truly more art than it is science. This has been an ongoing issue of contention among web designers since the days of the dot.com explosion.
The author recognizes that markup tricks and workarounds are still occasionally required to create visually appealing pages that work in older browsers. He shows some great examples of such tricks in this Section of the book. I personally enjoyed the chapter on HTML tables, and the way Mr. Powell suggested using them.
Frames, Multimedia, and CSS are covered in this section as well.
Review comments on Part 4
I thought the examples given for the discussion on forms was a bit weak, compared to prior chapters. However, the book does do an excellent job of describing how to use the various tags available.
Review comments on Part 5
Review comments on Part 6
It is hard for me not to turn this review into a tutorial when speaking of XML. Suffice it to say that the book covers not only what XML is, but why you would want to use it over HTML.
The book does fail to clarify why you would want to use XSL to transform XML to HTML, over using XSLT or even CSS. However, this is an extremely minor failing which does not affect the over-all value of the book.
Review comments on Part 7
Charts, Tables, and Code Examples galore! This is what most will value about this wonderful book. For those who obtain this book, I'd hint that you pay close attention to the notes placed in the section by the author. They will save you much frustration when attempting to trouble-shoot your code.
I take my book reviewing extremely seriously. No matter how emotionally excited I may get over a book covering a 'pet topic' of mine, I attempt to restrain myself and see the book through the eyes of the average reader it was meant for.
That said, I'd only be able to drudge up one minor bad point on the book. I did not like the rather simple line-graphics used in many of the figures in the book. It seems not to fit the audience the book is intended for.
This book is the best I've encountered on the topic of web-design. I also strongly believe that it well deserves the maximum SFDC rating available. I am confident that all who buy this book will agree with me unconditionally.
I am honored to give this an SFDC Rating of 10/10.
Post Keywords: HTML & XHTML : The Complete Reference - Fourth Edition, Covers HTML, XHTML, XML, CSS1 and CSS2, Thomas A. Powell, HTML/XHTML/Web Development, Beginner-Intermediate
This review is copyright 2003 by the author 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.