Customer Review

38 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bookshelf Essential, 22 Feb. 2006
This review is from: CSS Mastery: Advanced Web Standards Solutions (Paperback)
There's a plethora of books and Internet resources on the subject of designing websites with Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) but whether you are just starting out as a complete novice or have solid, intermediary experience this book offers a very useful grounding in theory and application.
The foundation chapter provides a clear and easy to understand introduction to meaningful markup techniques for CSS "hooks" - divs, spans, ids and classes as well as discussion on DOCTYPEs, browser modes and validation before diving in to CSS selector types, the cascade and specificity. The chapter finishes with discussion on how best to organise your stylesheets - no, don't just lump it all together in a single file ;)
The second chapter is a very useful recap of the visual formatting model (i.e. the box model and absolute / relative / float positioning) and will serve as a great reminder for when your complex layouts start to misbehave - something that all CSS practioners will experience at some point.
The bulk of the book covers styling specific elements of your design and includes layout, image replacement, styling links, lists, forms and tables. People tend not to get too adventurous with styling tables and forms so that chapter is welcome and the advanced treatment of visited and external-website links is also of interest.
The major selling point for me was the two chapters on CSS hacks (filters) and bugs (and bug fixing). There are a number of websites that cover these issues but I lack that particular resource on my bookshelf and call me old-fashioned, but I do like my books to pull stuff together in this manner. Inside these chapters you'll learn about the (in)famous star hack, the !important hack and bugs such as the three-pixel text jog and the "HasLayout" effect to name but a few. Armed with these two chapters I may well spot a problem in the stylesheet before seeing it in a browser and save a few hours of debugging later on - incidentally, the section on debugging will certainly reduce any feeling of headless chicken in that regard.
The book bows out with the obligatory case studies that pull together a couple of websites using the techniques previously explained.
Highly recommended.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 2 Apr 2010 12:54:45 BDT
Last edited by the author on 2 Apr 2010 12:55:05 BDT
"The foundation chapter provides a clear and easy to understand introduction to meaningful markup techniques for CSS "hooks" - divs, spans, ids and classes as well as discussion on DOCTYPEs, browser modes and validation before diving in to CSS selector types, the cascade and specificity. The chapter finishes with discussion on how best to organise your stylesheets - no, don't just lump it all together in a single file ;)"

Actually, the first chapter does not provide a clear and easy to understand introduction to meaningful markup techniques for CSS "hooks". It is very badly written, as far as LEARNING anything goes.
I know - I bought this book as my first introduction to CSS, had huge problems learning anything from it, then bought "CSS: the missing manual" and learnt EVERYTHING I needed to know. That was three years ago. Now I know CSS as well as I ever will, and I came back to 'CSS Mastery' to see why I disliked it so much the first time round. Andy Budd is simply not very good at TEACHING what he knows. And the book is full of mistakes in the markup - meaning that if you actually type in what the book says, much of the time it will not work, because they have named classes incorrectly, mixed them up, etc. and you'll be left scratching your head, wondering why your webpage isn't displaying properly.

Also, why are all the hacks addressed using the * HTML hack, etc. instead of using IE's conditional comments, within an @import CSS file? I'm sorry, but this book is nothing like a good introduction to CSS. It doesn't help beginners, and it doesn't help people who have learnt most of the CSS they need to create their websites. I know - I read it from both sides of that perspective, before and after learning CSS. The first chapter alone shows you that Andy Budd doesn't know how to teach either beginners, or competent CSS users. He addresses things which beginners would have no way of knowing, without explaining them in the slightest, yet presents ideas that competent CSS users understood years ago. Which market is he trying to sell the book to?

Then throughout the book he uses class and ID names without displaying them in bold, a different font, or quotation marks - so they are easily lost in the text, and as he often uses normal words for classes and IDs, it makes it very difficult for a beginner to understand what he is saying.

I think the five star reviews are more 'hero worship' and 'me too' bandwagon jumpers, than anything else. This is NOT a good book to learn CSS from. Good luck if you try.
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K. Dawson
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