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Pro CSS for High Traffic Websites (Expert's Voice in Web Design) Paperback – 1 Apr 2011


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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Springer Verlag GmbH (1 April 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1430232889
  • ISBN-13: 978-1430232889
  • Product Dimensions: 19 x 2.5 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,315,176 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Antony Kennedy is currently describing himself as a lead front-end engineer. That means he makes websites work under the hood with JavaScript and keeps them friendly and functional, with animated Ajax interfaces. He has worked on many high traffic sites for companies such as Apple, the BBC, BSkyB and Channel4. He is an advocate of good processes and agile development and blogs about these and web development on his blog Zeroed and Noughted (http://zeroedandnoughted.com/). He has been working in web and development technologies for over 13 years and remembers Internet Explorer 3 and Xara 3D fondly. He started his career doing IT support in Hastings, U.K. and has since been involved in the entire software development lifecycle, from design and conception to support and warranty. He particularly enjoys fixing broken processes and demonstrating that you can be agile in a waterfall business environment. He learns by doing things that he doesn't know how to do. He is the managing director of a small business called Silver Squid (http://www.silversquid.com). He lives in a half-finished house in northeast London and complains about it a lot while being taught how to use a Nintendo DS by his daughter, Talia, and his son, Felix. He can't cook (except for sushi and pot noodles) and is very difficult to buy presents for.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I know a lot about CSS. I know all about selectors, classes, pseudo-classes.....

But how do you know you are doing things correctly like a professional would? This books answers all that and more. I highly recommend it!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
So You Think You Know CSS? 22 Jun. 2011
By mooremediaone - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Jeff Atwood (of StackOverflow.com fame) recently posted on his blog CodingHorror.com ([...]) that when it comes to high performance websites, speed is a competitive advantage - a feature if you will. Getting your site to perform under the strain of high traffic is difficult at best, but there is evidence that speed (or lack there of) affects the bottom line ($$). Among other very interesting aspects in his post, Jeff writes:

"In A/B tests, [Amazon] tried delaying the page in increments of 100 milliseconds and found that even very small delays would result in substantial and costly drops in revenue."

Talk about performance in the granular. But he's absolutely spot on in his case for "the need for speed".

There are many factors to keeping a high traffic web site fast. Beefed up hardware. Content Delivery Networks. Optimized code and database queries. But don't forget your CSS files. If you thought you've tweaked everything but you're still wondering about how to trim the load time of your home page, optimizing your CSS might be the very thing you're missing.

Enter "Pro CSS for High Traffic Websites" by Anthony Kennedy and Inayaili de Leon to the rescue. Published by Apress, this book delves deep (very very deep) into keeping your CSS robust, small and efficient.

You'll learn about devices that consume your site, testing and debugging, dynamic CSS and many others - but before it gets to actual CSS related topics, it starts with a chapter named "The Value of Process". This outlines best practices to organize your development staff in a practical hierarchy, defines the typical job types such as Project Manager, Team Lead and Developer, introduces some tools that can help when the projects and staff grow as well as some additional project management philosophies.

It makes sense to include this chapter, because when dealing with a high traffic website (upward of 10,000 unique visitors a day - a definition suggested by the authors ), you're probably working for a larger company with considerable bureaucracy which can make changes to your website a slow process. Using the management tools and strategies suggested can help productivity and streamline the process. This chapter covers topics above and beyond CSS that can be used by all types of developers and managers.

This chapter also is indicative of how the rest of this books info is presented. Authors Kennedy and Leon skip any CSS retrospect or refreshers to get you up to speed with advanced CSS topics before plunging in head first. I wouldn't give this book high marks for ease of readability. There's a certain density that weights it down somewhat. However with that one complaint out of the way, I must emphasize that these two really know their stuff and award it high marks for content.

I'm not sure where you'd find a more comprehensive look at CSS and its effect on site performance. Nothing goes without thorough examination. Folder names and file paths for example. You're probably used to linking to your images like so:
/images/mainContentPage/background_homepage.jpeg

What could be so wrong with that? Wow, you're just asking for a performance hit with such verbose folder names - that's what. There's a "scale of negative performance magnification" (OK, I just made that up) that goes with each bit that isn't optimized when asking your pages to load at lightning speed under the strain of high traffic and a busy web server. What to do in this case?

Shorten your images folder to "i".
Shorten your mainContentPage folder to "main".
Abbrieviate your image file names. "background_homepeage.jpeg" should become "bg_home.jpg" - and compress those images appropriately while your at it.

/images/mainContentPage/background_homepage.jpeg now becomes becomes
/i/main/bg_home.jpg.

You've just shaved 29 chars, a 40% reduction in size. Now you get the picture.

This is just one simple example of the world of CSS efficiency that's explored. You'll also get thorough enlightenment on CSS Frameworks such as Blueprint, 960 and YUI. And Object Oriented CSS. Building flexible CSS to accept site expansion. Don't forget Accessibility too. Your high traffic site is probably visited by many impaired visitors and consumed by special devices such as braille printers. What? You've never taken precautions to make sure your site is properly printable for the blind? Yeah. Neither have I. Like I mentioned, this book is scarily comprehensive.

What will appeal to most developers though, will come in chapters 8 and 10. Chapter 8 deals with the meat of the matter: Performance. Get ready to redo your naming conventions, start minifying, get concatenating, setting up compression on your web server, examining delays during DNS look ups and the advantages of using a CDN (Content Delivery Network). Oh, and don't forget caching content, dealing with animation and proper use of JavaScript.

Chapter 10 deals with Testing and Debugging. Here is a treasure trove of advice that developers will find useful. Automated testing. Manual testing. Debugging processes and suggested tools to use. Getting on track with efficient and fast CSS development. Oh and how about that dreaded Internet Explorer version 6 that we all curse during development? Not only in this chapter but throughout the book, there are many examples of how to overcome IE bugs.

We developers usually have many books at hand to refer to. This one may get more dog eared than others on your shelf depending on what sort of developer you are. Myself, being a C# middle-tier type of coder, CSS isn't foremost in my typical day at the office. This is why my CSS horizon has been blasted wide open during this read - and why I'm glad it'll be at hand as a core CSS reference for me.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Good book for advanced CSS developers 1 Sept. 2011
By Sean Xiao - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
"Pro CSS for High Traffic Websites" is good for the developers with CSS experience and tech leads of large web application development team. Different from other CSS book, this book focuses on how to organize CSS, how to develop CSS with proper methodology and how to manage a team. The first chapter, "The Value of Process" talks how important of the process in a development team, it is not specific to CSS, but it helps project manager or team lead understand how a solid process can help developer write scalable CSS. It also introduces different tools for developer to organize, and debug CSS. Other chapters give guideline with CSS template and framework to help developers start building their own a scalable, robust and flexible CSS.

The book also focuses on advanced CSS development such as CSS performance, preprocessing with LESS and Sass, capabilities to server different devices and media.

This is not a CSS reference book, I recommend this book to experienced web designer or developers, and development leads.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Pro. Yes, they really mean it. 16 Oct. 2012
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have had difficulty in the past finding advanced level CSS books, but when this book says "Pro" it means it. No beginners here--you will not find documentation of properties, just advanced details and professional approaches that are relevant to complex/high traffic sites. It also includes some insights on organizing your development team and working out conventions that are actually useful. I think this would be a great book to pass around any professional web dev team with at least one experienced CSS dev. It's a high-level read, for sure, but it is organized very well. I bought the Kindle edition and had no problem following along with the text, code samples and images on my Galaxy Nexus. In sum, I have some new ideas for refactoring some old messes, and I am definitely getting my ROI going into my very next project.
Great Book for web developers 31 May 2011
By F. Carretero - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Pro CSS for High Traffic Websites by Antony Kennedy and Inayaili de Leon is a fantastic book. The content of the book is well divided to help those that read it from front to back and its divided in such a way that those that are just looking for a particular topic can easily jump in. This is complemented by the uniform structure that the book presents its information in.

While I am not a web developer, I have always had an interest in seeing exactly how CSS could be implemented in the real world and what would some of the best practices would be. This book has explained this and a ton more. The book brings up the very basic concepts of CSS in the early pages and builds upon these as you progress through the book.

This book would definitely be useful as a supplemental text to a student studying web design as it actually gives context and some very well defined guidelines on how to approach CSS, how to implement it, why it should be implemented that way, and what standards one must follow and why. These are all very important topics when it comes to making the transition from a student to an actual developer, as this can be tricky at time since academic practices sometimes doesn't reflect problems or styles that are implemented in the real world.

With all the information that is presented in this book and the primary audience that it's targeting the developers of "High Traffic Websites." It can help optimize the code that is already present within a website and these concepts could be implemented through reading the advanced chapters of the book, which is a large portion of the book.

Whether you're a seasoned veteran web developer or just starting out this book would be great reference to have to help optimize your coding. As we all know, the code can never be optimized enough; so having that information available will always be useful.

Buy it, you won't regret it.
Can CSS Really Make a Difference in Supporting High Traffic Websites? 21 May 2011
By StupidcatDesign - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book is not a reference guide to CSS code and constructs. It was not written to provide the reader with specific code snippets for your site. Instead, the book is about building an infrastructure to support the proper CSS implementation for highly trafficked and scalable sites. It also provides best practices, techniques and tool recommendations. You will find some code here, too, but it is not this book's focus except to provide principles for good code. The book starts out offering an effective value proposition for process. This includes discussions on teams, staff turnover, code consistency and other strategic concerns. I was excited to see the book built on the fundamentals of process like this.
Further, the authors provide guidance on the most popular CSS frameworks. The book culminates to the final chapter where all the information learned in the previous chapters is put into action to guide the reader to developing their own custom CSS framework.

There are a lot of useful gems found in this book. They cover CSS Resets (including my favorite, Eric Meyer's), accessibility, CSS Sprites, Grid systems and much more. I was impressed by the breadth of the coverage and how well this book was written.

Process and strategy are keys to creating an effective large-scale site. Their guidance in this area is critical even though at first it may not seem important. I have led the development and maintenance of large scale sites in my capacity as Director of eBusiness and Web Technologies at a large company having supported 18,000 unique visitors per day. Much of what these authors have put together here is similar to the processes, methodologies and approaches I have used/continue to use.

I recommend this book for all web designers/developers. Not just those creating sites for high traffic. I think there is a lot to be said for setting your site up right the first time. It is always good to start out on the right foot and I think this book should be a required resource for all designers.
The best practices and techniques coupled with the process views provided in the book are instrumental, in my opinion, to building a solid strategy and site.

Buy this book!

Read my entire review at [...]
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