am 20. Juni 2000
Of the hundred or so computer technology/web related books that I have read over the past decade, this is clearly the worst one. After successfully taking a college level CSS class, I wanted to update my practical knowledge to the new W3C guidelines so I bought this book. I expected at least one chapter of CSS review, if for no other reason to establish common vocabulary with the reader - which it did not. This is certainly not a beginner's book because it doesn't explain the basics at all. It isn't an intermediate or advanced book because it is not inspiring. I showed the book to several of my peers both at work and at school, as well as a couple of instructors, and unianimously we agree that the author goes out of his way to be confusing. The book is poorly organized. The visual examples are lame. It lacks metaphors or any other effort to connect the reader with the subject matter. The only redeeming section of this book is pages 167-198 on complex backgrounds. If not for that, this book would not warrant space on my bookshelf and would be destined for the trash.
am 11. Juli 2000
Page by page, feature by feature, Eric Meyer's 'Cascading Style Sheets: The Definitive Guide' puts a new face on the new face of the Web. I found this book to be useful at virtually every page: I was using CSS on my own homepage within minutes, and plan to expand that to the various websites I maintain, then to influence my officemates to join me in the quest for cascading styles. The only detracting point would be the constant use of Latin in the example text.
am 5. Juli 2000
"Love yields in one moment," wrote Goethe, "what years of efforts can hardly attain." Farseeing as he was, I don't think that Goethe -- the poet, the dramatist, the statesman, the scientist -- had Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) in mind when he waxed poetic about Love. But I fell in love with Style Sheets at first sight. Why? Because I realized that in mere moments CSS gave me gorgeous design effects that even the most cleverly worked-around HTML could never come near. Yet every love requires the lover to make sacrifices. CSS is more complex than HTML, and far more fickle: CSS is not fully supported by even the latest versions of the major Web browsers. Which means that in the real world -- oh, dear! - - some browsers will not be able to view your web pages made with Style Sheets, and other browsers will see things much differently than you had planned. In technology, as in life, Love is blind. Fortunately, there is help for both the weak-browsered and the broken-hearted. Two new books about Style Sheets, both lucid and superbly written, explain how style sheets work and how to get them to work despite the problem of browser ineptness. One of these books, XHTML 1.0 LANGUAGE AND DESIGN SOURCEBOOK by Ian Graham, which covers CSS in relation to XHTML, has been reviewed in BookLovers Review # 18. The other must-own work is Eric Meyer's Cascading Style Sheets, The Definitive Guide. To work with this book you do need a basic understanding of HTML 4.0, but you don't need any prior knowledge of CSS . What we really want in a computer book is an expert in the field taking us step-by-step through the basics, clearly and gradually, to higher and higher levels of proficiency. Eric Meyer is an acknowledged expert in the realm of Cascading Style Sheets. Meyer writes with a natural style, easy to follow, lively, and often reassuring. Here's one example of what I mean: after explaining the potential pitfalls about how your style sheets will look different in different browsers, Meyer writes: "Above all, though, regardless of how bleak things may seem, keep going! Your perseverance will be rewarded." How right he is to understand that computing beginners -- and even computing experts -- need not only information, but also encouragement! The book covers everything important about CSS1 in chapters titled: Selectors and Structure, Units and Values, Text Properties, Fonts, Colors and Backgrounds, Boxes and Borders, Visual Formatting, and Positioning. There's a penultimate chapter about CSS2 which lets us glimpse a supercharged version of Style Sheets: a web designer's Utopia with even more control and even more splendid effects. Meyer's final chapter, CSS in Action, explains three projects, all about how to convert to CSS from ordinary HTML and a magazine article in a printed page. There are some stunning effects illustrated here. In future editions of this book it would be valuable to expand this hands-on chapter. Expect to spend lots of time perusing this book's appendixes. One explains all the CSS1 properties; another contains a CSS Support Chart, showing which CSS properties are and are not supported by which browsers. What it all adds up to is everything I look for in a great non-fiction book: an expert teacher making a difficult subject interesting and clear. This is the heart of it all, and yet a few words need to be said about this book's design: it is gorgeous. Not flashy, but the typefaces are attractive, and the book has been designed with just the right amount of white space so that it's pleasant to look at and easy to read. Needless to say, there's a companion website to the book. The website offers Eric Meyer's Top Ten CSS Tips; the book's Contents and Chapter 1; and an insightful interview with Meyer. Web browsers are getting better, and the better they get, the more important CSS1 will be. Style Sheets are an evolutionary leap beyond HTML. Cascading Style Sheets: The Definitive Guide, will teach you everything worth knowing in this domain. Meyer explains why you should be using Style Sheets, guides you from beginnerdom to Style Sheet mastery, and takes you and your website into the designing future that promises the best of both worlds: more structure and more style.
Michael Pastore Reviewer