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on 26 January 1999
The idea of having a single volume with the nitty gritty of HTML, in all its flavours, Cascading Style Sheets, DHTML, XML, Web graphics, audio, and video, CGI, SSI, and Javascript is too tempting for anyone professionally involved with the web to ignore. A collection of the O'Reilly & Associates books on each individual subject will take up many inches of shelf space, so in the tradition of the Nutshell series, here is a single volume with the essential details for those of us who don't want to start at "Hello, World!" every time.
Does the book succeed? Certainly on all aspects of HTML, especially cross-browser issues, it is a perfect one-stop shop. I like the fact that Lynx gets more than a passing mention, and that accessibility for the blind and partially-sighted is covered. Cascading Style Sheets are well covered too, though it's unfortunate that the table of CSS compatibility is relegated to an Appendix, rather than integrated with the main chapter on CSS syntax. Chapters on GIFs and JPEGs are very informative, discussing all the salient points of palettes and compression. However the book clearly overreaches itself when it comes to DHTML, XML, CGI and Javascript, the chapters on these topics being much less in depth than for HTML, CSS and graphics. The author acknowledges these limitations more explicitly in the Preface than the publishers do on the back cover :-) These are good introductory discussions for those who want to move on from basic HTML, but anyone wanting a genuine desktop guide to these topics will have to fork out for a separate tome. (ORA's DHTML, CGI and Javascript books are excellent, by the way, but we're still waiting for them to come up with the definitive XML manual.)
One other criticism (which I'm surprised to find myself making of an ORA book): web browsers and related tools on Windows and Macintosh are well-covered, but Unix/Linux tools barely get a look in. What features are/aren't supported on Unix versions of Netscape? Doesn't the GIMP graphics program deserve a mention?
Quibbles apart, Web Design in a Nutshell is the sort of book that every web designer needs: essential, yes, but not as comprehensive and quintessential as I'd hoped (however unreasonably!), so I'll have to knock off one crown!
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on 25 January 2006
I bought the 2nd edition of this book when it was published and found it extremely useful. The 3rd edition is due soon - wait for it and don't be tempted to buy the old edition (things have changed in the world of HTML).
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on 25 January 2001
I can't recommend this enough. It covers everything from HTML (very complete) through to Javascript; CSS, XML; DHTML (overviews). Especially useful is the complete listing of HTML tags and attributes. Also helpful was the list of deprecated HTML tags (ie those that the W3C will phase out in the next HTML version). This is not for beginners, but if you have a basic knowledge of HTML and web design it's invaluable both as a dip in reference book, but also for a complete overview of web design. You'd be hard pressed to find better
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on 16 February 2000
It would be hard to find a book that covers every thing about the Web but this one focusses on the basic knowledge required to get some Web pages together.
It is clear, concise and has a place on my bookshelf as a quick reference guide. Also covers which browser supports which Tags and Attributes. Handy for multi browser compatibility. Mentions CGI and quotes handy web sites for picking up CGI scripts.
If you're new to the Web and need a starting place then this is it. It touches on DHTML and Javascript but can't cover these in great depth in a book of this size.
It's a good buy at the price and I thoroughly recommend it.
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on 8 April 1999
O'Reilly already have Webmaster in a Nutshell and Web Design overlaps in coverage but the two titles are nonetheless complementary. Perhaps the forthcoming 2nd edition of Webmaster will sharpen the distinction. As it is Webmaster looks out from the server side, Web Design is more publisher/user presentation oriented - you probably won't need both. Web standards change fast and some passages suggest the author was pushed to be both up to date (ie HTML 4) and in print - Some deprecated tags such as <BR CLEAR> are used in examples. Not, in my opinion, necessarily a bad thing; there are cases when style sheets are just too much overhead. This book maintains O'Reilly's high reputation as the only computer books worth having. It does not condescend, it is not a bloated cookbook. It is a concise reference - and a useful revision tutorial - for people who know what they want to do, know it can be done, and just need to find out how.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 7 October 2007
Web Design in a Nutshell is not merely an updated edition of the previous book (2001) of the same title. Extremely quick substantial changes in the web design systems over these past few years simply wouldn't allow for such an update. Instead, the author has composed this book from the ground up to address the issues and concerns of web designers in 2006. This reference covers all the basics of web design how tos from basics like choosing text elements and creating links through more challenging topics such as optimization of graphics and using flash on web pages. However, the portion of the book that I found most useful was the sections on designing sites for a variety of different browsers and increasing accessibility on your website. Together, these aspects create an easy to understand guide for those individuals wanting an introduction to web design or as very solid reference material for current web designers.
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on 27 June 2001
Invaluable reference text for anyone interested in best practice web design, from the basics to front-end technologies, all the information you'll need is easy to find, easy to understand and implement. Contains an excellent reference section on HTML4 as well as sections on graphics, CSS, DHTML, SSI and XML.
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on 23 March 2000
Although I agree with the other reviews in some aspects, I found this book to be EXTREMELY OUTDATED (having been published end of 1998). It only touches on DHTML, Java, JavaScript, etc, so if you want anything other than a vague reference guide, do not buy this book.
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on 15 May 1999
Splashing out on my first web design book was an odd experience. I initially went for 'Instant HTML' published by Wrox Press - billed as written 'by programmers for programmers'. This is what I want, I thought, something without the 'user-friendly' crap that just gets in the way. As I read it, I became more and more horrified. Programmers do *not* necessarily make good writers! The book was poorly written, edited, and designed - *badly crafted*. I took it back to the shop, which had a minimal selection of books. The only other one there that was in my price range - luckily enough - was 'Web Design in a Nutshell' by Jennifer Niederst. After my experience with the previous book, I was overwhelmed by how readable, informative, and beautifully thought-out this book was. I literally kissed the book when it explained some key graphic issues I'd been wrangling over! I recommend this book unreservedly. It is especially relevant to those coming from a DTP background, and pays special attention to Photoshop graphics work (although those using Paint Shop Pro or others will easily adapt). O'Reilly are rapidly becoming my first-choice for computer books.
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on 28 April 2000
I like O'Reilly books because I trust them to do what they say on the cover, and do it well. Jennifer Niederst's book is a fine addition to their line and to any aspiring web designers armory. This is the book to buy as soon as you graduate from the very beginners books and will be a friend to you all the way up to expert level. It assumes some familiarity with HTML and that you don't need too many step-by-step instructions. It is presented clearly and logically laid out and is broken up with tab markers on the page edges so that you can find your way around and more importantly you can find your way back to important pages. Jennifer focusses on where and why you would use web elements such as frames and style sheets and javascript without attempting to become a definitive guide to these subjects. She also warns against common pitfalls for the beginner and more experienced coder. Although it is not a 'cook book' I found lots of handy examples that I could use in my own web.
The book was well written and was easy to read. I am now finding it an invaluable resource as I progress.
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