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Smashing CSS: Professional Techniques for Modern Layout (Smashing Magazine Book Series) Paperback – 12 Nov 2010

3.9 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: John Wiley & Sons; 1 edition (12 Nov. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 047068416X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470684160
  • Product Dimensions: 18.8 x 1.7 x 23.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 557,722 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

About the Author

Eric Meyer is an internationally recognized expert on the subjects of HTML, CSS, and Web standards, and has been working on the Web since 1993. Smashing CSS is for developers who already have some experience with CSS and JavaScript and are ready for more advanced techniques.

Smashing Magazine ( is one of the world′s most popular web design sites. True to the Smashing mission, the Smashing Magazine book series delivers useful and innovative information to Web designers and developers.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
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.
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Eric Meyer is a propeller head: which is immediately apparent the moment you start flicking through the pages. There's nothing wrong with that and I wouldn't mind being a bit of a propeller head myself. The trouble is it's not much help to ordinary people unless you're on the same wavelength. Which most people are not going to be. He's also been very selfish and inconsiderate. He hasn't actually considered just who is going to read the book, and how they're going to benefit from it. As an example, anybody who's any kind of a web designer or developer is probably going to have some idea of just what Firebug is and just how useful it can be. We don't need to be told about its existence, as that much knowledge will probably already be in our possession. What would be useful is a detailed and understandable description of exactly how Firebug works from somebody who knows it inside-out. He makes no attempt whatsoever of explaining how Firebug works and just fobs us off with the explanation that we can find more useful information about Firebug on the web. Well what did we buy the book for then? If it's too much trouble, why bother mentioning it in the first place.

The book is full of short sharp descriptions of potentially useful information that could surely benefit from Eric just making some kind of effort to explain it in more detail. Instead what we get is - "It's too much trouble, so go figure for yourself." Which personally I don't find particularly helpful. Thanks but no thanks Eric, I think I'll pass. If you can't be bothered then neither can I. We may be plebs as far as you're concerned, but we're the ones who part with our hard-earned to buy your books and we deserve much better consideration.
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Format: Paperback
This is a good book to read if you already have a basic understanding of how to use CSS to layout web pages. You should at least know how to link to external style sheets and be able to change a range of elements' properties. These basics are not covered in the book. If you are looking to develop an understanding of specificity, IDs vs classes, CSS grids and layouts, floats, styling child elements... then this is for you. If you have never heard of these terms, then I'd suggest you look for something more basic.

The book itself is very appropriately printed in full colour, as you really need colour in order to test and understand how CSS styles work. Explanations are clear and concise with adequate examples of CSS code with corresponding images of the browser output. You could use this book as a reference book to address specific issues as they become relevant to you.

I chose this book because Eric Meyer is (as it says on the back cover) an "internationally recognised expert on html, css and web standards" - which is certainly true. My reasoning is that he is in a position to provide an overview of many of the core CSS design issues that a novice web designer has to understand. I have not been disappointed.

In summary, I'd say that the book achieves its aims at developing an "advanced beginner to intermediate" user's knowledge and understanding of CSS.
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Whilst this book contains a few little gems, it's already very long in the tooth. Perhaps you might find it useful if you are stuck supporting ancient browsers, but if you work with modern browsers, there isn't much to recommend it.

From the title, you might expect it to concentrate on layout, and although its best section does deal with layout, there is a lot of other more general CSS content ranging from very basic, to antiquated.

All this isn't to say it's badly written or put together – Meyer is undoubtedly an expert and a good writer – it's just that this book suffers like so many technical books from being outdated very quickly. If you are pretty new to CSS there is definitely some good content here and even the legacy hacks are of interest, however it is in bad need of an update and would have been a far better book if it had concentrated exclusively on layout, which is the most complex and volatile part of CSS.
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