Two immediate problems with this book are evident right from the introductory remarks. (1) Wrong information through sloppy writing and editing. (2) Verbal diarrhea, i.e., wordiness, repetitious redundancy, paragraph-long sentences that impart little information while trying to be amusing.
How do you go on reading a book when the beginning is so bad?
Third page of the Introduction (page xix).
"Note: Hotkeys are always given for both Macintosh and Windows users, in that order. For example, Alt/Option+F7 indicates that the Mac shortcut is Option+F7 and the Windows shortcut is Alt+F7". The order is obviously wrong. Did anybody really edit or proofread this book? I don't want to be harsh. But such an error right at the outset indicates that something has gone with in the production of this book. So how can I trust the accuracy of the deeper information that is provided in the nearly 400 pages that follow?
I enjoy being amused. But I don't like to wade through rivers of irrelevant and distracting text to get to the piece of real information the writer wants to impart.
Here's an example from the beginning of the book:
(Same page as above - Intro pg. xix.)
"If you were to corner me in a dark alley, I would feel comfortable (relatively comfortable, that, is, since I'm not used to being cornered in dark alleys by my readers) in saying that the people who will get the most out of this book will range from the savvy computer user who feels comfortable in the digital realm (but hasn't necessarily worked with Dreamweaver) to someone who is experienced in the foundation of Dreamweaver and wants to tackle more mature intermediate topics."
I'm just left thinking about dark alleys. And Ethan -- you better not let me corner you in one.
Just opening the book to any page usually reveals some morsel of the kind of writing I don't want to read.
P. 200. "There is little doubt that Flash is one of the coolest things to come down the pipe in terms of web design in...well...ever." The dots (ellipsis) are the writer's. "Flash has opened up a new world (nay, a new universe) of possibilities..." "While it would be unfair (and inaccurate) to say that Flash is the future of the Web, it's pretty safe to say that it's one of the futures of the Web." "Note. For those excited about the possibities of Macromedia Flash, check out Flash MX2004 Savvy by Ethan Watrall and Norbert Herber (Sybex, 2003)...wink, wink."
---sorry I can't wink when my eyes are open wide in astonishment or shut tide cringing in embarrasment for those responsible for appending "wink, wink" to that sentence.
Here's "About the CD" (page xxi)
"As with many computer books out nowadays, Dreamweaver MX 2004 Solutions comes with a handy-dandy CD, which is compatible with both Macintosh and Windows platforms. I've included some pretty useful stuff on it."
--- Thank you Ethan for not including stuff on the handy-dandy CD that you consider useless. By the way, didn't many computer books come with CDs in the old days (and floppy disks in the really old days)? And don't forget to turn the lights out when you leave.
Getting in Touch. (page xxi from Introduction)
"I always get a serious jolt out of getting an e-mail from anyone who has bought any of my books and goes to the trouble of actually sending me e-mail."
Get ready for a jolt, Ethan.
OK, let's try to be objective. I haven't read the book past the first few pages of Chapter 1 and a few furtive glances here and there. I do want to read more because I want to learn, but I can hardly bear the pain of reading this kind of writing. This personal reaction to bad writing might not be shared by those readers anxious to extract pearls of wisdom and are willing to be patient, have nerves of steel or are simply tone deaf.
The writer probably knows his stuff about Dreamweaver. It's no trivial task to write a large book about a major piece of software. He probably has some good tips and information. I don't know. But he and the editors haven't laid the foundation of accuracy that inspires trust in the reader. And they haven't provided the reader with good writing for a pleasant reading experience.
The fact that several booksellers are advertising new copies for about $5 doesn't warrant any comment. I haven't checked out Sybex's other books for a long while, but I'll be suspicious of their quality, because inaccuracy and misinformation have no proper place in a book about using a software program.
Maybe as I read further into the book, I'll be able to give it more stars. That would be just for the writer, though. As for the editor(s) and proofreader(s), they blew it from page xix (or maybe earlier, but who's wants to nitpick).