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on 4 June 2007
One thing this book is certainly not lacking in is photography. Very irritating at the beginning as you're hit by single, and even double, pages of full bleed irrelevant images when you're just trying to get on with the read.

Fortunately, from the Inspiration section onwards, the images included are more relevant and it blossoms from a good book to a bible. Andy Clarke really hits home his points about taking inspiration from off-screen and the forward thinking to CSS3 really gives meaning to the transcendence.

This is not a book for beginners! There are enough examples to illustrate each point well, but lacks clear justification behind a lot of the code. I have a fairly solid knowledge of CSS, but I did find some of his examples, whilst having strong concepts, were a bit vague. I wouldn't personally use this for reference so much; Dan Cederholm's Web Standards Solutions and/or Bulletproof Web Design are better for reference.

Definitely advisable for those losing hope with lack of browser compatibility, Clarke's attitude is exemplary to the lot of us!
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on 11 December 2007
being a student I would regard this book a bit dear, but every penny is worth with this book. Indeed he clearly explains that this book is not for begginers. You would need to read some theory and do a few CSS online tutorials before you go into the first chapter of this book,that's what I did at least.

I regard it as an innovative approach of writing books about coding. That's because it has been so skillfully illustrated, it is just as pleasant as reading a magazine.

Enough theory to accompany hands on work. You will find a good resource of the files on the books website, the tutorials are a treasure and a sheer inspiration.

You see...what Andy did for me is that little by little he let me into his way of thinking, he shaped the way I approached CSS and web design, web browsers, web development.

His language is not very formal, rather smart and every day and lively. He doesn't use much jargon, but by the time he does, he has already explained and you are able to catch on.

The well of links he includes, might take you ages to search them all, but it's worth it by all means.

At this day and age when every body claims web design fame, I as a student was looking for my Guru to balance out Jacob Nielsen academic suggestion and this is Andy and his much praised in his book, peers. Have in mind that he is a member of the W3C Consortium and one of the leading UK web development magazines .net mag

I am looking forward to his next UK event or book or magazine article after reading this book!

after all, all the world is a list, hey ;-)

By the end of the book
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on 19 February 2007
This is a seminal book, and as a designer who has spent far too many hours writing XHTML and CSS, I was in danger of losing sight of the 'design' element. This book stopped me worrying about how sites might appear in WinIE and got me back into using the full range of CSS possibilities, and into looking forward to the future of web design, a vision I'd almost completely lost interest in until I opened this book.

As a designer who moved a little too far into development, I read a lot of O'Reilly books, which are always worthwhile and solid, but this is in a different league. I've already recommended it to 4 of my web design colleagues, and will be asking my web design students to get a copy each.

I think this is becoming THE web design book of the current era - if you have anything to do with web design or development, you really need to read it.
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on 3 April 2007
This is the most original and well thought programming book I have ever read. Lots of attention to detail and methodology were obviously put into its writing.

It constitutes a fantastically successful attempt at bridging the gap between developers & designers. Andy Clarke has mastered its art and shares the ins & outs of what everyday web development should be like.

This book has the ability to turn seasoned amateurs and many young professionals into experts.

The numerous examples and references complete the excellent contents, which is reinforced by the beautiful design and contextual photographs.

The best book on the topic.
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on 23 February 2007
Anyone who has ever seen Andy present will probably have already bought this book, so this review is for everyone else. The book is inspirational. Just like the stage show. Last year we were treated to some great CSS books for beginners and it was cool to finish the year off with a book for the rest of us. Not to say this book isn't for beginners but it's emphasis is more on getting out of the inevitable comfort zones we settle into as CSS developers rather than covering the basics of syntax and how to make an unordered list go across the page.

Divided into four sections, Andy first talks up his transcendent CSS philosophy with its "content-out" approach, use of a greater range of CSS selectors including CSS3, using JavaScript and the DOM to plug the gaps in CSS and generally not working to the lowest common denominator but adding progressive enhancement for those users of modern browsers. In the section on Process the reader is offered some thoughts on workflow, wireframing and interactive prototyping before putting the principles into practice. True to the book's word, all the examples are best viewed in a modern browser--this is not an exercise in bulletproof design -- that's left for us to do naturally, particularly undoing or not implementing Andy's choice of using JavaScript to clear a float.

The third section was the meat of this food-inspired book on CSS. Note: do not read this when hungry or on a diet, the full-bleed, gorgeous photos of food can overwhelm the weak of will. Dealing with Inspiration Andy looks outside the Web at newspapers and magazines as well as at websites for examples of grid-based designs and how to bring these ideas together in new ways. The reader is introduced to mood boards and scrapbooks and asked to (re)examine Flash as well as seek out typographic inspiration. With Windows Vista now out, I noted that Andy's examples were using the new Vista fonts as a first choice -- and why not? By coincidence I read this chapter on the train journey to the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge and it certainly made me view the art collection in a completely different light. Hey! I'm supposed to be a developer, not a designer... I guess the chapter and the book must be working then.

The book concludes with Transcendence - a look at the various positioning methods and CSS3. Personally, I can't wait for widespread support for the Backgrounds and Borders Module and watching the presentation of the book at the upcoming Future of Web Design conference.

A bookshelf essential.
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on 2 May 2007
I have been reading a lot of books on design and css lately and this is the latest. It is the first one I have felt inspired to write a review about. The author talks about grids and design layout and approaches the subject from a very different angle to the other books I have bought. I found it really good resource and have now bought some other books on graphic design. I like the fact that Andy Clarke comes very much from a design perspective and suggests things such as keeping a scrap book and looking at printed materials among other things, for ideas. The next site I work on I am going to try the workflow that the author advocates, using purely semantic markup at the beginning and progressing to the visual design after that. Highly recommended.
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on 21 December 2006
A wonderful book that stimulates the imagination.

This book assumes that the reader already has a reasonable level of familiarity and competence with XHTML and CSS. There are many other good books out there to help you learn syntax and gain basic technical knowledge. Its focus instead is on the creative design possibilities of CSS with an eye very much to the future. It is about the way forward rather than how we got to where we are and it shows us what is possible using current and emerging technologies when we strive for creativity and aesthetic excellence in web design. Not for nothing does the title include reference to 'The Fine Art Of Web Design'.

Highly recommended!!!
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on 5 March 2010
Coming from an engineering/programming background I was not sure how this book would suit me. I needn't have worried as the pace and content are excellent. Andy does a brilliant job of setting the scene and then introducing the new ideas in a very clear structured way. The examples are well documented and relevant making it a simple process to export the learning to your own work. The book is very well written and the illustrations are fantastic - I finished it in a week!
Even in 2010 the ideas seem bang up to date.
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on 9 December 2009
I bought this book based on the reviews I had read in other places, the book is not targeted at computer programmers really, there's no masses of code examples to follow, albeit there is plenty to get your teeth into. It is more for people that want to know about how to built web pages better, professionals and new to web design. It shows you how you should structure your code then how to position it using CSS. I found this book a great read.
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on 10 February 2007
Andy Clarke's "Transcending CSS", sub-titled "the fine art of web design", is a fantastic book. I very much hope that it is the first of a new breed of web design primers - books that consider web design as a synthesis of the artistic and the technical. As Molly Holzschlag says in the forward to this book, "One of the greatest challenges Web designers and developers face is to bridge the communication gap between highly visual and highly linear thinkers. It's only the rare individual who has been able to show a balance between sophisticated, innovative design and progressive, complex technical issues." Clearly, Andy Clarke is just such a person.

The book itself is full of great examples of web design accompanied by code snippets and Clarke's cogent commentary on how they relate and why such an approach is considered good practice. Each example is also there to make a point and to carry the book forward. This is not a "tips'n'tricks" book, it is structured in a logical way and explains and demonstrates a number of important principles (such as the importance of semantic markup) in a clear and confident manner. Neither is this a beginner's book. Clarke assumes a basic understanding of XHTML and CSS and the books aim is to take the web designer to a higher plane.

The book is divided into 4 sections; "Discovery", which introduces Clarke's concept of "transcendent CSS" and includes many of the contemporary ideas about the use of CSS. "Process" considers an approach to web design that perfectly integrates graphic design with coding and focuses on finding coding solutions to graphic design problems. Part 3, "Inspiration" is a novelty for a book on web design; with little or no coding, its main focus is on the art and graphic design process and there is a very good section on the use of grids. The final part, "Transcendence" considers the use of some advanced CSS techniques with a particular emphasis on positioning and the arrangement of images and rounds off with a look at the future and CSS3.

This is a book that no web designer should be without and I fully expect to have to buy a second copy in 12 months time when the pages start falling out through overuse. If I were asked to encapsulate this book in as few words as possible, the best I could come up with would be "moodboards and markup". The best DESIGN book for web designers by a country mile.
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