Customer Review

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Strong CSS insights from a true expert, 25 Feb 2011
This review is from: Smashing CSS: Professional Techniques for Modern Layout (Smashing Magazine Book Series) (Paperback)
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Eric Meyer is a true CSS expert; he has worked on CSS at the W3C and currently runs the busy css-discuss discussion list; he is also a good writer with a sense of humour, and it was his O'Reilly book CSS: The Definitive Guide that made sense of CSS for me for the first time ten years back. CSS has changed a lot since then, so I was keen to read this new title.

The problem with CSS is that it can be puzzling and counter-intuitive; there is a lot to get your head around, which makes a book like this really useful if you need to understand it - and if you do web design and layout, you do need to understand it. There is also the tricky issue of cross-browser compatibility, and I like the way Meyer is pragmatic and realistic in his advice.

That said, this title is NOT an introduction to CSS, nor is it a complete guide. The introduction makes it clear:

"This book contains close to 100 tips, techniques, tools, and tricks for making great Web sites using CSS. Each of them is meant to stand on its own: you can flip to any random page and just read what you find there."

In other words, this should not be your first book on CSS unless you are already familiar with it, but is a good second or third book on the subject.

Smashing CSS is in three sections. The first is called Fundamentals and kicks off with a survey of browser-based CSS tools. It really gets going with the second chapter on CSS selectors: a must read.

The second section is called Essentials, and begins with a chapter of tips with good stuff on element visibility and list designs, followed by another must-read chapter on layouts.Chapter 5 is on effects, including the inevitable tip on rounded corners (but better done than most), as well has how to make tabs, float text round curves, and more.

The third section is called Cutting Edge and has a chapter on tables and graphs, followed by one on techniques you can use in the near future, such as alpha transparency and 2D transforms. Actually you can use these techniques now, if you are willing to accept that only recent browsers will be supported.

I am a big Eric Meyer fan and enjoyed the book, though like any collection of tips and techniques, there is no guarantee that it will solve your particular problem. I treated it as a series of expert sessions, and learnt as much from the little asides and comments as from the core content.

It is also worth noting that Meyer is not a designer and his expertise is on the theory and mechanics of CSS rather than making web pages look fantastic. If you need design examples, look elsewhere.

The book is illustrated in colour throughout and printed on high quality semi-glossy paper; I found the pages a bit too shiny, to be honest, but that is nit-picking.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 9 Nov 2011 17:02:16 GMT
Lulu says:
I'm new to websites, and Meyer's CSS: The definitive guide has been suggested to me as a 'must have'. Would people in the know say that the 'Smashing' book is something I could be instead of the definitive guide, or would it be as well as?

In reply to an earlier post on 16 Dec 2011 17:16:51 GMT
Probably use as well as.

In reply to an earlier post on 29 Dec 2011 13:09:01 GMT
Lulu says:
Thanks. I'll get both!
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