on 10 November 2004
If you need a handy HTML or XHTML reference, then this is the book for you. If you are a complete novice, then you need to read another book, such as 'Learning Web Design' by Jennifer Niederst (yet another O'Reilly book) first.
Did I say this was just a reference? Well, this is untrue. If you have some experience this book cuts nicely through the jargon and dogma and explains how an HTML document is structured, and then describes in detail all the elements (tags) in the structure. The book is organised in such a way that the HTML Quick Reference at the back of the book is cross-referenced to the main text down to the exact page (as is the CSS Quick Reference).
When it comes to the issues about standards and deprecated attributes and tags in the HTML 4.01 standard, Musciano and Kennedy are pragmatic and practical, rather than treating this as some form of religious debate. They are realistic enough to suggest that you should adhere to the standards wherever possible, but be prepared to make concessions where otherwise you would not be able to achieve what you want. There is also some good discussion on browser take up of CSS 1 and CSS 2.1.
The only beef I have is that in Chapter 6, Links and Webs, the explanations of URLs and of TCP/IP port numbers are not as good as they could be. It seems the writers have sacrificed clarity for brevity. Be that as it may, I have found this book invaluable and use it on a daily basis.
on 13 May 2003
I was completely new to HTML, XHTML and WYSIWYG editors, and this book was recommended to me as the best place to start. I took it on holiday to Greece - and read it from cover to cover in a week, while everyone else was on the beach! - and it gave me a superb grounding on which to build a web design career. So, read it now, and read it first.