on 3 May 2009
I've been a huge fan of the "Head First" series of books since they were launched and have used them to prepare for several Java certifications. Their book on design patterns is the most readable book on the subject. Recently though it seems to me that they are rushing out books on every subject under the sun. That is painfully evident in this ill-thought-out book.
I don't know who the authors have in mind as being the typical audience for this book. On the one hand they assume you are conversant in HTML and CSS but then spend a couple of chapters telling you how to organise a navigation system and how to speak to the customer. A lot of it is common sense to anyone who has spent time browsing the web. It's probably safe to assume that anyone who has bothered to learn
HTML and CSS will have spent a fair amount of time online. Incidentally, anyone looking for a well-presented, visual, introduction to CSS could do worse than check out the CSS section of the "Head First" book on HTML&CSS.
There were things I liked about this book. The section on colour palettes contained some useful recommendations. The section on accessibility was excellent and is a subject often overlooked because it's not as much fun as playing around with colours and layouts. The section on the business angle was useful, though by no means comprehensive.
What disappointed me most about this book was the number of omissions. Despite emphasising accessibility and knowing your audience( ironic since the authors don't appear to as far as the book is concerned ) no advice is given about browser compatibility. While some might argue that this is a CSS implementation issue it is a consideration you make prior to writing the code therefore is a design issue in my book. Fair enough they probably didn't want to get into a pile of CSS workarounds for
IE but would it have been so bad to provide a few links for further information?
In summary, if you know nothing about writing code professionally and have taught yourself HTML and CSS you'll learn something from this book but you'll still be left with a lot of questions. If you are pretty experienced you'll find yourself skipping large chunks of this book.
One final point, anyone who is familiar with the Head First format will know that it is great for explaining tricky concepts in a memorable way. Since the concepts addressed by this book are not hard to understand there is not such a great advantage to the Head First format.
I really hope O'Reilly aren't going to sell the "Head First" brand down the river in its pursuit of a quick buck but that's the way it seems to be going. What else would explain the absence of a book for Sun's web services exam. There have been enough people in the Java community asking for one. Too long to write for too limited an audience I suspect.
on 3 July 2015
Do yourself a favour and don't make the same mistake I did with buying the paperback hard copy... it isn't printed in colour and as a 'design' book, it was much harder to get a grasp on contrasts and layout because it's all greyscale. Got hold of the ebook now which is all in colour and it's WAY better.
As for the content, it's great to have a web design book that isn't all about code or the UI of a creative program for mockups. It's thorough, goes into a lot of basic concepts without being condescending, and I've found it a valuable learning tool, as I have with other Head First books.